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That Keaveney vote. Interesting. Who next? December 14, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.

Every time there’s a crisis and another person leaves the Labour Party, or rather loses the whip – which is not, it has to be noted, entirely the same thing, I am left wondering ‘who else?’. Of the five who have detached themselves, some – the name Penrose comes to mind for some reason – very gingerly indeed, three can be said to be clearly on what could be termed the broad aspects of government policies, and LP acquiescence for these policies. Those would be Broughan, Nulty and now the late adopter, Keaveney. But credit where credit is due, Keaveney made the move. Penrose seems to some what different, resigning over a local issue. Shortall different again, in fairness her resignation (as Junior Minister) was over in part a philosophical difference with Fine Gael. Yet she seems an unlikely addition to the Broughan, Nulty – and let us not forget – Nessa Childers axis. Keaveney could, one would imagine fit quite comfortably into that grouping. Whether he does or not remains to be seen.

Not good news, though, for a Labour Party with declining poll figures – it undermines authority, diminishes cohesiveness. The next poll will be of considerable interest – not least to see the positions of Fine Gael and the Labour Party, though I presume there won’t be one until the New Year. But paradoxically, or not, I have to admit that all this makes me more and more certain that the Labour Party is set to stay in for the duration – though their numbers are now, if I calculate correctly, down from 37 at the election to 33 (Nulty being an additional LP TD gained through a by-election). With Fine Gael on 74, and only down one TD, though Peter Mathews cuts an increasingly apostate figure on some issues, and 83/84 being the crucial figures for a majority in a Dáil of 166 TDs FG and the LP still retain 107. Little chance that sort of majority is going anywhere soon.

Naturally all involved in the government parties must hope that things will improve for the better. And that is particularly so for the individual TDs who can’t be happy at the sight of the poll ratings declining rapidly. That could, I suppose, generate further attrition. But I’m not so sure. Having had some contact with those wedded to the leadership line I suspect they buy into the idea that there will be growth, that all will come right eventually and in time for Election 2015 or 2016, and of course we have seen that dynamic in play in the run up to the last election where Fianna Fáil remained, all things considered, fairly cohesive right up to the final hour.

That being the case Keaveney may be joining a crew that will remain small. At least he and they can reflect on the idea that they’ve done the right thing. As to the rest…

But that still leaves questions. What of others who raised concerns in the last week? Why didn’t they jump, and is there any possibility that they will?


1. doctorfive - December 14, 2012

Anyone know the Latin for stalking horse?


2. gabbagabbahey - December 14, 2012

“Having had some contact with those wedded to the leadership line I suspect they buy into the idea that there will be growth, that all will come right eventually and in time for Election 2015 or 2016”
I saw a quote from Gilmore today that whatever benches the Labour TDs sit, that’s where they’ll see the recovery come in, which struck me as both patronising in its rhetoric (see also Pat Rabbitte emphasising ‘in the national interest’) and hard-to-credit in its deterministic belief. Isn’t ‘hold out under socially regressive policies for X more years and we’ll have prosperity’ more akin to the USSR in the mid-20th century than a liberal democracy? Aside from their being very little discussion about what future recovery and growth will look like, how it will differ from what led to the collapse – and presumably, based on a similar division between FG and Lab policies on tax and spending.

I think a major flaw with the expectation of recovery, assuming one genuinely expects it to come at all soon (and any further global/European economic deterioration might very easily endanger that), is ‘at what cost?’ Because it’s not just politicians having to make ‘hard decisions’ each year, it is as mentioned here before the cumulative effect of austerity policies. Long-term unemployment in particular will have a lasting effect into any ‘recovery’, but the increasing damage to the social fabric in general, with profound electoral consequences, should surely make it more and more difficult for even moderate social democrats to hang on to the government strategy.

Plus, what will the electorate even look like in 2015 or 2016? I suppose demographic changes are slow, but I’m thinking of the number of young people who will have come through education with increasing fees and dismal job prospects, or those who can’t afford education (and emigration costs also). Slim chance of Labour winning over that group compared to, say, SF.


3. LeftAtTheCross - December 14, 2012

Apparently Nessa Childers called on Gilmore to resign this morning when being interviewed on the Pat Kenny show.


4. Jackson Way - December 14, 2012

The Labour leadership don’t give a fuck what happens in 2016 as long as they have their few years with their fat holes in the sun and then go on a few lucrative insider directorships ala Brendan ‘the complete c%*t’ Halligan


5. Jackson Way - December 14, 2012

That should be labour leadership [Tomboktu: Your previous commented redited to reflect your correction]


6. greengoddess2 - December 14, 2012

I did no such thing.


LeftAtTheCross - December 14, 2012

Many apologies GG, I saw a comment on PoliticalWorld suggesting that you had. I wasn’t listening to the radio at the time and haven’t had a chance to download the podcast yet. Could you perhaps clarify what you did say and what might have led to that misinterpretation?


greengoddess2 - December 14, 2012

It was so not what I said that o consider it to be mischievous. I have to go out ( yes!) and I can’t respond. The link to the programme is on PW.


LeftAtTheCross - December 14, 2012

Thanks for that GG. Not so much mischevious as inaccurate and wishful thinking.


cai - December 14, 2012

The power of the internet to cause political shi5 storms is potent . Smart trolls can get traction.


7. Mark P - December 14, 2012

Leave the older Labour TDs at the end of their careers with government jobs out of it for a moment. Their interests are clear. For the rest of them it can be thought of as a game of chance.

Most of them placed their chips on the “loyal TD taking hard decisions” option early on. That is, not being the brightest bunch, they bet on the government line that the economy will recover and save them and a grateful nation will return them to office. But as time goes on, that looks like a bad bet.

A couple of them bet instead on the “rebel” option early on, and the potential returns from that, in terms of electoral survival, now look considerably better. The likes of Broughan or Nulty voted against the Programme for Government and then, after a few shameful votes, headed for the exit relatively early on, with their little pile of political chips still mostly intact.

As time goes on there are two countervailing tendencies. The later they leave it, the more votes they make, the more chips they already have on the “loyal TD” option, the less they can expect to gain by going “rebel”. A crisis of conscience gets less and less credible the more unconscionable things you have already voted for.

But despite this, we can expect a continued flow of backbenchers giving up on their earlier bets, accepting that they’ve lost much of their stack and trying to rescue what they can. Because it’s going to become more and more apparent that the loyal option is doubling down on a dead bet.


sonofstan - December 15, 2012

There has to be a tipping point though: the leadership can’t survive constant attrition. 10? 15? more than half?


8. Tomboktu - December 15, 2012

And I think some of them were just so plain excited to be a TD that they did not think through what the possibilities of voting to go into coalition with Fine Gael would be.

And thinking clearly about the possible implecations and was prevented by the Labour party’s own processes. Yes, they had a deleagte conference to decide. But the programme for government they were to vote on was being prepared for publication overnight before the meeting. The delegates simply did not have enough time to properly assess a 64-page, 23,000-word document before they were required to vote on it.

Rabbite has said that the backbenchers knew there would be tough decisions. My outstanding memory of watching the video of the Labour Party’s special delegate conference is Brendan Howlin’s litany of Labour policies: “x: that’s in it; y: that’s in it; z, that’s there”. All he was missing was an “amen” to finish his prayer. And at the time, I wondered what specifically was not in it.

I wonder if any of the backbenchers and delegates remember what in fact they voted for, what was in Howlin’s list he recited that day.

And I wonder if any of them have assessed the government’s “progress” against that list from Howlin.


doctorfive - December 15, 2012

‘Look, I didn’t think the economy was in such a state or we had so many difficult decisions until I was in the middle of it to be honest.’ – Willie Penrose on resignation last year


Found that one quite hard to believe tbh. Wasn’t most of the country ‘in the middle of it’ for two or three years at that stage.

Will be interesting to see if Gilmore, at a time of pressure, makes a repeat of his ‘civil rights issue of this generation’ play like he did in July. He certainly has the issue if he can bring FG along.


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