Ben Lowry: It is sad to see the consistent socialist Eamonn McCann lose his seat

Eamonn McCann, the former People Before Profit Alliance MLA.
Picture by Arthur Allison.
Eamonn McCann, the former People Before Profit Alliance MLA. Picture by Arthur Allison.
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Eamonn McCann is almost my ideological opposite.

The People Before Profit politician is a determined and consistent socialist.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn delivers a speech at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool in 2016. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn delivers a speech at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool in 2016. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

But his failure to get re-elected to the Assembly is a major loss to that chamber.

McCann’s uncompromising socialism is actually rather rare now in elected politics, even in the Labour Party at the House of Commons at Westminster.

One of the reasons I always rather admired Jeremy Corbyn was that he too was a hardcore socialist (needless to say I deplored his ambivalence about the IRA).

If democracy is to mean anything it should lead to parliaments that have politicians with a huge variety of views.

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire last year (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire last year (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Even the US House of Representatives and the Senate have had room for politicians of the firm left, such as Bernie Sanders and the late Paul Wellstone.

It would be a grim day if parliaments ended up with politicians who all tended to agree on the main issues of the day, and were driven by focus groups and opinion polls.

My own politics is most left leaning when it comes to the obscene global wealth imbalance.

Rectifying that is one of the trickiest political challenges on earth.

Opening our doors to millions of the destitute is not the answer.

The poem on the Statue of Liberty famously includes the phrase “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses ...” but what was appropriate for a vast land mass with a low population density a century ago is not right for a more crowded 21st century UK.

McCann turned 74 yesterday and was until weeks ago still going strong as an activist at Stormont.

What a pity he is no longer up on the Hill.

• Ben Lowry (@Ben Lowry2) is News Letter deputy editor

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