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Sinn Féin and its travails… part 2 June 30, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin, The Left.
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A while ago Splintered Sunrise made what I thought was a pretty good point about Sinn Féin and dissident Republicanism and I quoted it then, and I’ll quote it now…

Here’s the thing. It’s often said in dissident circles that the Provisionals have given up on the goal of the 32-county socialist republic. But, while you can make some rhetorical hay around them sitting in the Stormont executive, it’s not true to say they’ve ditched the goal. It’s on the first page of their programme, after all. You can talk about people being corrupted, or institutionalised by a process they thought was going in another direction, or simply worn down by war-weariness, but you’re still, in the main, talking about people who want to be republicans on some level. That’s why the parades, and the tributes to past heroes; that’s why Martin McGuinness was talking just there about winning the republic by 2014.

I think that it’s also possible to say that they also – in the main – people who want, however widely drawn we offer that term as a definition, to be of the left… Now In some respects this is a cultural affiliation, one doesn’t spend decades knocking around with leftish liberation movements of various stripes without taking on some aspects of their approach. Nor is it possible in an Irish context to ignore the reality of an history, even if a rather weak strand in the broader context, of the left Republican approach that has almost instinctively pushed the bulk of Republicanism towards that widely drawn and of times ill-defined definition of leftism. And in purely pragmatic terms, where first mover status was gifted to Fianna Fáil, an appeal to a more narrowly drawn class constituency made a certain degree of sense – not least in that such a constituency delivered at least two political groupings, Clann na Poblachta and the WP, certain dividends during the 20th century.

With that in mind the fact that the SF vote has stabilised at about 7% is a little remarked oddity. That’s somewhat higher than the Workers’ Party at their best, lower – obviously, although not by a huge degree – than Labour. That they returned about the same number of Councillors as last local election (which saw them increase their numbers substantially on the previous one) equally so. After all, neither of those seem to presage total collapse, now do they? Indeed one could argue that simply to arrive at such a point is an achievement in itself all things considered.

On this matter Eoin Ó Broin’s recent piece in the Irish Times has some useful thoughts. It’s suitably chastened, and in fairness realistic – noting that Sinn Féin had actually, and contrary to some media reports, held its own other than the loss of the MEP (a near-foregone conclusion given the disposition of seats in Dublin this time out and a strong and strongly transfer friendly alternative left candidate). That said it seems a little thin on what precisely the way forward might be and curiously lacking in an ideological approach.

Ó Broin argues that…

We went into this latest election with 51 city and county council seats, and came out with 54. We made important breakthroughs in Limerick, Wicklow, Cork, Tipperary and Kilkenny. Our European vote was up overall, and up significantly in the South and East constituencies.

He doesn’t mention that the FPV at the local elections was marginally down. Still, he also notes that this was came…

IN 2004 … a major leap forward in the 26 counties by trebling its council representation, securing a Euro seat in Dublin, and coming very close to taking a second seat in the North West.

But although:

Crucially, our vote across the State, in real and percentage terms, was up on the poor performance in 2007.

However, on a number of councils, Dublin city in particular, our vote share was down. We lost three seats on the city council and one in Fingal.

He notes that despite:

…detailed proposals on job retention and creation, and on tackling the public finance deficit. We also outlined many positive alternatives on issues such as the banking crisis, housing, health, and local government service provision.

We called on voters to turn their anger towards the Government into positive action for change at local, national and European levels.

Unfortunately:

While many people heard this message, a significant number chose the Labour Party over Sinn Féin. In Dublin, a smaller but nonetheless significant number of voters chose other left-wing parties and individuals.

He leaves the reasons he thinks that SF ‘failed to close the deal’ with voters frustratingly vague:

Why this was the case is a matter for discussion within the party. Issues of organisational capacity, access to and use of the media, and clarity and credibility of our policies and message will all be scrutinised in coming days.

Clearly, Sinn Féin has more work to do in convincing people that the need for a politics without Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael is in the best interests of all. Equally, we have more work to do in demonstrating that, in addition to sound principles, our party has the policies and the ability to deliver real change when elected.

Crucially, the positive reputation for hard work and honest representation which our party enjoys in many of the State’s most deprived communities has yet to be translated into a more general belief that Sinn Féin can and must be a party of government.

That last statement begs a question. Does he mean local government, or national government or both? I’m presuming the latter but… that begs yet further questions because the potential routes to national government are limited.

Indeed, looking at results in major urban centres such as Dublin and Cork, it is clear that there is an appetite for a political future without Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. Dublin and Cork cities now have a clear left majority, and if others are willing to step up to the plate, real change on a broad range of social, economic and political fronts can be delivered.

The others, one presumes, would really be Labour. Problem is we’ve seen Fine Gael and Labour acting in tandem in various contexts these last two weeks. And it is hard to see Labour diverting itself from its current date with destiny to lend a fraternal hand to Sinn Féin.

And that’s ignoring the further issue that as it stands Labour isn’t in and of itself sufficiently strong to take power, even with Sinn Féin making up numbers, as a ‘left’ alternative. Or so the polls seem to indicate. So what precisely is the strategy? For years some of us at the CLR, and elsewhere, have been pushing the idea of some form of left unity, but… the last two years have been a hard education. At every point where such unity could develop we have seen parties resile, for a variety of reasons it has to be said. Some have gone into government. Others have eschewed it. Others still have made moves towards government through changing policies and so on. At no point have we seen any serious moves for coordination of the left. And I can’t see that changing in the near future.

Indeed paradoxically the only way some form of left unity might occur seems to be through that aforementioned ‘make up the numbers’ process whereby FG, or less feasibly FF, might need more than one other party of the left (in all its glory – depending upon your definition) to successfully take power. The last such shot-gun wedding of Labour and Democratic Left led to the subsuming of the latter by the former (which was a certain irony for those of us who recall how bitter were the relations between the two during the FF/Labour coalition). Now that’s a dynamic unlikely to be replicated by any other party plus Labour/Sinn Féin coalition, but since Labour, or at least parts of it, appear disdainful if not openly contemptuous of SF such a coalition seems unlikely to be constructed except in extremis.

Which oddly may be quite good news for Sinn Féin which can position itself to the left of Labour in advance of that party possibly going into government. Indeed one could argue that a holding position now is the best possible position to be going forward because they will be well sorted to attract support on the left that Labour sheds if it does tie the knot with FG. And five years further down the line? Well, we’ll all be five years older, but by then SF will – I suspect – be a much more congenial political partner for some.

What’s also striking is that Ó Broin – particularly in his Sinn Féin and the Politics of Left Republicanism – explicitly articulates a clearly left Republican viewpoint, and is clearly of the party as it now stands. For some that is merely a cosmetic facade, and yet such a position is deeply rooted in Republicanism. And for all the complaints about selling out and diluting their leftism thus far they still seem wedded to a position on the left of the political spectrum. Now, that can change. But one could wonder, even quite cynically, why they would seek to do so at this point when a little bit of patience might reap dividends in terms of further electoral support?

There’s also oddities about the position of SF in both parts of the island.

And this leads to a thought that has been nagging at me for quite some time. Because it seems to me that Sinn Féin has many of the characteristics of a regional party. Now, as Ó Broin notes, they now have representation in all but one of the 32 counties, but it’s impossible to consider the current state of Sinn Féin without noticing the remarkable imbalance in terms of support and power across the island. It is, as perhaps it always has been in the modern period, concentrated on the North and North East of the island. And beyond that its reach is limited. That said, let’s not underplay the reality of four TDs and the prospect that at the next election that number could be joined by at least one or two more. It’s purchase, as evidenced by the local elections remains tenacious. But that support is attenuated compared and contrasted with the North.

Now I’m not quite comparing SF to say a regional party like the Christian Social Union in Bavaria. The situation in Northern Ireland doesn’t allow for such pat comparisons – there is no clear-cut CDU like partner in the South (obviously due to ideological reasons that too doesn’t allow for pat comparisons). Nor is it true that Sinn Féin in the South is simply a creature of the Sinn Féin in the North. But there seem to be clear structural and cultural distinctions between its impacts North and South (and these presumably will increase as time progresses and if the institutions in the North remain extant). It has also been very clear that there are no great economies of scale operating in terms of increasing the vote South of the border. In part that may be due to the simple fact that the slow drudgery of government has pushed Sinn Féin from the headlines that it dominated in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Where this leaves Sinn Féin in the short term, though, is a different matter. There’s no doubting that the recent departure of a number of councillors has been – in terms of the optics – far from healthy. The loss of the European seat leaves them weakened on a very specific front, this at a time when Lisbon II would offer them a perfect opportunity to gain publicity in a leading role in the NO campaign. That that role will now be most likely taken by Joe Higgins won’t improve their position in any respect (although I’ve never been entirely convinced that Higgins is that interested in the EU, the SP line on that matter has always seemed to me to be a bit pro forma, not entirely surprising that since they never had any direct interaction with it… Having an MEP may tighten up their critique and who knows, Joe may begin to enjoy engaging with that larger stage). Their limited representation in the Dáil and Seanad has presented them with a mountain to climb simply to be able to articulate their individual position on a raft of issues in that forum. That’s hardly likely to change.

And yet, they remain in the Dáil and Seanad. They remain at a reasonably strong figure nationally. And, looking briefly at a specific issue, while there are often quite lazy comparisons between Sinn Féin and the Workers’ Party, if we are to take local government as a yardstick then it’s worth reflecting on the rather interesting fact that in 1991 the WP gained 7 seats across the 26 counties at the local elections bringing their total number to 24. This was at the time when the WP had its greatest Dáil representation of 7 TDs. The implication being that Sinn Féin has a broader and somewhat deeper pool of support and has managed to retain that from the relative good times of 2004 to the rather more difficult period it now is in.

Their biggest problem will simply be keeping the show on the road. They will have to be seen to do well at Lisbon II – a difficult proposition given the range of forces stacked against them, and the new status accorded to Joe Higgins. They have to demonstrate a clear alternative in the Dáil, tricky considering their current marginal status. They will have to increase their representation at the next election even if only marginally, a repeat of 2007 would be a dismal outcome. And beyond that they have to if not grow at least cohere.

Of course that future seems unknowable. Is Sinn Féin likely to pick up seats at the next election?

It’s seems clear that Sinn Féin may be reaching an upper limit to its growth in the South. It’s overall vote in the high single digits might be the best it can do. It’s problematic. Unlike Labour which for decades subsisted politically on not dissimilar figures, but had the advantage of a clear concentration of its vote in useful areas, Sinn Féin seems to depend upon rural redoubts and simply not be making the impact in urban areas that one might expect it would on paper. So it can continually gain 7% or even higher in national polls and yet only return one to – possibly – six or seven TDs.

Of course TDs aren’t the only game in town. But they are crucial to a party which has so clearly time and again articulated a vision of government as being central to promoting its agenda.

And there are other problems. 2016 is racing towards us. It would be a brave person who was confident that Sinn Féin could double its representation in the Dáil prior to that date, a doubling which would only result in eight seats. Better than the Workers’ Party in its heyday achieved, and certainly tailor made for coalition, but a long way from the decisive shift to a larger party size that is sought.

So far they’ve found a niche and adapted to it. Whether they can make more of it than they currently do is the question. It doesn’t seem likely that they’ll let go anytime soon.

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Comments»

1. Mark P - June 30, 2009

O’Broin pulled a couple of little sleights of hand in that article. Firstly, as you note, he mentions the marginal rise in the SF Euro vote, but he neglects to mention the marginal fall in their locals vote. Secondly he talks about going into these elections with 51 Council seats and coming out with 54… but he doesn’t mention that they won 54 on the last occasion too. It’s just that a whole bunch of their Councillors resigned, some of whom were replaced with other SF Councillors, but three of whom took the seat with them. That same process continued the week after these elections with the resignations of Burke and Dwyer.

By the way, I think you are confusing “pro forma” with “completely disagrees with me”.

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2. Jim Monaghan - June 30, 2009

The problem for me is that Adams appears to think that SF in government North and South will actuall mean something.To us a slogan of another parety (now dead) Sinn Fein is radical or it is nothing.
The practice of their former leader/defector on the City Council is for some real politic but for me it is being sucked into the status quo. There is an appitite out there for a really radical party prepared to stand up to the Banksters. All the choice were are getting is the weak call by FG and Labour that they would be better managers than the current crew.
7 billion of cuts talked about. They will settle for 5 billion and tell us we are lucky.

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3. WorldbyStorm - June 30, 2009

Re ‘pro forma’… :)

Nah, just I always think that the SP’s focus has been on campaigns, local govt and national elections, perhaps in that order. It’s nothing to do with my views one way or another.

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4. splinteredsunrise - June 30, 2009

As for resigning councillors, my guess is that Christy will go on being exactly the same sort of councillor that he has been for the last 25 years… Dwyer did have the germ of a political critique, but how far he goes with it is another matter. In the north there have been plenty of councillors or local personalities resigning – not in Belfast where a tightish lid is kept on things, but in places like Ballycastle, Antrim or down in Fermanagh – and it doesn’t add up to anything much politically. If three or four councillors went over to eirigi or even RSF it would probably be more significant than twice that number going independent. Those women who were pushed out in Antrim by blow-ins from North Belfast were very impressive, but didn’t go anywhere in the end.

I stick by my view that in Dublin there was very much a pincer movement between a resurgent Labour on the moderate side, and then the smaller left groups doing the sort of campaigning Eoin might prefer. In the last analysis, those rural strongholds might be a more reliable base than the volatile Dublin scene. Taking a longer perspective, the solid base for republicanism has always been the poorer rural areas in the south and west.

Then again, that sort of brings us back to the old arguments about Labour’s weakness in Dublin and its reliance on rural personalities, before the absorption of DL obviously. Back then the problem was the FF deathlock on the urban working class, these days things are much less predictable.

Some awkward questions too for the DUP… maybe more existential ones.

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5. Tim Buktu - June 30, 2009

For years some of us at the CLR, and elsewhere, have been pushing the idea of some form of left unity, but… the last two years have been a hard education. At every point where such unity could develop we have seen parties resile, for a variety of reasons it has to be said. Some have gone into government. Others have eschewed it. Others still have made moves towards government through changing policies and so on. At no point have we seen any serious moves for coordination of the left. And I can’t see that changing in the near future.

Some random thoughts.

(1) Where the left has been in a position to take (what passes for) power, it has unified (however little we may meaningfully judge from the stress that unity has had in the time since the local elections). Specifically: the left councillors on the new Fingal County Council and on South Dublin County Council have agreed to keep the parties of the right out of the (actually-not-all-that) high profile posts of mayor and deputy mayor in the counties for the next five years. Particularly, the Labour councillors did not liaise with FIne Geal. (Yes, I know politics in city and county councils are not a guide to how things might pan out nationally. But I do think it is a sign of some hope that there is what is in effect a left majority on a local authority in this state. (But then, the overwhelming left majority in the city failed to unify and keep FG out of the “power”-sharing deal.)

(2) I think growing the left is more important at the moment that unifying it. And by growing it, I mean not just the numbers of bums on elected seats or votes, but, to my mind, the more important growth in the values held by more in society.

(3) Too much (deep) left unity would be damaging. One of the strengths of the right in Irish politics is that if a voter wants to punish Fianna Fáil, they have a palatable alternative in Fine Gael. (Which prompts me to wonder has anybody done the sums on the minimum and likely number of Dublin South voters who made that switch from the general election to the bye-election.) Meanwhile, though, it would be profitable to adopt the approach currently being used by the lesbian and gay NGO sector — GLEN, MarriagEquality, NLGF, LGBTNoise (though not its commentariat on the interweb): attack or criticise the common opponent (that bill) with the strength or vigour that suits your position on the spectrum, but refrain from criticising each other in public.

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6. WorldbyStorm - July 1, 2009

Those are very fair points Tim, which I’ll try to address later. Perhaps I wrote the above in a more pessimistic mood than usual.

I think your point no. 3 is particularly important and something that should be thought about by all the left.

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7. WorldbyStorm - July 1, 2009

splintered, that’s an interesting prognosis. I can’t really disagree with it at all. An SF that finds it difficult to retain urban areas but is better positioned in rural/towns isn’t in my book a bad thing per se if we also have a strong ‘left’ voice in the cities to work with it… which brings us straight back to post number #5 and the issue of unity.

That’s also telling about cllr’s not going anywhere. I’m presuming then they rebadged as Independents which is what Christy did. Christy is his own man for better and for worse… can’t help but think some of the Gregory approach has rubbed off on him…

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8. Eoin O Broin - July 1, 2009

Some thoughts……

1) The combined FF/FG vote in the EU election was 53%, a historic low only seen in Feb 1927. Indeed since Sept 1927 through to 1989 FF/FG normally took a combined vote share of between 75% and 85%. However since the 1990s their combined share of the vote has been in steady decline.

2) The combined ‘left’ vote in this years EU election was 30% (including Lab, SF, GP, SP & PBP). Again a historic high. Only the 1948 general election saw a comparable figure, combining Lab, Nat Lab & CnaP.

3) A number of left ‘deals’ on Local Authorities have been agreed (SDCC, FCC etc) while others may still emerge (DCC). If they do suceed they will be small but significant demonstrations that a politics without FF/FG is possible.

4) Clearly Lab is moving towards a coalition with FG. However many Lab activists are nervous of the consequences, but not yet convinced of the plausibility of a Lab led left coalition.

5) However the launch of initiatives like Is Feidir Linn by the CWC/CP in June suggests that there is an appetite for such a project. Civic society has its own role to play in this project and there are some signs that this is being recognised (CWC/CP – A Better Ireland is possible)

6) This is a longer term game, and in my view can survive a FG/Lab coalition at the next general election

7) The job of those of us who believe in a left alliance is not in the first instance to criticise potential left partners for not agreeing with us but to convince them that this project is not only desirable but deliverable, first locally and then state wide

8) As for SF, our potential for growth remains significant, in rural and urban areas. There is no reason that, on the basis of a radical and credible left republican platform we can not break the 10% barrier. In my view our task is to replicate the kind of challenge to FF hegemony that CnaP managed in 1948, while avoiding all the obvious mistakes of that party post their first electoral breakthrough (i.e. participation in a FG led coalition).

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9. WorldbyStorm - July 1, 2009

Interesting analysis. And that last point seems sensible. It’s hard not to believe that CnaP made a grim mistake by so doing. Of course there are many issues that then need to be addressed. How to breach the 10%. What then to do with it and so on.

I’m probably as intrigued by you as to how Labour orientates itself in the event of a coalition and what its membership does, although having seen the GP go through a not dissimilar process I’m fairly certain that they’ll go in.

That figures on the FF/FG combined vote is worth serious consideration too.

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10. big yellow taxi - July 1, 2009

I love the way some people still lump the Green Party in with the left.

They seem about as left wing as Fine Gael, and wishful thinking that behind the sharp suits and the concern for Georgian architecture there is a secret plan to redistribute wealth and a commitment to equality seems like, er, wishful thinking.

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11. Tim Buktu - July 1, 2009

I got to see the Is Féidir Linn manifesto today and was going to await an opportunity to mention one item in it, and Eoin Ó Broin has provided the hook.

First objective under section 2 “Income, Taxation, Wealth

Tax and incomes policy should ensure minimum and maximum income standards. Highest income earners should have no more than ten times the income of the lowest earners.

Can we really get that idea taken up in this country?
(http://communityplatform.ie/Final-Manifesto.pdf)

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12. WorldbyStorm - July 1, 2009

big yellow taxi, I too share your doubts. That said I think that the GP membership probably are at least somewhat of the left (I’d actually think some of their more high profile members are too). Problem is that pragmatism, of whatever form, has shaped their response far far too much. The next year or so may well be… as the saying has it an ‘educative’ process.

Tim Buktu. 10 times? So if someone is on 20k someone else can be on 200k. I’d actually prefer if the ratio or whatever was lower. That said, i take your point, it’s totally beyond the confines of our current orthodoxy, which tells us much of what we need to know about orthodoxy.

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13. EamonnCork - July 2, 2009

Eoin O Broin’s figures are very interesting, particularly 1. And the combining of the left on councils, excluding FF and FG, is a brilliant new development. I suppose the reason the SF in decline notion has taken hold is not so much that the party is losing votes or seats as that a few years ago it looked as though Sf was on a dramatic upward trajectory and would do to Labour here what it did to the SDLP in the North. That qoute about taking over down here by 2016 is an example, by now everyone would also expect it to hold two seats in Donegal for example and for Adams to be the bookies favourite to end up in the Park when McAleese goes. You just wonder whether this perception of decline, deserved or not, could turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Personally I think if SF sits tight and Labour goes into government with FG, the tide will turn back to SF as the left alternative.
And if Eoin O’Broin is the same man who wrote, Sinn Fein and the Politics of Left Republicanism, fair play, I finished it a couple of weeks back and enjoyed it very much.

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14. Tipster - July 2, 2009

10 times? So if someone is on 20k someone else can be on 200k. I’d actually prefer if the ratio or whatever was lower.

There is a body of work on the idea of a lower limit that Is Féidir Linn has proposed. (Indeed, the editor of the journal Basic Income Studies teaches in TCD.) What intrigues me is the question of how we could/ would/ should operationalise an upper limit.

[BTW Tipster = Tim Buktu using his work computer!]

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15. WorldbyStorm - July 2, 2009

Now that’s something I’d like to hear more of… and I agree the upper limit issue is the one which causes trouble…

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16. Tim Buktu - July 5, 2009

Chapter 3 of this has a section entitled “Why a Ten Times Rule”

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17. Tim Buktu - July 5, 2009

Crikey. A backbencher bill to set a maximum wage got its first reading in the UK House of Commons last month and gets its second reading in October:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/cm090603/debtext/90603-0004.htm

(guess who’s been poking around the internet this Sunday morning!)

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18. Leveller on the Liffey - July 5, 2009

Ref Eoin Ó Broin: A number of left ‘deals’ on Local Authorities have been agreed (SDCC, FCC etc) while others may still emerge (DCC). If they do succeed they will be small but significant demonstrations that a politics without FF/FG is possible.

“Sinn Féin and Labour form ‘Alliance for Change’ on South Dublin County Council”
http://www.seancrowe.ie

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19. EamonnCork - July 5, 2009

That’s encouraging news Leveller. What’s the story with Councillor Gus O’Connell on SDCC by the way? Pardon my ignorance but he’s a new one on me. It is a decent harbinger of change that even a couple of local authorities have a non FG/FF majority. Hope a deal goes through on DCC as well.

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Leveller on the Liffey - July 5, 2009

It is indeed, Eamonn.

Independent Cllr Gus O’Connell is a veteran campaigner and part of the Alliance with SF and Labour even though he doesn’t make the headline.

His micandidate profile says he’s been “16 years as an Independent councillor putting people first. He has never been a member of any political party and is an Independent by choice and not because he fell out with a party.”

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20. EamonnCork - July 5, 2009

Thanks Leveller. Good luck to Gus, there probably aren’t many people who’ve always been independents.

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Leveller on the Liffey - July 5, 2009

Especially not having fallen out with a party, as many on CLR will testify.

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21. Mick Hall - July 7, 2009

The problem with SF is the tail wags the dog, this may have been fine when the war was on but not anymore. The North is becoming increasingly a backwater, and a nasty sectarian mockney democracy. No brownie points are to be earned in the South by boasting one is a leading participant in such a undemocratic administration which is mired permanently in sectarian stagnation.

Unless SF move its leadership base south, then it will never move beyond being a marginal party there. The problem for Eoin and his comrades is this, they can write all the newspaper articles they like, and pass progressive resolutions by the bucketful, but unless they take on the Adams leadership, SF will continue to zig zig politically all over the place as the strongest political current takes the bearded one.

That a party with only a handful of TD continuously prattles about going into government, tells people where SF leaders believe there best interest lays, and makes voters suspicious they will ditch all their left principles when the phone call to enter a coalition comes, a la Green.

What is needed in the coming period is a coalition of Left parliamentary and local government TD’s and councillors who will oppose the massive cutbacks that the three main parties will be trying to legislate through.

Such a coalition also needs to demand the welfare state is ring fenced and business pays its fair share of tax. In other words a left coalition must become the champion of the dispossessed and working class.

Then come the next but one general election, that part of the electorate and the progressive section of the middle classes may have come to see that SF and its left coalition partners have earned their spurs and deserve a place in government; and they will have gained some trust that unlike Labour they will not ditch their principles for a ministerial car. Oh and how Labour will betray its supporters when it enters a coalition with FG, once a turn coat etc, it is this certainty which offers any left coalition traction.

.

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22. Garibaldy - July 7, 2009

I think there’s a lot in what you say Mick, especially about the need to focus more on the south if they are to gain a serious foothold in the south. Although having said that, the thing is that the tail remains the south, with the north the dog. I don’t see that ever changing because I don’t think they will stop being the largest nationalist party any time in the next few decades, but won’t reach anything like the same heights in the south.

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23. Mick Hall - July 7, 2009

Garibaldy

Perhaps I did not explain myself well, what I meant was the tail is wagging the dog, although it is true they still act like the dog, but it is a pointless act as the main show has moved south.

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24. Garibaldy - July 7, 2009

I think they would like it to Mick, but I don’t think it will ever happen for them. The weight will remain towards the north due to massively different support levels methinks.

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25. “Sinn Féin simply means nothing to the bulk of people in the South.” « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - July 10, 2009

[...] July 10, 2009 Posted by Garibaldy in Irish Politics, Sinn Féin. trackback In this recent post, World By Storm looked at some of the problems facing Provisional Sinn Féin, and discussed Eoin Ó [...]

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[...] doesn’t seem to me to be the core problem facing SF, although it is one of them. Instead I think it is blindingly obvious what the greater problem. [...]

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