Yesterday’s Sunday Independent
Further to yesterday’s criticism of the Jobstown protestors by Ed Brophy, former chief of staff to Joan Burton…
David Wall writes:
Reading Ed Brophy’s response to the the Jobstown verdict clarified a number of reasons why Joan Burton’s leadership of Labour was so ill-fated and indeed why Labour continue to flounder and struggle.
Labour are meant to be the voice of the many, not the few to borrow a phrase from the British Labour Party ( a group Brophy’s Ireland Thinks represents). Labour are meant to represent the rights of workers, the people without a voice.
This is their demographic, and yet a former Chief of Staff to the Tanáiste speaks of them as the enemy. He seems to dismiss the cases of Apollo House, Repeal the 8th and the non payment of tax by Apple as populist politics aimed at a ‘whimsical section of the electorate.’
Surely homelessness, reproductive rights and corporate tax avoidance should be the bread and butter of any labour movement?
Furthermore, he seems to want to limit the voice of the Solidarity Movement. They have filled the void left by the Labour Party as they snuggled cosily into the centre of politics.
The Solidarity movement are a dissenting voice to the left, but surely this is the role that Labour should be filling. Irish politics has evolved to have a number of centrist parties with Fine Gael on the right of centre while Irish Labour have moved towards the centre in a bold move away from their grassroots support.
That cannot be denied. Propping up what was seen as a government right of centre does not conform to Labour’s beliefs, even if it was ‘ameliorate capitalism.’
This amelioration, as noble as Brophy presents it, has simply seen a major shift from public to private, increased poverty and greater divide within society. Not a successful tactic it could be argued.
Brophy’s continues by stating that the for some Labours ‘mere act of entering coalition amounted to treachery.’ This seems to be a worrying oversight.
Rather than worrying about how entering coalition was viewed it would be more beneficial to examine the role of Labour within government. The electorate are forgiving, look at the recovery of Fianna Fáil. Labour have not been forgiven for their performance in government, rather than the act of entering coalition.
Performance is key and Labour never performed.
Finally, he praises the judicial announcement of innocence as being a positive because ‘in one fell swoop, the Solidarity thesis that the entire system is a conspiracy against them and the working class they purport to represent was put to the sword.’
Again, he is wrong, firstly a guilty verdict would have been a miscarriage of justice. Secondly, rather than exonerating the system it has raised further questions about the behaviour of the embattled gardaí.
At this point Labour have a battle on their hands. The centre is over populated and they are unlikely to take votes from the major powerhouses of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.
They need to reestablish themselves as a voice on the left and unfortunately commentaries such as Ed Brophy’s in the Sunday Independent suggest that they have little interest in doing this.