A return to the tired idea that left-wing votes should go SDLP

Morning View
Morning View

The man who was until recently the frontrunner in the Labour leadership contest appears to be moving away from his commitment to allow party members to contest elections in Northern Ireland.

Andy Burnham is now saying that he still wants to lift the ban on Labour candidates in the Province, but that he wants to develop his proposal to do so in partnership with the SDLP and the Irish Labour Party.

This is a deeply disappointing change in tone.

The SDLP will resist any move towards Labour candidates.

It seems that Mr Burnham has moved in light of the challenge from the left-wing MP Jeremy Corbyn, who has suddenly emerged as a serious contender for the leadership.

Mr Corbyn is a long-standing advocate of a united Ireland – the ridiculous notion that a geographical unit should be a political unit (a notion that leftists seem to ditch with regard to Great Britain being united within the UK).

He and Ken Livingstone sparked outrage when they invited the Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to speak in London in 1984, when the IRA campaign of murder and mayhem was still raging (atrocities ranging from Enniskillen to Teebane to Shankill had yet to be planned and carried out).

Labour’s policy on Northern Ireland has changed radically since the days when the party leadership advocated Irish unity “by consent”. Tony Blair ditched as his Northern Ireland spokesman the republican Kevin McNamara, who was for good reason politically disliked by unionists. Mr Blair and his successors as party leader, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband, gave unwavering support to Northern Ireland’s guaranteed place in the UK under the consent principle.

Mr Burnham has not moved from that stance. But he seems to be returning to the idea that people on the political left should give their allegiance to a tribal party, the SDLP.

This will be met with contempt by the not insignificant number of left-wing unionists in the Province.