The SDLP criticism of Sinn Féin for collaboration with the Brits over the NI Offences Bill is well-founded. If the Shinners really didn't cop on until after the Bill was published that the Brits would ensure that their own side was covered, they are too gullible to be let out on their own.
I don't believe they are gullible. I think they were focused so narrowly on their own concernsspecifically, on winning concessions which would enable them to sell decommissioning and policing to their rank and filethat they either lost sight of the interests of any wider constituency, or just assumed that families bereaved by State murder would accept whatever Sinn Féin recommended.
On the other hand, there's none of us as naive as Mark Durkan seems to imagine when he claims that his party has been up to speed and on the ball on this issue all along. The first objections to the inclusion of British soldiers in the measure came not from Irish Nationalists of any stamp but from British Conservatives angry that soldiers of the Queen were being put on the same moral plane as Provos. It was only when this brouhaha bounced the issue into the mainstream that the SDLP cottoned on that the Shinners had left themselves wide open, and normally off-target Marksmen began taking aim.
Sinn Féin arrogance had been matched by SDLP opportunism.
The intellectual level of the dispute was accurately reflected at local level in the yah-boo bust-up"You started it!", "Naw, it was yousens!"at Derry council last week. A pair of party prize-fighters re-enacted the scratching-match on Friday morning on Foyle. If I'd been Jenny Witt, I'd have dispensed with the questions after the first couple of minutes and given the pair of them a clip on the ear.
The Nationalist rivals have no disagreement when it comes to serious examples of Irish parties collaborating with imperialism. Both aim for a hugger-mugger association with the leading imperialist operators on the planet, the US administration.
There may be governments here and there every bit as odious, or even more so, but there's none as powerful or as ready to use violence to impose its will on the world as the Bush-Cheney regime.
Yet the attitude of the SDLP to Bush-Cheney is, "Yessir, yessir, three bags full, sir!"
Whereas the attitude of Sinn Féin is, "We'll make that four bags, sir!"
Only a dwindling minority of Americans would abase themselves before Bush in this manner.
Listening to Conor Murphy and Alex Atwood disputing the high moral ground with regard to collusion with imperialism on Hearts and Minds on BBC on Thursday night was like watching two bald men mud-wrestling for possession of a comb.