It’s happened before, and it’ll happen again.
“Long-suffering Labour members locally have launched yet another campaign to persuade Ed Miliband to stand candidates in Northern Ireland” (Trevor Ringland, Conservatives NI)
Not for the first time, Conservatives NI have issued a statement to support their beleaguered NI Constituency Labour Party
opponents. Both groups strongly criticise the Labour Party leadership for leaving Labour supporters adrift and unable to stand candidates in Northern Ireland. colleagues
In the Belfast Telegraph, Liam Clarke reports some of the bullish and critical rhetoric from last night’s NI CLP event at Westminster which marked another effort to change the mind of Labour’s National Executive Council (who concluded their last review of this policy last January).
Boyd Black, secretary of the Northern Ireland Constituency Labour Party, accused Mr Miliband of an “undemocratic, 1950s, colonial governor mindset” at a Westminster meeting yesterday.
“The cumulative effect of Labour’s stance over time is the single most politically destabilising factor in Northern Ireland,” he told the meeting in London. “We have failing sectarian politics in Northern Ireland, not because of the flags protesters or the dissidents or the on-the-runs, but because the Labour Party suppress grown-up politics.”
Mr Black compared the attitude of the Labour leadership to colonialism, as described by Frantz Fanon in his book, The Wretched of the Earth, which described the plight of subject people in the third world.
“We in Northern Ireland, both Labour Party members and the wider public, are the Wretched of the Earth – when it comes to our relationship to the leadership of the Labour Party,” he said. “The Labour Party leadership are our political and psychological oppressors, always putting us down, always being condescending, always keeping us in our place.”
Boyd finished his speech (which is available in full online):
If you suppress Labour Party politics you create a political vacuum which is filled by sectarian politics. This is not 1969, but the Party is once again running a big risk with the future of Northern Ireland. After all that has happened, it seems to have learnt nothing.
In a press release Trevor Ringland (NI Conservatives) compared the Tory approach to NI with that of the Labour Party;
Whereas David Cameron is absolutely committed to bringing Northern Ireland into the mainstream of UK politics, Ed Miliband treats people here like second class citizens”.
“Labour prefers to have an arrangement with a party which is committed to breaking up the UK, the SDLP, rather than supporting its own members’ efforts to stand candidates here. Under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown they were the party of murky deals, concocted behind the backs of people in Northern Ireland, and little seems to have changed. Labour talks about ‘One Nation’, but it certainly doesn’t believe that voters here deserve a say in it.”
While Trevor believes centre-right politics is better than Labour’s policies, “we share with local Labour members a conviction that people here deserve a meaningful say in UK politics, which is focussed on issues and isn’t ‘Orange, Green or something in between’.”
None of this is going to change the NEC’s mind on Labour candidates in Northern Ireland. not until the SDLP lose all their Westminster MPs and run out of leverage at Labour’s Brewer’s Green headquarters.
At least Trevor didn’t suggest that Labour formally hook up with the SDLP in a left-wing UCUNF civil partnership …