The Labour Party ‘divorced itself from the working-class’ when it was last in Government, trade unionist Brendan Ogle has claimed.
Labour elected a record 37 TDs in 2011 and entered Government with Fine Gael.
The State had recently been bailed out by the Troika and the years of austerity that followed alienated many of the people who had been Labour’s staunchest supporters.
Yesterday, People Before Profit conspicuously did not include Labour in a letter to other left-wing parties about the possibility of forming a coalition after the next election.
It is a decision that Unite official Brendan Ogle sympathises with.
“Unite disaffiliated from the Labour Party in 2013 because of their behaviour for two years in that Government,” he told The Hard Shoulder.
“In fact, the Labour Party themselves had a consultation to do away with affiliations to trade unions - which they have now done with a rule change following a conference in Wexford.
“So, there’s a divide there; the Labour Party divorced itself, as far as I’m concerned, from the working-class and the divorce is still in play.”
He agrees that Ireland “needs a broad left coalition” but is still angry about their behaviour in Government.
Defending her party’s record, former Tánaiste Joan Burton said Labour entered Government at a difficult time.
“The country had basically financially collapsed and we were owned by the IMF and the people in the Troika,” she said.
“We had a very fierce set of rules that we were given by them, negotiated by the outgoing Fianna Fáil Government and essentially we could not renegotiate them.”
Ms Burton also questioned how ready People Before Profit and Sinn Féin are.
“As people who have held a cloak of political purity around them as ‘whiter than white’ as it were, the idea that they [People Before Profit] are now going to pop into coalitions with people here and there [is interesting],” she said.
“ For instance, I’m not sure what the position is in relation to Sinn Féin; Sinn Féin have changed a huge amount of their political ideology and their economic ideology in recent years.
“If you were to look at their performance in the North, you wouldn’t say that their performance in Government has been striking in relation to a lot issues that really affect people who are working-class and their kids.”
The next General Election must be held by 2025.