The New Year is a time for making resolutions and breaking bad habits. In my view there could never be a better time for grassroots Labour members to break their old habits of engaging in political activity in a shape and manner defined by the Labour leadership. The relationship between the Labour leadership and Labour members is in effect an oppressive relationship mired by lies, deceit and exploitation. The goals and desires of the leadership (attaining ministerial office and status) are met while the goals and desires of the members (achieving progressive change, reducing income inequality etc.) are not met.
The time has come for Labour members to recognise that this is an abusive political relationship. Like most relationships it started out well. The Labour leadership talked in progressive terms using left wing rhetoric. For example in one of his live televised addresses to Labour conference Eamon Gilmore trumpeted Keynesian policies of investment and stimulus as an alternative to cuts and austerity. Now we are told by the very same leader that there simply is no alternative to cuts and austerity.
Like most relationships gone wrong commitments and promises were made that were later reneged upon and broken.
For example in February 2011 on the RTE news Eamon Gilmore looked the Irish people in the eye and gave them a cast iron guarantee that Labour would not allow child benefit to be cut. This commitment was made a few weeks before polling day when the full extent of the fiscal constraints were long established. Furthermore the commitment was given in response to a question specifically about forming coalition with Fine Gael. It couldn’t have been clearer. Posters went up re-affirming this commitment and ads were placed in newspapers.