Labour to campaign in prose?
Labour activists braved the weekend snow to hear Eamon Gilmore dampen down expectations of what the party could actually achieve if propelled into government come springtime.
They say politicians campaign in poetry and govern in prose, but Gilmore delivered a speech, the tone of which put me in mind of Obama’s low-key acceptance address, warning party canvassers to make no promises on the doorsteps during the election campaign.
I went along to the Chartered Accountants HQ on Pearse Street in Dublin at 10am on Saturday morning expecting Gilmore to deliver a message about making bondholders share pain (which he did) but I ended up tweeting his other points. (If you would be interested in following me on Twitter, I’m @minihanmary and I promise not to bore you with the mundane details of my private life!)
Basically, Gilmore stated that the election campaign will be a most unusual one in the history of Irish politics. “It simply will not be credible for politicians to tour the country promising to reverse every cut or to deliver every local project,” he said.
“If Labour comes into Government in the spring, we will not be able to press a button and rewind the 2011 budget. No more than we can reverse any of the past 13 Fianna Fail budgets, or the blanket bank guarantee or Nama.” He described these decisions taken by Government as “irreversible”, as well as “wrong”.
He continued: “Yes, there may be things that we can change. But the only promise that Labour can effectively male, and stand by, is that we will work, might and mane, every single day, to get people back to work, and to get this country back on its feet.”
What is his message here? Perhaps he is attempting to silence critics who accuse him of populism. Or maybe he is anticipating that Fianna Fail will soon shift into opposition mode (if it hasn’t done so already) and spend the entire campaign criticising what Labour in power would do? It could be he is genuinely concerned his canvassing teams haven’t yet absorbed the notion that, as he put it, “the politics of promises is over”.
Whatever the message, Gilmore seems to be ruling out high-flown rhetoric from here on in. Campaigning in prose anyone?
(My news report on the speech in today’s newspaper is here: http://bit.ly/f8ilG5)