Belfast Telegraph

Give us the chance to vote Labour in Northern Ireland

By Boyd Black

The Labour Party leadership election is getting interesting. Jeremy Corbyn MP, who was given a "free pass" into the contest, is building considerable support and some say he is a potential winner.

The Labour Party in Northern Ireland (LPNI) is supporting Andy Burnham MP, who supports our demand to run Labour Party candidates here.

There have been significant recent developments. On the initiative of the LPNI, a British Irish Labour Forum has been established. This brings together the Irish Labour Party, the Co-operative Party, the SDLP and the Labour Party, including us in the Northern Ireland CLP.

The forum provides a framework for discussing future developments where we might act co-operatively, be it in progressing the rights agenda, fighting a European referendum or the running of Labour Party candidates.

Andy Burnham will have been mindful of this context when he made his recent remarks in support of running candidates here.

We believe it is essential that the building of cross-community Labour politics in Northern Ireland is done with the goodwill of different traditions.

If we are going to build a new political movement capable of taking on the failing established parties, we have to learn from Labour history how counterproductive disagreement and division is.

In a debate with us some years ago Jeremy Corbyn conceded that he could not in any principled way argue against people in Northern Ireland being allowed to become members of the Labour Party.

We expect that, on the same principled basis, Jeremy will support our basic democratic right to run Labour candidates here.

Andy Burnham is one of the favourites in the election and we wish him well. He has the leadership ability and personal empathy to pull together and inspire the disparate strands of Labour support that need to unite if we are to win the next general election.

People who are not Labour Party members but who want to vote for Andy can go to the Labour Party website ( and, on paying £3, can become an affiliated or a registered supporter. This gives you the opportunity to vote to choose the next leader of the Labour Party.

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

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