'I'm not in favour of Labour becoming a Trotskyite party'

Interview with Derek Nolan, conceding defeat, looking towards the future

Bloody but unbowed, down but not out, former Galway West TD Derek Nolan conceded defeat this afternoon ahead of the first count in Galway West, but the 33-year-old is not ruling out a possible return to politics at some stage.

From the earliest tallies in the Bailey Allen Hall at NUI Galway, it was obvious Derek Nolan's vote had collapsed from a first prefereance of 12.4 in 2011 to in and arounf five per cent, according to tallies. At more than 10 per cent off the quota, there was no hope Labour could retain the seat.

By the early afternoon, news was circulating that Nolan had deleted his Twitter and Facebook accounts, something that was understood to mean he was taking defeat badly. When he turned up later at the count centre, he was however taking it all in his stride, as he told the Galway Advertiser.

"I've only de-activated by Derek Nolan TD accounts, as I'm not a TD anymore," he says, genuinely bemused by the brief storm the de-activation stirred, before adding with a laugh, "It may come as a surprise to some people, but I'lll be closing the constituency office as well."

While a collapse in the Labour vote was expected, there had been a reluctance, of late, to write Derek off completley, although it was widely acknowledged that it would be a struggle to retain the seat, which had been held by the party since 1987.

"Three weeks ago, when the campaign started we felt I was in with a decent shout," he says. "However, while I got a good reception on the door, in the last eight to five days, ewe could sense the mood turning against the Labour Party. It wasn't an anti-Derek Nolan vote."

However five years of Fine Gael led austerity measures, which public perception sees Labour as, at the very least not opposing; a housing crises with a Labour Minister in Environment; Joan Burton's cuts to the single parent allowance; and large numbers of the population not feeling the benefits of a steadying economy, have served to see Labour bear the brunt of public dissafection and anger. Nolan though, stands by the record of the 2011-2016 administration, and argues that in that time, Labour did not abandon socialist principles.

"The Galway I leave today as a TD is immensly better than when I was elected five years ago," he says. "You can see how busy Shop Street is, more people are out buying, there is more confidence now, whereas five years ago there was no hope. One of the problems is that often in Ireland, we have soundbytes, not debates, and Labour was being attacked from all sides, particularly from the Left. It was difficult to sustain any semblance of reasonableness under such a constant barrage of fire.

"However I do not beleive we abandoned socialist principals. We re-negociated the Troika deal, we invested in schools, and education, we legislated for collective barganing, and we increased the minimum wage twice. All those are socialist values by any measure."

When the full results of Election 2016 are finally known Labout will enter a post-mortem period, to asses what the results mean for its present and future, and also what the party itself stands for. With Left and Liberal voters switching to Sinn Féin and the Social Democrats, does Labour now need to go more socialist and re-assert traditional values in order to regain that lost ground, and public confidence?

"We need to regroup, reorganise," he says, "and start the rebuilding process. I'm not in favour of knee jerk reaction regarding policy or become a Trotskyite party, standing at the sidelines opposing everything. Labour exists to be in government and serve the people in government. Our opponents only exist to shout."

So have we seen the last of Derek Nolan in politics? "I don't know," he says. "I'm 33. I've been seven years in politics, two in the city council and five in the Dáil. Who knows what the future holds? Either way, come Monday, I've got to find a new job."


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