Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Ineffective Ritchie will have to face the music

During last year's Westminster election campaign, Margaret Ritchie invited the electorate to vote for the SDLP because they "take their seats and make a difference", whereas Sinn Fein elected representatives do not sit on London's benches.

As principled abstentionists, Sinn Fein rightly argued that MPs from the six counties are ineffective due to the very small number of them and are, therefore, incapable of stopping any Tory policy decisions. Given Ms Ritchie's recent record, it seems she has proven her political rivals correct.

Over a year later, the SDLP are in Westminster and Margaret Ritchie proudly announces she has secured a vote on the licensing of music in public places.

Not that she is trying to make it more affordable, or trying to give small businesses a discount; no, she is calling for the present system of two licences to be amalgamated to make for easier processing.

No statement on how the SDLP failed to stop the block grant being reduced by £4bn; no statement on stopping benefit cuts; no statement on stopping job losses; no statement on bringing illegal wars to an end. Nothing. But, at last, a statement on securing a debate on how we can make the collection of a music tax more efficient.

It will be of little surprise if the SDLP and Margaret Ritchie are left to face the music as the electorate examine their record.

CHRIS HAZZARD

Drumaness, Co Down

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