Welcome to the Northern Ireland Labour Representation Committee party?

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.

Sam McBride has the details

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.

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  • Jag

    That is an impressive claim, 1,200 members, presumably all paying a minimum of £47 a year (if you’re earning £25-30,000 you’re supposed to pay £72 and if you’re earning over £50,000 you’re supposed to pay £144.

    I wonder how many of the 1,200 members actually live in NI/

    Not sure how you become a “supporter”, there’s no such option on their website.

  • Graham Parsons

    Good luck to them (and the Greens). The SDLP are no longer fit for purpose.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I will let the electorate judge that. If Labour NI do the same thing the local Tories did trying to get the obedience and support of UUP voters after the falling apart of UCUNF, then it shows they can be self-involved enough to fit in here, but political inept enough not to really stand out.

  • Zig70

    Always depressing when parties on the left can’t work together. How can they get claim to get society to work together for the good of each other if they can’t manage it in their own sphere?

  • csb

    Belfast East – Erskine Holmes
    Belfast North – Abdo Thabeth
    Belfast South – Brigitte Anton
    Fermanagh & South Tyrone – Damien Harris
    Lagan Valley – Peter Dynes
    North Antrim – Kathryn Johnston
    North Down – Maria Lourenco
    Upper Bann – Emma Hutchinson

    I guess this is more of a symbolic stand that anything else because I can’t see any of them getting more than a few hundred votes each.

  • Jag

    Sorry, off topic, does anyone know when the Shinners will launch their manifesto. Surely, it will be ahead of the UTV debate tonight at 8pm between the DUP, UUP, Alliance, SF and SDLP?

    I’m really looking forward to it. The comedic highlight of last year must have been the Shinners’ Westminster manifesto. Remember those air corridors?

  • I noticed their “Leader” Kathryn Johnston claiming that the SDLP didn’t support the living wage. When it was pointed out that it was SDLP policy and that they had introduced it to both Belfast and Mid-Ulster councils she then decided that the SDLP didn’t really support it.
    Its seems they don’t really have a policy on anything and are trying to invent the policy of others parties to fit their narrative.

  • Dessie

    Supporters register through unions and they had open registration during the leadership election

  • Gingray

    Several former candidates from the UCUNF now stand for the Alliance party …

  • Kevin Breslin

    They are extant but they’ve been reclassified by zoologists as the Conservative Party of Northern Ireland.

  • Kevin Scally

    Mick….could you please provide evidence for your statement ‘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.’

    The anecdotal evidence that I’m aware of suggests the opposite.

  • Granni Trixie

    I only know of one.

  • Granni Trixie

    They don’t appear to have learnt from mistakes of NI21 most notably about launching yourself into an election well prepared.

  • Gingray

    Harry and Paula I know without checking – I am not suggesting the party is being taken over, but nice to know alliance will provide quick opportunities if you jump ship surely?

  • CatholicLeft

    Interestingly, her stated policy differences with the SDLP in the above article puts her somewhat at odds with Andrew MacKinlay, who was one of the most pro-life members of parliament and no enemy of faith schools.

  • Richie Cronin

    I’m surprised there has been nothing on here about the other new labour party i.e. Cross-Community Labour Alternative’. I think they are an offshoot of the socialist party but I’m not sure , they certainly seem to be playing of the Labour brand, going by their posters and their website (they have an open letter to labour party members asking them to vote for them and for the party to join them) . They have a pretty striking poster campaign in East Belfast. At least anecdotally it seems to have made the most impressions when I talk to people. I mention that because where as they ‘CCLA’ appear to have made some effort to attract votes the actual Labour Party, I have neither heard nor seen not one thing.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Or is that the Conservative Party IN Northern Ireland.

  • Kevin Breslin

    IJP was the first of the gang to go. Ringland and Trimble stayed

  • SDLP supporter

    I wonder what gives “The Leader”, Kathryn Johnston, the right to decide who is “socialist” or not? Her big thing seems to be abortion. Where does that leave Christian Socialists like myself? When did abortion become a key tenet of social democracy?

  • SDLP supporter

    Granni is referring to Paula Bradshaw. I often wondered about the insouciance with which Ms. Bradshaw moved from UCUNF (conservative) to Alliance (liberal), and also her husband/partner. I may be wrong, but one or other of them may have originally been in Alliance. I’ll be giving a preference to Duncan Morrow: he and his Alliance lineage pedigree are undoubted.

  • Granni Trixie

    Is this the same labour entity which placed a page recently in newspaper(s) signed by ‘great and good’ supporters? If so, it occurs to me to wonder why if they have so many signed up supporters did they approach someone ‘close’ to me to ask them to agree to their signature being used in the ad? I mean this person was an Alliance activist. Something doesn’t add up.
    Incidentally, I’m Labour inclined myself but with this version of Labour fortunately I don’t have angst from being tempted to jump ship.

  • csb

    Labour Alternative is the Socialist Party, trying to ride on the crest of the Corbyn wave. It may work to some extent, I’ve met a few young people across the North who joined Labour after Corbyn became leader. There are definitely constituencies out there looking for something new and/or different.

  • Dessie

    Yea it’s the same group. But they got non-party members/supporters to sign to show a want for the party outside their members and supporters who would obviously want them to stand

  • Dessie

    Sdlp apparently supports fianna fail in the south so there is a massive contradiction there but the abortion issue is about protecting everyone and not enforcing belief onto everyone through law. And as far as I cam see from my reading socialism and religion don’t go hand in hand and often oppose each other. Where as conservatism and religion do go hand in hand

  • Dessie

    To be fair they were leaving it as late as possible to try and get the Labour name proper

  • CatholicLeft

    You are mixing up liberalism with socialism….many socialists have been brought to their political conclusions due to their religious convictions – I am a socialist because I am a Christian. Many on the right of politics are rooted in utilitarianism and, consequently, its political offshoot, libertarianism . Christians can certainly be found in all parties, but the communitarian basis of socialism is more akin to Christianity than Adam Smith utilitarianism, which is anathema.

  • Dessie

    My understanding of socialism is that it means full social equality, economically and equal rights. The current abortion laws here seem to be against this as they inflict suffering and put certain people’s views above others and enshrine them in law forcing the matter. Seems to be against the whole equality thing in my opinion, so to me the SDLP are not a socialist party.

    And yes you could be a form of Christian and a socialist, but if you follow any of the main denominations rules and beliefs fully you cannot be a socialist because these rules actively promote inequality.

  • Barry Gilheany

    The problem with the SDLP’s stance on abortion is that they do not permit any member or elected representative to decide or vote on the basis of conscience which is what all its sister parties in the Socialist International. I have personal experience of just how unsafe an environment that party can be for people with pro-choice views.

  • SDLP supporter

    “SDLP apparently supports Fianna Fail in the south, so there is a massive contradiction there” (sic). Dessie, what on earth are you talking about?

  • SDLP supporter

    “The current abortion laws here seem to be against this as they inflict suffering and put certain people’s views above others and enshrine them in law forcing the matter. Seems to be against the whole equality thing in my opinion, so to me the SDLP are not a socialist party”.
    Dessie, in the main society’s laws reflect the majority’s views. Some people here believe it is all right to kill for political purposes, but the majority do not, and so that is the law. If a majority in the Assembly voted to extend the 1967 Act to NI, I would have to accept the change in law, though I would campaign against it.
    I would have thought that one of the central tenets of Christianity is that all are equal in the sight of God, or as St. Paul says, God has no favourites. The first Christians (Acts of the Apostles)shared everything in common and looked after the poor,, which is a pretty good working definition of Christianity in action. I also think that the vast majority of Christian denominations do not “actively promote inequality”. As someone once said, Marxism is Christianity with God left out.

  • Brendan Heading

    I think they’re good people with the right motivations, but they are going to crash and burn. You can’t start a political party a month before an election and expect to get respectable results. Every man jack of them will lose their deposits.

  • Brendan Heading

    With all due respect to your personal views, only extreme right political parties whip their members to be pro life. Being pro life does not preclude social democracy; but rejecting the right to be pro choice most certainly does.

  • Brendan Heading

    If Marxism is Christianity with God left out (not an idea I have a problem with) it’s funny how many Christians are right wing. When it comes to politics, the politicians who wave their bibles around and quote scripture tend to be almost exclusively right wing.

  • Brendan Heading

    the went far beyond “late as possible”; at this stage they’re at “so late that they’ll strangle themselves at birth”.

  • SDLP supporter

    I thank you for accepting that being pro-life does not preclude social democracy. Other than yourself, Brendan, so many of the local pro-choice people in NI seem to think that it is the single issue, the touchstone, which defines whether you are a social democrat. Fatal Foetal Abnormality arouses enormous conflicts in my mind too and one of the things which is striking is that some pro-choice and pro-life people are alike in their absolutism.
    I know SDLP members who are pro-choice (in some circumstances) in their private views but they accept that the party policy position is pro-life, and they see no contradiction in that. I think that one aspect which is unique to SDLP is that it was born out of many strands, two of them being civil rights and (democratic) Irish nationalism. Speaking personally, I grew up in a milieu (Andersonstown) where for many otherwise decent people pre-troubles it was right and honourable to die, and by extension kill, for Ireland (Pearse, for example). I think the SDLP, in a quite revolutionary way, self-consciously rejected that, that you had to live for Ireland (Humespeak: “spill your sweat and not your blood”). That position became the absolute dividing line between SDLP and Sinn Fein: that deliberately killing people for any reason, however apparently desirable or honourable, was wrong. I would like to think that, even if I wasn’t Catholic, I would be pro-life.
    There is a rather chilling phrase that hard cases make bad law. There has been a lot of talk about allowing abortion in the case of FFA, rape or incest but it is also clear as the mud is slung around that a lot of the pro-choice protagonists want the 1967 Act put into law here, tout court, but that they are not upfront about that and that, even if they got the ‘exceptional cases’ enacted, they would still keep pressing.

  • Dessie

    Christianity is an umbrella term for all followers of jesus so not everyone follows beliefs of a church, but the Catholic Church for example still counts homosexuality as a sin and asks members to actively campaign against equal rights. It’s not Christianity that discriminates, it’s the church’s that people are members of and that they believe in their teachings.

    On the note of fianna fail, there has been two serious discussions of a meger in the last 15 years and the couple sdlp supporters I know would actually support the move still, so there still seems to be a number in the party who still support it. Although not the current leadership, so I probably phrased the previous statement slightly wrong. But if there are enough similarities to join with quite a conservative party to even be considered, they most certainly aren’t socialist.

  • Brendan Heading

    I don’t have a lot of time for people passing judgement on other people’s right to describe themselves as they see fit, provided it is within reason.

    However it is not consistent for a political party to impose a specific line on this issue. This is also a problem on the other side of the fence; this NI Labour committee’s policy committing to extension of the ’67 Act – similar to that of the Greens – would require someone with pro-life views, or even someone who supports limited extension of abortion rights, to vote for something which is against their personal conscience. That is problematic, not least because it excludes from the party those who would otherwise be fervent progressives.

    On the “keep pressing” part – this is true, but it is for legislators to weigh up the alternatives and decide how far, exactly, they want to go. The slippery slope argument is not inherently valid; implementation of the 67 Act, for example, has not led to pressure to support partial birth abortion, and I can’t think of anyone who would argue that it should. The possibility of further reform in the future should not be used as a pretext to consider whether or not, for example, it is correct to bring a criminal prosecution against a woman who intentionally causes her own miscarriage.

  • SDLP supporter

    Dessie, of course there are some SDLP members who want to link up with Fianna Fail, and if FF ever got into business here, they would probably leave. Diversity of opinion is what political parties are all about. But, most people in the SDLP are sensible enough to know that if it left the Party of European Socialists or the Socialist International, that Sinn Fein (or worse) would fall over themselves to try to take the SDLP’s place. Similarly with this Labour Representation Committee crowd. The people in the British Labour Party know that they can count on three sure SDLP MP votes at Westminster in nearly all circumstances (the Iraq War and the 10% tax being two of the exceptions, and I’m very proud of the SDLP’s position on those issues); they’ll look at the May 5th results and if the LRC vote is small, they’ll find some way of politely telling them to PFO. Seats at Westminster is Corbyn’s aim and it’s amusing to see people like Boyd Black squirming with embarrassment in photo ops with the Sinn Fein-sympathetic Corbyn. Perhaps there is a bit of mutual embarrassment.

  • SDLP supporter

    The ‘Cross-community Labour Alternative’ is a front for the Trotskyites. They are no more democratic socialists than I am a polar bear, though some of their people may be well-meaning. Their gurus believe in ‘popular frontism’ (gulling the naïve into believing they’re voting for Labour and ‘entryism’ (trying to take over fairly reputable political movements. The Militant Tendency in Liverpool, London and elsewhere in the seventies and eighties (ah, the days of my youth) were at the same game.

  • SDLP supporter

    I think Mick is broadly right. As John O’Donnell the guy who wrote that great book ‘Things can only get Better’, said about his inner London constituency party (he worked for Frank Dobson) “elections are almost invariably always fought by the same seven people”.

  • Graham Parsons

    Any party that supports forcing a woman who has been raped to go though with a pregnancy should not call itself a socialist party.

  • Dessie

    So you are suggesting there that sdlp are only remaining as a socialist party to prevent Sinn Fienn from taking their place in the European socialist party. At the end of the day sdlp could call themselves communist, I have no objection to them calling themselves whatever but just because you call yourself something doesn’t make you that thing. Yes you could be an sdlp member who calls the party socialist but in my opinion and that of many others it doesn’t make the party socialist.
    But if they support labour values the will vote with labour on most things regardless of if they compete with them, unless they are only maintaining the socialist stance to keep labours support.
    And sure half the plp squirm in photos with corbyn or when he’s mentioned, it’s not unique to boyd black and labour is a broad party with many opinions so you are always going to get people who dislike the leadership

  • Dessie

    Let’s hope not. It would be nice to have a centre-left party that anyone could comfortably vote for. I liked NI21 though and they died a painful death

  • SDLP supporter

    Dessie, your ‘argument’ is juvenile, bordering on infantile.
    I nowhere suggested that the SDLP are in PES/Socialist International to stop other parties joining, so please stop trying to put words in my mouth. John Hume and others made sure the SDLP joined these groupings shortly after its foundation in 1970 on a point of principle. Here is a clue: the SDLP is what it says on the tin-the Social Democratic & Labour Party.
    You and some others may not consider SDLP to be ‘socialist’, but many others vote for SDLP, knowing what we stand for and knowing that we have advocated socialist policies where we have representation such as Living Wage, opposition to zero hours contracts and restriction on Pay Day loans. Nobody, and certainly not you, has a monopoly on words like ‘labour’, ‘socialist’ or ‘social democratic’.

  • Dessie

    “most people in the SDLP are sensible enough to know that if it left the Party of European Socialists or the Socialist International, that Sinn Fein (or worse) would fall over themselves to try to take the SDLP’s place”
    This does suggest the point I made is what you said.
    Forgetting about that point, I have said that my understanding of what socialism is to me, is more than economic (which you have shown above that the sdlp support some socialist economic policies) but on their social politics they don’t seem to support full equality.
    Sometimes parties don’t stand by what their name would suggest either, and there’s numerous examples of this across the world.
    I never suggested that I had a monopoly on words or only i can give them out, in fact I stated that people and parties can call themselves or consider themselves to be whatever they want. And I don’t think I used the words ‘social democratic’, but now they have been used does the sdlp support social justice and equality in all situations, no they don’t (or at least a number in the party don’t)

  • SDLP supporter

    Dessie, you have taken the wrong inference from my words, The SDLP are in PES/SI because it wants to be there and because of the international standing and influence it gives. No-one in the SDLP has ever suggested that we quit those bodies.
    I have asked the question on other threads on this site: since when did access to abortion become a core tenet of social democracy? The 1945 Attlee government, the best ever example of an effective democratic socialist government in the English speaking world, didn’t mention it and, in fact, the 1967 Act was steered by a Liberal, David Steel.
    A major and honourable strand of socialism is those who classify themselves as Christian Socialists, few of whom would support the 1967 Act.
    The SDLP was born out of the civil rights movement and the demand for social justice and equality and abortion rights was never one of the ‘Five Demands’ of NICRA.
    It is my personal belief that life begins at conception. I believe I have good scientific opinion to support that view and that, however terrible the circumstances of conception (rape, incest, FFA), there is a ‘third party’, a new life brought into being whose rights have to be considered.

  • Dessie

    I did say to forget about the SF point, so we can call that reading in to what you said wrong and you have now corrected my misreading of what you meant.
    Democratic socialist and social democrat, are 2 different things as well which can confuse the matter. When I think about it now the SD stands for the latter, which isn’t a strictly socialist movement, many liberals are also social democrats, meaning they support a welfare state but a capitalist economy. So do the SDLP even claim to be socialist? If they don’t it kinda makes everything I’ve said a bit pointless as they are ‘as said on the tin’ as you said.
    And abortion isn’t a key tenant of social democracy, but is more important for socialism, due to it denying equality.
    When the SDLP was formed it did brilliant civil rights work and rightly deserves praise for that, whereas now it seems to be campaigning against civil rights.
    I do agree with you on your final point as that is scientific fact, that life begins at conception, personally a feel any abortion before brain and thought development comes is ok as they are not a person at that point (about 4-6 weeks) (in my opinion sentience and thought are what makes us a person) after here in my opinion we are getting into trouble as you are aborting a child. I value both the life of the mother and child but in the case of rape, incest, FFA I think the trauma to the woman would ruin their life and they may never love their child or care for it properly leading to 2 lives being ruined, so in my opinion an abortion is acceptable here as it prevents 2 lives from being ruined.
    I also support the extension of the 67′ act as I believe women can make the right choice for their situation and if pro-life groups get involved in the education process and use scientific fact it will aid the woman’s decision making process.
    I’ve added my views on abortion just so we can see where each other are coming from

  • SDLP supporter

    Dessie, I think we should leave discussion on abortion to another place, as it is side-tracking this thread. Just to say that I struggle to see how a baby in the womb, even at nine months gestation, can be tested for ‘thought’. If you accept that the mother and child are ‘two lives’ (as do I) it is not morally acceptable for me to end one of those lives, even for the ‘good’ of the other. I have a member of my family with severe additional needs, who still enjoys life in so far as he can, and I think he would tell you that he wants to live and fulfil his potential. I certainly wouldn’t feel I have the right to end his life.
    In my mind ‘social democracy’ and ‘democratic socialism’ are interchangeable terms and it encapsulates the overview that socialism can be obtained through democratic, parliamentary action (unlike communism). Social democracy involves support for a mixed economy, in giving space for private enterprise, because it has been proven time and again that totalitarian, ‘command’ economies (like Venezuela) can turn out disastrously. The essence of liberalism is the primacy of individual rights (an honorable objective) but social democracy places greater emphasis on social solidarity and support for the weak and deprived in society to enable them to get to a better place. So, really, I can’t see how a liberal, in the classical European sense of the world, can also lay full claim to be a social democrat. In the European Parliament they are separate and distinct groups.

  • Kevin Scally

    SDLP supporter .. The guy who wrote that book was called John O’Farrel and he didn’t say that the Corbynites didn’t work during elections.

    Corbynites didn’t exist then.

  • Dessie

    Yea I agree, it’s a pretty complicated debate.
    By definition the terms aren’t really interchangeable, but you may see them as they are.
    Your description of social democracy is spot on.
    The lib dems are an example of a liberal social democratic party. Both socialists and liberals can be social democrats and in the European Parliament we have the groups separated along these lines rather than united under their social democrat status.
    But i would seriously question some of the parties in the PES on their socialist credentials.

  • SDLP supporter

    That’s up to you, but you can end up going down the road of the ‘far left’ and sectarian (in the classical sense) factionalism. You know, the ‘Judean People’s Front’ or the ‘People’s Front of Judea’ stuff from Monty Python:

  • Dessie

    While the video illustrates your point. Democratic Socialists and Social Democrats are very different things, the latter looks out for the poor in a mixed economy, whereas the other aims to build a socialist economy and put control of industry in to the hands of the workers.
    There are other differences but that’s a brief synopsis of both.
    I believe we’ve strayed from the original topic though and I don’t think we’ll reach consensus on what a socialist is let alone whether SDLP are a socialist party or not.

  • SDLP supporter

    OK, we’ll end the discussion. Just to say that ‘socialism’ as you describe it very quickly ends up as totalitarianism and has been a disaster everywhere that it has been tried.
    The list of people wittering on about trying to get the SDLP kicked out of PES/SI is amusing. One was the awful, late Mo Mowlam, who tried it, and to get the PUP installed in its place (source, Ray Kavanagh’s book ‘Spring, Summer and Fall’). Gerry Adams also lobbied Enda Kenny, of all people, to get Sinn Fein into PES. Not many people know that, but I do!
    Engagement over. Best wishes.

  • Granni Trixie

    Agree. I would also add that As with NI21 it is a recipe for demoralisation which will undermine their future in politics. Labour in Ni have been trying for years to get going with the imprimatur of Labour across the water – so why are they not better prepared?
    Have their leaders not the understanding to know they are risking the whole project?

  • Brendan Heading

    “imprimatur”, that’s a great word for what is their sole selling point. They seem to believe that being blessed by Millbank will automatically translate into votes.

    Aside from this, and without intending to be mean, efforts like this show how immature our politics still is. The fragmentation among the “progressives” – Green, Alliance, this Labour crowd, and a few others, shows that people are more interested in standing – and often falling – on personality and high minded principle, rather than identifying the common ground and seeking bankable incremental progress.

  • Brendan Heading

    still popular tactics – they’ve infiltrated Labour, got Corbyn elected and are trying to purge the non-Corbyn supporters. They wreck everything they touch – partially because they’re incompetent, but also partially because they believe that destroying the place and increasing the suffering heaped upon the poor and middle classes will hasten the pace towards the inevitable uprising of the proletariat.

  • Brendan Heading

    Hope doesn’t come into it. It has already happened.

    NI21 death was self-inflicted. because it was started and run by people who were incompetent, did not really understand politics, and believed their own flimsy PR. This NI Labour crowd are doing the same thing.

    A political party that cannot sustain itself and attract and maintain credible support does more harm than good.

  • SDLP supporter

    You’re right, it’s O’Farrell, sorry. I never mentioned anything about Corbynites, though.

  • csb

    Why did my post on the BBC report need to be deleted?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    there’s never an ideal time to start but you have to start somewhere. I wouldn’t have thought expectations would be too high for this first election and I think this is a long term project. They deserve a lot of support; they are in tune with the direction of travel of society, if not of NI politics just yet.

    Lots of people want progressive, non-ethnically-specific politics. On the left, the SDLP has been around too long as essentially a Catholic Irish nationalist party to be able to be a credible vehicle for that. It has to be Labour.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    but would you like them to succeed?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Labour’s treatment of its Northern Ireland supporters has been nothing short of appalling for years – patronising, ill-informed, completely lacking in vision and worst of all, ethnically-biased. As many point out, why should being social democrat in NI require you to support an Irish nationalist party whose socialism, if it’s there at all, seems secondary to them? The whole vision that social democracy offers in Northern Ireland, and the source of its massive potential, is a *non*-sectarian one – a point apparently utterly lost on Labour HQ on the mainland.

    They are letting decent, progressive, Labour people down and even more so they are failing in their duty to offer leadership for the whole country.

    I know why they’ve done it – they see being involved in NI politics as a risk to its brand, with little chance of gain – all very rational if you don’t give a f*** about Northern Ireland. But if you really believe everyone in this country deserves to be able to participate in national politics if they want, it’s hypocrisy of the worst order and sheer political cowardice.

    So I think everyone wanting an open playing field in politics – and in particular people wanting to build for a future of non-ethnically-aligned politics in NI – should support what the NILRC is doing, whether they are socialist or not.

  • Brendan Heading

    This is actually quite a profound question, so I had to think about it for a bit.

    The short answer is – yes, of course I’d like them to succeed. I’d like to wake up in the morning following election and read that all the MLAs in the Assembly are from the Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem parties.

    But this is like saying I’d like there to be a million quid in my bank account. Is it desirable ? Yes. Is that realistic or possible ? No.

  • Barney

    “they are going to crash and burn”

    Any one with even a nodding relationship with historical reality would have to agree. Unionism is quite simply incompatible with socialism because unionism is a supremacist ideology.

  • Brendan Heading

    I’m not sure that I agree entirely, but for balance we should add that socialism is incompatible with Irish nationalism and republicanism – Ireland has never elected a socialist government or anything like it. Ireland first governing party even engaged itself in a dangerous dalliance with fascism.