Tuesday 21 February 2017

New Labour leader Howlin has thunder stolen by rival Kelly

Alan Kelly's 'petulant' absence from press conference raises eyebrows, writes John Downing

Published 21/05/2016 | 02:30

Leadership rivals: Alan Kelly and Brendan Howlin at a Labour event last week. Photo: Collins
Leadership rivals: Alan Kelly and Brendan Howlin at a Labour event last week. Photo: Collins

Modesty is not Alan Kelly's strong suit, nor is patience. And he came a long way in a short few years. In July 2007, he was a new Senator and by July 2014 he had one of the biggest budget Cabinet jobs as Environment Minister. He was also deputy Labour leader and it was widely assumed that he would lead the party soon after that.

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In fact, the only doubt about his future leadership in 2014 centred on what would be left to lead. Now, following a gruelling stand-off with his six party colleagues, Alan Kelly has been bested in a leadership battle which ended because he could not get to the pitch where he felt he could have won.

Mr Kelly launched his campaign last week on RTÉ's 'Late Late Show', addressing his message to the 4,000 Labour members who could decide on a one-member/one-vote basis. He looked a likely winner, viewed by some observers as the one who could find the party some space and listening time in a very crowded and noisy political opposition space.

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