We are still the People

Less than 24 hours after yesterday’s entry “We, the People” was written, all seems changed. The morning news cycle is dominated by the headline in the Irish Independent that “Rabbitte leaves door open for Ahern pact“. Now, there may not be as much to the story as the headline makes out, as it wasn’t until he had been “pressed repeatedly on the issue” that Rabbittee acknowledged that he “may” (not would) have to “rethink his strategy if the only likely alternative is to call a second election”.

This seems a terribly grudging concession to incessant questioning. It’s not so much a stunning u-turn, nor a Labour attempt to have an each-way bet on the election, nor even a failure of Rabbitte’s political nerve, as a fear of a second election manifesting itself in heavy qualifications falling very short even of a possibility. But, it overshadowed his announcement of the first of Labour’s  five ‘Commitments for Change’ promising one year’s free pre-school education for all children (perhaps we should look out for a commitment card, like New Labour’s pledge card in the 2005 General Election in the UK). Moreover, Rabbittee is too experienced a politician not to have realised the consequences of even so partial an admission; and anyway he came close to saying so if not last week, then last month.

However, it is a dangerous political game: as it has the potential to robs us, the people, of a real choice between alternative governments, the Labour party runs the risk of being perceived as vacillating on an important matter of strategy and principle in an avaricious quest for power, and paying the price accordingly at the ballot box. After all, we are still the people; and, in a democracy, at an election, it is for us to decide.