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Fear of an election? May 24, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Stephen Collins makes an interesting point re the selection of Brendan Howlin as leader of the Labour Party last week when he suggests that:

One of the reasons TDs wanted Howlin to take over without a long internal debate is the belief among many of them that the Government is not going to last more than a few months and they need to be ready for an election at any time.

Three thoughts strike me. First that they may be right in that respect – it certainly would be sensible to treat this Dáil term as an extended pre-election period. Though, whether anyone is going to go very soon is more open to question giving the state of the polls. Secondly that they’re remarkably optimistic for a party who did so poorly last time out that matters would change in the interim – particularly given their polling numbers are decreasing yet further. Thirdly, that oddly enough a contest with Kelly and Howlin going head to head might actually have been useful for them in terms of redefining the LP. Of course, it might not, but one thing that seems to me reasonably certain is that for the LP the issue is to change the narrative in relation to the party. Part of that process is making the last government seem like then, rather than a little before now – and that is a distinction with meaning.

The problem is that Alan Kelly seems even more wedded to the record of that government than might be expected. So perhaps an Alan Kelly LP would be all about the then. Not that a Howlin LP is going to be much different. It was genuinely remarkable to see Kevin Humphrey’s being so loyal to Jobbridge. When the SBP amongst others is saying that the scheme is tilted too much towards employers who are exploiting those on it, well, these things are clues.

One interesting aspect of the Kelly debacle was the sense of entitlement that came from that quarter. Another was the rather entertaining fact that others had been elected under precisely the same system and no complaint had been raised by him, or his colleagues, as regards the way it worked. I tend to the view that if an organisation has a structure and processes that are broadly agreed by its members then it is near pointless to complain if they are worked as they can be. A more useful question is to ask why the supposed of alternative of Kelly appears to be no alternative at all and what that tells us about the situation of the LP today.

I don’t know if this will hobble Howlin in the future, is it too much like inside baseball to resonate negatively further afield? But it is telling perhaps that long before last week a narrative regarding his wish to be elected without a contest had already been established (Phoenix, if I recall correctly, had something on this). But in a way, and this is another aspect that is important to keep in mind, it doesn’t matter. The LP is largely irrelevant in this Dáil. What Howlin can do to alter that state of affairs remains difficult to discern.

Comments»

1. Jim Monaghan - May 24, 2016

You would figure that a genuine debate on progressive ideas, programme and the way forward between 2 intelligent Social Democrats would make the party attractive. So not having a contest is an admission that it would just be a fashion contest between 2 dull people without much of a progressive thought between the 2 of them.

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2. irishelectionliterature - May 24, 2016

There won’t be an election before the Summer. FF have to bed down being all things to everyone first, support the government and be in opposition to them too…. all the while frustrating Sinn Fein and trying to embarras the Independents that support Enda.
I suspect Howlin was looking for any way to avoid a leadership contest that could have made Kelly leader. It wasn’t just an anti Kelly move but also designed to keep the leadership seat open for the beloved Aodhan O’Riordan should he be returned to the next Dail.

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WorldbyStorm - May 24, 2016

It’s astounding how much faith they place in AOR. And yet he couldn’t hold his seat.

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irishelectionliterature - May 24, 2016

AOR is absolutley adored by Labour people. A man of conviction who along with John Lyons won the Marriage Equality Referendum for Labour. He also said a load of good things (which he backtracked on or didn’t implement) in his time in Government.

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dublinstreams - May 26, 2016

he also had an in with Labour HQ, his anglicised brother There are almost seemed to be a policy facilitated by FG in 2014 to install junior ministers to promise things they couldn’t possible implement in the time left in government. (Senior ministers also started things they didn’t finish bills like Educations Admissions bill and Public Standards Bill) and now we get to hear them demand things that they didn’t do when they had 5 years.

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sonofstan - May 26, 2016

Adult Oriented Rock is going to save the Labour Party?!

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3. 1798Mike - May 24, 2016

I think that is the reason Kelly had to be excluded. It had nothing to do with his ‘power is a drug’ nonsense & his devotion to himself. It had everything to do with the The Labour Party needing a leader based in Dublin. O’Riordan is seen as plausible, articulate & progressive by elements of the media. So while Labour waits for its exiled prince, Howlin will hold the fort.
The problem is of course that Labour has trapped itself. It cannot put clear blue (!) water between itself & Fine Gael after enthusiastically supporting the austerity war against the poor, Irish Water and all the regressive policies of the last few years. Labour cannot even claim to be a political voice for trade unionists after implementing the the ant-trade Union FEMPI legislation.
At this stage how many members does it actually have, who are not actually relatives or pals of the TDs/senators, current & former, as well as its much reduced cohort of councillors ?

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WorldbyStorm - May 26, 2016

I have often wondered that. What constitutes the structure of the party and how many? Probably more than we’d expect but many fewer than optimal. Another thought, the age profile might be interesting too. Is the parliamentary party representative of the party as a whole? If so they’re in trouble.

Flipping it around look at SF, or PBP or AAA or indeed the left Inds. The age profile looks a lot healthier, to put it mildly.

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