One of the biggest mistakes the right in Ireland has ever done is succeed. The ideas of free market, neo-liberalism are now except as the norms of Irish politics. Hence the Labour Party could say quiet sincerely that they still have core left wing policies and advocate a 12.5% corporation tax rate. Put it this way would a French left wing party advocate 12.5%. But that is not a bad thing.
I am despite what some people might think a centralist. I have little time for ideologies to me they are counter-productive. The only thing that should matter is the end result. Machiavellianism if you will. For instance the left advocate nothing short of universal health care indeed Pat Rabbitee mentions this in his speech. The right advocates privatisation of health care with Mary Harney bringing in some reforms to implement this. But to me health needs to work whether it is universal health care, private health care or a little from column A and a little from column B the only thing that matters is that people get better. And while the intellectual heavy weights of politics weigh in on the arguments from their various ideologies they blind themselves to the solutions that the other side has. Instead of taking the best of both it is all or nothing.
This is I think something that all the parties are missing. The normal Joe public wants the best they can get for them and their family. They care little for the ideological battles that take place between the parties. Michael D spent much of his talk going on about the “extreme individualism of the Right” and that the “left must create a politics beyond the self”. But save the intellectual heavy weights of this world few care about left wing right wing ideologies. They care about results and will vote for the party that has the best plan for results.
As I mentioned before the right has won much of the economic policy debate and we have seen the benefit of this with our growth rates and employment levels. However while the economy policies of the government may be as close to bang on the nose right as possible but there is much that is rotten in the state of Ireland and it is not right to assume that just because the rights economic model won the beauty contest that it will win the health service argument.
But most parties seem to still think that the electorate still care for left and right wing politics. Take the Labour conference the point that Labour were left was continuously reinforced. The connection with the European social model was also reinforced by Pat Rabbitte. With a reference to the ideals of the founders of the party which is the political fashion now. In Labour’s case Larkin. All the talk of “solidarity, participation, equality of provision” (Note they criticise the PD’s for saying inequality is a good thing for the economy but also call for equality of provision which seems the same to the PD’s equality of opportunity.) is irrelevant to most people they want results not rhetoric.
Rhetoric is easy results and ideas is not. The coalition despite the Governments slip in the polls is making little gains. The reason is simple. Instead of using the conference to showcase their ideas about how to make the country better, how to produce the better end result. They retreat from ideas to left-wing rhetoric waffle like “Any new government will have to address the profound alienation of many from their lives and society. It will have to implement a strategy for inclusion and reconnection”.
Idea’s not big words is what is needed, not talk of “reconnection”. Labour lost their chance to sound like a credible alternative instead they sounded like a bunch of students.