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Labour to contest council elections?

Mark Devenport | 12:57 UK time, Friday, 30 July 2010

The Labour leadership contender Andy Burnham visited a soggy Belfast today, and pronounced himself ready to let local activists decide when and whether they should contest elections here. Mr Burnham added the qualification that they must be sensitive about local political considerations - code for treading lightly around the SDLP.

So when should Labour run? The local party chair Boyd Black told us they had their eye on next year's council elections. He didn't rule out the Assembly elections altogether, but sounded more cautious about them, noting they could be a "sectarian bear pit".

This timing, of course, will depend on who becomes the next Labour leader. Although Mr Burnham has the backing of the Northern Ireland Labour party and the former local Security Minister Paul Goggins, most bookies put him in fourth place. The former Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward, by contrast, is supporting the bookies' favourite, David Miliband.

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