Don’t vote Labour, vote Green?

Adam McGibbon is sceptical about the idea of Labour organising in Northern Ireland…

Labour’s entry into Northern Ireland wouldn’t be a panacea to sectarianism. The issues dividing communities and the ingrained voting behaviour and attitudes run much deeper than simply who you choose to vote for. A red rose and a name on a ballot paper isn’t going to solve that – and previous attempts to organise Labour groupings in Northern Ireland (the list is endless – Labour Party of Northern Ireland, Labour ’87, Newtownabbey Labour Party, Labour Coalition, etc) have attracted little success. Will this attempt really be different?

So what if you are looking for a progressive alternative to Labour in Northern Ireland? According to Adam, it’s the Greens…

  • Well, he’s right.

    I’m not sure how anyone can argue against it to be fair.

  • Drumlins Rock

    choose between “Tory-lite” Labour, or “Alliance Lite” Greens, what a choice!

  • In what way are the Greens ‘Alliance Lite’?

  • Is the NI Green Party a branch of the Irish Green Party?

  • Cynic2

    Is Labour not a ‘sectarian’ (whatever that means) party in NI terms? Isn’t it Labour party policy that they believe there should be a united Ireland or did they ditch that too during the Blair years?

  • DC

    Not that anyone I know in Labour NI are Blairites – but is the idea to present a democratic socialist platform?

    Well I would count myself as one.

    Why Labour? To me the dynamism of Labour politics used to be linked to its old tradition – that of being critical of capitalism. To me this is where the future lies, its cutting edge. So I am tempted by bits of Blue Labour and New Labour. I am aware that both working class and middle class are together going through a cycle of relative decline given that Britain is no longer a price setter and has an ailing economy – so there will be isues arising out of this situation.

    You just don’t get this edginess with the Green Party – it’s clearly more environmental in outlook. It could certainly be used to complement Labour politics.

    Adam would seriously need to look at the Labour NI constituency and see for himself that the majority backed David Miliband as leader based on the votes cast, and he was a Blairite option. Ed was second.

    But most of all, the best thing going for Labour setting up here in NI is that its ‘newness’ should be a chance to try different things.

    Sadly, from what I’ve read so far of the papers coming out of Labour NI I am disappointed that it hasn’t proposed to be more radical.

    As Adam highlights in his article the democratic socialist option is not something new nor is it appealing nor exciting to the NI electorate, in fact if Labour opts for that here in NI it will be challenging the Socialist Party, which hasn’t exactly been successfu to date.

    I also hear the Labour Party would if it could designate as ‘other’ at the assembly which does not appeal to me nor do I think it will offer much immediate success over the short to medium. Labour should be new, radical and challenging vested interests – it should in my view cross-designate to upset things and vote on the side of the house which it agrees with on policy such as voting nationalist on social issues, unionist on economic ones. The position of the Labour Party should be judged once the life of the assembly has run its course.

    I would put myself in the centrist camp of Labour than the socialist one, but I have enough working class grievances in me to argue for a change in the way wealth is generated – be it in the public or private sector. The idea: breaking down vested interests wherever they lie.

    The trouble with Labour when it opts for a democratic socialist option is that it tends to view the public sector with rose tinted glasses in that it can do no wrong. It tends to rule out the fact that a lot of wealth is actually accumulated there and springs out of massive hierarchies – the little guy in the workplace tends to suffer from this – oppressive behaviour by management.

    Since the mid 1980s with the advent of New Public Management in public services the face of the union has changed in my view. Gone are the days of workers using unions in the traditional sense.

    The union i am involved with has a lot of managers and senior supervisors as members and they are on the branch committee. Votes are taken on a majority basis of which managers and supervisors form that block – the lower admin staff and junior supervisors are held captive to managerialism and its wishes and desires for an easier life, usually pushing more work down onto the junior staff. There is a tendency for the union officials and management to work hand in glove when it suits. There is no hope of accountability nor transparency when they both lock out the agenda and keep information to themselves.

    The modern union in the public sector has in some areas of work fallen victim to oppressive managerialism itself simply because a lot of its members are in fact managers.

  • Progressive greens. In the sense of bailing out the banks down below? In the sense of supporting the double taxation of water charges that will hit the poor hardest? In the sense of believing that the answer to our economic problems is cutting corporation tax, and not using the power of the state to stimulate sustained, high-quality, high-wage job creation?

    Do me a favour. Progressive in the sense of not being sectarian. Centre-right on everything else, as has been proven not only down below, but also from statements made here.

  • Junkhead

    It’s a different party down south is it not?

    The Greens are against a cut in corporation tax:
    http://www.progtaxblog.org.uk/2011/04/21/where-is-the-opposition-to-plans-to-cut-northern-irelands-corporation-tax-rate/

    And for using the power of the state to create high-quality jobs: http://sluggerotoole.com/2011/05/02/catching-up-with-steven-agnew-green-party/

    And surely it’s water metering they are for – with a free 40ltrs per person per day, rather than flat charging.

  • I apologise unreservedly if I got the corporation tax rate thing wrong.

    However, the stuff about water charges is spin to hide an extremely regressive form of taxation.

    If it’s a different party down south, somebody out to tell their website that

    http://www.greenparty.ie/en/about

    As for using the power of the state. I was talking about serious, sustainable job creation programmes that will transform the economy in Northern Ireland. I see no such plans from the greens. I instead see talk about creating the conditions for business growth.

  • Surely this is one of those, “If I was trying to get there, I wouldn’t start from here” moments.

    Just because GB and the RoI have Labour Parties (and — gosh — one of them even has a few principles) does that means NI has got to have one as well?

    Look at the social policies advocated by each of the parties now represented in the Stormont Assembly: in every case one can detect left-of-centre ideas.

    Beyond that, look at the whole of the returns for the recent Assembly elections. Aggregate the fractured and localised left-of-centre, non-denominational vote, of which admittedly the largest element is the reduced Green element, and it amounts to around the same as the TUV.

    Lose the denominational masks, and one might see that NI politics lean left of the UK, and certainly left of “New Labour”.

    Perhaps the dynamic is already there, except we don’t want to call it “Labour” for fear of frightening the neighbours.

  • aquifer

    A lot of the Labour groupings in NI have been Unionist rather than socialist, though being a socialist here is a bit of a fraud when most of the people who do the hard work for us are in the developing world. I guess the sectarian parties promises to look after their own are more convincing than labour’s, or the Tories for that matter. Maybe the NI Tories and NI Labour need to set themselves up as an alternative political punch and judy show to get a different politics going. Though we may be a bit short of major capitalists to sustain a class war for any length of time.