The Labour party has attempted an extensive rebranding since its utter devastation in the 2016 election. It occupies the perverse position of decrying the homelessness it facilitated and simultaneously calling for a public health system which it made no attempt to implement while in government, leaving us with thousands of austerity related deaths per annum. Left wing politics is no more than a vehicle for the personal careerism of many Labour party members.
The manner in which Labour party activists seem to be intent on justifying their complete failure to competently engage with a system which functions for the benefit of the rich, is to appropriate radical left-wing imagery and symbolism which they feel will make them appealing to a newly resistant and defiant youth demographic which is coming of political consciousness and has left its mark in the Corbyn campaign.
It is in this context that we observe the present trends and behaviour of the Labour party, and we cannot allow them to capitalise, divert and defuse the energy and experience which has been forged by a new period of austerity and hardship. Rather than channeling the momentum of a resurgent youth into safe dead ends, we need to reject this social media generation spin and firmly stand up to the bowdlerisation of the legacy of Connolly and other Irish revolutionaries which the Labour party has presided over.
Simpsons jokes and trendy nods and winks cannot create humour out of the hopelessness the Labour party has inflicted on hundreds of thousands of working class Irish families.
We consider this posturing to be wholly unacceptable. Labour should lay in the bed it has made and it’s bed is class treason and poison. A brief history of the Party shows it’s continually treacherous colours:
The first coalition or inter-party government as it was known had Fine Gael’s John A Costello at its head in a coalition across the spectrum of political opinion, reflecting all anti-Fianna Fáil parties including National Labour, the Labour Party and Clann na Poblachta, with William Norton of Labour as Tánaiste.
Fine Gael and Labour were back together again in the second inter-party government with the support of Clann na Poblachta from 1954 to 1957, with Costello again in charge along with Norton.
The marriage of Fine Gael and Labour was back on from 1973 to 1977 in a “National Coalition”, with Liam Cosgrave as taoiseach and Labour leader Brendan Corish as Tánaiste.
It was beset by problems including a worsening security situation in the North and the oil crisis, and its reputation was seriously damaged when the taoiseach failed to discipline minister for defence Paddy Donegan for criticising then president Cearbhail Ó Dálaigh as a “thundering disgrace”, following which the president resigned.
It attempted to improve the situation in the North but its Sunningdale Agreement failed.
June 1981-February 1982
This administration held power in a period of huge volatility, with three general elections in the space of 18 months.
With Garret FitzGerald as taoiseach, it lasted a mere eight months and collapsed when then minister for finance John Bruton introduced a budget taxing children’s shoes.
It was a step too far for independent Seán “Dublin Bay Rockall” Loftus, who voted against the administration, resulting in a general election.
Here Fine Gael and Labour went into government again along with Democratic Left in the “Rainbow Coalition”.
This followed Labour’s withdrawal under tánaiste Dick Spring from coalition with Fianna Fáil under then taoiseach Albert Reynolds in the controversy over paedophile priest Brendan Smyth and the appointment of attorney general Harry Whelehan as president of the High Court.
The new coalition under taoiseach John Bruton oversaw the introduction of the 12.5 per cent corporation tax by then minister for finance Ruairí Quinn.
In government again, with their long time allies Fine Gael, the Irish Labour Party presided over the most vicious austerity programme in our nation’s history, having campaigned on an anti-austerity agenda.
Time and time again the Labour Party has climbed into bed with Fine Gael, engaging in cuts under the auspices of protecting the working class. The Labour Party is a cesspit that uses young people as canvassers for its internal coterie of loyal disciples, it is a political entity that is predominantly interested in securing a place in government and nothing else. The Labour Party has no place on the left and will not be treated as a leftist party by the Connolly Youth Movement. Here is their record, here is what they have stood by and will stand by if brought into the political scene again.
- The Irish Labour Party have never once worked to build a real alternative in Irish politics, instead running into right wing coalition Governments at every opportunity they got throughout their history.
- From 2011-2016 the Irish Labour Party in Government presided over the most vicious austerity programme in our nation’s history having campaigned on an anti-austerity agenda.
- In 2011 the Irish Labour Party campaigned for “Labour’s Way or Frankfurt’s Way” and immediately adopted “Frankfurt’s Way” when in Government.
- They also campaigned specifically in opposition to domestic water charges and immediately agreed to impose them once safely ensconced in Government.
- They even volunteered to take over the water and housing portfolios when Phil Hogan was deposed to Brussels.
- The eagerness with which they tried to ram through their water charges regime involved bullying, threats, accusations, insults and sneers by prominent party spokespeople against the water charges movement.
- The then leader took part in the effective trial of the Jobstown Community over a protracted period when no criminality was found to have been committed by protesters there, or indeed elsewhere.
- From 2014 -2016 the Irish Labour Party presided over the Department of Housing and a massive 90% increase in homelessness.
- The then Irish Labour Party Minister responsible refused to answer questions put by Deputy Boyd Barrett on the developing emergency at Christmas 2015 in Leinster House.
- The current Irish Labour Party Leader, as Joint Minister for Finance from 2011-2016, imposed a regime of the harshest austerity taxes ever against disabled people, sick people, single parents, carers and our struggling younger generation without explanation, regret or apology.
- The Irish Labour Party has at no time offered an apology to those affected by its betrayal from 2011-2016, or at any other time, instead arguing that they played a role in a recovery which for many, including our homeless community, has simply not happened.
- The Irish Labour Party instead played a role in facilitating a wealth transfer upwards, a bail-out of banks and bondholders (including unsecured bondholders), attacked the citizens on their right to water and played a massive role in creating the current housing and homelessness emergency.
The Irish Labour Party is in its death throes and are utilizing leftist language to try and falsely appear as something comparable Corbyn’s labour leadership. It is an inauthentic lie; the Connolly Youth Movement will continue to expose their falsehoods.
CONNOLLY YOUTH MOVEMENT
1 thought on “A Brief History of the Irish Labour Party”
An excellent piece. Fortunately, Ireland has an electoral system based on proportional representation that allows parties of the radical left that truly believe in economic and social justice to stand independently rather than be absorbed and neutered by a corrupted ‘liberal’ centre that has been bought and paid for by corporate interests – a ground that the morally bankrupt Irish Labour Party has always inhabited.
The Irish electorate have been subjected to debt peonage by a cabal of domestic and predatory financial capitalism whose interests the established political class in this country (FF, FG, Labour and the Greens) really serve. The Irish electorate have seen a sustained assault of neoliberal politco-economic policies turn the country into a tax haven for global financial capitalism. It has also seen vital public services demolished on the altar of austerity for the many but not for few, as a criminal banking sector looted the Irish exchequer and transferred its staggering private losses onto a defenceless citizenry, which the liberal political refused to protect. CYM is right to highlight the collusion of the Labour Party in all that.
The 2020 election showed how much the Irish have learned. Not only are FF and FG no longer capable of forming majority governments but FF, FG and Labour combined are no longer capable of forming a coalition government among themselves!
We must ensure that parties of the radical left co-ordinate themselves to rally around a socially transformative policy agenda that takes power out of the hands of plutocrats and their political servants in the Irish liberal class. That struggle is international, and such a movement must also ally itself with parties of the radical left across Europe.
Above all, parties of the radical must learn to speak again in the language of the class struggle and to couch their policy agenda in those terms.