The fourth bridesmaid
Madam – The airwaves hum with hilarious spins on the story of the Prank Pizza. Some of us might be tempted to call it the Parable of the Prank Pizza – an allegory on the failure of the mainstream political parties to deliver even the entirely mythological promised pizza of a true republic to the Plain People of Ireland.
Unfortunately, we are not players in a laugh-a-minute pre-Christmas pantomime. What we are in is 'for real'.
What kind of society may we have eventually? If and when we 'get out' of the 'crisis'? Beneath and beyond the immediacy of the economic and financial crisis, lies a more serious political crisis. We face the real probability of a succession of right-of-centre governments, combining Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and whatever Independents would prefer not to have frequent elections.
Governing in whose interest? The comfortable and only the comfortable?
Opposing them will be a mixum-gatherum of ideologues and fantasists who will have considerable but fickle and inchoate public support – maybe even a majority in the Dail – but no practicable policies which take account of the realities of a very small, open economy situated in a globalised world economy and hugely dependent on inward foreign investment and friendly export markets. And no real commitment to the equality of all citizens.
At and after the next election there will be no effective pragmatic social democratic party to provide constructive, pragmatic leadership towards a true Republic – such as Labour might have provided. Labour, if it has a noticeable presence at all in Leinster House, will at very best be the fourth largest party. A fourth, increasingly withered and barren, bridesmaid.
The function and role of a truly social democratic party, such as Labour might have been and could yet be, is to state beyond any doubt the principle of proportionality. But more important, to ensure, in Government, that that proportionality informs and determines every decision taken. To the degree that that is practicable and feasible, of course, but never betrayed or even ignored. As it has been in Budget 2013.
When Eamon Gilmore lays himself down to rest each night, does he dream of cardboard pizzas which turn to sawdust? He once used the word 'traitor' in Dail Eireann. Correctly so. Well-intentioned and honourable the leadership of the Labour Party certainly are. But do the ghosts of Christmas Past and Christmas Future whisper that word 'traitor', however 'unfairly', to them in their troubled sleep?
Tralee, Co Kerry