Saturday 1 October 2016

Labour between the rock and the hard place

Published 18/08/2015 | 02:30

A body of opinion within the party believes Labour must go it alone
A body of opinion within the party believes Labour must go it alone

Labour Party junior minister Ann Phelan has ensured every option for the junior coalition party's strategy going into the next general election is now on the table. The party is trying to pick the least worst option. A body of opinion within the party believes Labour must go it alone, unburdened by a formal alliance, which may merely prove beneficial to their coalition partners.

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The party leadership is gradually moving towards a vote transfer pact with Fine Gael. The logic being applied here is that the voters are more likely to link both parties anyway, so they may as well benefit from any transfers on offer from Fine Gael supporters.

And a message of solidarity between the parties at least presents the electorate with an option for the next government, highlighting the lack of cohesion on the opposition benches and the lack of any cohesive alternative.

The leadership is banking on Fine Gael being back in power and the voters wanting a firm say in who will make up the numbers, rather than leaving it to chance.

Minister Phelan has gone further to suggest not only a vote transfer pact but also a policy agreement.

The Coalition parties are clearly in agreement on the direction of the economy and continuing to address the budgetary deficit.

The issue of abortion and repealing the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution is obviously a difference between the parties, but Minister Phelan feels this can be overcome. Many of her colleagues in Labour may feel this is too high a priority to allow it to be cast aside for the sake of an agreement before a general election.

Labour would fancy the chances of getting a commitment on an abortion referendum if the party's hand was strengthened by a general election result giving the present administration a mandate to govern for five more years.

Regardless of the choice, Labour is caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to voter sentiment.

Empathy is a worthy subject for our schools

In literature, there is often a sense that anguish is the  universal language and that empathy is the best antidote. Now the UNESCO child and family research centre in Galway is calling for empathy to be taught in the classroom.

A most casual look at the world in which we live would suggest that it certainly isn't in plentiful supply, and where better to start than with the young?

One can imagine that it would be a rich addition to any curriculum.

When it comes to human relationships and society, it is likely to be a lot more useful than algebra.

According to Prof Pat Dolan, gaining an understanding into what others are feeling could be a key factor in combating bullying.

The centre encourages students to make films on issues facing their peers from mental health to sexuality to caring for sick parents. This is a highly innovative and imaginative initiative. There was a lot of sense in the observation made by Theodore Roosevelt: "No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care."

Irish Independent

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