Interesting piece from Siobhan Fenton in the News Statesman looking at the decision of the local UK Labour Party in principle to stand for elections in Northern Ireland… Siobhan calls it a ‘crisis’ which it might be if anyone in the broader Labour party takes notice…
The Northern Irish branch are currently inviting local people to come forward as potential candidates and describe themselves as “snowed under” with interest. Labour’s neglect of and disinterest in Northern Irish members for decades means that many issues have gone unresolved and rebellious intent has been left to embed itself deeply. Now that the branch have broken ranks after decades of frustration and inaction, it may be too late for Labour to stop the momentum without major dissent and a fractured party.
On the scale of things, a few members running for the Assembly next May (in which – barring huge and unforeseen events – they are highly unlikely to win anything) is not likely to be seen as one of the Labour leader’s more pressing problems.
Winning the London Mayoral office (a major and key reason why Cameron has delayed yesterday’s scheduled Heathrow announcement) and preventing the party Scotland hurtling through the floor. As Aiden Kerr notes, the latest Holyrood poll puts them…
…on a lowly 20% and 19% of the constituency and regional vote respectively. On these figures they would return to the Scottish Parliament in May with 25 MSPs, 12 fewer than their worst ever showing in 2011. The SNP would in contrast win 50% and 46% of votes earning them 72 MSPs.
He warns too that the voters that are left to the Labour party aren’t really a great match for the Corbynite leftists (that wing has swung decisively away to the SNP)…
The Labour Left have badly misjudged the Scottish electorate if they believe that all you have to do win here is to adopt a manifesto of 50 shades of Socialism. The key to the SNP’s success has been middle class subsidies not tax raids.
If higher taxes and a relaxed attitude to the constitution is what Corbynism is in Scotland then it will suffer, and suffer badly. The tide is yet to turn. Scottish Labour have less than a 150 days to marshal the waves. At this point Corbynism looks set to sink in Scotland.
Without Scotland, England (and the UK) is a one party political playground for the Conservatives. Ditto Scotland for the SNP. I doubt that Mr Corbyn, much as he may disapprove of his Northern Irish rebels, will spend too much time worrying about them this year.
The Labour party is now awash with new volunteers and activists throughout the UK. Aligning that great enthusiasm with the hopes and fears of a much broader, more febrile and far less political electorate will take a lot longer longer than the next one, two or even three regional elections.
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