Labour NI not allowed to stand candidates: “an abdication of responsible political leadership, at a time when we have a leadership void in NI” (updated)

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The NI Conservatives didn’t miss when they issued a press statement titled: Labour Party Abandons People in Northern Ireland. Party spokesperson Bill Manwaring said:

It’s pretty rich for Vernon Coaker to pontificate about how the government should respond to disorder in Northern Ireland when his party is not even prepared to stand candidates in elections here … Labour is opting out of engaging with Northern Ireland voters and the problems they face.

Labour Party in Northern IrelandThis was in response to the decision by the Labour Party NEC’s Organising Committee that the Labour Party should not start organising electorally in NI. For years the local Labour movement has been campaigning and lobbying to be allowed to stand candidates in NI elections. The traditional British linkup with the SDLP always stood in the way. However, Labour NI (technically, the Northern Ireland Constituency Labour Party) stepped up the pressure last year, and it was a central strand of their afternoon conference in March 2012.

The local party organisation issued a statement expressing their disappointment and calling the NEC’s decision “an abdication of responsible political leadership, at a time when we have a leadership void in Northern Ireland”

After the last few weeks it should be clear that to unite our divided community, we need a new brand of anti-sectarian electoral politics, based on shared Labour Party values …

The Labour Party is continuing to deny people in Northern Ireland their fundamental democratic rights in a discriminatory way. We remain unable to vote for the party that aspires to govern us and which, if successful in the next general election, will set our taxes and determine the level of our public services and benefits. We are all effectively disenfranchised by the Labour Party.

It is ironic that, on the same day that the NEC report was issued, Tom Watson MP, Labour’s campaign manager, circulated an email to all Labour Party members in Northern Ireland asking for financial contributions for the Labour Party’s general election campaign, claiming the party was: ‘fighting for fairness in the North, South, East and West – in Scotland and in Wales. There will be no ‘no go’ areas for Labour’.

The Belfast Telegraph report that SDLP (and/or its leader Alasdair McDonnell) spoke with a forked tongue, publicly telling the paper last year that “he had no objections to UK Labour standing in single transferable vote elections like local government and Stormont but drew the line at Westminster contests” while a leaked paper presented to the NEC Organising Committee suggests:

SDLP representatives spoke strongly against the prospect of the Labour Party standing candidates in Northern Ireland. They said it would be seen as a hostile act which would cause a deterioration in the relationship between the SDLP and the Labour Party. In Westminster the SDLP votes with the Labour Party on almost every occasion and considers itself a sister party.

Labour NI AGM table goodiesLabour NI is not pleased. Their statement continued:

We regret that the suppression of our democratic right to vote Labour is based on opposition from other parties. Sadly, the SDLP, a party that developed out of the civil rights movement, now wants to deny people the most basic civil right of all, the right to vote for the party which may form our government. The party of civil rights insists on suppressing Labour Party politics, even though we now have PR STV in local, Assembly and European elections. The SDLP is being kept on ‘life support’ at the cost of our democratic rights.

The NEC promises to review its decision during each parliament. A rather feeble olive branch was thrown at the local activists: their proposal for a Council of Labour for Ireland was supported to look at policies across SDLP, Irish Labour Party and Labour (NI).

Last March I commented:

A ‘yes’ vote from the NEC will move Labour NI onto the next stage of their policy formation and organisation. A ‘no’ vote will jeopardise their recent progress and inevitably frustrate members, both old and new.

The phoenix of the old Northern Ireland Labour Party is still smoking, but there’s little chance of a powerful beast rising from the ashes.

So much for Labour’s “One Nation” rhetoric, amended to “Nation and a half” by LPNI member Ben Monteith.

Update – A few more quotes from the information the NEC had to hand to make clear the stances being taken by The Irish Labour Party and the SDLP.

ILP:

The Irish Labour Party’s representatives … noted that many of their own members in Northern Ireland were pushing for the ILP to do likewise. Indeed they stated that if Labour were to enter the electoral race in Northern Ireland, the ILP would face irresistible pressure to follow suit. However, they had serious concerns about either party taking such a step. Principally they were convinced that if either party became involved in Northern Irish electoral politics it would be to the detriment of the SDLP, which is already weakened by the rise of Sinn Fein.

SDLP:

The SDLP representatives also said that, in Northern Ireland, any Labour Party candidates would be fighting for the same votes as the SDLP and so would split the social democratic vote. The SDLP pointed out that the demands for differentiation in electoral competition would force the SDLP to be vocally critical of certain Labour stances or tactics.

 Link to the whole report.

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  • Ulster Press Centre

    Surely questions need to be asked as to why UK Labour is so closely linked to a political party which believes guilty terrorists and murderers should be released from jail before they finish their sentence, protestant children should be arrested for playing a musical instrument in public and catholic children should be brainwashed into glorifying sectarian serial killers by naming kiddies playparks after them.

    What does Mr Coaker think of what the SDLP have been up to over the past six months???

  • Comrade Stalin

    UPC,

    Stop the whataboutery already. It’s utterly boring.

    Mick – I think you need to do a sockpuppet check.

  • Ulster Press Centre

    It’s a valid question Comrade.

  • Comrade Stalin

    No it isn’t, it’s stupid whataboutery and MOPEry.

  • Ulster Press Centre

    A party which may form the next government of one of the world’s most powerful nations has close ties to a political party which believes terrorists should be above the law and it’s ok to brainwash young catholic children into thinking religious serial killers should be glorified.

    That would be a scandal in any other western country.

  • http://alaninbelfast.blogspot.com Alan in Belfast

    UPC – stick to the subjects of the post – the SDLP’s double message, Labour HQ’s desire not to annoy related parties on the island of Ireland, and the brakes being put on Labour NI’s quite normal ambitions.

  • otto

    “The Belfast Telegraph report that SDLP (and/or its leader Alasdair McDonnell) spoke with a forked tongue, publicly telling the paper last year that “he had no objections to UK Labour standing in single transferable vote elections like local government and Stormont but drew the line at Westminster contests” while a leaked paper presented to the NEC Organising Committee suggests:

    SDLP representatives spoke strongly against the prospect of the Labour Party standing candidates in Northern Ireland. They said it would be seen as a hostile act which would cause a deterioration in the relationship between the SDLP and the Labour Party. In Westminster the SDLP votes with the Labour Party on almost every occasion and considers itself a sister party.”

    The quoted “leak” only mentions Westminster. Where’s the inconsistency?

  • Obelisk

    Well, Labour is a more attractive proposition to vote for in my opinion than the Conservatives that is for sure. Probably more so than the SDLP too which is growing increasingly moribund in my opinion.

    The constitutional issue is also going to be an issue, at least for me personally. I’d only vote for a party that was either pro-United Ireland or agnostic on the border at least. A whiff of pro-union and I wouldn’t consider them.

    And what is to stop a potential Labour NI going the way of the Conservatives here, i.e. a running joke with multiple re-launches than head nowhere.

    Perhaps Labour NI could be it’s own organization but pledge to take the Westminster whip while maintaining equal links with Labour in the UK and Labour in the Republic?

  • http://alaninbelfast.blogspot.com Alan in Belfast

    otto –

    > SDLP representatives spoke strongly against the prospect of the Labour Party standing candidates in Northern Ireland.

    Which suggests standing candidates [at non-specific elections] in NI, including but not limited to Westminster ones.

    Frankly, if SDLP were confident of their vote and a winning manifesto, they should be happy to go up against other parties. Surely time for the SDLP to enjoy as good relations as possible with other parties like Labour, but not to directly interfere with their plans.

    Or maybe that should be the other way round – time for Labour to listen to put their paying members first.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    Possibly more than frustration in local “labour” ranks.I heard that their membership secretary Jenny Muir has defected to the Greens.
    Ironically local “labour” wants links with British Labour Party but Greens are an all Ireland Party.

  • OneNI

    SDLP: “Please dont upset our sectarian apple-cart”

  • http://newunionism.blogspot.com Ed Simpson

    FJH, when are you coming over to us Greens? ;-) Or was that just facebook craic?

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    It amounts to a simple set of calculations. For a start, off the top of my head, and out of many:

    1. Were Labour to launch any potentially-viable electoral campaign, for any success it would have to cannibalise the SDLP urban vote. Does that not already imply being sucked into the great tribal divide?

    So, 1b: What are the distinctive policies?

    2. Does anybody of intellect and perception believe Labour could organise outside the urban areas (which probably means Belfast)? Or having done so, have any impact?

    And 2b: Could there be a knock-on cost, particularly at this sensitive moment, in Scotland, especially Glasgow?

    3. More pain without gain. As of today the three SDLP MPs (not completely to forget Lady Sylvia) offer some degree of parliamentary cushion to Labour in extremis. Nobody expects a massive Labour majority in the next parliament. As of now, letting the dogs out in NI has a cost — McDonnell for sure, likely Durkan. Two down, for what in return?

    4. Who pays?

    5. Following [3] and [4], which offers the better return on investment — a punt on NI, or GB Tory/Labour marginals and/or a squeeze on the softening LibDem vote?

    For more on that, see Lewis Baston’s October 2012 paper.

    5. Where are the name-checking specific-to-NI candidates?

  • iluvni

    Just another victory for the sectarian Labour Party Irish Society then…

  • DC

    I will have to fess up about being a member, my view was to stick to local council elections only and leave it at that when making the pitch to stand. The idea being to go on a listening exercise across NI, across communities and see what comes up, but other people wanted big time stuff at the outset like going for westminster and all.

    Key people have left already, I too have heard of a move to the Green Party, surprisingly in a nice way none to the Alliance Party, well not yet anyway.

    It would appear that the SDLP has been two-faced and disingenous, it probably told Labour that if it stands here it will split the vote at Westminster and Labour will ultimately lose out in the end.

    It does put Labour in the same bracket as certain loyalists, the undemocratic loyalists, Loyalists and Labour against democracy.

  • http://nicentreright.wordpress.com/ Seymour Major

    I cant disagree with what Malcolm at 10.24 has said.

    The SDLP has for sime time been the “Elephant in the room” as far as frustrated labour activists in Northern Ireland are concerned. There will come a point when significant supporters of that party defect to Alliance. Perhaps then there will be the right conditions for Labour to campaign in Northern Ireland.

  • http://newunionism.blogspot.com Ed Simpson

    Seymour, I’m not sure why you think a party of generally left wing types would go to the Alliance party.

  • Scáth Shéamais

    Labour are pro-Union so they’re chances of eating into the SDLP vote are probably limited to a fair degree, though I guess there are certain battlegrounds where even some transfer wouldbe damaging for the SDLP.

  • David Crookes

    If the union was safe for centuries to come, the British Labour Party would be organizing in NI.

    The LP’s conduct isn’t a matter of wanting to oblige the SDLP, which failed to support Labour on That Night in 1979. On the same night Gerry Fitt put tremendous pressure on Frank Maguire not to support the Callaghan government.

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    DC @ 11:00 am:

    My alter-ego also carries the card, as does the Lady in my Life, and the Pert Young Piece. It all makes for domestic harmony.

    That apologia out of the way (which came as no surprise to anyone), I would differ from DC @ 11:00 am on two points:

    1. I’d see standing at local level, but not at constituency level (or even at every constituency), a very poor cop-out. It might, just might, be a ploy at the first iteration; but after that it looks like funk. It might also provide a stick to beat the Party across the whole of the UK.

    2. I cannot see anything ideologically adrift with an accretion of socialists and lefties in the Greens. Indeed, I’d wish them well. Just find as good a candidate and representative as Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion.

  • otto

    “Labour are pro-Union so they’re chances of eating into the SDLP vote are probably limited to a fair degree”

    Really – I though they were for consensual reunification? Are you confusing Scottish and Welsh policy with Irish?

    DC – your thing for a party having a variety of designations makes sense now. Are you really hoping that nationalist (perhaps ex-SDLP) labour candidates would make common cause with non-aligned and unionist ones?

    How would the campaigning work (even if the internal politics did)?

    If we weren’t starting from here I’d be a fan of the idea but as Malcolm says – is it really worth the effort?

  • otto

    “I cannot see anything ideologically adrift with an accretion of socialists and lefties in the Greens. Indeed, I’d wish them well. Just find as good a candidate and representative as Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion.”

    Environmentalism seems to work better than social solidarity as a basis for cross-community partnership. Shared concerns, not respectful of borders, and commonly indoctrinated into both protestant and catholic kids. Good excuse for getting together without getting called a lundy or a west-Brit.

    Also – endangered species don’t tend to let themselves down and upset cross-community relations down by rioting over flags. ;).

  • http://alaninbelfast.blogspot.com Alan in Belfast

    Added a couple of extra report quotes to the end of the post to explain the reasoning put up by ILP and SDLP against Labour NI being allowed to organise electorally. And for good measure there’s a link to the whole report.

  • otto

    “The SDLP representatives also said that, in Northern Ireland, any Labour Party candidates would be fighting for the same votes as the SDLP and so would split the social democratic vote.”

    Some of the same votes. I don’t think the SDLP try very hard for votes in Kilcooley.

    Any Greens know how the North-South, East-West thing works? If the NI Greens are a franchise of the ROI party how do you link up with the UK Greens? If you’re careerist can you have a career in both parties?

    Is there a model for the SDLP to officially procure both the Irish Labour and UK Labour franchises?

  • Scáth Shéamais

    Otto: Really – I though they were for consensual reunification? Are you confusing Scottish and Welsh policy with Irish?

    They changed their ‘unity by consent’ position to an officially neutral one in the late 90s.

    That said, they’ve made a lot of comments over recent years that are explicitly pro-Union. Take Gordon Brown for example, speaking as Prime Minister in 2008:

    “And stronger together as England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland we can make our United Kingdom even better.”

    Ed Miliband made similar comments last year when speaking on ‘Defending the Union’.

  • http://nicentreright.wordpress.com/ Seymour Major

    Ed at 18 January 2013 at 11:06 am

    Many would see your comment as missing the obvious.

    A very large number of SDLP supporters are not “left wing types” as you put it. Many of them people support them purely because they are seen as a friendly, moderate, non-unionist party. In due course, their current supporters will also see that they have outlived their usefulness.

    Alliance will have their moment in the Sun but it will have nothing to do with left-right politics. At some point (probably within the next 10 years) people will vote for them in very significant numbers purely because they want to break the Orange-Green system.

  • SDLP supporter

    I truly wish that British Labour would shoot this particular fox and tell Labour NI to go ahead and stand in any election they choose. My view is that they will make very little impression. Speaking personally, as a social democrat with long-standing SDLP membership I despise British Labour for their cosying up to rapacious banker/City types and the lying war-mongering of Bliar (sic).

    Bring it on, I say. Maybe Boyd Black will surpass the princely 98 votes he got in the Fulham by-election.

  • otto

    “Speaking personally, as a social democrat with long-standing SDLP membership”

    Any thoughts on increasing social democracy and labour representation in unionist areas? Does that have to wait to the far side of a successful unity referendum? What about the (Irish) Labour Party, Northern Ireland Committee something like the Green Party NI?

    The Unions are organised like that. Why not the labour movement? 215,000 union members in NI. Should you not be trying to represent all of them?

  • http://newunionism.blogspot.com Ed Simpson

    Seymour, I thought you were referring to the Labour Party types in NI and not SDLP types. Looking back at your original post, it’s an easy mistake to make.

  • DC

    Otto

    Were you referring to me and the dual designation option for Labour if elected to NI Assembly?

  • otto

    “Were you referring to me and the dual designation option for Labour if elected to NI Assembly?”

    I was DC. You’ve talked about Alliance dividing across the designations to have some influence on votes in the current system and I wondered if you thought the same about a future Labour (NI) Party. One party, multiple designations.

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    SDLP supporter @ 2:51 pm: I truly wish that British Labour would shoot this particular fox and tell Labour NI to go ahead and stand in any election they choose.

    Come on, be reasonable! That is a recipe for general antagonisms and rapid disappointments.

    Sooner or later there will be an incoming Labour government. Say that around lunch-time on 8th May 2015, Ed Miliband arrives at Buck House to do the hand-kissing lark.

    If that comes to pass, it is most likely to be a wafer-thin majority — more 1974 than 1997, perhaps even a minority government. I simply do not conceive, after the ConDem experience, of anyone happily entering formal coalition — even if there is a substantial third party left standing). No: it’ll be “Good of the nation … back us or sack us …” (rapidly followed by as much jam today as is available, and rather more than can be afforded).

    So, think of Voltaire on his death-bed:
    — Do you renounce the devil and all his works?
    — This is no time for making new enemies.

  • DC

    Otto

    Yes that’s right, I put a proposal or an idea to the floor years ago that if Labour stood that all members should be made to join both Irish and British Labour, carry two cards but at a reduced rate, obviously slightly more expensive than just carrying one membership. IF that could have been agreed then something more structured across the two parties could have been built up.

    The idea being to attempt to be an honest broker and build up support along sectarian lines perhaps along the sectarian-lite edges and on certain issues in order to overcome deep divisions and close the gap that way. Such a move and positioning i felt could only come about via a new party. Eg Alliance took sides on the flag and look where that got them, the main charge against them being they are seen to be unionist and don’t have any offices in nationalist areas, which if they had i think people would have had less of a gripe as to why they did what they did around the flag.

    But anyway, Labour opted for the *anti-sectarian* approach as opposed to this bi-national approach which could have appealed to the more ethno-national constituencies out there, Labour seems to be heading down the Alliance road which while being anti-sectarian it is still failing to deal with sectarianism in any meaningful way.

  • Framer

    Sadly this one is no longer a runner with devolution/the Peace Process the only show allowed in town, although I am surprised the SDLP is still vindictively turning the knife. Anyway Dublin could always be relied on to stop it.
    There was an opportunity with the Campaign for Equal Citizenship in the window of opportunity for integrationism after the Anglo-Irish agreement, and then when the Conservatives dropped their discriminatory ban.
    But electorally the tide went out.
    It remains and essentially continues to be an utterly unique denial of a civil right – so unique Strasbourg never thought to ban it – that you were not allowed to join or vote for your own government’s party.
    It was of course a legacy of the 1921 partition settlement when NI was told to butt out of UK political life and concentrate on the one, irresolvable, thing that divided its population – our ethnic dispute.
    Labour enabled Glasgow and Liverpool to get past theirs.
    With Labour out of things, the Communist Party of Northern Ireland took up its franchise in the trade unions ensuring that Protestant working class leadership was beheaded and trained up in anti-imperialism (Irish nationalism).
    Liberal and progressive Protestants have ever since been only able to concentrate on hating Unionism, leaving loyalism without an officer class and we know what flowed from that after 1972.
    And why we have what we have by way of Alliance’s flag vote and the protesters.

  • DC

    The rationale for two cards and joining both parties being that Labour is supposed to be internationalist, I thought there was enough stretch there under a socialist banner to bring the two together especially seeing as it is big enough to put itself about as ‘global’. But now it would seem only pretending to be global and internationalist in outlook.

  • SDLP supporter

    A few moments’ thought should show why the idea of the BLP standing here, particularly in Westminster elections is nuts. At the moment, McDonnell, Ritchie and Durkan take the BLP whip and are reliable lobby voting fodder. The only SDLP seat where Labour NI could affect the result is probably South Belfast. Why score an own goal by helping someone like the awful Ruth Patterson into Westminster and, say, standing in East Belfast could lead to the admittedly most impressive Naomi Long lose her seat? That really would be curtains for the LNI project. A bit of realism here, please.

  • otto

    “A few moments’ thought should show why the idea of the BLP standing here, particularly in Westminster elections is nuts.”

    The BLP running alongside or in opposition to the SDLP certainly sounds like an expensive and not very effective idea but I think DC was suggesting that the SDLP become part of his bi-national party project. Do you not think there’s any case for that? The SDLP did run against Naomi in 2010.

  • DC

    I guess you can add to that pretending to be democratic as well.

  • DC

    Otto – you suggesting a collapse of the SDLP into a confederate of sorts Labour party in NI, joint Labour membership with links to both parties and countries in some way?

  • otto

    “You suggesting a collapse of the SDLP into a confederate of sorts Labour party in NI, joint Labour membership with links to both parties and countries in some way?”

    I thought you were.

    It’s a good thing the socialist international parent company doesn’t set performance standards. If it did they might be wondering what the SDLP are doing with the NI franchise if they only manage 2.4% of the vote in an urban constituency like East Belfast.

  • David Crookes

    SDLP supporter, you nearly gave me a seizure at 4.27 pm. Is there a chance that the lady whom you mention will be a candidate for the South Belfast seat?

  • http://www.wordpress.ianjamesparsley.com IJP

    To be fair, it is a bit rich of the NI Conservatives to attack Labour for not standing, when they themselves did not in 2011!

    Seymour has it right: before we move on from sectarian politics, we need to unite and vote against it in no uncertain terms.

  • Framer

    So when we can prove ourselves politically sanitised – IJP – and without a sectarian stain, we will be allowed by our masters to move on to better things.
    What twaddle and moonshine.
    The only way, and it is a slender hope now, is to move into politics that are bigger than our insoluble conflict.
    That is what multi-national entities like the UK are about and for.
    Otherwise form a British party (so named) which when it gets enough votes from both ethnicities proving our bona fides can dissolve into Labour and the Tories.

  • DC

    Otto

    It would have had to have been a new party as collapsing the SDLP into Labour would have imported some of the more conservative types.

    Basically the way I see it/saw it is that – you set up a new party, you say here’s the way things are going to be orientated and put those policy positions etc on the long slow burn and gain support from people that are into that, make the pitch as brand new without importing any baggage. That was beauty of a new party, a good clean start offering something different would have been half the battle.

    Having such a party constituted in the way expressed above would have overcome those issues around ‘oh we aren’t Irish enough, oh we aren’t British enough’ – simply become members of both and structure Labour NI under the two in a fluid but meaningful way. I felt there should’ve been enough stretch under a socialist ticket for that but when it came to the committee i got something like 9 votes the rest coming in successfully high 20s and 30s.

    Maybe i was too strident and passionate, i remember those with irish accents at the meeting did seem to be more favourable to the idea. But it was years ago now.

    Although I’m still there paying my dues and like any decent loyal prod we don’t do walking away.

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    It looks as if the thread is rapidly descending into the usual recriminations.

    Sad, but inevitable — and Alan in Belfast’s head post properly noted the whole thing derives from partisan sniping.

    Before I opt out, I’d like to restate the difference between principle and practicalities. And there is no practical likelihood of Tory or Labour making it big in the present context. So why throw money at it? Money is a quantity with which no party is over-endowed (despite anti-Tory propaganda).

    I’d doubt there are many here who would argue that NI politics should, for ever, be based on the sectarian divide. Ideologies (right/left/centre), yes. Class, possibly — though we’re all little bourgeois now. The obvious one, perhaps the most desirable one is financial interest: urban versus county/country (which, mayhap, is what the two main English parties are evolving into). Pro or anti. NIMBYs and wind farmers and crackers. Whatever.

    Does it all, ultimately, come down to where you buy your underwear?

    In all of that, I’d hope that the ‘difference’ was maintained. I’d never want NI, any part of it, to be just another Home Counties retail-park. I want my soda-bread and potato-farls. Even an occasional ‘death-by-cholesterol’ Ulster fry.

    All of that has me humming with Dominic Behan:

    The sea, oh the sea is the gradh geal mo croide
    Long may it flow between England and me
    It’s a sure guarantee that some hour we’ll be free
    Oh! thank God we’re surrounded by water.

    Now, Gatwick permitting, next stop Unter den Linden. See y’all later next week.

  • DC

    Was that directed at me, if so i’m not bitter it was just an idea based on working the ethnic energies out there in NI and attempting to shift them in a new direction converging than diverging through a new sort of organising and labour organisation. i guess an idea that i prob didn’t sophisticate enough at the time and just thought others would see the sheer brilliance of it! :)

    There was some good work done recently around human trafficking and the stance on that was sound by Labour NI in that trafficking shouldn’t be a synonym for prostitution or perhaps more correctly a DUP-led trojan horse for a right-wing policing clamp down on prostitution in NI.

  • Seamuscamp

    Bleak “Loyalism” cries: “But there’s none to represent me. This isn’t democratic”. Labour NI cries:”And there’s none to represent me. This isn’t democratic”.

    Sorry chaps, your democratic rights are:
    The Right to Vote.
    The Right to form a Party.
    The Right to persuade others

    In both your cases, your problem is that you don’t have enough people who think like you to have any prospect of winning a seat. Inadequate the UUP and the DUP might be, but Unionists continue to vote for them. Dull and ineffective the SDLP might be, but they have a Nationalist clientele who vote for them. Who have the “Loyalists” got, who have Labour NI got with the ability to persuade others?

  • Comrade Stalin

    I love hearing the NI Conservatives talk about people abdicating responsibility, given that the Prime Minister has had sweet FA to say about the recent problems here. Why hasn’t he visited Belfast yet, or offered to hold talks ?

    The Conservative Party don’t give a damn about this place and everybody knows it.

  • commonsenseunionist

    yes, indeed this goes to the very crux of the matter and indeed could be the entire problem.
    There is little doubt that the DUP and the UU are more or less conservatives. They will tend to swing towards the rural well off and poach votes from the protestant working class. Everybody knows that. They are however entirely incapable of representing that body of people which relies on industrial work for a living, such as the folk of east Belfast.There is nothing wrong with relying on industrial work for a living but it is pretty hard when there is none. In the working class, for want of better words, areas of England the politicians of all shades attempt to bring real industrial jobs such as Nissan on Tyneside. Without the labour party such interest may not be expressed. In other words English politicians have moved beyond the politics of the 18th century. Our politicians have not. It is interesting to note the lack of new large industrial plants in east Belfast replacing those that were lost. Of course this is no surprise given the political representation over the years.Look at the issues some of these politicians get worked up about gay rights………… abortion………….. prostitution…………. all areas of personal activity and choice regardless of your views. Imagine a local unionist MP or MLA arising some fine morning and getting as worked up about the lack of industrial jobs in east Belfast you will wait a while. You see people of the protestant working class they know you will vote for them anyhow since the alternative may be a person of who does not share your cultural outlook.
    This is where the Labour party comes in.
    Labour stands agains Welsh and Scottish Nationalists but not against Irish and Northern Irish Nationalists.
    We need the Labour party to stand here in this country in places like east Belfast and North belfast ousting the conservatives who have done little or nothing for the people of these areas.
    Message to Labour UK …….. you dont need to send someone over here the local representative will be a Belfast man or woman maybe even a protestant he or she might watch the glens or the blues at the weekend he will sound a bit different but he will have the same views as you.As for the SDLP well since when have they been a socialist new socialist or whatever you want to call it party. The SDLP is a middle class catholic party similar to the unionists.An SDLP man will never be elected in east Belfast. So what is it then continous uncaring conservative representation or some good old UK labour.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The idea that New Labour are the party of the industrial working class seems a bit far fetched to me these days.

    But I think their reasons for not standing here are shameful. It is clear that the SDLP used all their connections to nobble the Labour leadership, and that’s a nasty business all round. It doesn’t matter in practical terms as it is highly unlikely that Labour would fare any better than the Conservatives – but it’s the principles which are all wrong here.

  • commonsenseunionist

    Thank you Comrade, and I do know whaT mean about new labour not being the party of the industrial working class. I did pick my words carefully though as the industrial working class in our end of the world economy actually do quite well.Car workers on Tyneside could be classed middle class here given their wages.I suppose I mean people who make their living in and around the production process, which if there were any in east Belfast would be skilled engineering, and quite well paid. However ther will not be any such work in east Belfast as such precious work will go elsewhere in the UK since we do not have representation which is adept at steering the same here against stiff competiton from the UK. Lets be honest about the entire UK operation. UK mainland politicians will seek work for their constituents. Given some of the local MPs in England are also government ministers or former ministers what hope have we. Our politicians would rather spend, let me see…. half a year debating the great danger posed by a couple of gay people marrying.Even the semi colon is not safe
    ( readers may want to research that one) But , seriously politics is a serious business it is not a platform or should not be for some peoples way out views. My commonsnese unionism tells me we need all the UK parties in here. Imagine, and think about this, where would a lot of our local MLAs fit in the UK political party scene. Which parties would they join. Could they join the conservative party mmm……. they support gay rights bit difficult for some. The labour party ….. bit socialist not enough God in there too many Darwinists. The lib dems well the title gives it a way liberal and democratic that would never do. So have we a set of politicians who do not fit in with the mainstream UK body political. Where does that leave us ……. let me think there is a country not that far away where politicians often have similar views maybe they should look there food for thought