Monday 11 December 2017

Marc Coleman: Labour must quit to save itself and us

The party's priorities are bizarre as it seeks to protect Croke Park, no matter what the damage to country or self, writes Marc Coleman

Labour ministers will be tempted to take solace from Thursday's Yes vote. But they shouldn't. The real poll wasn't the referendum last week. It was the previous week's Millward Brown opinion poll which predicted a Yes win but showed that this would be in spite of -- and not because of -- this Government.

Two thirds of us are dissatisfied with the Government. Moreover, only 10 per cent of voters -- less than half Sinn Fein's vote -- support Labour. Nonetheless the referendum was also revealing, laying bare a deepening class divide across which Labour stands with a foot on either side. As that divide widens, Labour could fall into a chasm, never to return. Unless it saves itself -- and us -- by pulling out of Government.

Founded a century ago last Sunday by James Connolly in Clonmel, the Labour Party was unable to mark that centenary in the town due to local hostility. Last year it was different. Signing a programme for government with a party diametrically opposed to it in terms of policy and -- as transfer patterns show -- voting base, Labour entered Government. As well as misreading voters, it misread the economy, hoping the recession would be over by Christmas; ie in time to paper over any differences with Fine Gael. Just like John Redmond's miscalculation in sending Irishmen to a "short glorious war", exchequer figures will tomorrow show how this economic war will be much longer than thought originally. Redmond's failure, ignominy and the destruction of his party may well also await Labour before the 1916 centenary is done.

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