WITH the Labour Party’s standing in the opinion polls not having received any significant boost since Joan Burton became its leader and the country’s Tánaiste last summer, she is still fighting a rearguard action for political survival, with the campaign to persuade the electorate to give them a second consecutive term in government kicking off at the party’s national conference in Killarney last weekend.
Because Fine Gael garnered most of the credit for the good things the government did and coalition partners Labour shipped the majority of the blame for things that either did not prove popular, or were not done at all, Joan Burton has an uphill battle on her hands. In her first big set-piece televised address as party leader, she accentuated the seemingly-unappreciated positive things that Labour have been involved in, such as the creation of the conditions for economic recovery, albeit done Frankfurt’s way rather than Labour’s!
Robustly defending her party’s record in government, she attacked her opposition critics, describing them as a ‘coalition of chaos’ who were in denial about the progress being made, some of whom she accused of ‘bullying’ by hijacking peaceful protests for their own political ends in an obvious reference to the Jobstown incident she was at the centre of last November.
Among the items she listed as her priorities for the remainder of the coalition’s term of office were same-sex marriage, paternity leave, Child Benefit and pre-school care. A motion to repeal the 8th Amendment to the Constitution was also passed at the conference, which will resurrect the abortion debate once again.
Political promises on their own will not be enough to win over a weary electorate.