If there was a physical mannerism for every party, Labour’s would be a shrug of despair. To Labour, things just aren’t right. The health service is in shite, housing is either too dear, too small, or in Mullingar, and trying to get anywhere is like the retreat from Moscow.
Labour are actually the oldest of the three main parties, but spent their early years trying to raise class issues when every one else was busy punching Englishmen in the back of the head, and never quite managed to catch up. The big difference with Labour and the other parties is that Labour believes that feelings should count more than money. Labour give the impression that everything could be solved if only the government cared as much as they did, and voted to abolish homelessness, poverty, war, death, days when you just feel fat, and that pain that takes a few “Oh no!” seconds to arrive after you stub your toe.
In fairness, they are thoughtful, honest and responsible for most of the liberal social reforms Ireland has seen in the last 20 years, including divorce and gay rights. They used to believe in taxing the shit out of anything that moved. They still do, but smartened up to the fact that no one else does.
Their hopes in 2007 had been to put the rogueish Fianna Fail out, and settle down with that nice and sensible but boring Enda. But now they’re getting on a bit, and becoming afraid of being left forever on the opposition shelf smelling of cat piss, and so have started showing FF a bit of skin. In short, Labour is willing to put out on a first date.