Saturday 16 December 2017

Kevin Myers: It's time true republicans claimed back the word

Kevin Myers

The first step in any political programme is cultural, and usually involves the requisitioning of key words, even though these can sometimes be misleading. American 'Democrats' are no more 'democratic' than American 'Republicans', and American 'Republicans' are no more 'republican' than American 'Democrats'.

In Ireland, the Labour Party is a dismal copy of the British Labour Party -- perhaps because its first three leaders, James Larkin, James Connolly and Tom Johnstone, were all British. Moreover, it has never really attracted the vote of the traditional urban 'labour' vote, for the working classes of Dublin have usually voted for Fianna Fail. Indeed, it was the small-town poor and the agricultural workers of Meath who were the most die-hard of 'traditional' Labour voters.

Overall, the Dublin vote for the Irish Labour Party was typically for middle-class lefties, and it never did a great deal for the working classes -- and indeed, it seldom did much as a matter of principle. Which was why it stayed in government with Fine Gael even after the then-Taoiseach voted against the only recognisably left-wing piece of legislation of the coalition of 1973, the Family Planning Act.

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