NI Tories lend their weight as Labour NI accuse Ed Miliband of “undemocratic, 1950s, colonial governor mindset”

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It’s happened before, and it’ll happen again.

“Long-suffering Labour members locally have launched yet another campaign to persuade Ed Miliband to stand candidates in Northern Ireland” (Trevor Ringland, Conservatives NI)

Labour NI AGM table goodiesNot for the first time, Conservatives NI have issued a statement to support their beleaguered NI Constituency Labour Party colleagues opponents. Both groups strongly criticise the Labour Party leadership for leaving Labour supporters adrift and unable to stand candidates in Northern Ireland.

In the Belfast Telegraph, Liam Clarke reports some of the bullish and critical rhetoric from last night’s NI CLP event at Westminster which marked another effort to change the mind of Labour’s National Executive Council (who concluded their last review of this policy last January).

Boyd Black, secretary of the Northern Ireland Constituency Labour Party, accused Mr Miliband of an “undemocratic, 1950s, colonial governor mindset” at a Westminster meeting yesterday.

“The cumulative effect of Labour’s stance over time is the single most politically destabilising factor in Northern Ireland,” he told the meeting in London. “We have failing sectarian politics in Northern Ireland, not because of the flags protesters or the dissidents or the on-the-runs, but because the Labour Party suppress grown-up politics.”

Mr Black compared the attitude of the Labour leadership to colonialism, as described by Frantz Fanon in his book, The Wretched of the Earth, which described the plight of subject people in the third world.

“We in Northern Ireland, both Labour Party members and the wider public, are the Wretched of the Earth – when it comes to our relationship to the leadership of the Labour Party,” he said. “The Labour Party leadership are our political and psychological oppressors, always putting us down, always being condescending, always keeping us in our place.”

Boyd finished his speech (which is available in full online):

If you suppress Labour Party politics you create a political vacuum which is filled by sectarian politics. This is not 1969, but the Party is once again running a big risk with the future of Northern Ireland. After all that has happened, it seems to have learnt nothing.

In a press release Trevor Ringland (NI Conservatives) compared the Tory approach to NI with that of the Labour Party;

Whereas David Cameron is absolutely committed to bringing Northern Ireland into the mainstream of UK politics, Ed Miliband treats people here like second class citizens”.

“Labour prefers to have an arrangement with a party which is committed to breaking up the UK, the SDLP, rather than supporting its own members’ efforts to stand candidates here. Under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown they were the party of murky deals, concocted behind the backs of people in Northern Ireland, and little seems to have changed. Labour talks about ‘One Nation’, but it certainly doesn’t believe that voters here deserve a say in it.”

While Trevor believes centre-right politics is better than Labour’s policies, “we share with local Labour members a conviction that people here deserve a meaningful say in UK politics, which is focussed on issues and isn’t ‘Orange, Green or something in between’.”

None of this is going to change the NEC’s mind on Labour candidates in Northern Ireland. not until the SDLP lose all their Westminster MPs and run out of leverage at Labour’s Brewer’s Green headquarters.

At least Trevor didn’t suggest that Labour formally hook up with the SDLP in a left-wing UCUNF civil partnership …

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  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    Alan,

    I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. It’s not like the Conservatives are really burning up the political arena in NI. And it is likely that if the Labour Party allowed its NI supporters to run candidates they aren’t likely to do any better. It’s not an accident that the Northern Ireland Labour Party went out of business in 1979–its supporters had all defected to other parties by then, either the sectarian parties or the more viable non-sectarian Alliance Party. Despite Charles’ continual protests on this site, the social democrats in the SDLP had lost out by the time Hume officially took over as leader. Gerry Fitt, Paddy Devlin and Ivan Cooper all left the party. They never established all alternate labor party. The PUP with its socialist rhetoric doesn’t have any seats in the Assembly. So Hooey and her friends would be left to carve out a niche in unionist politics. Look what happened to Purvis once she broke with the PUP. That demonstrates how large the niche would be. Politics in NI since 1970 and long before have been mainly sectarian politics with the non-sectarians pidgeon-holded into a single party.

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

    For the record, I have seen Ivan Cooper at recent SDLP events.
    And tmitch57 will welcome the news that Paddy Devlins son, Peter is a very active member in North Belfast.

    The “Labour Party” in Norn Iron is a complete irrelevance. And the Tories only slightly relevant.
    Alan will have heard Boyd Black make this same impassioned point at Platform for Change meeting last November and at East Belfast Speaks Out in December.
    If the local Labour “party” cant get the support of their own leaders, then really they cant be helped by anyone.
    I have zero sympathy for them.

  • FuturePhysicist

    “The cumulative effect of Labour’s stance over time is the single most politically destabilising factor in Northern Ireland,” he told the meeting in London. “We have failing sectarian politics in Northern Ireland, not because of the flags protesters or the dissidents or the on-the-runs, but because the Labour Party suppress grown-up politics.”

    After the recent exposé on the Labour Party’s own actions and the detached idealism of Labour NI, I really don’t see what they are selling Northern Ireland in terms of their own skills other than their own neediness for power. Labour doesn’t end sectarianism in Glasgow or Brighton or London so why does anyone believe it will stop it in Belfast?

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

    Future Physicist,
    its not really about ending sectarianism.
    The Labour Party in Norn Iron is a nationalist party…a British one. No harm in that of course.
    But actually it provides a safe haven for people to pretend that they are involved in politics and of course they are actually opting out.

    And it provides a safe haven for trade Union types to pretend that they are “neutral” so that nationalist and unionist members will not be alienated.

  • David Crookes

    Boyd Black has fought a long war against the irrational NI policy of the Labour Party. He attracted a lot of goodwill when he stood as a candidate in the Fulham by-election nearly three decades ago.

    For years and years the BLP protested that it didn’t want to stand against a sister labour party. That argument died in 1979 when the SDLP voted against the Callaghan government, and helped to bring in Thatcher. On the fateful night, which the oldies will remember as a great parliamentary occasion, Gerry Fitt, who had been promised a peerage by the Tories, threatened to “finish” Frank Maguire if he voted for the government. Fitt’s furious emotional blackmail persuaded Maguire not to support Callaghan.

    The argument that the BLP might not do well in NI is not an argument at all. If it held any weight, the BLP would never stand in constituencies that are known to be safe Conservative seats.

  • Red Lion

    I wish they would stand in NI. It would be interesting to see how they get on.

  • Scáth Shéamais

    “We in Northern Ireland, both Labour Party members and the wider public, are the Wretched of the Earth – when it comes to our relationship to the leadership of the Labour Party,” he said. “The Labour Party leadership are our political and psychological oppressors, always putting us down, always being condescending, always keeping us in our place.”

    And why again does he want to be associated with that party?

    Fanon did have some good advice for colonised peoples on what they had to do to cast off their chains and get rid of their colonial oppressors.

  • iluvni

    Maybe they’ll find a place in the Lords for Boyd Black and LabourNI will fade away much to the satisfaction of the bigoted Labour Party Irish Society.

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    “We in Northern Ireland, both Labour Party members and the wider public, are the Wretched of the Earth – when it comes to our relationship to the leadership of the Labour Party,” he said. “The Labour Party leadership are our political and psychological oppressors, always putting us down, always being condescending, always keeping us in our place.”

    @Scath,

    This over-the-top rhetoric is just part of the contest between nationalists and unionists as to who is the bigger victim and thus, presumably, more morally deserving. You can see this in the Middle East as well between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    “For the record, I have seen Ivan Cooper at recent SDLP events.”

    @fjh,

    So is Mr. Cooper being active again after a thirty-year break?

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

    Im assuming that you know nothing about Ivan Cooper (the best interpretation).

    Conservatives in NI and Labour NI are both nationalist parties ….British nationalists.
    They need each other to support the fantasy that Norn Iron is as British as Finch.ey (Tory view) and probably in the case of labour as British as Rotherham.

    Both parties have representatives at Platform for Change which underscores that they are little more than wishful thinkers…especially in case of labour.
    Lost probably their best person to the Greens recently…I think she might even be chairing the Green Party.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Boyd Black has fought a long war against the irrational NI policy of the Labour Party. He attracted a lot of goodwill when he stood as a candidate in the Fulham by-election nearly three decades ago.

    It’s not rational to believe you can juxtapose Fulham onto say South Belfast either. It’s irrational to believe grassroots party of hundreds would be able to influence politics effecting millions simply by getting permission to contest elections again.

    The last Labour MP in Northern Ireland came from the Southern ‘Luacht Oibre’ variety rather than from the English based party, Labour Party had for many years in both islands accepted this constitutional flux, it once was unilaterally pro-Irish unity. A Northern Irish Labour Party has to deal with the ecosystem it lives in, rather than pretending the desert is the forest, and blaming the differences on the lizards and plants. The SDLP wasn’t the one who shut the door on Labour, Indeed the SDLP and Labour competed in East Belfast once.

    Comparing the SDLP to the SNP might not be bad, Labour does not accuse the latter of being sectarian yet accuses the former of it. Labour cannot escape the fact that in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland there is a desire to escape the UK or at the very least not to conform to it. Would Black argue that SDLP rebellions over the Labour whip on issues like on the Iraq war, 42 day anti-terrorism detentions and indeed this on the run issue do not come from a social democratic framework but rather some distant Irish Catholic ethno-nationalist separatism? Or is this because Labour need more “West Lothians” to secure it power when it struggles to get a English seats in the West Midlands and West London?

    Many Labour constituencies would like someone like Durkan or a Ritchie as their Labour MP, yes they want NI to leave the UK, but on that issue that’s not different from many British MP’s like John McDonnell. A hardworking MP is always respected. Let’s remember Ringland’s outrage at the UUP over the unity pact it engaged in a sectarian pact for FST, which the SDLP refused to do with Sinn Féin.

  • FuturePhysicist

    The decision to suppress the Labour Party is hard to explain. It has nothing to do with a united Ireland, as we support Labour Party policy. It has absolutely nothing to do with the Peace Process. And Alastair McDonnell has said publicly on two occasions the SDLP can live with Labour fighting elections held under PR STV.

    It would seem that it is purely a matter of the party washing its hands and saying we do not want to take responsibility for building a common future in Northern Ireland.

    The implication from this line is that Labour is afraid of lost deposits.

  • http://eastbelfastdiary.blogspot.com/ Jenny

    @fjh,

    She is indeed.

    I left Labour with great sadness but I do feel very at home in GPNI and it’s terrific to be preparing for an election campaign at last.

  • mr x

    @fitzjameshorse

    Unless Northern Ireland political parties are run by an alleged cartel of drug dealers / property speculators / tax evaders of non English origin it’s nothing like Rotherham.

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    “Im assuming that you know nothing about Ivan Cooper (the best interpretation).”

    @fjh,

    I don’t know any more about him than is on his Wiki entry and RTE Archives entry, which both state that he left active politics in 1983–30 years ago. Unlike many other founding figures in the SDLP, he never produced a memoir. I had assumed that he withdrew from politics because he didn’t like the direction the party was taking under Hume. But it could have been for personal reasons.

  • aquifer

    Denying a set of citizens the right ever to be part of government is exactly what the bad old Unionists did.

    Though I don’t expect the careerists of the GB Labour Party to be bothered about it.

    When the unions denied the unemployed the right to be part of the trade union movement they gifted the Tories the weapon of recession to use against them. And what to we have?

    Labour deserve everything they get, probably the Liberal Democrats.

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

    Tmitch57,
    Wikipedia is perhaps not the best source.
    Actually being at a Conference or other events and seeing him there is something of an inspiration to those of us of a certain generation.

  • Charles_Gould

    The SDLP have a strong image on social and economic issues. From a survey by a trusted polling firm, reported on the BBC today:

    “Of the big five executive parties,

    *the SDLP was most trusted on the economy, getting a positive response from 36% of those surveyed.

    That was followed by

    *Alliance on 31%,
    *DUP on 29%
    *Ulster Unionists on 26%.
    *Sinn Féin were least trusted of the main parties on 21%”

    Taken at face values this suggests that on the social and economic issues SDLP has a strong reputation. A much stronger reputation than any other party.

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

    Someday I would like to walk into a Saville Row tailor and have a nice suit made to measure.
    On the other hand Im ok if someone points out that my current best suit was £99 in Debenhams.
    At Stormont…we have nine “off the peg”political parties. That seems a reasonable choice although onbviously some people want a custom made political party.

    But I dont see how any political party canvassing the Overclass can be that bothered if they are told “Im not voting for anyone”.

  • Dec

    ‘The cumulative effect of Labour’s stance over time is the single most politically destabilising factor in Northern Ireland’

    Talk about a sense of self-importance. The last thing this mob need is an election to contest as it only serve to underline just how irrelevant they are.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Denying a set of citizens the right ever to be part of government is exactly what the bad old Unionists did.

    Plenty of Ulster people have made it into government in the Labour Party, don’t you consider Ruth Kelly to be one of your own, or do you need the party to move Westminster over the Irish Sea? Even the Duke of Wellington couldn’t get elected over here!

  • David Crookes

    Thanks, fp, and sorry that I missed your posting two days ago. You say,

    “It’s not rational to believe you can juxtapose Fulham onto say South Belfast…..”

    In fact it’s not rational to believe that you can juxtapose any one thing “on to” any other thing. Anyway, I didn’t mean to equate Fulham with any constituency in NI. The point is that if the BLP accepts NI as part of the UK, it has no reason not to organize here. The chant which it kept up for years about its “sister labour party” was hit for six in 1979.

    No mainland British party (favete linguis, ye pricklies!) is enthusiastic about NI’s presence in the UK. Furthermore, if all of the mainland parties stood in NI’s elections, it is likely that they would all do very badly, over and over again. Hundred of thousands of NI’s electors are not longing to vote Labour or Conservative. The idea that the Tories have a warm-hearted affection for NI — nearly as stupid as the idea that most Scots have a warm-hearted affection for NI — died a death in 1985 when pliant Thatcher did what Reagan told her to do, and imposed the AIA. Facts like these persuade many of us that the union is on life-support, with only half of the patient and none of the relations wanting the machine to be kept on. I have always respected the long campaign which Boyd Black has kept up, but I fear that he is fighting in vain.

    It might have been a good idea for NI’s unionist party or parties to establish links with mainland British parties in 1922, but so many things have changed since then that unionist parties today ought to be establishing links with parties in the RoI.

  • GEF

    Milliband and the labour party are outright hypocrites. They support the SDLP 100% who want to break away from the UK and form a Nationalist United Ireland yet are 100% against the SNP who want to break away from the UK and form a Nationalist United Scotland.

  • David Crookes

    Yes — a nationalist Scotland which minds its Ps and Qs by retaining the pound and the Queen, whereas the SDLP want to be rid of both. Bizarre.

  • GEF

    If Scotland votes for independence then UK prime minister can take a leaf out of Russian President Putin’s book re Crimea were the Russian Black Sea Fleet is based. Cameron can then send 30,000 troops into safeguarding the Naval submarine base HMNB Clyde.

    http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d3/HMNB_Clyde.jpg&imgrefurl=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMNB_Clyde&h=250&w=202&tbnid=61YLU0whphsLPM:&tbnh=186&tbnw=150&zoom=1&usg=__Mwr_VrewI80v7ASllPRo4fgLds8%3D&docid=UlFG-xsu0d_fWM&itg=1&sa=X&ei=BaQbU8LgEsuO7QappoCgBQ&ved=0CI0BEPwdMAw