Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics
 

Labour rushes in to save the Civil War. Again.

Posted by Jason O on Mar 1, 2011 in Election 2011, Irish Politics |

Suddenly, a ghostly Dick appeared...

Suddenly, a ghostly Dick appeared...

Let me be clear about what I’m not saying. I understand why Labour want to go into government. Yes, there’s a ego “Hey, look at me, I’m a cabinet minister and you bastards said I’d never amount to anything!” thing, but that’s not unique to Labour. There’s also the simple decent idea that one can do some good in government. But that is very hard when you’re trying to run the country on Tesco coupons clipped from the newspaper. Doing good costs money, and we ain’t got any. I understand why Labour wants to go into government, I really do. To their credit, it’s probably even in the national interest.

But it is not in Labour’s long-term interest. Just look at the figures: Labour got exactly 2% more in first preference votes than Fianna Fail, yet double their seats? What does that tell you? It tells me that Labour were very transfer friendly, the way Fianna Fail and the Greens were before 2007. But not much more popular than Fianna Fail. Now picture Labour 5 years from now, having gone through 5 years of cut backs and even if the recovery is in full swing, Labour will not have been able to live up to the tone it set for itself, of pain-free cutbacks and no income tax rises. Both Labour and Fine Gael will go into Election 2016 against a reinvigorated Fianna Fail (who, if the other opposition parties don’t combine against, will lead the opposition). The result: Fine Gael will take a hit, but remain the largest party. They have so many young TDs bedding in now that they have that chance. But Labour will have put up with 5 years of the United Left and the Shinners hammering them from the left, and being well organised in their constituencies to do something about it. It’s Dick Spring and 1997 all over again, the false dawn of spectacular Labour gains being wiped out faster than you can say “Master Anakin, you’re in a funny mood”

The truth is, If Labour wants to secure itself as the major or at least second party of Irish politics, it needs to lead the opposition and destroy its enemies to its left, and it cannot do that as part of  a tax and cut government. But more importantly, it needs to destroy Fianna Fail, which it could do by becoming the obvious alternative to Fine Gael, and siphoning away Fianna Fail’s working class voters as Fine Gael takes their centre-right voters. But by giving Fianna Fail a lifeline, in effect shoring up the battered, tottering pillar of Civil war politics, Labour has sealed its own fate.

A few quid on Fianna Fail to be the second largest party in the state after the next election, methinks? 

3 Comments

Pidge
Mar 1, 2011 at 7:46 am

I completely agree. I don’t think that entering government is necessarily a bad choice, nor one that I’d even criticise the party for. But, it is a tremendous opportunity to change Irish politics, or, more specifically, fuck over FF and consolidate the centre-right.

One thing, though, couldn’t they be criticised during any future election for “putting party interest above national interest” or the like? I could see Enda giving a rousing speech about “Ireland called, and only Fine Gael answered” etc etc.


 
Luke
Mar 1, 2011 at 11:59 am

I don’t think FG will suffer too badly in the next election, once the economy is on the up-swing in five years they’ll do ok. FG voters knew what they were voting for: cuts, reduce public sector, privatize state assets, smaller government, reduced welfare bill, tough budgets – so if some of this happens most FG voters will be happy.

Labour on the other hand went to the voters with many promises but, and a no pain recovery. The Labour voter will get some shock over the next five budgets.


 
david morris
Mar 1, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Ireland’s voters have moved the deck chairs around and the faces in the ministries will now change. But little else. But then, what else do the Irish expect? FG helped a floundering FF put the Finance Bill to a vote in the Dail, supported some of its provisions and didn’t kick into the long grass the ones it opposed. It is unrealistic (was going to type dishonest, but hey, we’re discussing pols here) in the extreme of FG to give the impression they will be able to change the terms of the expensive loan the EU and IMF put together. Bar some tinkering around the edges n o t h I n g will change. Ireland’s voters will still be paying higher taxes and experiencing huge cuts in spending on public services. They voted for change but will not see any, because when all is said and done the guvmint of Ireland is not to be found in the Dail, it resides in Brussels. The GE has been nothing more than a very expensive piece of theatre. Hope you enjoyed the performance.

Kind regards


 

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