Monday, November 22, 2010

Is it time for a Labour government in the South?

This evening, Brian Cowen hoped that the promise of an election after a budget was agreed would keep the show on the road, although that’s by no means certain. Whether an election comes earlier or later, recent opinion polls show a level of support for Fine Gael and Labour which would allow them to form a very safe coalition.

However, what’s more interesting is whether there’s any possibility of Labour becoming the largest party. This would require Labour to do the following:

• Come up with a credible, comprehensive alternative approach to tackling the economic crisis, which doesn’t penalise vulnerable groups and ordinary working people who were not responsible for it. And.....
• Convince the Irish people that they are capable of implementing it – which requires international diplomacy as well as ability at home
• Keep coalition options open, unlike 2007
• Go on the offensive against Sinn Féin and the Greens, with a clear message that neither would govern in the interests of the majority. In particular, they mustn’t be fooled into dropping hints about including Sinn Féin in a coalition – a vote for SF must remain a wasted vote.

If Labour were able to pull this off – and it’s a very big if – it would provide an alternative model for dealing with the crisis and would provide hope internationally, at a time when the received wisdom is that massive cuts are the only way forward.

Regular readers of this blog and its predecessor will know I’ve had my differences with the Irish Labour Party. I still maintain that Labour is a short-sighted and partitionist party when it comes to the North. But I put that aside for the bigger picture. Here’s an opportunity for the Irish Labour movement to show the world how it’s done. See you in Co. Louth.....


Corverac said...

"partitionist party"

Arn't you in the British Labour Party?

Jenny Muir said...

Corverac - not sure of your point - what is your concept of the equivalent behaviour in the UK LP? IMO it would be, say, organising in England but not in Wales or Scotland.

To expand mine - the Irish Labour Party had the chance to become an all-ireland operation but chose not to. To me, that's partitionist i.e. recognising the border and refusing to step North of it. I think it's shortsighted because it misses the chance to strengthen an all-Ireland Labour movement - which if course has good links with the British Labour movement and internationally.

Corverac said...

"what is your concept of the equivalent behaviour in the UK LP? IMO it would be, say, organising in England but not in Wales or Scotland."

and Northern Ireland?

Jenny Muir said...

Oh I see - true, but given that I believe in an international Labour movement, I'm having a 2nd go here. However it does appear at this stage that UK Labour will remain British Labour in reality and say no. However 2 wrongs don't make a right. Irish Labour thinks its equivalent North of the border is the SDLP so they have chosen to operate a partitioned system of Labour representation based on Irish nationalism rather than on truly representing the people of this island via an ideology that encompases everyone.

So you can see how desperate I think is the situation in the South that I'm prepared to back them now, although I must say Rabitte on RTE yesterday wasn't impressive. If Labour are maintaining the line on the required scale of deficit reduction to fool the IMF then fair enough but if they really believe it then they are not the alternative the people need.