The Social Democratic Party - Where Now?

In the recent Peterborough Parliamentary by-election there was a candidate whose experience and expertise placed him head and shoulders above the rest.

That candidate was Patrick O’Flynn of the SDP. Here he is on YouTube sticking it to the pompous Brussels elite in the EU Parliament when he was an MEP.

Impressive eh?

But Patrick didn’t win in Peterborough. In fact he lost his deposit.

Meanwhile in an election almost certainly sullied by voting fraud, the Brexit Party candidate, coming from nowhere also lost when the seat was stolen from him.

Arguably if the election had been fair and free from cheating, the Brexit Party candidate would have won and we would have our first Brexit Party MP.

But this is not about the Brexit Party.

This is about the SDP or Social Democratic Party to give it its full name.

I expect most folk reading this already know about the history of this party but here’s a two point resume. Skip it if you know this already.

  • The SDP changed British Politics forever back in the 1980’s. Then it went through a near death experience. The party staggered along for years with a handful of members. Recently it has gone through a rapid expansion as the Brexit betrayal by both the Tories and Labour came to the fore. 
  • The implosion of UKIP along with disillusionment with the anti-Brexit bias of both Conservative and Labour elites gave the SDP a ready supply of new members. I understand the membership now currently stands around 10,000. Which is a hell of a leap forward!

So why, with such an excellent candidate as Patrick O’Flynn, did the SDP do so badly in this by-election?

I believe the answer to that is simple. It is anonymity.

While Patrick (and others) have done stirling work on the MSM and social media to promote the party, it still  has no edge. No clear identity to the public.

Compare the SDP to the pompous odious identity of the Green Party. While nobody really knows the crack-pot policies the Greens expound people still know “who” they are.

The Green Party has achieved this because they have for years successfully ridden of the backs of drama laden romantic attention seekers who have courted publicity at every stage.

These people played the victim (or the victim proxy) even when they were actually the intimidators, going around ruining peoples lives, jobs and (ironically on many occasions) the environment itself with their antics.

But the Green Party shamelessly hooked up with these characters, rode the wave and now has one MP and many councillors.

The SDP  cannot do what the Green party has done. After-all the SDP is anything but an extremist party.

There is no publicity hungry enterprise that goes out of its way to promote social cohesion that the SDP can piggy-back off.

There is no pool of fanatics who will make lots of noise and disruption in the name of common sense.

There is no extremist driven ideology promoting the middle ground that the SDP can use to power it forward.

In essence the SDP is “The Sensible Party” and sadly in the real world this means it will fare even less well than its namesake in Monty Python.

Clearly, if the SDP cannot make a bigger impact on Parliamentary Elections than at Peterborough, especially when offering a truly superb candidate as Patrick O’Flynn, then it needs to re-think its strategy.

Especially as Parliamentary elections  are ruinously expensive in money, time and effort.

Even if there was a miracle pathway to parliamentary success it would be pretty much choked off today by the Brexit Party. Both partys are strongly pro-brexit but today all the electoral firepower is with the Brexit Party.

If anything, in this narrow point in time where Brexit will be the electoral priority of those who would potentially vote SDP then a vote for the  SDP will only be a counter-productive vote splitter in Parliamentary elections.

After Brexit though, things change.

Unlike the Brexit Party, the SDP is not seen (if it is seen at all!) as a single issue group. The Brexit Party is. Much as it tries to say otherwise it is seen as a single issue concern. The clue is in the name.

There are also avenues in other tiers of UK government that the Brexit Party appears to be simply not interested in. These offer fertile grounds for the SDP and some are in fact starved of any political input from just about anyone.

So could the SDP have a relationship with the Brexit party? And how can the SDP seek a pathway to influence and power in the near term other than through Westminster?

Here's the full set of posts on this topic.

The Social Democratic Party - Where Now?

The SDP and the Brexit Party

SDP: Local Politics and the Low Hanging Fruit

Arming the Parish Councillors

Parish Councillors: Party Aligned? or Independent?

Parish Councils are Dying: So What?

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