“Which means, I presume, that both Sadiq Khan and Kezia Dugdale approve of the SDLP’s aspiration…”

George Kerevan offers us one of the more extreme possible outcomes, ie that Sinn Fein will overtake the DUP giving Michelle O’Neill the job of First Minister, but he also makes this rather elegant blow against UK Labour for its disciplining two NI members for daring to run in Northern Ireland:

…the sharp-eyed among you will have noticed that there are no Labour Party candidates standing in the Northern Ireland Assembly elections. Indeed, Labour has just expelled two of its activists for trying to run on Thursday. Strange considering that Labour’s London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, came all the way to Perth to lecture us that we are “better” for being a United Kingdom and that “there’s no difference between those who try to divide us on the basis of whether we’re English or Scottish and those who try to divide us on the base of our background, race or religion”.

Labour is happy to accuse the SNP of dividing the UK yet has always tacitly supported Irish unity. In fact, the official Labour Party Irish Society is currently tweeting support for SDLP candidates in Thursday’s election. Which means, I presume, that both Sadiq Khan and Kezia Dugdale approve of the SDLP’s “aspiration to share political union with the rest of the [Irish] island”, as stated in its election manifesto. Or is Labour just being hypocritical towards Scotland, as usual?

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

  • Paul Hagan

    It’s so hard to read anything in the National, but a serious issue here. I think the Labour party has only disciplined those two members who are this time standing or openely campaigning for another party. Against those dozen or so from Labour Representation Committee last time around no action has yet been taken. Labour’s NEC has recently launched a consultation into organising electorally in Northern Ireland including standing candidates for election here which will run until this summer when a report will be presented to the NEC for consideration.

  • If Labour took NI seriously, they could have brought forward the consultation or made an emergency decision when the Assembly election was called.

  • woodkerne

    ‘Shock! Leopard wears spots, again!’ The British Labour Party has supported the political organization of Irish nationalism in the north of Ireland throughout the history of the state of Northern Ireland and since the formation of the SDLP has regarded the party of Paddy Devlin and John Hume as a ‘sister’ party. On this constitutional basis, UK Labour refuses to permit candidates who would seek to, to stand in local or Westminster elections under the Labour banner. The erroneous presumption of ideological symmetry as between the interests of anti-union and catholic nationalism with the cause of cosmopolitan parliamentary socialism dates to the period of the ‘second international’ and the doctrine of ‘the right of nations to self-determination’ (1889–1916) and overlaps with the period of Gladstonian reliance in Westminster on the party of Parnell, in exchange for support for the passage of Home Rule.

    In recent years, there had been signs of lightening-up on the anachronistic exclusion in the party rules. However, since Jeremy Corbyn (an unreconstructed Bennite of ‘Troops Out’ variety) was confirmed in the leadership last summer the door was slammed shut (again), not for the first time, leaving the hopeful local Labour activists high and dry and no doubt peeved. (The NEC franchised ‘Labour Representation’ NI branch supported Andy Burnham in the first leadership election.)

    The idiocy of this constitutional peculiarity (which explains also, for those who weren’t aware, the misconnection of Labour politics with the Ulster protestant working class) is that the British Labour Party is indeed as strongly anti-union in Ireland as it is pro-union in Scotland. In the era of social media the national party has branded itself #UKLabour. For the reasons explained above, a more accurate and honest hashtag would surely be #GBLabour – at least for as long as NI remains in the UK (attached to Britain by an historic ampersand).

    But none of this is news, comrades!

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    As far as Kezia is concerned, no-one gives a hoot what she says – she will probably say exactly the opposite in a few days. Anyway, she is toast – after the May elections people will be denying that they ever heard of her, before the cock can crow twice (or whatever the traditional scenario was – my memory of the Bible is a bit hazy. I’m relating her to an inappropriate figure as well – she is in no way part of any resurrection).

    The Labour Party, and Jeremy Corbyn in particular, have shown themselves to be clueless when it comes to both Scotland and Ireland. In Scotland they are headed inexorably to extinction, and as far as NI is concerned I imagine they wear similar blinkers to the tories. Even in England they face a long long struggle to get back to power – they may never make it, which would be a disaster for everyone. Especially as May seems hell bent on as extreme a right wing (almost totalitarian) course of shutting down criticism, demonising foreigners etc. as she can get away with.

    Both Scotland and NI need to unshackle themselves from this Titanic.