Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ireland-Resignation of Pat Rabbitte as Labour Party leader

The resignation of Pat Rabbitte is a devastating blow for the Labour Party. Articulate highly intelligent and well briefed Rabbitte was a colossus. His rapier like interventions in debates were a joy to behold.

A minority within the Labour Party never really accepted the Mullingar Accord. Some elements within Labour unfairly blamed him for the failure of the party to make large seat gains. Their analysis is fatally flawed.

Labours failure to make inroads resulted not from its electoral strategy but rather from a combination of events in the final week of the campaign. Michael McDowell destroyed the PDs as a meaningful force in Irish politics but he damaged the prospects of left wing parties with scare tactics in the course of the RTE debate. Also Eoghan Harris and John Waters on the Late Late consolidated the doubts in the minds of a section of the electorate. Much of what Harris claimed was factually incorrect. But he got away with it.

Much is made of the fact that FG made large gains. This was inevitable because the real level of support for FG is in the 50 to 55 seat zone. The 2002 result for FG was a freak. FG mainly won back seats that it had lost through destroying the PDs. The FG surge was not at the expense of Labour.

Labour has had major competition on the Left from the Greens Sinn Fein and the Socialist Party. This has served to depress its vote. Now that the Greens have vacated the opposition benches there is potential for FG and Labour to mop up the large number of disaffected Green votes.

Organisationally Labour has been weak in key constituencies.This has cost the party dearly.

Tommy Broughan was a critic of the Mullingar Accord. He seems to forget that Labour adopted a go it alone strategy in 2002. Where were the large seat gains?

It is probable that FG and Labour will make gains in the 2012 General Election. Notwithstanding the economic boom and SSIA money FF had a close call. Economic circumstances in 2012 are unlikely to be as favourable for the outgoing government.

Tommy Broughan should have the courage of his convictions and put his name forward in the leadership election.

No comments: