Eilis O'Hanlon: The opinion of the little people doesn't matter anymore
We expected more from Labour, particularly from Pat Rabbitte.
DESPITE everything, the smart money must still be on a smaller Fine Gael and a much smaller Labour Party forming the next government. They could lose 20 seats and still make it over the winning line; they could even afford to lose more if they can pull in some independents afterwards. Barring a Fianna Fail-style meltdown, the good ol' boys are going to keep those good ol' jobs, because even if the electorate does turn on the Coalition, it will probably be the newer, younger TDs who picked up the final seats last time around who get squeezed out, leaving the smug old guard smugger than ever, with another term round the Cabinet table to boost both pension and ego.
In many ways, the Labour Party leadership is like First World War generals, throwing minions into the machine gunfire in order, as Black-adder memorably put it, to move their drinks cabinets a few inches closer to Berlin. Or perhaps Frankfurt, in this case. They may be despised by many in their own ranks for breaking so many promises, but Gilmore and Rabbitte et al have reached the exalted position where the opinion of the little people doesn't matter very much anymore. The edge of danger honed in opposition has been smoothed out by the complacency of office.
To be fair to Gilmore, the Labour leader does still seem to feel some personal stake in the business at hand; but Pat Rabbitte gives the impression of a man who's just not feeling it anymore. He's stopped trying to persuade. He's retreated instead to a little place inside his own head where it all makes sense, and he's content to stay there. He's become very contained, not in a healthy self-actualising way, but in a solipsistic, passive-aggressive "no one likes me, I don't care" way. You only have to look at his extraordinary performance last week during leaders' questions in the Dail.