The Love That Labour Lost

CTP OFFICIAL LOGOEamonn Gilmore resigned this week, and I am glad he did.

However, I don’t subscribe to the simplistic opinions expressed by so many about the Labour Party.

This coalition government has been far from perfect, but when ever is any kind of government?

What annoys me most of all is that the Labour Party has been pummelled by the electorate on account of “austerity”, particularly because they supposedly “lied” to the people in order to get elected.

As far as I’m concerned, they did not lie.  In their campaign for the 2011 election they spelled out what they would do in a Labour-led government…a fantasy outcome definitely, but still a noble goal for any political entity.

When transpired was a big increase in seats for Labour but nowhere near enough to lead a government.  So what it came down to was whether or not they went in with the Christian-centre-“right” Fine Gael party.

I believe they were correct to go in with FG.  It was the lesser of two evils.  If we think austerity is bad now imagine what it would have been like if Enda was leading a government with a rag-tag band of mostly right-wing independents.  Either the cutbacks to public services would have been much, much worse or we would have had another general election a lot sooner, one which would hardly have guaranteed to bring any more stability.

So where did Labour go wrong? 

Well first I reckon Joan Burton was shafted by Gilmore and Michael Noonan when the cabinet was put together.  It was similar to that episode in Friends when Phoebe was put in charge of “ice and cups”.  Joan made her name in the Dáil by standing up to the financial sector and I don’t think the “old boys network” wanted her anywhere near the department, but I could be wrong.

For me, Gilmore’s biggest mistake in government was in keeping his head down and allowing himself to be openly attacked in the media from all sides.  This perception that he lied in his campaign snowballed to such an extent that it didn’t matter whether or not it was true…you can see in the election results that the public believed it.

And it didn’t help that not only were the attacks coming from the gagillion splintered parties on the so-called “Irish left”, but there was also plenty of sly digs coming from Fine Gael – not always directly, but often through their media outlet Newstalk, or as I call it, BlueshirtFM.

We live in a 24/7 media age, and what’s more, social media is a perfect way to reach young voters and not only get across the true aims of your party, but also to at least respond to the mud being slung at you from all angles.

Joan Burton may not exactly be young, but she does strike me as the type who would have the savvy to appoint people who can use these resources to restore a party’s lost image. 

Not that her task would be an easy one…during the week I saw a tweet from of all “people” Dustin the Turkey (aka a literal puppet of Fianna Fáil’s own spiritual homeland RTE) where he used the hashtag #JoanBrutal.  It’s one thing coming from an individual but I don’t understand why there wasn’t a bigger outcry telling Dustin to keep his beak out.

Ideally, the biggest change I would make to the Labour Party would be in name.  I have nothing against unions whatsoever, but they can’t define a political party if it has realistically aims to form an Irish government. 

As I have already said in this post our anti-establishment politicians are too splintered and need to be brought together somehow – we need an Irish version of the US Democratic Party, because the Irish version of the UK Labour one just isn’t cutting it.

But for now, I’ll make do with a change of leadership, once there’s a major change of attitude that goes along with it. JLP

Update 12noon Sunday June 1 : This tweet from a Dr Tom Clonan* and it is a classic example of the unchallenged attacks on the Labour Party which can be found on all sorts of media.  Remember – my point is not that the attacks are entirely unjustified, it’s just that I rarely see any evidence of the party standing up for itself, neither directly nor indirectly.  As you can see, I took it upon myself to at least challenge his premise.

Clonan tweet

* = [who describes himself as “Captain (Retired) Irish Times Security Analyst. Writer, Broadcaster & Lecturer in Journalism, Political Comms, DIT All Views My Own – Personal”] I


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