Why we shouldn't be surprised at Labour's bitter trench warfare
FIRST things first: there's nothing surprising about the position Labour finds itself in. If anything, Pat Rabbitte was understating it when he said there had always been a small "sliver" of opinion that felt the party was more suited to opposition and advocacy than to government and hard decisions.
Of all the mainstream parties, Labour, with its tradition going back to Connolly, was always going to find it most difficult to implement austerity. Sinn Fein espouses hard left policies. But that is in opposition. As the party has shown north of the Border, temperamentally they'll have no problem in hanging tough if and when they get to government.
The Greens arguably were (and are) just as left wing as Labour, but the notion of "making do with less" is a fundamental part of the Green ethos. Labour, although drawing much of its support from liberal middle-class voters, has long prided itself as the defender of the marginalised in society.