The European Parliament is a sort of parallel universe. So the news that Nessa Childers has left the parliamentary Labour Party is an odd creature to process. As she says in her presser:
Labour Party members, who have lost the whip, are immediately expelled from the PLP but retain party membership. Members of the European Parliament cannot be bound by a National Party whip, their mandate is in the European Parliament.
But her rhetoric is clear enough:
“I think there is a possibility that we could see a group of people coming together to take up the ideas and values of Labour – leaving the party and its members hostage to a leadership that appears to be more comfortable with policies that protect the more privileged in Irish society.
“The party leadership’s strategy of attacking people who are loyal to the party’s stated policies; coupled with their objection to a special party conference and objection to renegotiating the Programme for Government signals that they is completely cut off from the concerns of the party members and Labour party ideals and values.
“Senior members of the party have led the PLP to an impasse. How long will TDs and Senators continue along this path, before they reach the point of no return.”
This all feels like the setting up of a set of dominoes that whilst they might not be ready to fall just yet make Eamon Gilmore’s job of party management (whilst spending an awful lot of time abroad as Minister of Foreign Affairs) almost impossible>
Noel Whelan writing last weekend noted:
For the sake of his party and the Government, Gilmore should give up his position as Minister for Foreign Affairs once the EU presidency ends in June and switch to a domestic economic department. The leader needs to be more hands-on in the management of the Labour Party, more vocal at communicating its achievements in government and more effective at managing the Coalition relationship.