Myth Busting

What makes you different from the SDLP? Why don’t you just join / vote for them?
  • We’re cross-community. Our members are Unionist, Nationalist and neither; as a party we would designate as Other. We’re more focused on the issues facing people – health, poverty, education and so on – than on the constitutional question and we stand for everyone in our society regardless of their background.
  • We’re proudly affiliated to trade unions and exist to give the working class a voice in politics, that will always come before green and orange politics for us.
  • We have major policy differences. For example, we’re strongly pro-choice and they’re pro-life.
The SDLP are your sister party. Are you calling for this to end?
  • No such definition exists in Labour, sister party status comes from the PES – does labour have a future there? And PES calls for a spirit of co-operation.
  • Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens are fundamentally different parties and disagree on a range of major policy areas. There are examples all across GB of our parties working together in some way on the issues where we do agree and that’s good because politics is about getting things done. But you wouldn’t tell Labour members in England to go and actually join or stand for a party that they have such fundamental differences with. So why aren’t we treated the same?
  • We actually have a number of parties Labour is in partnership with, such as the Co-Op party who are also banned from standing candidates as a result of Labour’s ban and the Irish Labour Party in the Republic where SDLP is actually in a – quote – “formal collaboration” with Fianna Fáil, including canvassing against Irish Labour.
Why don’t you just start a new party?
  • We have a party. We pay the same fees as Labour members all over the UK because we believe in Labour values / policies
  • Trade union affiliation – long & proud
  • LPNI is ready to go in the next election if we have the right to stand – big membership, recognised brand etc. We’re ready to deliver the different kind of politics people want and need
  • Labour is the only viable way of giving NI people a say in the Westminster government – lots of important areas not devolved
If the Irish Labour Party started standing candidates in NI would that satisfy your demands?
  • Westminster representation – lots of important policy areas not devolved
  • We propose a very simple solution: NUS-USI model (this predates that GFA and has worked successfully since the 1970s)
Do we really need another party here? Isn’t there a chance you could split votes and actually hurt your own cause?
  • Polling shows people are clearly not represented and they want something different – they want Labour
  • Split votes aren’t a thing under PR – locals & Stormont
  • For Westminster we’d prioritise resources where we have the best chance just like all parties to give people the chance to vote for a progressive party that can viably win in their area
  • Polling shows we have broad support – we can reach into areas where other parties simply can’t so a rising progressive tide can raise all boats (e.g. APNI & Greens in working class areas, SDLP in Unionist areas, APNI & UUP in Nationalist areas etc.)
  • The ‘Other’ surge could and should have been Labour gains
What do you respond to people who say, “Labour is a British party and should keep out of Ireland.”
  • Some people will call us too Unionist, some will call us too Nationalist. Both are tiny minorities and they’re wrong about who we are and what we stand for.
  • Our polling shows that a third of the electorate here want something different and they’re interested in what Labour has to offer (~ 1/3 think we should stand; ~2/5 would vote for us).
  • We’re cross-community. Our members are Unionist, Nationalist and neither; as a party we would designate as Other. We’re more focused on the issues facing people – health, poverty, education and so on – than on the constitutional question and we stand for everyone in our society regardless of their background.
What do you say to Nationalist / Republican voters who say if you’re anti-Tory then you should be focusing your energy on getting a border poll and Irish reunification?
  • The South isn’t immune from the same kinds of tory policies that plague the UK, just a few years ago they enacted some pretty sweeping austerity measures.
  • We’re a cross-community party, our members come from all backgrounds and we would designate as Other
  • Who knows when a border poll will come or how the result would go – we’re focused on helping people right now and currently we’re stuck between Tory damage and Labour deciding our fates over our heads
If a border poll was called tomorrow, which side would LPNI take?
  • Labour politics isn’t about which nationalisms we prefer, but about issues that impact everyone, cost of living, jobs, etc.
  • No matter how a border poll goes, there will always be a need for a strong Labour movement here in Northern Ireland.
  • LPNI would remain neutral on this, our members can vote with their conscience.
What is your position on the NI Protocol?
  • A majority of business back it, the public generally seem to be supportive.
  • Whilst there may be need for some areas of reform – I think it genuinely gives N. Ireland the opportunity to have the best of both worlds. Our growth for example has been higher than much of the UK.
  • With the right vision and leadership this could be a fantastic opportunity for people here.
What do you say to senior figures in your party who say that Labour shouldn’t stand candidates in NI as this would prevent it being an “honest broker?”
  • There will always be a need for a Labour movement in N. Ireland – are we any different from the rest of the Uk or indeed Ireland? Both have Labour parties that speak up for working people and their Unions. Why can’t we have that here?
  • Let’s get clear on what being an “honest broker” does and does not entail.
  • Is Labour an honest broker when it tells NI people, its own members included, to vote for the Nationalist SDLP? Is it an honest broker when Keir Starmer says he would “make the case for the UK” in a border poll or when Lisa Nandy says – quote – “we’re not neutral”?
  • How is denying political representation and social justice for NI people, speaking over their heads on issues that affect their lives and using us as little more than a backdrop in polished promo ads, conducive to being an honest broker?
  • Did Labour’s misguided principle of standing on the side-lines prevent the Assembly from collapsing for 3 years, or indeed, the Executive falling this time?
  • The fact is we’re the inheritors of the GFA and that cannot be defended from the side lines or by disenfranchising thousands of people – only by offering the cross-community politics with real answers to people’s everyday problems that is currently severely lacking
  • Claiming “honest broker” from the side-lines is just a slogan. It’s disrespectful, irresponsible and dangerous
Your leader, Keir Starmer, has said he would campaign for the Union in a border poll, what do you say to that?
  • I think often NI is an after thought when many of these questions are asked. Labour, like much of the UK is looking to Scotland when questions of the Union surface
  • I think the reality of the situation is, Labour’s position on a border poll will likely be more nuanced that the soundbites often suggest.
  • Regardless of how a border poll goes, there will always been a need for a Labour movement with cooperation North – South and East-West.
  • We should be building that movement now, so regardless of what happens people here will always have someone on their side.
There are lots of areas where a vote for Labour doesn’t really count for much because they’ll never win (e.g. South England). They don’t have any Labour representation so what makes your case so special? What makes you think you could actually win votes and seats?
  • Polling shows people are underrepresented & want Labour – this is indisputable now.
  • Part of this question effectively argues that N.Ireland is different, that working people don’t want a Labour movement. That people are wedded to old sectarian conflicts. This is a nonsense. Speak to anyone on the street about what worries them – it’ll be the same whether its East or West Belfast, and it’ll match what is being said in Nottingham, and Sleaford.
  • Huge, ready-made canvassing army
  • Brand recognition- people know Labour and what we stand for.
  • Unique policy offer
  • Labour does stand in many places where it has never won and is very unlikely to win – so how can they justify not standing here in NI where they actually would do very well?
  • Labour has shown in the past in can even win in unlikely areas: Like Canterbury in 2017. So don’t write us off.
Why should Labour members across the UK support you?
  • Principle of democracy
  • Basic fairness for fee / levy paying members & affiliates (emphasise trade unionist representation)
  • Genuine, sensible defence of the GFA institutions by enfranchising & representing NI people
  • Labour solutions to the political, economic & social problems NI faces – not excluding 1.8m people from Labour’s social justice mission
  • From Brexit to human rights, NI is a unique context and we should be heard, not have politics done over our heads
  • Co-op Party representation
  • Wales & Scotland have a permanent seat at the table but NI has no voice whatsoever
  • All we want is to vote for our own party
  • We are Labour and we want a Labour government.
  • Northern Ireland needs the Labour Party to stand here and The Labour Party need Northern Ireland.
  • We want to help deliver a truly unifying Labour government at all levels delivering for all parts of the UK
  • We want a Labour government for all people in all parts at all levels
Does NI really matter in the great scheme of things? We only have 18 seats in Westminster.
  • People, particularly in Britain, often focus on national government – but we have 3 layers here. Councils, the Assembly and Westminster. Our focus will be on all of them.
  • 2017 – Tories only able to govern because 10 DUP MPs propped them up. If Labour stood in even a single seat here and even if they only split the DUP’s vote depriving them of that 10th seat things would have been very different. The Tories would have had to compromise, the last few years would have been very different and probably a different result in the following election.
  • Polls show we’re on for a 2017-style result in the next election, Labour can’t afford to make the same mistake again – no matter how over-confident party strategists are, elections are unpredictable so it’s only sensible to minimise all risks
  • Not standing in NI undermines Labour’s entire message. How can Labour build trust and authority on fundamental issues like “making Brexit work” while speaking over our heads without even seeking a mandate? How can they unify while excluding 1.8m people?