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Was going into Government a mistake?


Concerned Irishman

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Feb 27, 2009
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The question is in the title. The Labour Party was arguably given the greatest opportunity it ever had in the aftermath of the 2011 General Election to break out of its cinderella status, bury Fianna Fail, and establish a left-right divide. Who knows, had they decided to lead the opposition, they could well be on the way to leading the next government (impossible to know really).

They instead decided to enter government with Fine Gael in what is technically a Grand Coalition but in reality is a one-sided affair. For all intents and purposes, the boost it recieved during the election has dissipated either back to FF or towards SF, and it seems its base is eroding. Their arguments for going in where several - ranging from the idea that it was elected to govern not shout from the sidelines, to the need for them to put political differences aside for the sake of the country. There where few arguments against at the time of their special conference (I believe Labour Youth where the only internal group initially opposed, and the Stickeens where roundly ridiculed at the time for it).

Was it a good idea? How will history judge them for it? Could it have been their biggest mistake since the decision not to contest the 1918 GE? Did they even have a choice, given the state of the country and the mood of the electorate (presumably a party staying out of government for reasons of self-interest wouldn't have gone down so well either)? Anyone have any ideas what would have happened had they stayed out and decided instead to lead the oppositon?
 


emulator

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Oct 20, 2010
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10,260
The question is in the title. The Labour Party was arguably given the greatest opportunity it ever had in the aftermath of the 2011 General Election to break out of its cinderella status, bury Fianna Fail, and establish a left-right divide. Who knows, had they decided to lead the opposition, they could well be on the way to leading the next government (impossible to know really).

They instead decided to enter government with Fine Gael in what is technically a Grand Coalition but in reality is a one-sided affair. For all intents and purposes, the boost it recieved during the election has dissipated either back to FF or towards SF, and it seems its base is eroding. Their arguments for going in where several - ranging from the idea that it was elected to govern not shout from the sidelines, to the need for them to put political differences aside for the sake of the country. There where few arguments against at the time of their special conference (I believe Labour Youth where the only internal group initially opposed, and the Stickeens where roundly ridiculed at the time for it).

Was it a good idea? How will history judge them for it? Could it have been their biggest mistake since the decision not to contest the 1918 GE? Did they even have a choice, given the state of the country and the mood of the electorate (presumably a party staying out of government for reasons of self-interest wouldn't have gone down so well either)? Anyone have any ideas what would have happened had they stayed out and decided instead to lead the oppositon?
Yes.

But as with the Greens and many other smaller parties they couldn't resist the lure of power. They could've insisted on policies that were more in keeping with their core beliefs but didn't. They will pay dearly for their time in the spotlight....
 

wombat

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This debate has gone on within the Labour party for years between pragmatists who want to achieve what they can whenever the opportunity presents itself and the purists who want to wait until the people come to their senses and vote for a socialist alternative.
 

louis bernard

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The question is in the title. The Labour Party was arguably given the greatest opportunity it ever had in the aftermath of the 2011 General Election to break out of its cinderella status, bury Fianna Fail, and establish a left-right divide. Who knows, had they decided to lead the opposition, they could well be on the way to leading the next government (impossible to know really).
Absolutely, they had a golden chance to establish themselves as a real alternative but they blew it. they will never get this chance again.
 

brughahaha

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Absolutely, they had a golden chance to establish themselves as a real alternative but they blew it. they will never get this chance again.
They will , irish politics is a cyclical as the economy ........But not for a while I think
 

sic transit

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Opposition is a great place to barrack and seem impressive but no substitute for the real thing. Unlike the Greens they knew what they were getting into. I don't know why people keep thinking Labour are socialist when they really haven't been for a long time. They are a party who can house left-leaning types, and just as quickly lose them, but at heart they are pragmatists who are well-suited to the notion of coalition and the compromise required.

As for being a real alternative that was never going to happen. Labour are very weak in many constituencies and could never hope to get enough seats between Dublin and a few other localities.

They've largely got what they wanted in Govt in terms of portfolios and as is oft commented here far far too early to judge their achievements. Notwithstanding questions over the performances of Gilmore and Howlin, the likes of Burton and Lynch have done well enough and with the rise of O'Riordain and Hannigan they have enough talent to replace junior ministers.
 
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Aindriu

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They sold their souls to the devil for the lure of power and greed. Left wing and socialist my hole!

They will rue the day they chose to enter government. They will be punished most severely by the electorate at the next GE. They deserve all they will get and more.
 

Ryan Tubbs

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The voters clearly voted for a Fine Gael/Labour coalition.

If Labour had opted out of this, their poll collapse would have been multiples of anything that has actually taken place in the meantime.
 

carruthers

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Yes.

But as with the Greens and many other smaller parties they couldn't resist the lure of power. They could've insisted on policies that were more in keeping with their core beliefs but didn't. They will pay dearly for their time in the spotlight....
What are these core beliefs of which you speak?
 

brughahaha

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Opposition is a great place to barrack and seem impressive but no substitute for the real thing. Unlike the Greens they knew what they were getting into. I don't know why people keep thinking Labour are socialist when they relatively haven't been for a long time. They are a party who can house left-leaning types, and just as quickly lose them, but at heart they are pragmatists who are well-suited to the notion of coalition and the compromise required.

As for being a real alternative that was never going to happen. Labour are very weak in many constituencies and could never hope to get enough seats between Dublin and a few other localities.

They've largely got what they wanted in Govt in terms of portfolios and as is oft commented here far far too early to judge their achievements. Notwithstanding questions over the performances of Gilmore and Howlin, the likes of Burton and Lynch have done well enough and with the rise of O'Riordain and Hannigan they have enough talent to replace junior ministers.
Labour are guaranteed to lose 1 seat, maybe 2 if the vote collapses in the new Dublin Bay north .....it could well be that O'Riordain wont even get a second term ....
 

sic transit

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Labour are guaranteed to lose 1 seat, maybe 2 if the vote collapses in the new Dublin Bay north .....it could well be that O'Riordain wont even get a second term ....
Perhaps but it remains to be seen as there is a long, long way to go.

EDIT: At this point I fully expect both parties to drop seats but bar doing something utterly stupid with our finances, and the all-important proviso that we get groat[sic], even a little bit, they will be returned.
 
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Mushroom

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What are these core beliefs of which you speak?
Croke Park.

Mickey Dee for the Arás.

A labour woman as Attorney General.

Frankfurt's way.
 

Aindriu

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The voters clearly voted for a Fine Gael/Labour coalition.
Where the hell did you get that idea? Did you ask voters as they left polling stations?
 

Teabag

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Last chance of power for some of the senior Labour TDs and they jumped at it. I expect quite a few to retire at next GE.
Labour will suffer at next GE but being honest I don't think Gilmore cares about his country or party all that much, he is more fond of the money/pension.
 

Smokey Daggers

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Hello there, I'm a long time browser first time poster.
I do think it was a mistake but I think that they were dammed if they did and dammed if they didnt.
Dammed if they did because FG have such a large majority and Labour were destined to be the traditional irish coalition mud guard.
Dammed if they didnt because they would have been acused of cowardice and passing on making the tough decisions needed to try to get us back on track and probably never forgiven for that.
I think that Labour are too centralist now to form a credible left opposition and anyway I dont think there will be a ground swell any time soon to elect a purely left leaning government in this country.
They are certainly a little left of FG and FF (who should just merge and be done with it) and as such Labour can define themselves as the credible opposition in the next government.......presuming they can return a few TDs.
 

brughahaha

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Perhaps but it remains to be seen as there is a long, long way to go.

EDIT: At this point I fully expect both parties to drop seats but bar doing something utterly stupid with our finances, and the all-important proviso that we get groat[sic], even a little bit, they will be returned.
Im not even arguing about gaining ir dropping votes , Im talking boundary changes , Even if they hold onto the same vote share ( unlikely) , they wont get 3 seats in the 5 seat constituency on <30% (34% in DNE and 24 % In DNC , 2011 i think)

Edit : getting back to the OP , Ithink for labour - or any coalition junior - 3rd party its a case of damned if you do damned if you don't
In this case i think the failure to radically change how politics is done and seen to be done , and the stuff like , the Gathering appointment , the advisors pay , Gilmores wife and other shabby cronyism is doing more damage than the economics TBH
 
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EUrJokingMeRight

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Sep 28, 2009
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Labour, recently, were nowhere close to being a left party. clearly that was the case..just one 30 second soundbite of the guffawing glibmore would have demonstrated as much to anybody.

Lab/Greens/FF - A future 'jokers party' perhaps?

The divide has ALWAYS been FF/FG/LAB/A.N.OTHER Versus SF.

The question is will SF sell out like FG/LAB -FF/IMF have done should they ever get into power?!
 

Grey Area

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Aug 15, 2011
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Labour should have forced the issue and stayed out. Let FG and FF finally kiss and make up. After 5 years of a FF/FG administration (rape of the country's assets) the Labour Party could look forward to an overall majority. It may take two elections but that is what Labour should be looking at.
 

Keith-M

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The choice was leading the opposition, finally redefining Irish politics on a proper left/right basis and holding FG to account, or Mercs, perks and inflated pensions. That was a "no brainer" for people like Gilmore, Rabbitte and Quinn.
 
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