Eoin O’Malley (12 February 2011)
The polls are making the Labour party’s ‘Gilmore for Taoiseach’ campaign strategy irrelevant. In any case is it sensible for the left to enter government with a centre right party again? The average age of the Labour party parliamentary party is high (the oldest of the outgoing Dáil) and most know that this is their last chance to get into government, but if the party were really taking a long term view those old men would forego government now to be the main party of opposition for the next few years.
This would mean that it could not be blamed for the inevitable cuts that any incoming government will have to implement and can hold off any threats from the left flank – Sinn Féin and ULA. It would also enable a realignment of Irish politics along left right lines. Being leader of the opposition, might hamper any Fianna Fáil resurgence. And especially if the political system is reformed properly it will be possible fora vigorous opposition to make an impact.
This would require a sacrifice as Gilmore and the people around him such as Ruairí Quinn and Pat Rabbitte would almost certainly be out of contention for cabinet seats after the next election. The problem for Labour is that because of incredibly conservative candidate selection many of its new candidates who are going to get elected aren’t exactly the stars who might build the party so that it could credibly threaten to lead a government in 2015 or 2016.