Thursday, May 31, 2007

Labour Party moves to stand in Ulster

Historically, the Labour Party in Ulster has allied itself with the SDLP, refusing to permit its own members to form constituency associations, or to make nominations to conferences and other official bodies. But following threats of legal proceedings for racial discrimination, the Labour Party has been forced to reconsider this policy, and has agreed to the formation of a Northern Ireland Labour forum. It is to be funded like a constituency party, and will be able to send delegates and submit motions to party conferences. The forum will have a guaranteed seat on Labour’s national policy forum, and will be able to put forward candidates for election to the national executive committee.

All of this is effectively a step closer to permitting Labour Party members to fight elections in the Province.

Cranmer has always believed that Unionist parties should stand in all parts of the Union; to do otherwise is to manifest oxymoronic tendencies and to deprive British subjects of their democratic rights. The case against Labour was that its members in Northern Ireland had been given second class membership compared to their English, Scottish and Welsh colleagues, and this was manifestly discriminatory against the Irish. Quite why Labour has been fierce in its quest to bestow equal rights upon Conservative-supporting homosexuals but not upon the Labour-supporting Irish is bizarre, but they now have their democratic right to participate fully in the party and shape its policies. To prevent them from standing in Ulster’s elections is to perpetuate their second-class status, and to risk further threats of litigation.

One wonders if this has anything to do Mr Cameron’s Unionist overtures in the Province. Cranmer mused a few months ago of a possible Conservative-DUP coalition in the event of a hung parliament. Ulster’s First Minister, the Rev Dr Ian Paisley, has held several meetings with Mr Cameron, and has confirmed that he would be ‘very interested in doing business with the Conservatives’. With the demise of Labour’s SDLP friends, and the ascendancy of the Conservative Party, Mr Brown is left with no alternative but to play catch-up.

4 Comments:

Anonymous bob said...

Northern Irish politics seems a bit crowded with socialist parties as it is - the SDLP and Sinn Féin are both left leaning, and I imagine the Alliance Party has leanings in that direction. I imagine that the Labour Party will find it hard to attract electoral support.

31 May 2007 at 11:49  
Anonymous simon chapman said...

There is no excuse for the way in which all 3 main parties on the mainland have refused to stand in Northern Ireland elections. It's about time Labour & the Conservatives put some canadidates up and allowed people in NI to be a complete part of the democratic process.

31 May 2007 at 16:43  
Anonymous athanasius said...

Is there an absolutely wonderful piece of news hidden in this story: that the Labour Party has rejecyed Sinn Fein, in the same way that the people of the Irish Republic have rejected Sinn Fein?

31 May 2007 at 20:11  
Anonymous bob said...

Sinn Féin's disastrous performance in the recent election here was one of the high points of the event for me. They had been predicted to make gains all over the country, and instead ended losing one of their seats, and not making any of their targeted gains. It was truly wonderful.

31 May 2007 at 20:49  

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