Labour's way is yet another confidence trick
Or, maybe more explicitly: isn’t lying to the electorate part of what we are? Oddly enough, on The Week in Politics , nobody made a big deal of what Pat Rabbitte said, as though there was nothing unusual about an acknowledgement that deceiving the electorate was par for the course in an election that supposedly offered the electorate a “historic choice”, that offered an opportunity to “change the direction of our country”, an election that might restore “our trust in democracy”.
If a senior Fianna Fáil figure had said anything similar during the heydays of that party’s protracted periods in government office, think of the outrage that would have blazoned from the Labour benches, the vigour of Eamon Gilmore’s finger-wagging, the imperious corpulence of Pat Rabbitte raised to haughty indignation or yet more faux anger on a television screen.
“Labour’s way or Frankfurt’s way” was more in the line of “the kind of thing you tend to do during an election campaign”. How did Eamon Gilmore not know then this was nonsense? Did it matter to him or anybody in Labour that this was deceiving the electorate? We should have known from the awful blather and bombast of the Labour manifesto that we were being set up for another con job.
But many people fell for it again, desperate to be rid of the old politics and of Fianna Fáil. Labour got 37 seats, with 19.4 per cent of the popular vote and went into government, pronto, with Fine Gael, which had won 76 seats and 36.1 per cent of the popular vote, and together they adopted the Fianna Fáil agenda in almost every detail and together they have brought to a new level the cynical, weasel politics of the old regime.
Eamon Gilmore and Pat Rabbitte were known as the “student princes” as they emerged from student politics, first into the trade union movement and then into the Sinn Féin the Workers’ Party, later the Workers’ Party, then Democratic Left before ending up in Labour.
Along that trajectory there was a piece of profound cynicism that should have alerted us: their claim of ignorance that the political movement they had joined (the Workers’ Party in its various incarnations) was funded in curious ways and that that movement’s protestations of peace and abhorrence of violence were less than plausible. But then wasn’t that the kind of thing you tend to do in politics?