I heard Joe Costello, comfortably re-elected in Dublin Central, use this expression on the radio to describe the stagnation of Labour over the last three elections. This was a very bad result for Labour and the party continues to be the worst performing social democratic party in Europe. Securing just about one tenth of the first preference vote makes you pretty damned irrelevant when nearly seventy per cent of the electorate votes for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. It is inevitable there there will be mutterings of discontent against Rabbitte's leadership, blaming the leader for rescuing Fine Gael at the expense of his own party.
I would also be critical of the leadership strategy but it would be based on organisational and policy failures and wouldn't focus solely on an electoral strategy not producing the desired result. A few extra seats might have put Labour into office and the leader would have been praised for his canny tactics. My own discontent would not have been so easily assuaged because going into government would not alter the objective reality that Labour is stagnating organisationally and is failing to find a voice that addresses the concerns of the voters.
Plotting to get rid of the leader is an irrelevant distraction when the party needs to have an internal debate about its identity and how it will organise and renew itself in the future. It might make more sense to have a leadership contest in the context of such a debate if there are different perspectives represented by different candidates for the leadership. I am more than ever convinced about the necessity of developing a coherent critique of the economy that makes the link between economic insecurity, pockets of poverty and failures of collective provision in areas of social policy. Forget about electoral strategy. That's it for another five years. It's a question of getting back to basics on the fundamentals of policy, organisation and party identity.
On a personal note my own blogging activities have been 'becalmed' due to my mother's illness and my visits to the hospital. I was not always at home to watch the TV campaign coverage but I had a distinct impression of a very boring and contentless election campaign. My Mam died peacefully on polling day.