Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland Labour voters are at a loss

By Boyd Black

Labour Party members and supporters in Northern Ireland find general elections very frustrating. Major issues are at stake and yet we are prevented from properly participating.

How people vote on Thursday will determine the extent the next government emphasises improving the lot of the great majority of households, rather than just the few at the top.

The result will determine whether we have a Conservative government committed to a programme of extreme austerity, or a Labour government implementing a much more balanced programme.

The Tory government's "economic plan" is creaking at the edges and ordinary households are feeling worse off.

Families need affordable childcare. The young unemployed need a guaranteed job and more apprenticeships. We need an increase in the minimum wage and a campaign to implement the living wage of £7.85 per hour.

With a fragile economic recovery and more expenditure cuts, the last thing we need is David Cameron's referendum on EU membership. This will create enormous uncertainty here in Northern Ireland, driving away investors and costing jobs.

In spite of the big issues at stake, 50 years after the Northern Ireland civil rights campaign for one person, one vote, we are disenfranchised in this election.

Because the Labour Party suppresses Labour electoral politics in Northern Ireland there are no Labour candidates in any of Northern Ireland's 18 constituencies. It is simply not possible to vote for a Labour government if you live in Northern Ireland.

So how do we Labour Party members and supporters vent our frustration? Many of us have been travelling to Great Britain to canvass for Labour in marginal constituencies where the Labour candidate has a chance of winning.

We are part of Labour's "ground war". And we campaign for Labour on social media.

So, how will we vote on Thursday? We give no advice to our supporters. But, as a party, we are pro-equal marriage and pro-choice, so we are particularly disgusted at the statements and actions of some so-called "progressive" parties in recent weeks.

Boyd Black is secretary of the Labour Party in Northern Ireland

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph