Posts Tagged ‘Enda Kennedy’

Miliband should learn from Irish Labour’s pains

07/12/2014, 09:10:51 PM

by Kevin Meagher

The dangers of being a junior coalition partner are obvious enough – ask Nick Clegg – but across the Irish Sea, the example is, if anything, even starker.

The Irish Labour party has been the junior coalition partner to Enda Kenny’s Fine Gael since 2011; administering painful austerity measures as Ireland grapples with the horrendous aftermath of its banking and property bubble explosion.

Now, the party has plummeted to just six per cent in the latest poll for the Irish Times, down from a high of 35 per cent in September 2010 before it went into government.

Along the way, Labour has lost one leader, Eamon Gilmore, a former Marxist turned moderate, who resigned as party leader, Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) and minister for foreign affairs and trade, following disastrous local election results earlier this year, narrowly escaping a no confidence motion from his own grassroots.

In a Sir Humphreyish back-handed compliment, Taoiseach Enda Kenney praised the Labour party for being “courageous” in pushing through painful economic reforms, which now include household water charges. This seems to be the measure that has now galvanised the country against austerity.

So much so, that Labour’s new leader, Joan Burton, was trapped in her car for three hours last month, surrounded by slogan-chanting protestors. In echoes of the poll tax in Britain, today’s opinion poll also shows less than half the Irish public (48 per cent) intend to actually pay the charge.

All this has been grist to the mill for Sinn Fein, topping today’s poll as Ireland’s most popular political party, with Gerry Adams also the most popular politician in the republic. The Shinners are now well-placed to form part of the next government at the 2016 general election.

But the Irish Labour party’s problems are not cyclical. A pincer movement between Sinn Fein and left-wing independents has squeezed the electoral life out of them.  Even the Irish Independent, known for its aggressive propagandising against Sinn Fein, warns today that Labour “continues to struggle to avoid a…meltdown” as it loses ground in all directions.

But as Labour lies dead in the water, its coalition partner, Fine Gael, is still deemed to be the best party for managing Ireland’s relations with the EU, growing the economy and keeping spending under control.

The lesson for Ed Miliband is obvious enough: implementing austerity measures kills centre-left parties. So how does he avoid a similar fate? As he peers beyond May 2015, he needs to take a lesson from Enda Kenny instead.

He is navigating a political course through austerity by managing expectations and being realistic about the scale of the task at hand. By setting the ground early that there are no easy choices to be made, Kenny is showing that amid the howls of protest, it is at least possible to avoid cries of betrayal.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Uncut

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Like Cameron,Enda Kenny hopes economic adversity can translate into electoral credibility

26/01/2014, 07:00:44 AM

by Kevin Meagher

There was a glimpse on show at the World Economic Forum in Davos over the weekend of how David Cameron intends to fight next year’s general election. It wasn’t so much to do with anything Cameron was announcing, it was more what Enda Kenny, the Irish Taoiseach was saying.

Batting aside rumours that he is set to replace Jose Manuel Barroso as EU Commission President or, indeed, Herman Van Rompuy as President of the European Council later this year, Kenny was instead eager to confirm he would be leading his Fine Gael party into the next Irish general election in 2016, to continue the task of “fixing” Ireland’s economy. Speaking to Bloomberg television, Kenny said:

“The mandate given to me [in 2011] was to take our country out of an unholy economic mess that we had inherited and sort out the public finances and get our country working.

“I’m very happy that our people have moved to a point where we had a clear plan and strategy to exit the bailout. We now have a strategy to follow through on that with the publication of a medium-term economic strategy.”

He added: “That’s my mandate. That’s the trust the people placed in us, that’s what we’ve got to do.”

The message is obvious:-”We took the right decisions, hard decisions, and now things are getting better. Give us credit for that and give me another five years.” Wary of predicting those infamous ‘green shoots of recovery’ too early, it could nevertheless be Cameron and Osborne speaking after another couple of quarters of UK growth.


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