Thursday, August 23, 2007

Who runs after Rabbitte?

Pat Rabbitte's resignation, announced this afternoon, from the leadership of the Irish Labour Party was not entirely surprising. The tributes to him are, as always in these circumstances, gushing and perhaps a trifle relieved, but probably deserved. However, the Mullingar Accord, being tied to the coat-tails of Enda Kenny (hence the nasty piccy left), and the election outcome made it not a question of if but when Rabbitte would cash in his chips.

It hasn't been an easy row to hoe, with the Telfon Taoiseach slithering so adeptly across the dunghill of Irish politics. Here's The Cedar Lounge's valid take on the situation:
Clearly very clever, but with almost completely the wrong personality for the job at hand as leader. The [Press] conference this afternoon seemed to typify that. The references to ‘regime change’, ‘a party more united than it had been since 1922′ and such like seemed a tad too glib. He told us he ‘gave it his best shot during the election but he failed’… Well, yes.
De mortuis, nil nisi bonum. So leave it there.

  • Who?
  • What?
The "Who" will become clearly when the dust settles.

The favourite and front-runner will undoubtedly be Eamon Gilmore, TD for Dún Laoghaire. His hat was in the ring, along with Brendan Howlin and Roisin Shortall, in 2002. Gilmore has been around the block a few times: when he was head-lar of the UCG Students' Union, and after that the USI, he was running with the Marxist Official Sinn Féiners. He was elected to Dublin County Council and then to Dáil Éireann in 1989 as a member of the Workers' Party (same difference). He was with Frank Ross/Proinsias De Rossa and Rabitte in spitting on Seán Garland's heavy mob. On that note, let's hear it from yourfriendinthenorth, who gets it as succinctly as any:
To say that the split in the organisation in 1992 was bitter is only to tell a fraction of the story. Left wing splits are always bitter. Republican splits are always better. A split then in a party that styled itself as socialist republican was clearly going to verge on a verbal bloodbath. Fifteen years on, the hatred still lingers. No WP Ard Fheis these days is complete without Sean Garland having a good old swipe at the traitors of '92. A good account of the split, albeit from a WP perspective, can be found in a short booklet 'Patterns of Betrayal - The Flight from Socialism'. While the approach is from the standpoint of the Garland-Goulding wing of the party it does nevertheless provide speeches and articles from the people who went on to found Democratic Left.
Malcolm has to hand it to the defectors, first walking-out to "New Agenda", subsequently regularised as the Democratic Left, and by 1999, besuited and in the Labour Party. They certainly had elastic-sided principles. At least they had some principles and even self-respect, unlike perhaps the Stickies they left behind. Or unlike the curiously-flexible ex-Stickie Eoghan Harris.

Brendan Howlin, anyone? Malcolm, who knew and respected Brendan Corish, whose Wexford fiefdom Howlin inherited, has a liking for this guy. He's a life-long Labour man. He could do the job, and at least as well as many. He is, however, a twice-unsuccessful contender. He ain't gonna play footsie with Fianna Fáil, but will need to steer clear of the Mullingar Accord thing. He is also Deputy Speaker of the Dáil, which must be a complication. We can, all in all, probably eliminate him before the talent round.

Róisín Shortall is a possible, but less likely runner. She's got a few problems on hand in Dublin North-West, and the Transport brief is not the easiest in which to shine. Above all, is she sufficiently incisive and personful to make a mark as Leader? Hmm.

Liz McManus is in nominal charge until the autumn (don't bother clicking through to her personal blogspot: it hasn't been updated since May).


So it may well be a chance to jump a political generation. If only that were possible ...

The bottom line here is that the decision is in the hands of the membership. The membership think of themselves as lefties: well, we all have illusions about ourselves.

Perhaps a little more — ahem! — socialism this time? Sphere: Related Content

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