Saturday 10 December 2016

Labour needs a McDowell-style 'influential windbag' to appease members and voters

Published 07/06/2014 | 02:30

Roisin Shorthall
Roisin Shorthall

There is no shortage of contenders for leadership positions in Labour. This could be a sign of optimism and vitality. But it could also suggest an unsure and fractured party. In the field are the old guard set against a scattering of young bloods, ambitious career politicians who have more to lose than the elders. It is not so much a difference of ideology that divides these groups, more a matter of seniority and opportunity. The elders, as in all parties, have been hogging power and calling the shots for too long.

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Even in Opposition, it was a hierarchical organisation with cabals. There is now talk of a return to "core Labour values", whatever that means. Socialism in Ireland never took strong electoral hold, given church resistance to secularism and Communist ideology. So what exactly does Labour Nua stand for?

The draining of votes to Sinn Fein and other left-leaning extremes would suggest many of its followers prefer protest to government. The facts don't lie; each time Labour goes into Government it gets mugged by the electorate. The recent chastisement of the party is partly due to a perceived overly compliant relationship with Fine Gael.

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