Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Labour - a party for all the country?

An interesting proposal has cropped up on the Wikipedia Talk page for "Labour Party (UK)" about whether that is an accurate name for the article.

Why on earth is this article called 'Labour Party (UK)'? My complaint is that the Labour Party is not a United Kingdom party, but rather a British party, which has always kept itself out of Ireland. I would advocate a move to Labour Party (Great Britain).
For a long time Labour's refusal to allow residents of Northern Ireland to join the party was one of their most absurd features, especially when residents in every other part of the world could. Even now the decision by the central committee of the party to bar local organisation and campaigning flies in the face of claims to be "a party for the entire country". (It also makes a complete mockery of the Labour website URL

Furthermore it does little to help the "normalisation" of the politics of the province that Tony Blair and Peter Hain often speak of. Attempts by the Conservatives to establish themselves in the province haven't been the most successful, in part due to the absence of a left option to make right-left politics a possibility, but the central party has not shut down the Northern Ireland branch. The Liberal Democrats allow an organisation that has decided to not stand in favour of the Alliance. Why doesn't Labour trust its members in Northern Ireland to organise and take a decision for themselves on whether or not to stand?

As for the Wikipedia page location, my own comments are:
Whilst I personally agree that Labour is not a party for the entire country (and the URL is misleading), ultimately Labour is a party that seeks (and sometimes obtains) power to govern the United Kingdom in its own right. Several other parties across the world similarly do not organise across the entire country, but relabelling them would get more confusing.

Oh and Labour hasn't always kept out of Ireland - one of the earliest conferences in the 1900s was held in Belfast.


Elephunt said...

Ireland has a Labour Party in both the North and South, in the North people can vote for our cousins the SDLP .Doesn't really leave much room for another Labour Party and your lot has shown how much the people in the North are interested in the 'mainland' Tory/Labour/LD choice.

Tim Roll-Pickering said...

I agree that Ireland has a Labour Party from Counties Cork and Wexford to County Donegal, but there isn't really one in Northern Ireland. (The Irish Labour Party hasn't contested a seat in Northern Ireland since Gerry Fitt left in 1964, but with the Northern Ireland Labour Forum it is doing more in the province than the British Only Labour Party.) The SDLP only has "Labour" in the title as a means to get Gerry Fitt on board in 1970 and has since shown itself to be a traditional Centre party for the Catholic nationalist community, not a social democratic and labour party at all. In no way is it the successor to the Northern Ireland Labour Party - indeed the Progressive Unionist Party has the nearest to a claim to be the heir to Northern Ireland's former Labour Party. They, not the SDLP, have the most to fear from Labour being a party for the entire UK.

If there truly isn't much room, why not let Northern Irish Labour members take the decision on whether or not to stand? The Conservatives and Lib Dems both trust their local members - why not Labour?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...