Labour’s new shadow, somewhat to its left… February 26, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
The news that the dissident Labour TDs are hoping to present a more cohesive face to the world is interesting – to put it mildly. They’re a disparate group, one would think, with more radical and markedly less radical elements. But, a group they now apparently are.
In a way this is extremely clever, although it does raise problematic issues. This Dáil has to be one marked by the most varied opposition seen in the state in many many decades. And yet another group added to the mix isn’t going to make it any less varied. But at least by working together they raise the possibility of carving out an identity, particularly given that the further left appears to be somewhat in retreat in the parliament (though some might argue that it has never quite taken off in the first place).
But what of the relationship with Labour itself? By self-defining as a group they immediately put space between themselves and the LP and generate for better and for worse a degree of competition and rivalry. And note that this has electoral implications. Off the top of my head I can think of at least two of their number who are in constituencies with LP rivals already in situ.
Clearly they are also positioning themselves for more apostates to join them, indeed in that they’re probably being sensible. The Technical Group is too diverse – and perhaps too fractious, at least in terms of the public perception of it, to offer an home to those from the LP who might want to go there. The ULA was never a serious option being too far to the left for them – and of course having its own problems too.
But where is the scope for growth – outside other LP TDs? They’re not a party – and I see no evidence yet that they’re trying to organise in that way – indeed they’ll probably have their work cut out for them simply being re-elected. In that sense they’re not an alternative themselves, but then if their orientation remains towards the LP then growth beyond it isn’ t the name of the game.
Perhaps they the equivalent of the Polish government in exile, awaiting the day when their homeland is liberated (though by who?). Is their ultimate purpose to remerge with the LP, assuming they’ve actually moved that far from it?
Still, I’m trying to think of an occasion when there’s been anything similar in LP history in the Dáil where there was a somewhat leftward division on this scale.