Sunday 17 December 2017

Labour Party faces a choice between dull and uninspiring

Joan Burton: favourite to land the Labour Party crown. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Joan Burton: favourite to land the Labour Party crown. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Gerard O'Regan

"There's always an easy solution to every human problem – neat, plausible – and wrong.'' HL Menken. This particular observation from the American writer – who fancied himself as a shrewd observer of human nature – could surely be applied to the current battle for the Labour Party leadership.

As a political contest it can best be described as downbeat, dull and boring. It desperately needs a spark of passion, of almost any hue, to jazz things up a bit. Both candidates come across as pedestrian at best, as they resort, time and again, to the more hackneyed cliches of the moment.

The reason for this is that they are in the kind of verbal straightjacket which Menken alluded to. Their core mantra is that our more intractable and insoluble political problems are easily resolved. When it comes to the hard choices now confronting all politicians, the Labour luminaries have answers, which are indeed neat, plausible and invariably wrong. The cockpit of knife-edge decision-making, which is the health service, remains a case in point. The insensitivity of the medical cards debacle has been well thrashed out – even though it seems to have been as much driven by bureaucrats as by politicians. But the diehard problems remain. The health budget is careering out of control yet again; nurses and other staff are up in arms over cutbacks,

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