2011-2016: A different history August 22, 2016Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
Imagine if the Labour Party had, somehow, and with difficulty, avoided entering government in 2011. What would have occurred. Well, one cannot be sure about the situation in respect of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, but, it is not implausible that Fine Gael would have managed to cobble together a minority government with the support of a number of Independents, including Ross, McGrath, possibly a few others, and the tacit support of a beaten Fianna Fáil. How right wing would this government have been? Perhaps somewhat more right wing than the actual FG/LP coalition was. But would it have been more right wing than the current outfit? Difficult to say. Some might have seen this as an opportunity to ‘break’ the unions, or impose charges of one kind or another. Perhaps others might act less precipitously.
But what of Labour itself in this schema? Well, straight up we can assume that there would have been nothing like the number of defections from that party over the years. No Broughan, Shortall, or…ahem… Keaveney. Less scope for those such as Kelly to come to the fore. And if no Shortall leaving then arguably no Shortall going on to form the Social Democrats with Donnelly and Murphy. One less rival on the centre/centre-left. What of others? Would Sinn Féin have been quite as strong in such a situation, returning with 23 TDs in 2016 if a larger more well embedded party such as Labour with a national scope was already in place, with near enough 40 TDs and sitting in opposition? It would dominate a Fianna Fáil who was reduced not just in numbers but also forced to support FG. Others would – likely, seem less cohesive and by extension less attractive, and they would have their own problems too. independents would be in government and opposition, a government that would on the face of it perhaps be even less popular than the actual one was – particularly if it did attempt to force through various issues.
But perhaps FG would be a little less secure being so dependent upon both FF and the independents. Perhaps it would have to be a little more astute and populist simply to keep the show on the road.
And what of the LP? it’s here that adding unlikelihood to unlikelihood we run into issues. The LP was adamantly against water charges pre-2011. Presumably it would still have been, though difficult to see it taking a strongly campaigning line against them. Would, as SF has discovered, the further left parties present a serious challenge against it in certain constituencies or would it be large enough and most clearly the dominant opposition factor to brush same away?
One thing would seem likely. The LP would be in a good position to emerge in 2016 or at any election prior to that as an even stronger force.
Problem is that wasn’t the LP we actually had. The one we had was cautious, concerned with holding office – if not quite sure what the purpose of the exercise was beyond that. Too many of its senior members were of a generation unwilling to wait any further before entering government. It was too willing to compromise, to be seen, in its eyes, as ‘serious’, ‘grown-up’. So no, none of the above was ever really on the cards. Though one can only imagine that some in the LP might, too late, with that it had been.
For the Labour Party, ironically, it was its willingness ultimately to play the subordinate partner in a coalition that did for it. Others will have seen this and no doubt taken note.