Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pied Piper of Dun Laoghaire

The phrase "rats deserting a sinking ship" is often used to describe the death throes of an organisation. Having gone through the startup phase, then the bandwagon phase where everyone jumps on board, then the plateau and finally the slow descent, there comes a point where those who are left realize that the game is up and bail from the grouping. But where do these rats go?

Well in the political space it appears that the Labour party is becoming the broad church, attracted the disaffected and disillusioned of other parties. Over the last year or so, there have been defections and recruitments from various sources to the party most notably Jerry Cowley in Mayo and Killian Forde on the northside of Dublin. However, the two most recent signups are, to my mind, more difficult to square with the socialist/social democratic ethos of Labour.

Firstly Paddy Harte was announced as the new signing in Donegal North-East. This part of the world has always been poor for left wing parties. The traditional civil war parties (all three) have had this part of the world locked up since the foundation of the state. In 2007, the Labour candidate, Siobhan McLaughlin polled less than 2% of the vote. She then polled second lowest in Letterkenny in the 2009 locals. In the same election Jimmy Harte pulled in over twice her vote and was elected to the council as an independent. This is after he left FG in a huff over the promotion of Joe McHugh to the Dail seat that Harte's father Paddy held from 1961 to 1997.

Then today, Mae Sexton, former Progressive Democrat has been unveiled as Willie Penrose's running mate in the Westmeath/Longford constituency. This is the same Sexton who fully supported Mary Harney's privatisation and co-location, the same woman who came 8th in the 2007 election with barely a fifth of a quota. Somehow she is expected to push FG for the second seat at FF's expense while espousing full support of public service and equality for all. Seems like a long way from the Thatcherite leanings of the PDs.

Maybe there have been a few Pauline conversions to the socialist way of thinking in Ireland over the last few months but I'm not overly sure that either of the above two occurred on the road to Damascus. I look forward to being proven wrong. Perhaps Gilmore as the pied piper has been able to win the rats over to his side.

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