I have no sympathy for the Irish Labour.
Nominally a sister Party of the SDLP, it has been remarkably unsupportive of SDLP down the years. I recall a walkout at a 1970s SDLP Conference whenConor Cruise O’Brien …a truly awful man got up to speak.
Of course the 21st century Irish Labour Party has even worse people leading it…ex-Workers Party yahoos like Eamonn Gilmore and the obnoxious Pat Rabbitte.
You couldnt like them if you reared them.
What exactly is the point of the Irish Labour Party?
Always…2011 is an exception…the third Party in Irish Politics….it should be representing the working class against centre-right Fianna Fail and Right wing Fine Gael, the traditional big beasts in Irish Politics.
Labour actually protects the working class by being in Opposition. Less well in Government. Over the past thirty years it has been almost impossible for Fianna Fail and totally impossible for Fine Gael to form a Government without help fro smaller parties. Although FF did form a short lived coalition with Labour in 1992, FF has alwys preferred to rely on much smaller parties.
Fine Gael relies on Labour to form a Government. And vice versa.
The post-election horse trading is now a feature of Irish politics, with the inevitable Labour Party Special Delegate Conference to decide on whether to join a coalition with FineGael. It is also traditional for Labour to agonise before “reluctantly” entering coalition. Of course the truth is that Labour careerists would sell their granny for a ministerial limousine.
Thus the never ending debate. We live in times of austerity. Does Labour in coalition Government mitigate the worst excesses of red clawed right wing Fine Gael…or does it collaborate?
Inevitably since entering into coalition with FG in 2011, the Labour Party has had to make toughdecisions. The natural inclination of FG is to cut taxes and cut services. The natural inclination of Labour is to increase taxes and increase services.
With 19.5% of the votes in 2011, Labour is now showing at 11% in opinion polls. And will be destroyed at the next Election and will lose half its seats. Panic is setting in. Decent Labour people have lost the party whip and today the Labour Party lost a backbencher…only elected in a bye-election eighteen months ago. They are in meltdown and deservedly so.
Because it was inevitable.
It is self evident that the junior partner in any coalition gets the blame for everything and the credit for nothing.
And Labours traditional supporters …as has been the norm for thirty yearswill be unforgiving.
Collaboration trumps Mitigation every time.
Thats the pattern …a chastened Labour Party will lick its wounds for a decade …and do it all again, getting in to bed with FF or FG in ten years.
but surely a lesson for Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems in Britain.
What will they do in 2015?
After five years of mitigating and collaborating with Camerons Tories, will they try and save themselves by detaching themselves fom the Conservatives or even enter a pact with Cameron?
And what about the Alliance Party? The SDLP and UUP seem semi-detached from DUP and Sinn Fein…effectively an Opposition within the five-party Government. But Alliance are the prop that keeps DUP and SF in charge.
All of their members seem happy with that….after agonising of course. but they too would sell their granny…just like Irish Labour Party and Britains Lib Dems. Will the Alliance voters turn on them?
There are alterntives to Alliance. SDLP has at least stopped the rot. Even the SDLPs most severe critics on Slugger O’Toole can no longer deny it (but they do). And there are Greens and even Tories and now NI21 on the flank once occupied by UUP.
Is that why Alliance have sent out its attack dogs and even its poodles.
Alliance can prepare for a mitigation-collaboration debate with its own voters.