So as our profiles continue, we’ll have a new party and candidates to the roster. Having patiently waited at the back of the UK Labour bus for years, Labour party members are to form their own breakaway group and stand candidates in Northern Ireland.
The party leader, journalist and author Kathryn Johnston, told the News Letter that there had been a huge increase in party membership in recent times. Labour now has 1,200 members in the Province and around 600 registered supporters – a figure which could put it ahead of Northern Ireland’s biggest party, the DUP, in terms of membership.
Ms Johnston, whose late husband, the veteran former Sunday Times and Belfast Telegraph journalist Liam Clarke, died at Christmas, is standing for the party in North Antrim.
The former Labour MP Andrew MacKinlay, who has a strong interest in Northern Ireland, has been involved in the work to set up the new party.
He told the News Letter: “It’s a great achievement in the face of obstruction and adversity. There was an assumption from London that we would have gone away – but we haven’t.
On the SDLP, Ms Johnston was scathing…
“We’re socialists; they’re not.” She said that there was also a policy chasm between the parties on the issues of abortion and same-sex marriage, as well as Labour’s belief in a secular integrated education system.
Good numbers, but not necessarily in the right places. In branches across England these swollen Corbynite numbers are largely notable by their absence on the ground (and the Brexit campaign) when it comes to putting in the hard grind needed for electoral politics.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty