It’s the Labour Party in Northern Ireland’s conference on Saturday 10 March in Belfast’s Malone Lodge Hotel. All party conferences are fascinating people watching events. The smaller parties often exhibit a greater passion when arguing over policy issues than the larger parties.
On Saturday morning, LPNI will be holding their AGM and conducting their internal business, electing internal party officers and discussing members’ motions. LPNI do have quotas for female representation: at least three women must be elected to the six positions on the national Executive Committee, and at least two of the five Conference Arrangements Committee must be female.
Update – Details of the Labour NI AGM and afternoon conference (technically not a full ‘party conference’) in a new post, including a synopsis (and audio) of the main talks.
Like some of the other local party conferences, it’s a family-friendly event and “members are invited to bring supervised children”.
Since the last General Election, the Labour Party in Northern Ireland has increased its activity. Labour NI’s vice chair Kevin McAdam says that their “membership is up by 70%” since May 2010. Delegates have attended the main UK Labour Party conference, and they’ve been helping with Labour Party campaigns in the Republic of Ireland too.
While LPNI members ship is measured in hundreds rather than thousands, union membership is in excess of a quarter of a million and of those around 32,000 trade union members pay a political levy. Labour HQ has long kept Northern Ireland as a no go area for contesting elections. Labour NI argue that while the SDLP has merits and much support from Labour members, the lack of a formal link with the trade unions together with the nationalist ideology makes it an imperfect solution for Labour activists in NI.
Labour NI continue to lobby to be able to field candidates and contest elections in NI. They would designate as ‘Other’ if elected to the Assembly and would seek to avoid being just seen as the unionist alternative to the SDLP.
The afternoon sessions are open to the public from 2pm looking at Education, the Economy and the relationship with the UK Labour Party.
- Prof Tony Gallagher will be leading the discussion on “meeting the challenge of continuing educational inequities” with contributions from the NI Council for Ethnic Minorities as well as Platform for Change.
- Pamela Nash – MP for Airdrie and Shotts, 27 year old Baby of the House, and Parliamentary Private Secretary to Vernon Coaker (Shadow Secretary of State for NI) – will address the conference.
- Finally, an economic debate will feature input from the Co-operative Party and NICVA.