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Monday 1 September 2014

Burton looks toward next election as her leadership rival takes swipe at FG

Caroline Crawford

Published 17/06/2014 | 02:30

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Joan Burton and Alex White
Joan Burton and Alex White
Joan Burton

JOAN Burton has vowed to kick off the Labour general election campaign from day one – if she is chosen as the new party leader.

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Speaking to party delegates in Galway, the Social Protection Minister said she would begin the campaign for the 2016 elections immediately.

She acknowledged that some delegates were worried about whether the party should continue in government.

However, she warned that it was "essential for the Labour Party to be in a position to drive through progressive change if we are to build a true republic".

The Labour deputy leader paraphrased Mark Twain ,as she insisted that rumours of Labour's demise are "greatly exaggerated".

Her rival for the post, Alex White, said the party was facing many challenges - adding that Labour's response to these cannot be simply "more of the same".

"We need change, change that starts on July 4 when a new leader takes up office. The question for our party now is whether to pass the baton to the next most senior person in the current leadership, or to shift gear altogether and choose someone who is relatively fresh, who will present a new and different image to the electorate, and who has the energy and commitment for a project of renewal," he added.

He admitted that "there may well be a perception that my rival is ahead in the game. It's not necessarily a view that I share.

"I believe I can win this contest, and I believe I will win it," he said

Ambition

Mr White said his ambition was to tackle three major tasks for the party in the immediate months ahead – the disconnect between members and the party in government, the retention of a local presence, and maintaining relevance and meaningful contributions to policy direction.

And in a warning to Fine Gale, he spoke of the problems within the Coalition.

"There have been serious problems in how business is being done in government. For a coalition government to work successfully there must be absolute respect between the partners. There must be parity of esteem and I intend to ensure that there is," he said.

He added that that must permeate personal relationships, all decision-making processes, flows of information, the culture of government work and the agreed programme.

He went on to insist that there can be "no question" of an adjustment of the order of €2bn in the next Budget.

Irish Independent

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