I don’t wish to reopen the debate on an electoral strategy that was endorsed by our conference in Tralee. However, unless we learn from the lessons of this election we are destined to repeat the same mistakes in five years’ time.
In light of a drop in our vote and loss of one seat, I find it astonishing that Fergus Finlay still believes that our strategy, which in his own words was a “pitched battle between the Government and the alternative government”, was correct.
The election came down to a choice between the two larger parties not just in the final weeks, but from months out as our commitment to FG was already assured. If you were voting for change, you voted for Fine Gael.
The Labour party gained not one additional seat as a result of our support for the alternative.
After 10 years — and the likelihood of another five — of a right-leaning Government, Ireland more than ever needs a strong voice for social democracy.
The Labour party is at its best when we campaign as an independent party, articulating Labour values and policies. It is always difficult for a small party to have its voice heard, but it is near impossible when we align ourselves with a bigger party.
I don’t underestimate how hard this will be, or think that our problems are limited to our electoral strategy, but unless we take this on now, we will be no nearer to creating a left-of-centre government five years hence.
One issue in particular highlights how much we have actually lost in this election. Pat Rabbitte led articulate opposition to the co-location of private hospitals on public land. Regardless of the hammering the PDs received, this plan is likely to go ahead because they are in a position to form a government with FF. Would it be so if we were there? I don’t think so. How much longer are we willing to sit on the sidelines as Ireland drifts to the right?
Labour Party National Executive Council member