The Centre-Left in Northern Ireland. Time to step over the obstacles?

As the SDLP gather this weekend, here’s a question for you: As Northern Ireland’s political landscape is still dominated by parties that are essentially communal, is it properly equipped to respond to the challenges posed by the global economic crisis?

Personally, I doubt it. From what I’ve seen, the response so far has been a mixture of gesture politics and incoherence. And while there may be early signs of what may aim to be a post-communal political force on the centre-right, the centre-left remains transfixed by contradictions that may no longer be relevant.

I’ll not waste your time rehearsing the reasons why the SDLP’s claim to that mantle is problematic. All I want to say is that…

  1. It is problematic
  2. The lack of a focussed centre left alternative may be bad for politics in the long run, and bad for Northern Ireland in the short term because it will be the cause of a less coherent response to the cuts proposed in the CSR

Even former UUP-er Trevor Ringland seems to want to see something akin to an independent Labour Party to emerge, and there’s certainly an argument that a non-Unionist centre-right party can’t exist until a viable non-nationalist centre-left force emerges.

Does this need to be a political party? Not necessarily. But I’d suggest that there needs to be a cross-cutting forum of people who are conversant with each other in a more active way as well as understanding the mainstream PES thinking and responses to the current crisis.

I reckon it would be a good subject for a session at the Slugger event on the 20th November? If you think so too (or if you have a better idea) use this to say so.

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  • Comrade Stalin

    Yeah, I know. Still, I like to be immature now and again.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mind you, the advancement in IT and communication systems means

    Is this what it has come to ? Are we all going to end up like “amanfrommars” ?