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“You’d miss Labour……..” May 31, 2017

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.

“You’d miss Labour” was said to me recently.
In a strange way Labours current troubles can be dated back to September 2008 when they voted against the Bank Guarantee. They shot up by 6 points in the polls and it also gave them a unique selling point (there were no far Left TD’s 2007 to 2011) with an electorate horrified at the blanket guarantee given to the banks. (Incidentally SFs initial support of the Guarantee did them no favours at all) Time went on and the better voting against it looked.
In the 2009 European and Local elections Labour fared very well.
Labour were trusted and in 2011 many had great expectations as they got their best ever election result ….. then they went into government and well we know the rest.
When Labour fared poorly before there was almost always a way back. The WP would have been a challenge in the 80’s , DL in the 90’s but eventually The WP Split and DL , The DSP and The ISO joined up with Labour and they were able to absorb their competition and the Centre Left was all theirs again.
Indeed this is hinted at by Jack O’Connor..

We will have to reach out to people who share our worldview. We have to make approaches to the people who are in the Social Democratic Party and other independent social democrats and democratic socialists.

This time though we have a smaller Labour Party … we have Sinn Fein , The Social Democrats, Solidarity-PBP, The WP and even The Greens occupying the same space as Labour would have covered in the past. There is also the largest Far Left that there has been since the WP in their heyday. Added to that Fianna Fail are pretending to be everybody’s friend and there are Independent TDs that can often be all things to all people. We also have a case where Sinn Fein has a far bigger regional reach than the WP ever had. There is no constituency in the country where Sinn Fein are not active and they would have Councillors in every Constituency in the Country.
So Competition to Labour will mean that its way back is harder.
A Labour Local Area Representative called to the house recently, I missed him but here he was with his team out two years before a Local Election. It’s going to be a long hard two years for him and the other Labour LARs that have been selected. Canvassing is a tiring time consuming business. An election campaign is tiring enough but going to work, coming home and then going out canvassing a few nights a week, being at the local shops over the weekend or whatever must be a tough station.(I know there are tougher things).
As pointed out before these are hard times for Labour and it’s going to be hard for them to improve much for the next few years.


1. jc - May 31, 2017

What was the ISO?


irishelectionliterature - May 31, 2017

Sligo Leitrim Independent Socialist Organisation. (The Declan Bree group)


2. Tawdy - May 31, 2017

I`m not really sure if you are lamenting for the Labour Party or painting a realistic picture of their chances in future elections.

My own opinion is that the Labour Party has not fallen far enough yet but are heading to almost irrelevancy in the scheme of things. A bit like Renua or the Greens but not yet at the level of the PDs.

I`m not in the least happy about that, as you point out, when they entered government and implemented, with gusto, the FG Programme for government they lost a LOT of grassroot support that may have shifted to the likes of SF/Solidarity/PBP/I4C/SD etc. And they are not coming back, no matter what Jack O`Connor says, they are not trusted anymore.

If, a big if, they do manage to hold on to any seats in the next general election, it will still take a couple of decades to climb back into the position they enjoyed.

A very serious loss for the working class and the left.


Dermot O Connor - May 31, 2017

What I’ll never fathom is why they leapt in with FG in 2011. The could have let FG go in as minority, sit in opposition with 37 seats (soon to be 38), and bide time until next GE (which could have been pulled at their own behest after another Austerity round or two). It’s not like they’d have had to wait another 5 years.

They’d have come back in 2012/3/4 with far more than 37 or 38 seats (high 40s? 50s?), and been in a much stronger position than 2011.

FINALLY Labour could have delivered the killing blow to historical enemy FF, and push to sideline their future existential threat, SF, from the place of populist opposition. Instead they went in with the shirts, played good little boys of Europe, and allowed FF/SF to recover/grow.


I guess life on the opposition benches must be pretty boring, to trade it for a 5 year joyride. After me, the deluge, etc…


3. lcox - May 31, 2017

Have Labour *ever* refused a coalition offer? Genuine question.

My memory is that they have a long and proud history of playing sidekick to right-wing parties. The fact that they are currently talking as though they had not been a vocally enthusiastic partner in a viciously austeritarian government until last year and engaged in a head-on collision with much of their traditional electorate suggests that they believe they will recover from this as from previous forays into sidekick territory, and that the Irish electorate is as amnesiac as ever.

What *is* different now is the phenomenon of Pasokification – most visibly in Greece and France, but also to a significant extent in Spain (and it is of course what the BLP under Corbyn is struggling to recover from). Reversing the previous common-sense analysis that elections were won in the middle and left-wing voters could only vote for social democrats, it now seems (in western Europe) that SD parties which remain unapologetically and openly on neoliberal terrain are getting hammered, in some cases apparently irreversibly.

“Apparently” because this leaves out ties to the unions, which offer some hope of recovery for SD parties. But I think I am right in saying that the break with the ILP represented by Right2Water and associated disaffiliations is if not unprecedented at least a body blow to the party’s chance of leaning on the unions to get back on its feet.

The one thing that would speak for the future chances of the ILP is that not all those who shifted leftwards in 2011 stayed on the left: a significant proportion (in polls, and the 2016 election) were also willing to vote for FF, suggesting that the political learning from austerity (and the water charges battle) is less widespread than might be hoped, and that the “we’re a left-wing party really” schtick may still find enough voters to keep going.

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