Andy Burnham says ‘let’s organise in Northern Ireland…”

Hmmm… Haven’t we seen this before? It seems that after meeting Mark Durkan the UK Labour MP and former Minister has said:

“The NEC are currently speaking to the Northern Ireland Labour organisation and to our sister party the SDLP. They agreed a process of discussion and they will bring back a recommendation later this year. A decision is coming in the near future and I think it will be linked to the 2014 council elections.”

Liam Clarke notes that the SDLP leader Alisdair McDonnell has cleared the way for Labour to fight council and Assembly seats but remains nervous of any attempt to run for Westminster.

A Labour candidate that did any way well in what’s currently the SDLP leader’s south Belfast seat would almost certainly be seen to prejudice the outcome of any future elections. The boundary changes may already have deprived him of a Westminster anyway.

Brave talk, but Burnham has clearly learned from the rash promises of the UCU-NF deal [Or no deal? – Ed] in talking up the bottom up approach.

If anything Labour could have a tougher sell than the Tories, since many radical Catholic voters already plump for Sinn Fein. It could hope, perhaps, to carve out some kind of niche where Dawn Purvis was amongst working class Protestants.

Indeed, Labour’s advantage could lie the fact that it could connect middle class and working class votes, much in the way that Irish Labour does in the Republic. Dawn’s failure to expand her East Belfast base into the leafy heartland is one reason why the Assembly lost one of its best individual lawmakers last year.

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