As a former Progressive Democrat, I’m used to people making assumptions about my political beliefs, assuming I’m a Thatcherite (Used to be. Saw the light.) a neo-unionist (Whatever that is. Liking British culture, a Shinner told me once, before he raced off to watch the Premiership.) and I like wearing white sheets, carry burning crucifixes and don’t like immigrants or foriegners or the mixin’ of the races (Meet my half Filipino brother and two sisters, so.)
The Labour party suffers from that assumption too, that it is in the pockets of the trades unions. Yet when one looks at Labour’s vote, it seems that far more union members vote FF than Labour, and indeed, many sections of the non union middle class feel quite comfortable with Labour.
Yet, this recent move by Labour seems to be quite radical by Irish politics standards. Is Labour setting out it’s stall clearly as the defender of the public sector? I don’t agree with it, but it is a perfectly noble position, especially in a country with proportional representation, to point to a section of society and say “Those are are people, and feck the begrudgers!”
It’s possible that 75% of the country may disagree with his position, but if Eamonn Gilmore is the man to lock 25% of the electorate, essentially nearly all the public sector and their families, into the Labour column, he’ll have done his party no small service.
Maybe I’m wrong, but it is such a novelty to see an Irish politician take a stand, even a divisive one, on an issue as opposed to the usual Fianna Fail/Fine Gael “Pandering To All”