Belfast Telegraph

It'll take hard work for Labour to break ground here

By Liam Clarke

It is often said that Northern Ireland is returning to a pre-Troubles model of one big unionist and one big nationalist party; the difference being that the nationalists have more of a say.

The two big parties, the DUP and Sinn Fein, are certainly dominating things and learning to work together. It is, as Dr Paul Nolan of the Community Relations Council said last week, becoming a "one for me, one for you" model of politics.

In the old Stormont there was a third force - the Northern Ireland Labour Party. It got squeezed out as the border question began to predominate.

However, now that the border is to be decided by a referendum, not a majority at Stormont, there is - theoretically, at least - a space for a new force not defined on constitutional grounds. That is a theory which the British Labour party's local region, which is holding its AGM at the Malone Lodge Hotel in Belfast on Saturday, is hoping to turn into reality.

So far, they aren't even allowed to field candidates here, citing Labour's European links to the SDLP. It looks like a long haul for local activists. Labour headquarters in London may wait to see how the Tories perform before making a move.

In the meantime, Labour is recruiting hard, expanding their branch structure and have some members who could make useful candidates.

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