Background

NEC Reviews

The NEC has carried out a number of reviews into the issue of standing candidates and establishing a functioning CLP and branch system in Northern Ireland.

In the most recent review (2016-19), the Right To Stand was supported by almost every trade union affiliated to the Labour Party as well as Labour members in NI.

Each review has continued to deny Labour Party members in NI the same rights of membership as their counterparts around the UK and returned to the same misguided arguments that standing candidates would threaten Labour’s role as ‘honest broker’ in post-Good Friday Agreement NI politics.

These arguments are not based on any solid basis, the case is clear: Labour members in NI should be treated just like every other region.

Honest Broker

The Labour Party states that it wishes to remain an “honest broker” in the Northern Ireland peace process.

Stormont mechanisms require elected MLAs to designate themselves as Unionist, Nationalist or Other. Labour MLAs would designate as Other. Therefore, standing Labour candidates would in no way affect a Westminster Labour government’s ability to broker agreement. The peace process could actually be strengthened by offering an progressive, cross-community electoral alternative to the old sectarian parties.

This argument makes little sense given Labour’s current sister party status with the Nationalist SDLP.

Sister Party

The Labour Party considers the Social Democratic Labour Party (SDLP) to be its sister party.

The SDLP was not born out of the trade union and cooperative movement as Labour was, so it is inappropriate to suggest that both parties share the same parentage.  The sister party status disenfranchises Labour Party members and people in NI.

The SDLP designates as Nationalist, contrary to the cross-community values and broad membership of LPNI. There are also policy differences between Labour and the SDLP from the economy to social policy. Additionally, the SDLP is in a formal ‘policy partnership’ with Fianna Fáil, a conservative party in the Republic of Ireland.