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After Keaveney and political rhetoric… December 19, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
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The rhetoric around Colm Keaveney’s actions is fascinating to hear. Backroom in the SBP suggests that ‘Keaveney’s flounce obscures the dismal fate of Burton’. I dislike intensely this language of ‘flounce’ etcetera. It’s simply a way of demeaning what are fairly substantive political actions over genuinely substantive political, ideological and policy decisions.

But it’s not just the media who are using it. Take for example Pat Rabbitte’s thoughts as reported by Niamh Connolly in the SBP:

[he] opened up on Keaveney with a high-octane attack on the TD last Friday morning, describing his defection as “self-indulgence”.
“Any single member of the Labour parliamentary party could have gone pirouetting on the plinth, parading their struggle with their conscience saying: ‘Watch me as I agonise about this decision’,” Rabbitte said.
He lambasted Keaveney as “courting the media to save his own political neck”.

From Rabbitte complaints about TDs courting the media raise more than an ironic smile in response. But again note the use of the term ‘pirouetting’.

Rabbitte follows it up though with this:

“[Other TDs] took the hard decision to bring in a budget that offers us the prospect of protecting the poor.”

‘Protecting the poor’? Is that the point of this exercise, is that the historic role and function of the Labour Party, is that what Rabbitte considers his politics is about? Rarely has the self-defeating limitations of orthodox social democracy in the contemporary era been better demonstrated.

Mind you, on a slight tangent Backroom makes a point that is very rarely aired:

But if Gilmore is in the eye of the storm, Kenny deserves a share of the blame. He satiated the demands of what Keaveney called his “Irish Tory Party”, at the expense of his coalition partner. That was neither prudent nor wise. If trouble builds up in Labour, it will wash back on Fine Gael, and Kenny’s appeal as a leader who smiles but seldom speaks is already wearing thin.

There’s little doubt about that. The management of Fine Gael expectations both before the 2011 election and after was surely no better, and in some respects worse, than that of the Labour Party. The dissension within the FG ranks over X case legislation is a point in hand, though I’ve got to be honest, it’s a strange FG these days that courts such a vociferous anti-abortion tranche of TDs. And some of the names in that tranche – for example Brian Hayes was reported as such, though whether correctly or not is hard to make out – are unexpected for the supposedly socially liberal FG. Though one suspects that that strand of social liberalism associated with the party in the 1980s had its limits – and perhaps even its reversals.

For Backroom though there’s a slight dip towards the language of narrative.

Gilmore may be safe for now, but his political supply lines are seriously threatened. Labour in particular, and the government generally, are suffocating politically under the wet, damp blanket of office. If a few irrepressible souls bravely insist on enjoying government, most of the cabinet seem to be afflicted by the misery of it.
There is no narrative and no effective spokesmen for the project. It seems, ultimately, no project beyond the one negotiated by Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan with the troika. This isn’t change, it’s stalemate.
For all the political grief taken on behalf of advisers, they are not delivering narrative, spin or even basic housekeeping. It’s the apparatchik class that actually writes the narrative and spins it out, in between the more important occasions when their masters actually speak themselves.

There’s a lot in the above that seems to me to ring true. This government does look decidedly shabby all of a sudden – later Backroom calls it ‘premature ageing’. And yet I think the reason isn’t due to lack of a narrative, or at least mostly not. When there’s no clear means of offering a way forward out of the current period of austerity, when this government oversees Budget after Budget, like its hapless predecessor that cuts and cuts again (and taxes, but not to the same degree) then it is entirely logical that the electorate will withdraw its support.

And note Backroom’s insight about there being ‘no project’, though one suspects s/he doesn’t mean it in quite the way many of us would. Seems like there’s a project alright, not a very good one though and not a particularly effective one.

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Comments»

1. steve white - December 19, 2012

i complained about labour letfys citing james connolly as if he had anything to do with the current labour party, but maybe misqouting connolly is worse, like sherlock does here http://tedtynan.blogspot.ie/2012/12/james-connolly-rolling-in-his-grave.html

2. greengoddess2 - December 19, 2012

The language is fascinating of both back room and Rabbitte. It s an attempt, possibly ucs, to use the insulting terms reserved for women usually, to describe the behaviour of a man. With the intent to influence listeners/ readers . Bit nerdish I know.

Joe - December 19, 2012

Bit nerdish maybe GG, but your point opened my eyes and ears on what was said. Sexism, macho posturing, belittling of women – from Rabbitte and Labour? Surely not.

WorldbyStorm - December 19, 2012

+1 GG. Precisely why I use the term demeaning in the original post.

eamonncork - December 19, 2012

It’s classic Rabbitte, the implication being that Keaveney is a sissy. I’d say the language, and ‘flounce,’ as well is as much homophobic as sexist. Not that Keaveney is gay but it was a handy sneer and Rabbitte always reaches for the handiest sneer. Someone mentioned Tim Healy on another thread, Rabbitte is a kind of contemporary Healy and is fast becoming the popular answer to the question, ‘Do you know which politician I really can’t stand.’
I remember reading a fine book years ago called Nixon’s Head which was a psychological examination of that much derided visionary. The author pointed out that any time Nixon took a major decision he would couch it in the terms, “I could have taken the easy way out but . . . ” That’s the default mode for the current government.

3. Ciarán - December 19, 2012

Labour Senator James Heffernan has apparently just resigned the party whip.

4. Depps - December 19, 2012

According to SBP journo on Twitter, Gilmore is going to expel 5 TDs and Heffernan from the party over budget vote. Serious miscalculation on his part me thinks

CMK - December 19, 2012

A purge! Yee Haa!

doctorfive - December 19, 2012

a lockout

5. irishelectionliterature - December 19, 2012

Labour spokesman said it is entirely untrue that Eamon Gilmore signalled he wanted to remove five TDs and James Heffernan.!

6. greengoddess2 - December 19, 2012

Explicitly, only Keaveney. But the thought police were fantasizing !

7. greengoddess2 - December 19, 2012

I’m not sure how ‘ safe’ it is to post on here. I’d say people are watching . Is that why others like me don’t , for instance.

ivorthorne - December 19, 2012

We can only hope that Gilmore makes such a stupid move. The Labour membership need to understand how far the leadership has gone.

Tawdy - December 19, 2012

While accepting your position, I have to say, I have never ever in my life worried what other people say about me. It is what I do that worries me the most, ie; is it the right thing to do, will I hurt anyone, you get the idea?

LeftAtTheCross - December 19, 2012

I doubt if they bother TBH, if they were ever Lefties to start with they more than likely quit years ago. Although didn’t Joanna Tuffy comment here at one stage?

Tomboktu - December 20, 2012

Depends what you mean by “safe”. It is not at all safe if you want to be private, mainly because you have identified yourself here. Some of the press watch sites, and it is entirely possible that somebody will pick up some comment you make here. This is, essentially, the public domain.

If you wouldn’t say it an interview or at a PLP meeting, then you probably shouldn’t be saying it here.

8. doctorfive - December 19, 2012

not aged well

eamonncork - December 19, 2012
9. theraggedwagon - December 19, 2012

“” ‘Protecting the poor’? Is that the point of this exercise, is that the historic role and function of the Labour Party, is that what Rabbitte considers his politics is about? “”

Sad to say but that is what the Labour Party has been reduced to -though I would say that rather than protecting the poor they are punishing them and severely so – and fitting themselves snugly into the shoes that the bishops once wore. And the shoes do fit so well, what with the utter contempt they are showing for those far down the economic and social ladder by their two budgets.

Cardinal Gilmore and Archbishop Rabbitte how are you!

WorldbyStorm - December 19, 2012

I hope you’re wrong, but all indications…

10. greengoddess2 - December 20, 2012

I haves said these things publicly and the whole thing is Orwellian and destined to fail in its intent.

11. greengoddess2 - December 20, 2012

MARY MINIHAN and DEAGLÁN de BRÉADÚN, Political Correspondent

A meeting of Labour’s executive board chaired by party chairman Colm Keaveney was suspended yesterday after Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore described the rebel deputy as “effectively an Opposition TD”.

Mr Keaveney voted against the Government over the most contentious budget measures last week and lost the party whip. He has defied calls from the party leadership to relinquish his position as party chairman.

A party spokesman said last night the party’s executive board “met briefly today but it soon became clear that it would be very difficult to conduct its business under the chairmanship of somebody who was effectively an Opposition TD”.

Earlier, at a meeting of the parliamentary party, Mr Gilmore conceded it would be “tricky” for Labour to have Mr Keaveney continue as party chairman.

He told TDs and Senators he discussed parliamentary party business at meetings of the executive board, which are presided over by the party chairman. He told them this situation could not continue with Mr Keaveney in the chair.

He said he would consider how the matter might be resolved, although he stressed no “hasty” action would be taken.

Veteran Labour TD Jack Wall said the general feeling at the meeting was the matter had to be addressed. He believed it was ultimately a matter for the executive board.

“It’ll be very awkward and actually impossible for the situation to continue, with someone outside the parliamentary party by his own decision. It’s a matter for the national executive . It will be their call as to how the matter is addressed.”

The executive board which meets once a month oversees, directs and co-ordinates the organisation and affairs of the party. Also on the board are the deputy leader Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton, senior officers of the party and ordinary members elected at party conference.

Mr Keaveney said he made clear he would not be resigning “under any circumstances”. He said it was not “in the gift” of the executive or the leadership.

sonofstan - December 20, 2012

“It’ll be very awkward and actually impossible for the situation to continue, with someone outside the parliamentary party by his own decision. It’s a matter for the national executive . It will be their call as to how the matter is addressed.”

The executive board which meets once a month oversees, directs and co-ordinates the organisation and affairs of the party. Also on the board are the deputy leader Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton, senior officers of the party and ordinary members elected at party conference

So it’s awkward having the meeting chaired by someone outside the parliamentary party, but not ‘awkward’ having ordinary members there when parliamentary party business is discussed?

12. Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - December 21, 2012

Isn’t it obvious that fat Pat Rabbite believes in nothing? he couldn’t give a fuck

13. Killer Rabbit or Pat Rabbitte? – Preference? « Tomás Ó Flatharta - December 26, 2012

[...] Pat Rabbitte [...]

14. doctorfive - January 19, 2013

“Labour compromise” – Colm Keaveney to step out of EC meetings for political report that deals with government business.


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