Has it been worth the compromises Labour had to make?

On Tonight with Vincent Browne, Labour's Joe Costello, Socialist Party TD for Dublin West Joe Higgins, journalist and politics lecturer Elaine Byrne and Fionnan Sheahan of the Irish Independent discuss Labour's performance in government ahead of the party's conference this weekend. {jathumbnailoff}

Below, Vincent Browne blogs ahead of the show.

What difference has Labour made in government, if any, and does that justify the compromises it has had to make for a party that, supposedly, is committed to changing the distribution of power, influence, wealth, income and welfare?  

Labour will claim it has made the following differences:  

* It achieved an amelioration of the proportion of expenditure cuts and tax increases that Fine Gael had proposed, which lightened the impact of expenditure cuts on those dependant on social welfare, education and health.

* It insisted on an extension by a year of the programme to reduce the budget deficit to 3 per cent, which eased the austerity programme.

* It protected the basic rate of social welfare – for now!

But it agreed to measures that has targeted the most vulnerable: single mothers, older people dependant on the fuel allowance, the VAT increase, the flat household charge, the cuts in community employment schemes and several others measures – these at a time when inequality has deepened considerably in this society.

The strutting about “Frankfurt’s way or Labour’s way” on the part of Eamon Gilmore suggested to some people Labour would insist on a substantial write down of the bank-related €70 billion debt, whereas, at best, they made a timid request, and when that was dismissed they caved in.


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