What now for Labour?


A chara, – To answer Patricia O’Riordan’s question (October 9th) as to why Labour is still only polling at 4 per cent, the reason is simple – once bitten, twice shy.

Labour is unpopular because, in government, it singled out the youngest and most vulnerable. It slashed funding for school guidance councillors and special-needs assistants. It messed up the third-level grant system.

Despite soaring rents, it weakened the social safety net for people younger than 26, and forced young full-time interns to live on roughly the same (€150) as older jobseeker allowance claimants whose allowance was cut for failing to seek work (€144).

From 2011 to 2016, rents in many areas rose sharply.

As a young person, this negative attitude made me feel far more unwelcome in my own country than I ever subsequently did in immigration-squeamish England.

Together, these policies massively increased the number of homeless young people, including children.

Astonishingly, the party insulted voters’ intelligence by claiming to have “protected core welfare payments”.

The only advice I can give your letter-writer is to follow the example of former Labour TD Róisín Shortall and join a genuine centre-left party, such as the Social Democrats or the Greens. Of the two, the option with the higher number of Oireachtas members is the Green Party. – Is mise,


Luton, England.

A chara, – Patricia O’Riordan is correct when she states that the malaise in the Labour Party goes deeper than a mere leadership issue. Essentially Labour relinquished the vision of Larkin and Connolly to espouse a watered-down version of Milton Friedman.

Sadly the answer to her rhetorical question “What now for Labour?” might well be, “Exit stage right”. – Is mise,


Newry, Co Down.

Sir, – As a former member of the Labour Party, it seems to me that a good starting point for a reboot might be the articulation of an alternative society, perhaps based on socialist and social democratic principles. A brand new experience! – Yours, etc,


Dublin 4.

Sir, – It will be difficult to progress while we have an electorate whose heads are immersed in fairyland economics.

The Labour Party get no credit for the major part it played in retrieving the nation from the verge of bankruptcy.

The fundamental question (which very few are prepared to face up to) is, if there was a viable alternative why would we not pursue it?

Brendan Howlin’s ambition is to appeal to a younger generation whose heads are, hopefully, in a different place. – Yours, etc,



Co Wexford.