Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 27 November 2014

Labour is poised to win power

Boyd Black is secretary of the Labour Party in Northern Ireland
Boyd Black is secretary of the Labour Party in Northern Ireland

Many people have been casting doubt on the Labour Party's prospects in next year's general election. And, yet, Labour maintains a fairly consistent, if narrowing, lead in the opinion polls.

The latest results are encouraging, with YouGov showing Labour on 38% to the Tories' 31%. This is in line with Lord Ashcroft's national poll showing 34% Labour to 27% Tory.

The party has been receiving sustained abuse from the Right-wing Press, presumably because the Right do see Labour as a credible threat. These attacks focus mostly on Labour's approach to business and the economy.

There are critics from inside the party. Some want a more radical agenda. Others want a more "business-friendly" approach, complaining about a lack of endorsement from A-list business leaders.

Labour's critics say its opinion poll lead is not sufficient. Against this, with Ukip, we are now in a four-party race and the last time the Tories actually won an electoral majority was 1992.

On the economy, it has been repeatedly made clear that Labour's aim will be to prioritise fairness and reform within the existing public expenditure envelope.

While tackling market abuses, as in the energy and banking sectors, it will support the long-term growth of businesses of all sizes, with an emphasis on helping small firms. Labour will address the squeeze on people's living standards and tackle workplace insecurity.

Unexpectedly, after a major electoral defeat, Labour is a united party – unlike the Tories, whose splits on Europe get wider by the day. After next weekend's meeting of its national policy forum – at which the Northern Ireland Constituency Labour Party will be represented – I expect the party to have agreed a set of progressive policies geared to meet the interests of the many, not the few. These will benefit people here.

And, after Labour's conference in September, I expect to see these policies presented in an attractive package to the electorate – everywhere except here, of course.

  • Boyd Black is secretary of the Labour Party in Northern Ireland

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