NI Labour Party declare UDI and decide to stand candidates at upcoming elections

Labour Party NI logoAt their recent meeting, around 100 NI Labour Party members debated and unanimously passed a motion on contesting Northern Ireland elections. The motion which had previously received the unanimous support of the local Executive Committee puts the mechanisms and resources in place to fight the Assembly election in May 2016.

It’s the current policy of the National Executive Committee (NEC) in London not to allow LPNI to put forward candidates at Northern Ireland polls. Asked at Féile’s West Belfast Talks Back event, Jeremy Corbyn said it would be a decision he could make as leader.

Reflecting on LPNI’s decision to ignore London, local secretary Boyd Black said:

The overwhelming feeling of the members of LPNI was that the people of Northern Ireland are crying out for a credible alternative to the sectarian silos of Northern Ireland politics.

He added:

Our 1700 members and supporters made it clear last night that they are fed up accepting the things they cannot change and that they want to start changing the things they cannot accept.

The successful motion reads in full:

The NI Constituency Labour Party (CLP) noting: that the intentions of those who join the Party is to secure Labour representation at every level of government and political decision making affecting the people of Northern Ireland; and recognising that the influx of new members and supporters is a further sign of the disillusion of the Northern Ireland electorate with the dysfunctional political structures of Northern Ireland and the political parties that populate them; instructs our Executive Committee (EC) to ensure that the Party is equipped to engage in elections at the earliest date at which it is appropriate to do so.

Accordingly the CLP instructs our EC to:

Prepare and train members who would be suitable candidates; Establish a fighting fund to pay for offices and staff; Prepare a political programme to put to the electorate; Alert the National Executive (NEC) and the Party leadership to the evolving political situation in Northern Ireland and engage with them in the process of promoting Labour’s challenge to the sectarian status quo.

Furthermore the CLP instructs the EC to circulate a strategy to the Party membership no later than 7 days before the next General Members Meeting on 29 January 2016 to give effect to this motion.

Our 1700 members and supporters made it clear last night that they are fed up accepting the things they cannot change and that they want to start changing the things they cannot accept.’

If anyone sees Tom Watson at a Belfast airport, he’ll not be bringing gifts of goodwill and good cheer!

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  • steve white


  • Ernekid

    This is interesting and I’m curious to see how well the LPNI do. The success of the LP in Northern Ireland will be dependent on who their candidates are and in what constituencies they are running in,. This could put a lot of pressure on the SDLP who will be competing for the same pool of voters. If the LPNI have a strong candidate in Belfast South it could cost the SDLP at least one of their assembly seats.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Unilateral Declaration of Independence.

  • Jenny Muir

    Not before time. Although I’m a member of another party, I support this move as it’s good for democracy in NI. However, note that the resolution only talks about putting structures and people in place to contest elections. It doesn’t include registration with the Electoral Commission as a political party, which is language Labour in England might understand. LPNI should also be prepared to take this move to its logical conclusion, which would be to stand candidates and wait for mass expulsions (which I suspect wouldn’t happen), and if they occur then reconstitute themselves as an independent Labour Party (probably not called the Northern Ireland Labour Party). However, I imagine there would be resistance to that from the affiliated trade union contingents as they would lose their influence at the UK Labour Conference.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I have no problem with Labour NI to try to earn a vote, but I think a lot of the lessons the local Conservatives have learnt over here have been lost. I’ve consistently said they should put up or shut up on this forum.

    One point would be do they really have anything positive to offer other than highlighting problems, because you don’t need to be a politician to do that. Similar accusations are being made at the SDLP, Alliance, PUP, Greens etc. after all.

    First Past the Post are determined by Arrow’s Law, and often who people don’t want to get in plays a bigger factor than who does, so there’s not going to be anyone who really wants the SDLP in over the DUP that will be transferring to the Labour Party of Northern Ireland, it is exactly the same for the SDLP when Sinn Féin face a Unity candidate in Fermanagh South Tyrone. In much the same way a NI Conservative vote tally might be the difference in South Antrim or even East Belfast, for allies in the UUP or DUP I’d imagine being merely a margin of difference this way is not something to aspire to.

    In Assembly Labour standing may actually suit the SDLP in South Belfast as the main opposition to the seat is considered to be the DUP. In terms of helping the Greens and Alliance they would have to differentiate themselves to get the first choice before they do. At the end of the day though the vast, vast majority of South Belfast voters will not be Labour NI ones, and voters not the parties have the power here.

    Also from my own point of view the best thing Labour could’ve done to stop Northern Ireland from “accepting the things they cannot change and that they want to start changing the things they cannot accept.” would be to tell them not to oppose the AV referendum on shallow partisan interests and demand P.R. for here so people aren’t shepherded into lowest common denominator politics. Dido the Conservative Party.

    British politics is dominated often by simply dividing and conquering the electorate and creates its own tribal sects this way. Success and glory first, Principles second.

    There is a whole load of other left wing groups other than the SDLP/SF/PUP etc. and maybe even Alliance competing against Labour NI, and I don’t really see any policies at a constituency level that would differentiate them from these groups. Is there any real evidence that they can achieve more here than what we’ve already got?

  • Robin Keogh

    The only possible benifit i could see from British Labour standing in Ireland would be if they could entice slumbering citizens to the polls. However, i would imagine it might be those voters second preferences rather than first preferences that might have the greatest effect.

  • aquifer

    It took too long for local labour supporters to challenge their shabby sectarian exclusion from power in the UK. On the plus side, it would challenge all the other parties to clarify their policies. I would be surprised if they stand more than one or two people, unless they can get some sort of a Corbynista new wave going.

  • Cushy Glen

    About time this apartheid was ended.
    The Labour Party accepts members from NI, allows them to help elect their leader nationally & then denies them their democratic right to field candidates all because Labour claim the nationalist SDLP are a ‘sister party’. It’s a bit like Labour in Scotland partnering the nationalist SNP & not fielding candidates. Ridiculous.
    If in 2020 Labour become the party of government it will be for all the UK & not just Britain.Yet under the current set up they will not have submitted themselves to the electorate in NI. That’s taxation without representation.

  • Cushy Glen

    LPNI is a formal part of the British Labour Party & not some independent group.
    For a start LPNI would have a genuinely non-sectarian power base which SDLP/SF/PUP/ DUP/ UUP/TUV do not.
    Secondly they would provide a true opposition & alternative to austerity which many of the local parties do not.
    Thirdly LPNI have a strong & growing local membership which the other national party – the Tories – never had & were reduced to flying candidates in from Surrey.
    Finally people here would be presented with the opportunity to vote for a non-sectarian party that could form the next government of the UK (assuming Labour HQ recognise these LPNI candidates).
    That would be a big step forward for local politics.

  • Ernekid

    Your points on FPTP are salient but I’m not sure how they relate to the PRSTV Assembly elections?

    Its difficult to predict how much support the LPNI could garner as they are untested at the ballot box. However there is a constituency of left leaning Unionists and moderate Nationalists who could be attracted to the LPNI. Those votes might make the difference for the allocation of 5th and 6th constituency seats in the Assembly election

  • Ulick

    Haha… superb stroke.
    So let me get this straight. The local branch of the British Labour Party gets a mini influx of members and “supporters” on the back of the Corbyn leadership candidacy. The local BLP branch then use the new support against the person they joined up to support by pretending they backed the local BLP branch position to stand in local elections. This isn’t going to end well but there should be plenty of laughs along the road. Here’s a starter – a petition linked on their website ( calling for candidates to stand here has been running for a year and still has fewer signatures than their declared membership:

  • Kevin Breslin

    They haven’t picked a candidate, but try to emphasise with the voter here. If you lean to the Greens but like the Labour Candidate as well, you’d have given your first preference to the better option, if you prefer the Labour Party and the Greens to the SDLP, not having Labour wouldn’t stop you giving the Greens your first preference which at the end of the day is more valuable than a transfer. Greens getting in depends on their own merit not anyone else’s.

    So ultimately Labour would need to challenge for the seat to make a difference, I’m not sure they have anyone who’s higher profile than Duncan Morrow or Claire Bailly in their ranks to bother either them or the SDLP.

  • eamoncorbett

    Unilateral Declaration of Implosion.

  • Kevin Breslin

    This is pretty meaningless, the Conservatives dropped the “people choose the government” nonsense after their experience with a coalition.

    Not in a parliamentary democracy. The politicians choose the government.

    People are aware that politicians choose the governments not the people. Why elect a back-bencher when you have the government relying on your local politican’s support.

    It’s why Naomi Long didn’t join the government as a Lib Dem.

    Even with backbenchers you get rebellions and people stand on the basis that they are virtually independent.

    We also hear the non sectarian card used, what use is that against the Greens, People before Profit or the Worker’s Party, what use is that against Alliance?

    We hear about opposition to what’s happening here like a bunch of alienated foreigners where is their track record in civic society in making any difference here?

    Where are the fruits of this Labour?

    Being elected for the sake of having a government party here is only progress for the party, as we saw in Scotland the people determine what’s progressive not governments and parties.

  • submariner

    The first question the LPNI will be asked is are you the Protestant LPNI or the Catholic one

  • Mike Thompson

    Welcome to the electoral process, but t I believe LPNI will go precisely nowhere and in some constituencies they’ll be lucky to exceed Boyd Black’s famous 98 (“who fears to speak of ’98”) votes in the Fulham by-election a generation ago. I heard Kathryn Johnston on Radio Ulster blubbering on about extending the 1967 Abortion Act to NI and gay marriage, to the exclusion of all other policies. When were these two matters core social democratic issues?

  • Gaygael

    Most of Western Europe and social democratic or PES parties. It doesnt differentiate them, as the greens are the only assembly party supporting the extension of 67 act and brought the first motion on marriage.

    Interestingly the local branch opportunistically supported Burnham, because he supported allowing them to stand. As is rightly said below, they got an apparent influx of the back of Corbyn, yet are in opposition to Corbyn on standing here.

    Let’s see what develops.

  • eireanne3

    The English Labour Party is is a bad way but fighting back to some extent. The Scottish LP (SLAB) is in an even worse position with only 1 MP at westminster, and little money to fight the up-coming Scottish parliament elections. The NILP has been dying for years (No MP at Westminster). The Irish Labour Party in coalition government In the Dàil is on its knees with only 7-8% of votes according to the latest poles. Maybe labour’s time is over?

  • Croiteir

    a better comparison would be Fianna Fail

  • mickfealty

    Just recieved this from Matthew Doyle, Chair of the Labour Party Irish Society, who said:

    “However well intentioned this is a misguided move from the Labour Party in Northern Ireland that cannot be condoned our supported.
    “I have no doubt that the National Executive of the Labour Party will continue to support the status quo that we do not stand candidates in Northern Ireland and reject this proposal. The Labour Party has a proud partnership with our sister party the SDLP which we should champion, not undermine.

    “The Labour Party Irish Society opposes any moves to stand candidates in Northern Ireland. If local party members do not reconsider then we will ensure the NEC blocks any such attempt to stand.”

  • mickfealty

    That’s the new ‘whipless’ politics of the new new Labour party for you Pat… Anything goes…

  • Croiteir

    You are out of Labour for two years now – any thoughts of rejoining now?

  • mickfealty

    I like the new avatar Croiteir. More fitting.

  • Croiteir

    Time for the labour HQ to either use the potty or move on – I like this forcing of their hand. At least it introduces some honesty from both sides

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Back in the day (up to the 1960s) it used to be both. It was the NI Labour Party Young Socialists who were the core around which the “People’s Democracy” was created. I even remember Paddy Devlin sending his “spies” down to check us out.

    But yes, both Catholic and protestant and no suggestion that this was anything of an issue, something almost impossible to imagine today for the polarised factions that support our largest parties. An old friend of my family, Jack Beattie, was even Labour MP for Belfast Pottinger from 1929-49, and for some of those years Labour leader at Stormont, despite his well known support for the re-unification of Ireland. A rather different East Belfast……

  • Jenny Muir

    It’s 3 years and no, that would be unprincipled and opportunistic. But I do support Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership as part of a broad Left that also includes the Greens.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Robin, the NI Labour party was nerve simply a “British” Labour party. A pretty decent history of NI Labour available:

    Although I’d take issue with some statements, its a fine corrective to any simplifications. As I mentioned above, the “Peoples Democracy” was developed around the NI Labour Party YS in the 1960s. At least one friend of mine from NI Labour even eventually stood in Tyrone as a SF candidate. Different animal to British Labour, with different origins.

  • Jenny Muir

    Could have written that for you. But I suspect they are right about the NEC reaction.

  • Dan

    That Irish society has always been sectarian to the core

  • Robin Keogh

    Thanks Sean, I said British to distinguish it from the Irish Labour party and yes I am aware of some of its history in that it tended to attract votes mainly from the nationalist community and was a progressive left organisation. Hopefully they might wake up some sleepy voters if they do stand in 2016.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I knew the old NI Labour party quite well growing up as some members were friends of my family. In the 1920s, with the Unionist narrative not completely “set” in the minds of those protestant working-class who had fought in the Great War, it had a very cross community appeal, as Jack Beattie’s career (just one example) showed. Their electoral sucess in the early 1960s was a flag of posible change, but O’Neill tactically closed off that route to “one community” politics, and set those of us who cared out onto the streets to challenge the sectarian abuses still underlying O’Neill’s “progressivism”. The rest you know, but the moment of challenge when Tom Boyd’s leadership netted four seats (Pottinger, Woodvale, Oldpark, Victoria) had raddled the old UUP decisively. Pottinger had been Jack Beattie’s old seat and had a record of voting socialist, but the other three had been Unionist bastions, Victoria even having been Dawson Bates’ old seat! In terms of popular vote (as against seats won) the socialist vote for the five “Labour” parties standing was a cross community 32% as against 17% for the nationalist party and 48% for the Unionists. A road not taken…….

  • barnshee

    Sadly sub you are right

  • Robin Keogh

    It is a pity of course that pokitics broke a long religiius lines. However the British back in were remowned for divide and conquer tactics in all its colonies. Favouring one group over another with the inevitable consequences. No surprise then that Unionism carried the tradition resulting in an almost unbridgeable cleavage.

  • Croiteir

    not sure if that is a pat on the back or a dig in the gub

  • Croiteir

    And how could their executive act differently – set up a different party and want to stay in theirs? Can’t happen.

  • mjh

    Indeed Seaan. And the transfer pattern at subsequent elections in the 1970’s and 80’s shows that the NILP, and the various groups that later fought under an often localised Labour banner, such as Newtownabbey Labour, continued to attract their votes from all corners of the community.

    In general they transferred more to Alliance than to any single party – normally between a third and a half. Of the remainder there was no marked preference for either nationalist or unionist parties. with the balance depending more on the makeup of the individual constituency than anything else.

  • kathrynjohnston

    Thanks for posting this up @mickfealty:disqus Like many other members of Labour Party in Northern Ireland, I am also a member of the Co-operative Party, the Irish Labour Party and the LPIS. Surely it is a little premature – not to mention high handed and undemocratic – for LPIS to vow to ‘ensure the NEC blocks any such attempt to stand’?

  • 23×7

    Agree. The SDLP is no longer fit for purpose. Socialist unionists have no one to vote for. Time to look for a few credible candidates.

  • Zig70

    I’ll be disappointed if the SDLP can’t find a way to promote their inclusivity of the back of this. Even as an opportunity to test their brand against what they believe themselves.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Why can the NEC effectively allow Ken Livingstone to stand against the official Labour Party in for the London mayoral Contests 2000 as an independent, but NILP members can’t stand as independents?

    Everything the NILP are doing here is exactly the same provisions granted to Red Ken.

    If the SDLP are a sister party, they are entitled to be treated in the same way as the main Labour Party.

    As an SDLP member even I find the double standards of the London NEC silly.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Are there no Labour NI members of the Irish society?
    Surely we live in days where “Irish” isn’t confined to a sectarian identity.

  • Kevin Breslin

    These are policies shared from the Greens to the PUP to the IRSP … do they really think they are going to draw votes and recruits from these parties soley on that basis?

  • chrisjones2

    On here you often get both at the same time

  • mjh

    ” Why can the NEC effectively allow Ken Livingstone to stand against the official Labour Party in for the London mayoral Contests 2000 as an independent, but NILP members can’t …..?”

    Because Ken won.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Tsk gloryhunters.

  • tmitch57

    While I agree with the right of LPNI members in principle to run their own candidates in a province of the UK, I have yet to be convinced that their experience will be any different than that of the NI Conservatives. Northern Ireland has its own political party system–formed in the early 1970s–distinct from either the British or Irish party systems and I have yet to be shown that outside “national” parties of either the British or Irish variety will be successful in the province. The one possible counter example is SF, which is really a Northern party that has had limited success in the Republic running on a separate set of issues than in NI.

  • Gaygael

    I think its a pitch to the established ‘social democratic’ party voters!

  • Kevin Breslin

    These parties all labels aside do veer into social democratic territory, PUP and IRSP included, but Greens especially. Labels don’t give you a competitive edge, actions do.

  • Roy White

    I was at the meeting. There wasn’t really a decision to “declare UDI”. Its more about becoming an active political entity and getting into a state to fight elections, while at the same time seeking to convince the NEC etc that Labour should fight elections here. The more organised and prepared we are, the harder it will be for them to turn us down.

  • Gaygael

    I’m not worried as a green.
    I’m sure the SDLP will be pressing for the NEC to continue the block.

  • Granni Trixie

    I have always considered myself in normal circs a Labour supporter. But at this stage in my life I’m not going to switch out of loyalty from APNI. Plus with Corbyn as leader it’s easy not Make this decision.

  • kathrynjohnston

    There are quite a few of us – and we don’t remember being asked our position.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Pretty much a matter for the Labour Party this one. All the SDLP can do is give them their “blessing” metaphorically speaking to compete.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Many senior SDLP members are happy for them to compete at Assembly and other STV elections. First Past the Post elections at this stage will simply lead to abstentionists and DUP/Unionist Unity candidates getting in at the very worst, with lost deposits.

    Even the Greens limited the number of candidates they had to their strongest areas because this was the case.

  • Gaygael

    Many senior members are happy for them to compete at Assembly. Interesting.
    The Greens are a smaller party. It didn’t make sense to run candidates everywhere in Westminster 2015. In West Tyrone, they were just behind Alliance. In FST they outpolled Alliance. In the two tight sectarian tactical battles they contested, they scored their best results ever in South Belfast, and held a significant share in East Belfast.
    In North Down, Agnew increased his vote significantly despite Lady Hermon on the ticket. They all bode well.

  • Zig70

    I meant the sdlp should say stand if you want but we are the official Northern Irish labour party, join us instead and then listen to the reasons why not. Then the critical bit, find a path that negates their reasons, even if it is they are small enough to ignore but use it to get the message out.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well I don’t think there was any Green Party presence in my constituency, there was a Conservative candidate though. And that in was my point.

    Growing a smaller party is better done at an Assembly/European level not by First Past the Post Westminster contests outside of areas where the party already has strength.

    Parties like the Tories who want Labour to stand with them will compete everywhere except for the rather “non-sectarian” (sarcasm) exception of Fermanagh-South Tyrone throwing all their money down on candidates elsewhere on the “elect the government” lie.

    We had Labour and the Conservatives here from the early part of the 20th Centuary, they were happy to let sectarianism fester while they chased glory. The UUP is a bi-product of the Conservative party after all.

    Sectarianism is rotting in English and Welsh constituencies with UKIP milking it for populism, hating an entire religion is sectarian, arguing over where a border is not.

    I think there needs to be a physician heal thyself approach rather than thinking their capacity to not care is a cure all for all that ails us, because Labour and the Tories are losing votes to extremists like UKIP, while our extremists have been brought into the centre.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Ruth Kelly was very much a Catholic, she was in Opus Dei. Seemed the British Presses were more concerned about that than our lot are.

  • Kevin Breslin

    It’s not the SDLP’s decision whether they stand or not, and it’s not my decision to make the SDLP’s decision on that matter. I’m happy for the electorate to be the one who judges them and us and gives the feedback, if you pardon the cute using of that term.

    There’s a lot of talk about people being turned off politics here, but have these groups really gone out and made a case they have anything different to offer?

    There are a lot of prejudices about what the non-voter wants and what they don’t (if indeed anything) but the only way to know is to ask them personally, not looking for a zeitgeist of cynicism or indeed optimism that a party can latch onto.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Socialist Unionists can vote for whoever they want, they can organize and network and form parties, change parties or stand independently.

    Lady Slyvia Herman votes a lot more with Labour than many of their own members do.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’ve had my head down with work and just seen this – brilliant news! They have my full support and I’ll be in touch to see what I can do to help from afar. It’s a no-brainer that the Labour Party should be fielding candidates in Northern Ireland and feet have been dragged for far too long.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    haha! Pathetic hypocrisy. No reasons given I notice. I wonder, does he allow Labour candidates to stand in his own region? Who does he think he is, telling other citizens what political parties they can have? Joke.

  • Zig70

    Will be interesting to see how they avoid being the unionists labour party, though even if it does, it will be good to see a socialist party on that side of the house.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    We’re back to the Kevin McNamara days. Remember him? The one that had to be removed before Labour could become a credible broker of the Peace Process.

    McNamara came to give a talk at the College of Law in London in 1994, where I was then “studying” (ahem), when he was still Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary. At the time there was no select committee at Westminster to scrutinise the government over Northern Ireland, a strange anomaly, and at last moves were under way to set one up. McNamara was opposing it and I had the opportunity to ask him why. The answer was, basically, because the SDLP don’t want one and they are “our sister party”. Again, no better reason was put forward. It struck me as pretty cynical and unfair to deny Northern Ireland people the parliamentary scrutiny for their business that other regions took for granted. But unfortunately that was typical of that pro-nationalist part of Labour, who would go for whatever the Irish nationalist option was. In a place where only a minority of the electorate are Irish nationalists, it is somewhat limiting one’s reach to do that; not to mention rather hostile to most of the electorate. It put me off joining Labour for many years, despite being a Labour voter and supporter.

    The SDLP’s reasoning for opposing having a select committee was that it was somehow a “pro-union” move. Pretty absurd, paranoid stuff; and I think at that time, anything unionists wanted, John Hume automatically fought. Labour should be above those kind of petty sectarian causes. McNamara and Labour’s error then shows exactly why it’s not good enough for Labour to say the SDLP has it covered in NI. It doesn’t. The SDLP isn’t a bad party but it does tend to regard unionists (small ‘u’) as opponents rather than an equal constituency and it has heavy nationalist baggage which holds it back. Labour standing can be free of such baggage and be *genuinely* cross-community in a way that purely local parties rooted in opposing unionism, or nationalism, can’t.

    Irish unity isn’t a real issue any more, look at poll after poll. Rightly, British and Irish are now regarded as of equal value in Northern Ireland – but it seems some on the hard left over in England haven’t quite realised how things have moved on. It doesn’t wash anymore to ethnically scapegoat Ulster Protestants for Northern Ireland’s problems, as I’ve heard some on the hard left in England doing. And I think many of them haven’t quite realised that questioning the legitimacy of Northern Ireland has also been out of the window since it was universally recognised and accepted as legitimate in 1998, even by the slowest of learners.

    If the Labour Party Irish Society is, in 2015, insisting that belief in Irish nationalism is a prerequisite for left-wing politics in Northern Ireland, it makes no sense whatsoever. It amounts to little more than sectarian flag-waving.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I think they do it by treating constitutional issues as off the table and setting their focus on bread and butter everyday issues. SF can be good at the latter but obviously does so with a sectarian bias and a murderous and criminal recent past. Labour can take up similar causes but do so without the partisan ethnic grinding. It might just win some people over.

  • Reader

    Kevin Breslin: Even the Greens limited the number of candidates they had to their strongest areas because this was the case.
    You seem to be suggesting that the Greens didn’t stand in some constituencies in order to help to keep out specific other parties.
    Any evidence?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Not what I said. At the end of the day the Greens beat the NI Tories contesting far less seats. They stood in two areas where there was pact politics as well, when the Conservatives avoided them. I don’t think the Tories would’ve changed any results, but they didn’t make a statement of how reducing these contests to Irish jingoism vs. British jingoism wasn’t really helping either. The Green Party, Alliance even the “sectarian” SDLP at least did that.

    1. They had five candidates out of a possible eighteen…

    2. Their statement on this explains why.

    For each constituency we need a deposit of £500. This, and the other costs, means that we can’t yet afford to stand candidates in every constituency. We know that you may be disappointed not to be able to vote Green in your area this time, but with your help, we hope to have more candidates across Northern Ireland in future elections.

    Please accept that I have tried my very hardest not to misrepresent this party even though it is not my own.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Maybe the Social Democrats can merge with the Irish Labour party and make a new entity? They’d have to keep both names though somehow. 😉

  • MainlandUlsterman

    though without wanting to raise the tedious semantic debate again, ‘Britain’ is usually used (outside NI at least) to refer to the whole of the UK, not just the mainland. But I know what you mean!

  • MainlandUlsterman

    you’d accept though Kevin that none of the major NI parties represents the socialist unionist position at the moment?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    NILP itself got 16 per cent of the vote in the 1964 election, the biggest share apart from the UUP, who got 60+ per cent of the vote in those days.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    MU, the figures stand for the 1962 election, but I’m referring to the “popular vote”, i.e.: numbers counted, rather than the FPTP seat count which was, as ever utterly unrepresentative of the popular vote. But hey, when has that ever stopped anyone claiming a mandate……..

    For the figures:,_1962

    I’ve conflated the entire Socialist vote, you’ll note. By the 1965 NI election the new Unionist policies were kicking in and the Unionist popular vote had risen by just over 10%, while the Labour vote had dropped by a crucial 5% which lost them two seats. The “red surge” of 1962 had been countered by O’Neill’s sly mix of concessions alongside scare tactics, and with it any slender hope of building a leftist non-sectarian political consensus across the community, and the conditions for the political quagmire we currently “enjoy” given their direction……

  • Kevin Breslin

    That may say as much about Socialist Unionists outreaching to ordinary DUP/UUP voters as it does DUP/UUP parties outreaching to Socialist Unionists. You have to work with the electorate and resources available to you to become a sustainable main party.

    I recall NI Conservatives asking the UUP to dissolve and hand over the voters and the franchise, it was a very naive way to do politics.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    They avoided it with consummate ease, Zig, back between 1922-1965. The core group that founded the People’s Democracy WERE the NI Labour Party Young Socialists. I was there, and I don’t remember anyone calling the old NI Labour Party Unionists (or Nationalists) even as a joke…….

  • Kevin Breslin

    I mean for the record I have voted for John Gililand in the past, because I’m a bit more pro-European than I am Irish nationalist.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    it’s a constituency that has not been nurtured for decades. I’m not saying it will spring into action overnight after such atrophy, but the potential is there for the longer term.

  • SDLP supporter

    I believe there should be no bar to LPNI entering the
    electoral process here in NI. Elections are a pretty good example of a working free
    market and, as I have posted here before, elections here are fought on the
    ground and on the doorsteps by far fewer than 1% of the population here. John
    O’Farrell wrote a quite funny book entitled ‘Things can only get better:
    eighteen miserable years in the life of a Labour supporter 1979-1997’ in which
    he coined the aphorism that, in the (London) constituency Labour party he knew,
    membership ebbed and flowed, but the practicalities of election were always
    handled by the same seven people.

    It can be pretty crap putting up posters, going around the
    doors and handling apathy and sometimes rudeness from (a minority of) the

    I have perused the ‘Politics’ syllabi of our two
    universities here (QUB and UU) and nowhere have I ever seen a course offered on
    how to fight elections, the realities and techniques of campaigning etc. LPNI
    folk probably are in for a big shock, but I wish them God speed. Neither have I
    heard of an academic paper that quantifies the number of activists on the ground
    or qualitatively examines their techniques and experiences.

    An academic of my acquaintance told me once that, because the QUB Irish Politics department was ‘world class'(forsooth!), he was encouraged to graduate something like 24 Masters in IrishPolitics a year and that most of the people who did the course and had shelledout a few thousand quid had added precisely nothing to their employment prospects.

    Unless they are from the Sinn Fein or DUP gene pool,
    employment prospects for such graduates in politics/public affairs is minimal.
    In the former party, the main criterion for advancement is that you have done
    time for the cause, and it also helps to be a woman. Sinn Fein use their
    Assembly/MLA positions as compensation for past sacrifices for “the
    cause” and an opportunity to build up a few years’ pensionable service as
    an MLA/Minister. Nothing else can explain the phenomenon of the truly awful
    Caral Ni Chuilin. In the DUP, the ‘done time’ criterion is not as important,
    although it probably did no harm to Emma Pengelly’s prospects that her father
    was a convicted loyalist paramilitary. In the past, in the DUP, it really
    helped if you were a member of the Free Presbyterian Church.

  • Nicholas Whyte

    That’s not my memory of what happened in 2000. As far as I recall Ken was expelled from the Labour Party when he handed in his nomination papers, and was granted no provisions at all by the NEC at that time.

    It was different in 2004 of course.

  • Nicholas Whyte

    I largely agree with this. For all that commenters here complain about all existing parties, the fact is that each of them has now got a more or less established campaigning mechanism, and it’s very difficult to break into electoral relevance without a structure to offer the voters – this was clearly part of the problem of NI21, whose candidates had to photocopy their own leaflets.

    And it is certainly true that the major criterion for success within a political party is simply turning up, and (usually) doing the work.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well He got back after all that, “because he won” if we want to be cynical.

  • Dave Allen

    Please sign and share the petition at

  • Dave Allen

    Please sign and share the petition at

  • mickfealty

    The former, I assure you. Welcome to the 21C!! 😉

  • Croiteir

    Stuff that for a game of soldiers