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February 2008

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« Process triumphs over policy in media agenda | Main | Browne's disappointment is just not convincing »



But that being the case, and incidentally to some degree I share your thoughts regarding the exercise of power, it seems to me that the antipathy to joining an FF government amongst the membership is almost entirely artificial, even if seemingly deeply held. What great point of principle is lost by working with FF rather than FG? Our political culture, for all it's faults and flaws is vastly more transparent and less open to the sort of corruption that characterised the 1980s. I guess, not having been a member of Labour I just don't get it.


Having been part of those internal Labour Party debates I accept the debate can run like a broken record. The problem, however, is how you frame that debate. Mr. Finlay's frustration is misplaced for the question is not framed as trading principles for perks (indeed, it hasn't been for a long time). One of the problems is that the question is not framed at all. Labour members never ask themselves where they want to be in 10-15 years and, having come to a consensus on that goal, worked out strategies to achieve it and then, having worked out the strategies, debate the tactics - including coalition formation - to bring those strategies success.

Instead, with no medium-term framework, the debate is reduced to what do we after the next election. And Labour has done sometheing different in each election since 1989. Short-termism rules and it shows - an historical average of about 12% which is where we are now.

Here's a framework: within 10-15 years Labour should be the second largest party in the state and obvious leader of an alternative government. Now, how do we get there and what do we do and does that include participating in Governments led by the parties of the right? If it does, fine. But if not, then what do we do. In that context the debate would have more meaning.

Unless someone has a better place to be in 10-15 years.


Which brings the debate right down to which of the two larger parties one attempts to weaken so that it can achieve that second place. And that runs into the sands of how to carry out such a strategy in a competitive PRSTV environment where transfers are needed from both. Personally, I still see 1992 as a point where serious inroads into FG could have been sustained. But perhaps not - and in any case well I remember while in DL just how cosy the relationship between them and FG was developing. So, ironically even had Labour stuck to their guns in coalition with FF they would ultimately have been exposed to a potential left challenge by a DL which remained outside of government.

And if one does target - say FG - then is the idea to work with them in government and somehow persuade the electorate of Labours superiority or is it to remain outside of government and throw brickbats from opposition, or alternatively go into coalition with FF just to prove that Labour is fit and able to govern.

I actually have considerable sympathy for Labours situation. Any of those options appears valid to me.

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