Strange bedfellows in Labour leadership bid

How odd to learn that Kate Hoey, who when it comes to the politics of her native Northern Ireland has been closer to the DUP than any other party, is backing  Labour left winger John McDonnell’s token leadership bid, along with fellow Labour awkward squad member Frank Field. In their opinions of Irish republicanism, they’re poles apart from John. Some years ago Frank and Kate joined together to attack the decision to give SF MPs offices and expenses at Westminster. In the same era, John,who’s been Sinn Fein’s greatest supporter in the Commons since Ken Livingstone quit Parliament  was saying this sort of thing.

In May 2003, he praised the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), saying, “It’s about time we started honouring those people involved in the armed struggle. It was the bombs and bullets and sacrifice made by the likes of Bobby Sands that brought Britain to the negotiating table. The peace we have now is due to the action of the IRA”

Fair enough for MPs representing English constituencies not to allow a colleague’s attitude to Irish republicanism to govern their overall approach. All the same, I didn’t think times had moved on as far as this.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London