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Labour’s new shadow, somewhat to its left… February 26, 2013

Posted 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.

And it will be interesting too to see where is the scope for achievement. I’m not discounting what it took for many of them to leave, but what next in terms of useful political outcomes?

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.


1. greengoddess2 - February 26, 2013
2. Ross - February 26, 2013

Not necessarily a leftward split but National Labour broke from Labour in the 1940’s over the readmission of Larkin Jnr. Though in practice the issue was more the IT&GWU refusing to work with amalgamated unions.


3. Robert Nielsen - February 26, 2013

I think the government-in-exile analogy is most fitting. They seem themselves as the true Labour party and are struggling for recognition. Will they be liberators or spend their days wasting away in exile?


4. ivorthorne - February 26, 2013

Government in Exile? Perhaps.

But I suspect they’re positioning themselves for the inevitable post-election crash.


5. greengoddess2 - February 26, 2013

If FF is anything to go by, Labour will be back in 18 mths…


doctorfive - February 26, 2013

Apples & oranges I think.

WbS – Polish government



CMK - February 26, 2013

I think people will be more forgiving of FF than Labour but given that electoral politics seems to be tightly bound by the Troika parties of FF-FG-Lab you may well be right and Labour could recover. Hopefully, people start to see sense and start voting Left – there are enough options.


Tomboktu - February 27, 2013

I suspect that greengoddess2 was being ironic.


CMK - February 27, 2013

Probably, it’s hard to pick up on irony when your blood is boiling!


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