More on the Labour Party September 28, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.
The Phoenix has an interesting article on the Labour Party this week – good timing that, and first up some known to this site come out of it particularly well, including the Campaign for Labour Policies – which the Phoenix describes as ‘the party’s new left – less loony by far than those who delivered fairy stores about the economy in Carton House’. We’ll get to the latter in a moment, but also Colm Keaveney and Nessa Childers are given the nod by the Phoenix – and in regard to the latter the Phoenix notes ‘she is one of the few LP personalities that has retained popularity and is likely to hold her seat in 2014’. The CLP activities are interesting and at least hold out the hope of some potential for resistance within the LP, however attenuated – and this is not to forget those who have fought the good fight over the past year or two.
Again the resignation of Róisín Shortall puts an ironic spin on all that follows, and well worth considering how short a time between the Carton House meeting and her departure.
But what exactly is it about Carton House? The Phoenix asserts that:
‘It is remarkable how little attention has been paid to E. Gilmore’s quite fantastic speech to his Parliamentary LP think-in last week. Equally remarkable was that a demoralised and fearful party did not utter a cheep of protest or even attempt to query a political and economic prognosis that must have had the more economically literate ministers and TDs present struggling to keep the smile off their faces’.
Let me stop right there and point out that one would have thought that a Labour party would of necessity see ministers and TDs having a grasp of economics. It’s sort of fundamental to a social democrat project, let alone all points leftwards of their (and by the way, this isn’t just a problem for the LP, the lack of economic thinking on the left in this state is dismal and has been proven time and time again when representatives attempt to argue their case publicly. The exceptions very much prove the rule).
The Phoenix continues:
The anxious TDs trooped away from their Carton house think-in clutching at a central message the Gilmore delivered: the economy is growing again; there will be just one more tough budget; 75% of economic adjustments have already been made; the banking systems is recovering and IReland will exist from the IMF programme next year.
The unspoken addendum in Gilmore’s speech … is that a grateful electorate will then return the LP to power on the back of this imminent recovery with a few seat losses in marginal constituencies.
The meeting was told that the dreaded SF were on the slide according to RedC polling and the LP was polling strongly in Dublin (21%), reasonably well in Leinster (19%), relatively well in the north-west (12%) and badly in Munster. Nationally, the parties figures were, FG 32%, FF, 19%, LP 17% and SF 15%.
As the Phoenix drily notes, the Sunday Times poll the weekend before last was entirely at odds with that panglossian presentation, and the latest Red C/SBP poll in the Business Post is even more at odds with it.
So, what to make of it? Of course this is a report in the Phoenix and all usual caveats apply. But I had to go back and check reports from the Carton meetings, and yes, staggeringly this is more or less what was said. The speech is up on the LP website.
Take the 75 per cent of budgetary adjustment:
But we can also be clear about the path ahead. As I set out earlier, 75 per cent of the budgetary adjustment we have to do is behind us. And the budget is only one part of the picture. We are working towards a deal on our bank debt. We are implementing our plan to help people climb out from under unsustainable mortgage debt, and we are pushing ahead with a series of measures to tackle unemployment – from a stimulus plan from Brendan Howlin, to a radical reform of employment services from Joan Burton, to a major overhaul of further education and training from Ruairi Quinn.
And the exit from the IMF programme and tough budgets?
By pushing ahead now, it means that by the time the Government is roughly half way through its term, we can exit the IMF programme, and people can be confident that the long series of difficult budgets has finally come to an end. By keeping a clear focus on our economic reform agenda, we can position the economy for growth and better living standards, and influence the future shape of our society.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m no genius when it comes to math, but roughly half way through its term is next near enough this time next year. That suggests he thinks that this budget we face is the last tough one?
I don’t know. A lot of hostages to fortune there. But moreover there’s also what seems to be a masterclass of hope over actuality. The idea that we’re close to an end to austerity, that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and so on – even if I just list off the measures yet to be implemented from water and household charges to further cuts in expenditure to a still plummeting housing market, is so far from the reality that it’s difficult to know what to make of it.
And on the party political side Shortall’s resignation shows up at the very least a gap between the actuality and rhetoric as regards implementation of Labour’s self-designated values (and more on them later). A very large gap indeed. Or could it be that Shortall heard the speech and wasn’t convinced?
BTW, for anyone interested in the actual effects of cutting allowances in the PS on the deficit, read here…