The SDLP candidate for North Antrim in the forthcoming Westminster elections, Declan O’Loan says politicians must offer ‘renewed hope’ to the electorate.
He said: “Two Northern Ireland parties including the SDLP could have a critical role in choosing the next UK government. Profound issues present themselves including the austerity debate, the future of the National Health Service, and welfare reform. Even the very future of the UK is in question with continued pressure for Scottish independence and deep disquiet in the English regions. At a deeper level, globalisation and the power of the market are leading to a deep disillusion with politics and a lack of belief that any government can make a difference to the lives of the voters. SDLP members will take their seats at Westminster to contribute to these vital debates.
“The last government started with a fiscal crisis. Whatever anyone thinks of its austerity response, it is surely time to start offering hope to the people. The traditional Keynesian response of government investment to stimulate the economy should now be adopted. I heard a senior NI prisons manager recently saying that major investment in the prisons estate would pay for itself through greater efficiency within a few years. Government borrowing for such a purpose is perfectly prudent and can provide a huge stimulus to the construction industry.
“While it is a Westminster election, voters will be strongly influenced by their views on local politics. The SDLP views with alarm the corruption of the model of partnership government that it designed and eventually got embedded in the Good Friday Agreement. But we still have to find a way to live together here, and the acrimony at the Assembly is not it. I remain convinced that the principles, values and vision of the SDLP are the blueprint for the future. As we move into the anniversary of the 1916 proclamation, we need to show that we are at least seriously striving to achieve its noble objectives. A vote for the SDLP is a statement in favour of that sentiment.”