Recently I posted in response to Eamon Gilmore proclaim that Labour could get 30 seats an animation from Father Ted basically saying he was in cloud cuckoo land. But if he wants to win 30 seats he need only build on the foundation the Pat Rabbitte laid in Janurary 2006 when he said
“There are 40 million or so Poles after all, so it is an issue [ed. work permits] we have to have a look at.”
During the election Labour were the only party to try to vaguely get the anti-immigration vote with that statement. It didn’t work for them for 2 reasons.
1. It was in the Irish Times.
2. They didn’t stick with it.
Labour often wonder why they have lost the ground on being the working class party to Fianna Fail and usually the reason is a.) People are stupid or B.) Fianna Fail civil war type reasons. The reason is The Irish Times. The Irish Times is the news paper for the upper classes (what other paper cover Leinster schools rugby as much) with the columnists such as Vincent Browne coming from a private school background. Which is nothing to be ashamed of but if you are going to create a party for the working class don’t base your moral compass of the writings of the upper class. It comes across as patronising and up its own ass. If you want to see what matters to the working class (god I hate these terms) you have to see the issues that really effect these people not what Fintan O’Toole would have you think they are. Putting that statement in the Times was useless the average person who is effected by immigration does not read the Irish Times they probably heard it through other sources of media with Pat Rabbitee’s attempts to dilute it.
Eamonn Gilmore in a recent interview came out with the normal vacuous buzzwords saying “target voters on issues they feel strongly on”. On the doorsteps of the last election one of the big issues that people felt strongly about is also one of the issues the parties are ignoring. If Labour really want to “target voters on issues they feel strongly on” then immigration has to be part of their program not the current isn’t great approach but an approach that is suspicious of it.
None of the parties have come next to near an anti-immigration policy in recent years certainly not as close as Pat Rabittee did in that interview. The citizenship referendum did little to deal with this issue for people. It mearly tidied up a high court judgement. It is the amount of Eastern Europeas in the country that frighten people. The PD’s and Fianna Fail decided to let them in with out the need for work permits something that worries alot of people. They fear for their future, they fear displacement, they fear that no-go ghettoes will spring up, that the Paris riots of a few years ago will happen in Ireland, they fear that Al-Qaeda will spring up. These are real fear that people fear and feel more strongly about then IRFU/FAI must not be allowed prostitute name of Lansdowne Road.They the poles are going to come into the country and take their jobs. Leading to a race to the bottom. Labour talk about this issue but never offer the solution the people want. They don’t want more labour inspectors they want immergration curtailed they want work permits, they want reduced numbers of immigrants. This is the base that Pat Rabbitee tapped into back in January with his interview. Problem was it was in the Irish Times and he was forced to back down and not push it further. I wager if he listened to the word on the street rather then read the newspaper he said it in he would have realised that there were a lot of votes in it.
Kevin Myres summed up the public sentiment out there yesterday.
Naturally, in this unprincipled liberal Ireland, for the Catholic Church to insist that Catholic schools have a primary duty to educate Catholics is nowadays both racist and sectarian. But of course, no one on RTE would ever dream of proposing that Islamic madrasahs should take in Jewish, Catholic or Hindu pupils: in the new Ireland, the only people who are expected to bend their own rules are the Irish Catholic majority.
That’s is how many people feel and no one is speaking for them. They are being ignored by the political establishment. They don’t care about Shannon or speeches about terrorism in the European parliament. When Michael D Higgins goes on about Dept of Justice continues draconian and regressive policy on immigration. They don’t like it, they see Labour as the Irish Times readers party, where immigration brings multicultural delights of foreign food, world music and colour to the streets where they see unemployment. Labour go on about their history of Jim Larkin and James Connelly speaking for the voiceless but now they speak for the people with the biggest voices and ignore the voiceless.
I have posted before about displacement of Irish workers by foreign workers and how it is not really happening. But that does not matter in the end of the day because the fear exists the votes exist and it is being ignored. If Labour want to get more seats they need to realise this. This is where the growth area is in Irish politics. This is where the vast suede of untapped public opinion exists not in Scandinavian social democracy. Immigration it is a dirty word to talk about but on the streets, in taxis and in the pub it is one of the big issues the issue no one wants to talk about. I am not talking BNP type policies just policies to place controls on immigration.
If Labour want to build the party base they can always build on the legacy of Pat Rabbitee’s speech and talk about work permits. It would be far more effective in getting seats and represent more of the people they claim to represent then twirling to freedom. The question is are they willing to abandon their middle to upper class base for votes? Personally I wouldn’t vote for such a party but heck I wouldn’t for Labour anyway so that doesn’t matter but many people would and it would be listening to the ignored electorate which Gilmore seems to want to do. .