Labour and hard choices
Sir, – Fintan O’Toole believes the Labour Party made a big mistake by going into government in 2011 to implement an austerity programme (“It is time for Sinn FÃ©éin to come in from the cold”, Opinion & Analysis, February 4th). This seems to be the general consensus. Labour have almost been wiped out, and languish at around 5 per cent or so in the polls.
Viewed as a political calculation, clearly it was a bad decision.
But is this the whole story? Austerity was necessary. Someone had to do the job. Was it not better to have a party with left-wing ideals involved, trying to do what little could be done to protect the more vulnerable in society in the bleakest of times, even if it failed?
It is easy to criticise from the sidelines. It is easy to spend money when there is money available to spend. It takes courage to enter government in an economic crisis, when there is no money, only debt. Labour deserves some credit for putting the shoulder to the wheel when the economy was in a deep slump, and the types of social progress it might have wished to champion were well-nigh impossible to achieve. – Yours, etc,