Kensei over on Slugger O’Toole posted an interesting article in which the problems facing Nintendo in 2005 are equated to those of the SDLP around the same time. In the face of stiff competition from global giants Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo had been forced into third place in the gaming market. However, they set about taking a strategic approach to develop new markets and boost sales, in the process redefining the market with the advent of the Wii and DS platforms.
Kensei argues that, unlike Nintendo, the SDLP has taken none of the key steps needed to change the status quo and thus remains in a peripheral position.
In the whole 1990s Sonic v Mario war, I was firmly in the Sega camp. However, Kensei has a point. Despite the fact that the Executive deadlock has just passed the 150-day point, the SDLP seems unable to capitalise on the stagnation or develop a strategic and original approach to make the most of the stalemate.
It is simply not enough to stand by and wait for a competitor to mess-up. A viable alternative has to be provided in order for people to change their voting habits. Sinn Féin built-up such an alternative in the late 1990s, culminating in them overtaking the SDLP in 2001. They didn’t hang about waiting for people to get bored with the SDLP- after all, Hume’s party had been the biggest on the nationalist side for three decades, so there would have been plenty of waiting to do- they worked to develop a product that many voters obviously felt comfortable switching to from the SDLP. And so it is now, save with the roles reversed. Sinn Féin may be having problems delivering, but if nationalist voters are to withdraw their support for Adams’ party and bring about a new dynamic within the Executive by voting for the other nationalist party, then the SDLP has to provide a strategic, competent, attractive, relevant and viable alternative for voters.
If the SDLP wants to make inroads, it needs to grab the proverbial Wii controller and score a home run while the opposition team is looking the other way.