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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: November 29, 2010 @ 10:50 am

    Labour to campaign in prose?

    Mary Minihan

    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)

    • paul m says:

      nothing wrong with a bit of straight talking on the doorsteps instead of deluded promises of golden pigs in flying machines.

      labour could do with making a commitment to areas they can change – reform of the Dail, the Seanad, bringing he judiciary salaries in line with cuts, realistic fees for those reperesenting government in legal cases and consultancy. reformation of local government and local councils, FAS. Cut chop and merge. Remove the reams of red tape and bureaucracy that makes local goverment accountable for all of the things that started the snowball rolling for our economic disaster – rezoning, planning approval, allocation of budgets for public spending, wages of councillors, and so on.

      we need to see more of where the money is (not) going.

    • barbera says:

      Clearly the Opposition (Zero/pposition) will have hardly a leg to stand on in any upcoming election campaign. So imo any electioneering should be carried out on the basis of promoting “the coolest politicians on the planet”. Without a doubt Brian Cowen and Brian Lehihan are the coolest dudes on the planet. I would like to see them putting on the fedoras and the shades and letting everybody know how much they need the support of:

      YOU YOU YOU
      Here they are in action:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCTJeT2i9QU

    • Or Labour have realised it is better to increase their vote by less and hold onto it than to make massive increases only to lose it all again.

    • Macker says:

      A problem for Labour is that they really just have four people – Eamon G, Pat R, Ruairi Q and Joan B – to do all media. Maybe Brendan Howlin will join them for the campaign. But people are getting a bit sick of the same faces, especially I have to say Joan B, who seems to be relentlessly negative and not at all behaving like somebody who could actually be dealing with bond markets etc. herself in just 10 or 12 weeks. I think Michael Noonan must now surely be the favourite to be the next Minister for Finance. A late valediction for a formerly (unfairly) derided man.

    • Sean mcEnroe says:

      @ Macker — Michael Noonan……….Minister for Finance??????????
      YOU CAN NOT BE SERIOUS…..!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      LABOUR — The party of scowling faces

    • Gerard says:

      Here’s the issue with this:

      a-Labour remains committed to the ‘less pain with us’ line and keeps pushing the infantile line that they can deliver a stimulus that will make a significant difference to growth and job creation.
      b-To oppose things in December but say you will not reverse them in February is ridiculous. The next government will be entirely able to change welfare and tax measures within the macro parameters. To refuse to do so smacks of agreeing that such measures are inevitable bot wanted to avoid supporting them. Hardly a brave position
      c-Is Labour admitting that it too participated in the politics of empty promises? Or perhaps this is something that only FF did?

      I’m left with the feeling of another speech which makes a general commitment to change but avoids all specific self-criticism

    • robespierre says:

      It will all depend on the numbers FG and Labour have. Last time FG were mid 40s and Labour low 30s so the four great offices of state were evenly split between the leaders and dep leaders of both parties (Spring & Quinn in DFA and DOF / Bruton & Owens in Taoiseach and DOJ).

      Outside of that you’d assume that Labour will look for Education and will probably be offered Health and will get Social Protection. FG will likely go for all other economic and semi economic portfolios including Enterprise, Comms, & Tourism. Labour will be given Craggy island and FG will look for Defence. FG will go for Agriculture leaving FG or Lab (depending on numbers) getting Local Government.

    • barbraeile says:

      We are where we are and it is what it is. Change can only come from within and it is my contention that Fianna Fáil and more recently the present coalition government brought about an awful lot of changes for the better for “the poor” (the relatively poor) in our society and for the environment. For the past twenty years it has been possible to live a very good life even on social welfare. County councils provided excellent housing for the lower income groups, including vast projects to provide double-glazing and gas central heating; and every facility was there for education, including third and fourth levels. People forget the dynamic – “the poor” are always aiming to getting richer and “the rich” sometimes become poor and everybody dies. There is no Utopia and there will always be good v evil. It is the human condition and there will always be a “mendicant” element in every society and a boom/bust happens no matter what party is in government.

      Back to the current situation and it is such a bad idea imo having an election when “the people” is in such a TIZZY. People in a TIZZY do silly things. I absolutely think there should at least be no election campaigns (waste of money and resources) but instead only a major civilized tv debate (no ranting or interrupting – there is nothing more off-putting than when one speaker interrupts another) consisting of the main parties’ leaders and ministers of finance spelling it out for the people what exactly is their position vis-à-vis the global economic crisis and their vision for Ireland and which could take place over three days. Actually, I think Ajai Chopra would have been a good person to chair such a debate – ain’t nobody gonna mess with Ajai..!! At any rate, not anyone from the Irish media since Irish people are in such a TIZZY and the debate could turn into a bout of bare knuckle boxing if the thing wasn’t chaired by someone of a cool, calm collected, and – given the fractious mood – foreign disposition.

      Ps – Would somebody tell Mary Lou McDonald to give up that dreadful habit of chewing gum when she and her party are being interviewed on live national tv especially outside the Houses of the Oireachtas – and it would be no bad thing either if she wiped that self-satisfied smirk off her otherwise pretty face. Pearse Doherty comports himself v well.


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