Irish Examiner View: Labour - divided, and all but irrelevant

Labour fall to a sorry pitch
Irish Examiner View: Labour - divided, and all but irrelevant
Labour Party leader Alan Kelly speaking on the plinth of Leinster House, Dublin. A lack of choice in his frontbench appointments left much to be desired.
Labour Party leader Alan Kelly speaking on the plinth of Leinster House, Dublin. A lack of choice in his frontbench appointments left much to be desired.

It is hard to talk about Labour leader Alan Kelly’s unveiling of his party’s frontbench yesterday without sounding as if you are dancing on a grave. He chose from five TDs — six if you include him — and five senators.

Unlike Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar, he could name lieutenants without disappointing those who imagine themselves today’s Ciceros.

Essentially, like pub football on a bleary Sunday morning, anyone who turned up got a game.

This is not good for Labour, a party with a proud record of leading progressive change, and representing those otherwise left to their own devices. Neither is this fall from grace good for Irish politics, as it changes the nature, the very heartbeat, of our opposition in a fundamental, regressive way.

This Government crossed into the unknown when Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil decided to co-operate. Could that acceptance that options are finite point a way ahead for Labour?

Should they once again consider an amalgamation with, say, the Greens or the Social Democrats — or better again, both — so their policies might have some prospect of a live birth?

As Covid-19 remakes our world, as technology turns Amazon and Facebook into today’s amoral, insatiable imperialists, a voice to champion social democratic values is more vital than ever, a voice to defend the advances secured by Labour in the last half century.

Surely that objective is far more important than the name of the team or who captains it?

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