The Labour Party is another story.
|Let them eat cakes|
Labour claimed to be concerned with social justice, fairness, equality and all those heart-warming things. A lot of people believed them. But it all turned out to be lies – as Collette Browne’s recent article in the Irish Examiner discusses. Carol Hunt in the Sunday Independent also accuses Labour of acting out of self-interest.
There’s another reason why Labour are proving so damaging to the country’s interests and that is their ruthless adherence to the party whip system. Ever since the right wing of the party took over under Dick Spring back in the 90s Labour has set a course that has led them inexorably to the economically extremist destination they have now arrived at. They have insisted for 20 years that getting into government is more important than standing by the principles they profess to have at election time. The upshot for the electorate is that Labour, more than any other party, has done most damage to the more pluralistic and representative politics that we used to enjoy for a short while.
The day after Nulty voted against the budget, a Management Consultant by the name of Billy Linehan launched a vicious attack on him in the Irish Times. In a searing analysis of Linehan's article, Michael Taft has argued it was intended as a stark warning to any Labour Party people about what they can expect if they trouble to stick to their principles. In the article on Politico.ie Taft writes:
Billy Linehan claims that ‘ideology is for yesterday’. Now when you hear something like that you should ready yourself for an ideological onslaught. And Linehan doesn’t disappoint.Aodhan O’ Riordain will have earned himself a lot of party political brownie points for his unpleasantness. For his inversion of ordinary human decency is what the Labour Party prides itself in calling ‘party discipline’. This is the sickness at the heart of our political system: my party right or wrong no matter what.
So that's it for Labour. They’re in. Job done. Labour more than any other party, by refusing its claimed role in Irish life at every critical point presented to it, has ceded the ground to the incompetent, faux neo-conservative rightism that we are suffering under – even now when we’ve had every possible sign and signal that we need to do things differently. What they are doing is in fact an insult even to the professed principles of genuine capitalists and neo-conservatives who are as aghast at the bastardised version of their own credo as the rest of us are by the deliberate infliction of inequality on the people least responsible for what has happened. While upholding this frustrating mess of stupidity, Labour people wring their hands and complain ‘we don’t like doing this, we know it’s wrong, but we are going to do it anyway. Nobody will love us any more. Poor us.’ See Ruairi Quinn’s long whine about feeling ‘hurt’ by criticism at the Institute for Public Administration the other day.
For opposing certain measures Labour has withdrawn the party whip from three of their TDs so far. When their broken promises are pointed out to them, senior Labour party people have begun to deploy the ‘we-never-actually-said-what-we-encouraged-you-to-believe-we-were-saying’ defence. We've heard this especially about the bank guarantee and colossal payments to bondholders that we don’t in fact owe a penny to. The Labour Party used this defence too when they formed a government with Fianna Fail having campaigned vigorously as the party that would once and for all break the Fianna Fail grip on Irish politics. The message couldn’t be plainer: more fool you for believing a word we said.
|Gilmore in his 'Stop Nama' days|
David McWilliams predicting the property bust as far back as 2003
Are these the ‘nutters’ and the ‘extremists’? Or is it politicians whose policies are destroying small businesses, causing half a million people to be unemployed and as many again to leave the country, while imposing decades of monumental debt and severe cuts on the rest? What could be more extreme than that? Eamon Gilmore recently claimed that the trouble with the people saying we should not pay unsecured bondholders was that they were not offering ‘a credible alternative’. Making payments of billions that we don't owe is a credible policy? The most urgent problem we face is to build a form of collective governance expunged of the bizarre logic of what has become the extreme centre.