Now toxic Labour is looking to field candidates in the North of Ireland – with this guy supporting it

Luke Akehurst North of Ireland
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Under Keir Starmer, Labour has become the official party for centre-right flag shaggers. Now, a member of its National Executive Committee (NEC) – the notorious Luke Akehurst – and the branch office in the North of Ireland are pushing the idea of Labour fielding candidates there. This toxic idea has provoked an angry reaction among some people – with one group calling it “just another British plantation policy”.

Labour in the North of Ireland

In the North of Ireland, Labour hasn’t stood candidates in elections for decades. It instead has what some may mockingly call a ‘branch office’: the Labour Party in Northern Ireland (LPNI). This is much like the Scottish Labour Party, in that UK Labour pats it on the head, tells it it’s a good boy, and gives it a treat every so often – but ultimately, it’s owned by the party and has to be obedient to it.

However, the LPNI is clearly not happy about its master only taking it out for brief ‘walkies’ and allowing it to play fetch at the occasional conference. Last year, as LabourList wrote, members of the branch office called on Labour to let them stand in elections:

Gerard Gallagher – a Labour Party in Northern Ireland member and creator of the Right to Stand campaign group – said: “We have sizeable support from all communities and from all across Northern Ireland. Almost 40% of people say they would give us a vote.

“That’s incredible. And frankly, I just don’t understand how Labour can continue to ignore us any longer. I think these results speak for themself. Northern Ireland wants the Labour Party to fight for things that matter.”

Labour reviews its policy on the North of Ireland once every parliamentary term. That review is happening again – so, Akehurst and an English Labour MP decided that they should have a say in it.

Akehurst: poking his nose into the Six Counties

Labour MP George Howarth and Akehurst penned a piece for LabourList on why the party should “take some cautious steps” towards standing candidates in elections. In it, they say that:

Read on...

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There are two compelling reasons why we have arrived at that conclusion. First, there is growing evidence that, post the Good Friday Agreement, there is a sizable group of people in Northern Ireland who, regardless of their religious and constitutional preferences, increasingly want the option to vote for parties not rooted in the sectarianism of the past.

It is, of course, laughable for Akehurst and Howarth to imply the Labour Party isn’t “rooted in the sectarianism of the past”. For example, it was Labour PM Clement Attlee who – via his 1949 Ireland Act – inadvertently cemented the so-called ‘Unionist Veto’ in British law. This gave North of Ireland MPs the power to block legislation, and some people also consider the act to have sparked the IRA’s campaign.

People on Twitter pointed out the other problems with the idea of Labour not being sectarian:

However, one group summed up the problems with Akehurst and Howarth’s unionist drivel the best.

‘Bordering on anti-Irish racism’

Labour For Irish Unity (LFIU) is a movement within the party. It’s a group:

that seeks to campaign in the British labour movement and the Irish community in Britain for the re-unification of Ireland on a basis to be decided by the people of Ireland.

LFIU’s response to Akehurst and Howarth was scathing. It said that their sectarian comment was:

culturally debasing of not just unionist but, more importantly, Irish nationalist and republican voters and parties, is exactly the rationale which British colonialists have always employed in justifying their occupation of Ireland – and of course of many other countries. Thus, the “natives” are backward and need a good dose of British civilisation to sort them out. For Howarth and Akehurst this should be the British Labour Party.

LFIU also said that the pair had a “scant or totally erroneous knowledge of Ireland”. Akehurst knowing nothing about something he’s providing verbal diarrhea on may come as a shock, we know. But as LFIU said:

Irish republicanism was founded in the late 18th century in an explicit attempt to unite Protestants and Catholics to campaign for Irish self-determination and end the British occupation. The United Irishmen, who led the 1798 Rising were actually founded by Belfast Protestants. Irish nationalism in the nineteen century was often led by Protestants, such as Issac Butt and Charles Parnell. The revolutionary wing of Irish nationalism was informed by great Irish Protestant writers such as Thomas Davis. Sinn Fein today is an inheritor of these traditions. To say it or these voters are “rooted in sectarianism” is not only inaccurate but bordering on anti-Irish racism.

The group is not the only Labour movement to come out against the idea. The Labour Party Irish Society executive also wrote a piece for LabourList where it said of the possible plan:

The demand for it is negligible, the electoral reward is low, and the political risks are great.

‘Implicit unionism and colonialism’ from Labour

Over on Twitter, many people were ripping the idea (and Akehurst) to shreds:

As LFIU summed up:

Those who wish Labour to stand in Northern Ireland are taking an explicit and implicit unionist and colonialist position. They are telling the Northern Irish that their future belongs in a party controlled by a British majority and, from that, in a British state.

They are implying that the Irish/Northern Irish do not have the capability to organise themselves politically as well as a British party. It is a repeat of the old colonial message to the people of Ireland and Northern Ireland that British is best – in this instance that the British Labour Party is superior to anything the ‘mere Irish’ can produce.

It is incomprehensible that Labour would even entertain the idea of fielding candidates in the North of Ireland. Clearly though, the political dullards pushing this notion think that by some miracle they may actually win seats. But as one person summed up on Twitter:

Akehurst is a liability – so he fits right into Starmer’s Labour Party, now. What a mess.

Featured image via Britain Israel Communications & Research Centre – YouTube

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  • Show Comments
    1. Sinn Feinn “not sectarian”.That will come as a surprise to the relatives of the hundreds of protestants who were murdered by Sinn Feinns “military wing” the IRA in sectarian attacks.To be fair the IRA also murdered hundreds of Catholics and also collaberated with the Nazis during WW2 ,equal oppurtunity psychopaths I suppose.

    2. TBF, the Labour Party is now so far to the right only the most tenaciously reactionary Unionist voters could imagine it was in anyway “leftwing”, and so it would steal the Unionist Party votes mainly.

      However, in keeping in line with its cuckoo behavior on the mainland, it would mainly campaign in more leftwing and Nationalist areas, to steal those votes for the pro-corporate hardright too, and deny any true leftwing political representation.

      In essence, you’d have a mainland Party standing in Ireland, and getting rid of them would be the only thing each domestic NI side’s, respective parties and paramilitaries collectively agreed on.

      While at the same time the Good Friday Agreement is unravelling, even faster than the delegitimisation of the current UK political system.

      I’d love to see Kid Starver go and interview some local people in Ireland about it, in the North, not scripted, not pre-selected, without half the British Army as security, as Jeremy Corbyn would have done it as Labour leader or PM if this potty idea had come up.

      No-one can imagine such a thing.

      If the Party Leadership would refuse to go and campaign there without the security of a full invasion honour guard for the merest <1 hour long photo op, that Party has no right or argument to represent that constituency/Area.

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