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Labour in the Margin of Error November 16, 2016

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Politics.

Last weekends Sunday Times poll showed Labour on 3% and while I’ve a feeling that they will get back up to 5 or 6% come an Election I reckon that they need 3 years at least to be in any shape to contest an election successfully. It’s amazing to think they were 32% above their current position at one stage in 2010. At that stage they also recruited high profile candidates from areas of the Country where Labour would not have been traditionally strong. They looked like a National Party then.

It took the Greens years to recover after their 2009 and 2011 drubbings. Even now morale must be very poor in Labour. The truth is that pre this years election many in Labour failed to see the writing on the wall . There were leaks of internal reports showing that they could get as few as 14 seats but nothing compared to the electoral devastation that happened. I suspect they took the result of the Marriage Equality Campaign personally, equated the good reception they got in areas during that campaign to them being popular.The shiny new HQ was vacated, staff were sadly let go. A lot of TDs and Senators lost jobs…..
There is now a different Dail dynamic too. Where in the past Labour could leave government and get up on their high horse against a new FF led government, now they are in the queue behind FF, SF, Independents and followed by AAAPBP. The opposition benches are fairly crowded.
This in turn leads to less TV or Radio time for Labour. Their profile is way down. The same map but this time where Labour stand today. Traditional areas like Cork City, Meath, Sligo and Wicklow lie blank.Areas previously with Labour public Reps are blank (The abolition of Town Councils hit Labour a bit).

So Brendan Howlin has to hope to rebuild the party. ITour the grassroots and try and get the parties confidence and message back. From experience it’s fairly disheartening canvassing when doors are being shut , insults being doled out and voters not very friendly. You might give it a miss the odd night , especially as canvassing can be a tiring pain in the backside. If I were Howlin I’d latch on to something positive and try and campaign around that, get the enjoyable evenings back again….. trouble is having been so recently in Government it’s hard to find the right issue.
Another thing they need to do is change their attitude of what sounded like moaning at an ungrateful electorate. A feeling that Labour were the Bees Knees and Cats Pajamas in Government. Recognise that they made mistakes, what the mistakes were be it pre-election promises in 2011 or whatever but also their tone which in some cases was almost “we know whats good for you”.
This could take years and we’re more than likely to have a General Election (or two) before the next Local Elections in 2019. Labour need the new blood Local Elections could bring.
As it stands will Labours 7 TD’s be running the next time? Howlin, Sherlock and Ryan look safe but will Jan O’Sullivan , Joan Burton or Willie Penrose retire? None of the three are safe. Which leaves Alan Kelly, a hard one to call.
As for gaining seats well I’d imagine there would be a massive effort to get Aodhán O’Ríordáin, Kevin Humphreys, Deidre Kingston , Ged Nash and some others elected but they could easily return with less than 7 TD’s …. and then a heave against Howlin ?
In a way it took Labour to become unpopular for the Greens to come back and look almost fresh again, Fianna Fail are well on their way to being back too. The Labour Party has too much tradition and History to die off but the centre is a very crowded place in Irish Politics at the moment. A General Election will tell an awful lot about how long it will take them to get back. I suppose too they have to define what they are aiming for , what is being back? …..


1. dublinstreams - November 16, 2016

Howlin “And last week, we began the work of selecting new local area representatives The first 12 of them are now in place”. https://www.labour.ie/leftfield/2016/10/labourrebuild/. I emailed LP HQ to ask who there were they wouldn’t tell me, they are secret local are representatives.


2. Tawdy - November 16, 2016

I lost all sympathy and whatever empathy and trust I had for Labour.

I`m not alone in that and I feel rather than know that this lack of trust etc., is nation wide in all previous Labour members/supporters/voters.

I will never again support or vote for any Labour candidate again. As a matter of fact I will use my vote against them at every chance I get.

I have always voted for whatever left candidate that offered themselves here in Limerick, I, like many of my age would have been on a more than friendly status with Jim Kemmy because of how honest and PRINCIPLED he was. This is not a rant for nostalgia, rather an indictment of the Labour Party in their current guise.

I`ll soon be 66 years old, but I have hope, I`m optimistic, there are so many wonderful young people who carry forward the banner of the left. They may not all agree with each other, but they do have the same goal. That journey to enlightenment is long and very educational. Long may it continue.



3. roddy - November 16, 2016

If “principalled” Jim had got his way,my neighbours and I would have been firmly under the jackboot of orange fascism for evermore.


Tawdy - November 16, 2016

Ah Rodders, how’s ” I was never in the IRA Jarry” ? Hmmm?

Ye certainly have a very eloquent way of puttin yer two feet so far into yer gob that yer arse is gettin a real good kickin.


4. Joe - November 16, 2016

Jim Kemmy was a good man. He saw the danger of simplistic tribal Irish nationalism. He stood four square against the Provo terror campaign through the seventies, eighties and nineties. For that he will be remembered as a defender of democracy in Ireland.


Tawdy - November 16, 2016

Spot on, Jim Kemmy had faults and some of his policies would not have had widespread appeal. His PRINCIPLED stand and his inherent honesty was his gift to the working class. Of which he always reminded people that he was one too.

Unlike auld Rodders there whose blinkers do not allow for any sight but that narrow, very narrow view of Repulican Nationalism.

And his hero Jarry of course. Who will soon be left by the way side in SF lust for participation in a coalition with FF in the next election. Good luck with that poisoned chalice.


5. Peter James - November 16, 2016

Which leaves Alan Kelly……. precisely.
So long as there’s someone there to remind us of arrogance, sell-outs and the fact that the LP appears to be merely a flag of convenience for the current TDs and councillors they’ll be pretty easy to campaign against. Looking forward to it already!


Tawdy - November 16, 2016



Jolly Red Giant - November 16, 2016

I loved the indignation Kelly has been displaying over the past couple of days as he has been getting his knickers in a twist over Irish Rail.


6. roddy - November 16, 2016

Tawdy,I see you are back to using “venceremos” (or vencermouse as you once famously called it!) Thing is the leaders of revolutionary Cuba who are the rightful owners of that particular slogan put their monuments up to “provo” martyrs – not lickspittles like Kemmy,Also Joe had Jim anything to say about your beloved “group b”


Joe - November 16, 2016

In fairness to Jim Kemmy I’m pretty sure he would have had no time for the official IRA or group b as you call them. You’re mixed up about who would be my beloved, Roddy. That would be Leeds United FC.


Tawdy - November 16, 2016

🙄. Whoosh, I mean, don’t you have any other view, at all ?

How I do or don’t spell any word is as irrelevant as your snide comments.

Don’t you have any view on the main subject at all or are you waiting on SF head office to give you your opinions opinion?

I have to say that in all my life I have never came across such a randomly stupid person such as yer self. But all is not lost, you are a gem, a diamond in the rough so to speak. By your arrogance you do more damage to the SF label than any other right wing SF idiot it has been my misfortune to meet.

It would make a great sitcom if it was not so serious.


ar scáth a chéile - November 17, 2016

No to property rights in revolutionary slogans!


7. roddy - November 16, 2016

You and anyone else in “group a” certainly had plenty of time for them over decades unless you’re going to use the “fawlty towers “-“I know nothing” defence!


8. roddy - November 17, 2016

Thats me told off by our resident unionist vencermouse!


9. Joe - November 17, 2016

Actually this has all brought back a memory of a general election in 1981/82 when Joe Sherlock got elected for SFWP, Tony Gregory as a socialist independent and Jim Kemmy as independent Labour or somesuch. On the night of the count, RTÉ (Brian Farrell if I recall correctly) interviewed the three of them together. Farrell asked them about the likelihood of them co-operating or forming a bloc of some kind in the Dáil. Kemmy was first in saying that he’d work with SFWP on campaigning for the repeal of Articles 2 and 3 if they were interested. Farrell put this to Sherlock who coughed and spluttered and said no thanks. Sherlock then came on all avuncular to Gregory – “I remember Tony when he was in the youth wing of official Sinn Féin, I’m sure me and Tony could work very well together”. Gregory came back straight and true: “Well I remember Joe from that time too and he believed in things then that he doesn’t believe in now or if he does, then he shouldn’t be in SFWP”. Thus ended the left alliance of 1982.
Times change, things move on. About 17 years later, 95% of the people of the RoI (including me) voted for the GFA and specifically the removal of articles 2 and 3 from Bunreacht na hÉireann and 70% of the people of NI (including Roddy? – correct me if I’m wrong, a chara) voted for the GFA at the same time. Now I’m not saying the GFA and all its bits and pieces is the same as what Jim Kemmy was proposing in 1982. But we have progressed. Go maire ré na síochána – Let the time of peace keep on keeping on.

Liked by 1 person

10. roddy - November 17, 2016

You see Joe,Kemmy often referred to “those people up there” not wanting x,y or z.”Up there meant the North and “those people ” meant Unionism and Loyalism.Me and hundreds of thousands like me were non people as far as he was concerned so forgive me if I don’t join in the glorification of this “socialist” icon every time his name is mentioned


Joe - November 17, 2016

I forgive you Roddy! Nah, of course I fully understand that most northern nationalists wouldn’t have been very fond of Jim Kemmy’s views. Kemmy was a two nationist, probably the most two nationist politician that ever got elected to Dáil Éireann. And a legitimate criticism of two nationists (and I is one, sort of, but probably less so that Jim was) is that they might lay too much emphasis on the national rights of northern unionists as opposed to the national rights of northern nationalists. (Jesus, ‘national rights’, what a horrible phrase).

But anyway, we all have people we admire and dislike. I admire Jim Kenny, may he rest in peace, but I wouldn’t be so fond of Gerry Adams. You’d be the opposite to me on both of those. That ain’t going to change any time soon.


sonofstan - November 17, 2016

I’d be on much the same page here. But Roddy, while I would certainly have voted consistently for Kemmy had I lived in Limerick, I lived in Dublin central through most of the years of the conflict in NI and my number 1 always went to Tony Gregory, a man I had great admiration for and with whom I agreed on almost everything except ‘the north’.
In other words like it or not, for many of us, while we certainly had views on the national question, it was, I’m afraid not the only consideration when it came to the destination of our votes.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - November 17, 2016

Spot on SoS, it’s why I joined the WP. There was next to no PSF in Kilbarrack when I was in the WP, a few folk who weren’t active on the ground politically. So even though I was somewhat more Republican who was I going to go to? The LP was never my cup of tea. Nor was the DSP even though I admired Kemmy for his leftism. And I’ve mentioned it before, but as SoS says, the North was a much lesser issue (for better and worse) than say housing or unemployment or whatever. I doubt I had very many conversations about PSF back in the day in the party. We were too busy as Joe will attest. Sometimes I think people assume others go a political path entirely by design, but that’s not the way of it at all. There’s a lot of luck and chance involved. If I hadn’t had a conversation in a bar in Howth in 1983 or early 1984 I might never have joined the WP. And then where would I have been? 🙂


WorldbyStorm - November 17, 2016

And just on Gregory, part of his genius in a way was being able to assemble a team with strong Republicans and others who were arguably quite antagonistic to nationalism and who worked well, indeed very well on the ground together. And he wasn’t the sort to dismiss people out of hand on that issue either way.


Michael Carley - November 17, 2016

Classic lesson that the left should learn, and I think most people on here learned the hard way: you don’t have to agree with somebody on absolutely everything to be able to work productively with them.

Liked by 1 person

11. oconnorlysaght - November 17, 2016

Jim Kemmy was a great Mayor of Limerick. As a politician on a greater stage, his career peaked when he helped defeat John Bruton’s notorious ‘shoes budget’ in 1982. Though he formed a party on the basis of that, it never quite prospered outside his city and liquidated finally into Labour.
As to Articles 2 & 3, they were presented by his front organisation ‘Socialists Against [Irish] Nationalism’ as its primary aim to appease the Ulster unionists. The implicit side of that analysis was support for the military suppression of the republican movement. Though all for liberal social reforms, Kemmy and his friends showed no support for democratic political rights.
In the end, Articles 2 & 3 were repealed as part of an overall agreement that left Republicans and Unionists still standing in a framework that was supposed to help them come to an understanding. Whether it has done so, whether it can do so, whether any such agreement can do so outside a united irish Workers’ Republic without interference from Britain is a matter for further discussion.


12. Brian Hanley - November 17, 2016

The entire run of the ‘Limerick Socialist’ is online. Issue 1 is worth a read. One thing I would say is that unlike many mainstream Limerick politicians who ran with the hare and hunted with the hounds on the issue of the North, Kemmy was upfront about his views, particularly when there would not have been any electoral benefit in airing them.



13. “The soft left has collapsed” | The Cedar Lounge Revolution - November 22, 2016

[…] By the way IEL’s post here from last week is revelatory in terms of showing how high the hill the …. […]


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