SDLP looking keen to see the fruits of their labour
The SDLP's annual conference starts tomorrow and the party is working hard not to let Peter Robinson's unsolicited endorsements go to their heads.
Although he predicted eventual doom and irrelevance for the party, he said that in the here and now they were setting the agenda for nationalism. "Too often, Alex Attwood's position one day is Sinn Fein's the next," Mr Robinson complained.
The SDLP, under Alasdair McDonnell (right), will want to keep that record up and hope that it builds a better future than the one Mr Robinson has in mind for them.
At the weekend, the SDLP's established links to the labour movement will be foregrounded with the Irish Labour Party, represented by Eamon Gilmore, the tanaiste, and Vernon Coaker, the Shadow Secretary of State, from the British Labour party. We may see signs of the party attempting to broaden its support-base to labour-minded people across the sectarian divide.
There will also be four policy papers on parades, north/south relations, the past and reform of Stormont institutions, which are still being worked on. They hope that the finished product will keep Sinn Fein and the DUP on the hop. In particular, the parading paper is likely to pour scorn on the big parties' attempts to replace the Parades Commission and will warn them against reviving plans which were rejected before.