Labour victory may be better for Northern Ireland

I was among many who firmly endorsed a change of government in 2010, taking in my case ludicrous risks to do so. Having told us there would be “no more boom and bust”, the Labour Government failed appallingly to prepare for the mother of all busts. It was rightly removed from office for its foolishness.

Nevertheless, it is increasingly evident that a Labour win would be a better bet for Northern Ireland. There are three main reasons for this.

Firstly, a Labour win of some sort would avoid almost certainly a referendum on the EU. It is possible that pressure would still be applied on Mr Miliband to hold one, but the party does seem determined to avoid this, on the basis that it has many other things it wishes to deal with. The most likely parties to supply a coalition or at least a “confidence and supply” arrangement also have no interest in one currently. This is good for Northern Ireland as it does not risk the open border for trade, the next tranche of PEACE IV funding or the CAP arrangements.

Secondly, the Labour Party has now announced the inclusion of Kincora in the Child Sex Abuse Inquiry. It is baffling that the Conservative-led Government had not done this.

Thirdly, Labour’s financial plans make more sense (although there is a significant health warning here that they need to be competent enough to deliver them). In particular, Labour does not appear to plan to close the deficit on the Capital side, meaning that it will continue to borrow to fund infrastructure (with a direct read-across for infrastructure spending in Northern Ireland). This currently makes sense, as the UK Government can borrow money at a much lower interest rate than usual (in fact at close to zero currently, although this is bound to rise a little) – infrastructure is a clear asset, and if it can be built through borrowing at almost zero interest, it makes sense to do it with that rate than wait and do it at, say, a more typical 4%. There will certainly be gains on the welfare side too – Labour’s abolition of the ‘Bedroom Tax’ would save the £20 million put aside for ‘mitigation’ after Stormont House, for example.

Against all this, there is very little to be said for a Conservative win. Most areas of clear difference, such as zero-hours contracts or non-dom taxation, apply only to England or carry no real financial consequence either way.

Which is better for the UK as a whole is, of course, as unclear still as the outcome! However, there is a case that Northern Ireland may want a change.


10 thoughts on “Labour victory may be better for Northern Ireland

  1. Owen gawith says:

    Ian, as often, you have it about right. Pity then that we are the one part of the UK that cannot directly contribute to a Labour victory. We can, it seems contribute to a Conservative victory – though I doubt such a result from us.😐

    • It would certainly be a risky move electorally for any Northern Irish party to contribute towards delivery of the Conservative manifesto as stands… even by not taking their seats…

    • Mark Battleday says:

      If you are eager to obtain a Labour victory, consider voting for the SDLP as they are the party that is most likely to help Labour defeat the Conservatives.

      • Actually the SDLP has been somewhat ambiguous about precisely what it would seek from Ed and how.

        I cannot support the SDLP, of course, because of its appallingly regressive party line on women’s rights.

      • I have little doubt Alliance candidates would agree too, and they have not taken a regressive stance on women’s rights. I advocate voting for them on that and other bases.

  2. Chris Roche says:

    It’s akin to a choice between two dodgy undertakers. But long since being a Hun-infested economic and democratic corpse, putrid NI will hardly care. Hasten ye to the Paupers’ Plot!

  3. Mark Battleday says:

    A vote for the SDLP is a vote for Labour. The other parties more ambigious but SDLP will support Labour and not Conservatives.

  4. Scots Anorak says:

    That must have been difficult to say for someone who, if I’m not mistaken, once described himself as a “gene-pool” Conservative; I say that not to score points but to illustrate a greater truth.

    It’s entirely correct to say that Labour failed to prepare for the economic crisis, but there has been much misinformation on what form that took. By far the greatest Labour failing was an absence of banking regulation — not, as some Conservative newspapers have attempted to make out, excessive spending, which was a comparatively nugatory element in the disaster that engulfed us and which was largely a result of involvement in elective wars.

    Those facts alone should set people’s alarm bells ringing that the political pendulum may have swung too far in one direction, as should the implication that the main right-wing party is now adopting positions that people like yourself find barmy.

    I’m not sure that Kincora should in itself determine how people vote, but I have to say that the more one reads on the issue, the more a full inquiry sounds like the way to go. There have been suggestions not only of organised child abuse and prostitution but of murder, including not only the murder (and suicide) of child victims, which is sordid enough, but of those who may have had criminal involvement (John McKeague) and of politicians thought to have been investigating the issue in Northern Ireland (Robert Bradford) and Scotland (Willie MacRae). The case of Willie MacRae is potentially the most damaging, since if he was murdered, the deed would presumably have been carried out not by paramilitary double agents but by the state security apparatus itself.

    Not only that, but given the serious posthumous allegations against Lord Mountbatten, it’s legitimate to wonder whether there might have been double-agent involvement in his death too.

    There may, of course, be nothing in all the rumours, but people have a right to know.

    • factual says:

      M Nesbitt has asked for it to extended to ni.

    • I am absolutely “gene-pool Conservative” – that’s an undeniable statement of fact given my parents and upbringing!

      But sometimes it pays to look beyond the gene pool and see what is good for society as a whole. Actually, I wish more would do it!

      I cannot say what is good for the UK as a whole as I am now familiar only with one corner of it. But I strongly suspect NI would be better with the Conservatives removed from office.

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