Labour's confidence suffered a severe jolt with the near wipe-out of the Lib Dems, in the British general election last month.
A formerly progressive party was so tainted by partnering with austerity-junkie Tories and quickly reneging on key policy commitments — such as tuition fees and benefit cuts (ring any bells Labour?) — that the Lib Dems saw their share of the vote collapse from 23% to 8% and their MPs down from 56 to 8.
The fact that deeply unpopular leader, Nick Clegg, said this was because the party put the national interest ahead of its own, when it went into a rightward coalition, will only have exacerbated Labour’s fears, as that is exactly the excuse Eamon Gilmore, and now Joan Burton, have given for the present predicament, which sees Labourites giddy if a poll puts them on a dismal 10%.
Of course, the PR system will save Labour from some of the worst ravages inflicted on the Lib Dems by Britain’s ruthless first-past-the-post system ... But, nonetheless, Labour is not heading for a pretty poll day.The Irish Labour Party, you see, is the junior partner in a governing coalition. And didn't Angela Merkel tell David Cameron that the smaller party nearly always gets smashed?
I am reminded of the debate we had on Liberal Democrat blogs after the collapse of the FDP in Germany.
I find that I wrote in September 2013:
I have been thinking for a while that the Liberal Democrats are becoming like the FDP in Germany: centrist, technocratic, without ideology.
This may not be entirely fair on either party, but the collapse of the FDP vote in the recent German election did give me, like any other Lib Dems, pause for thought.
Generally, those who are most in favour of our party becoming more like the FDP were quickest to assure us that this collapse had no lessons for us.As it turned out, it did have serious lessons for us.