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As the dust clears… isn’t this what 2007 was meant to be like for the left? February 27, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.
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13 seats so far for Sinn Féin and they remain in strong contention elsewhere. 13! Maybe 14, maybe 15! So far 3, or is it 4, seats for the ULA. And one more in contention. A raft of left Independents, and some leftish ones too. Though Shane Ross was talking last night about unleashing a new force comprising himself and the following…

He identified the Independents as Wexford poll-topper, Mick Wallace; Maureen O’Sullivan (Dublin Central); Finian McGrath (Dublin North Central); Noel Grealish (Galway West); Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan (Roscommon/South Leitrim); and Stephen Donnelly (Wicklow).

The Labour Party at 31 seats and more to come surely.

This is all that 2007 was meant to be [albeit without the apostate Green Party, and one wonders what will happen to them short, medium and long term now that they are effectively cut off from both local and national representation], but somehow was delayed four years. It’s going to be a very very strange Dáil, one where the opposition is broken into fractions, but big enough fractions at that. And as with 2007 one element of the centre left will detach to join with Fine Gael.

And look at Fine Gael, and – in contrast to its former dominance – squint real hard to see Fianna Fáil. Only fourteen seats as this is written at ten to nine. Fourteen. Though they’ll get a scatter more.

Well, it’s a change, and no doubt about it. At least on one level.

Whether on the levels that count it will make any great difference as we emerge from our three week holiday from the economic situation is a different matter.

And what the dynamics of a strongly left tinged opposition [indeed leftwing in whole bar FF and some of the Independents] sitting across from Fine Gael/Labour are going to be and how they will play out in the face of the billions yet to be taken from public expenditure is a most interesting question.

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Comments»

1. alastair - February 27, 2011

“And what the dynamics of a strongly left tinged opposition sitting across from Fine Gael/Labour are going to be and how they will play out in the face of the billions yet to be taken from public expenditure is a most interesting question.”

Maybe the dynamic between Vincent B and Joe Higgins last night gave some clues – Vincent’s frustration by Joe’s unwillingness to engage with the current economic realities on one side, and Joe’s tirade about the inequity on the other. Neither one is wrong, but it doesn’t really advance the situation.

The numeric dominance of the FG/Lab coalition means the cut and thrust of Dail debates will be pretty much a sideshow. I’d look to SF to see if real/practical alternatives are going to play a role in opposition. It would be more hope than optimism for me at the moment.

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2011

Very much agree. This is going to stymie the ULA in the future unless they begin to structure a coherent sense of what happens next, as distinct from where they want us to go.

That said I tend to think that as such groups get larger policy accrues.

Re SF, to be honest, their policy platform is much much more developed. Absolutely fair to critique it and disagree, but we’re talking about two different approaches in terms of where the ULA and SF are positioned and however much I’m pleased with ULA gains I too look to SF to make that opposition function more coherently on both picture and detail.

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2. Tomboktu - February 27, 2011

As it stands, FF will be the largest opposition party, and will get the most Dáil time, first up with leaders’ questions, more oral questions, etc.

I think Dáil standing orders would not allow SF and ULA members (plus others) to form a group and shift FF off the top opposition spot. Even if they were allowed to, and did, they would have the obvious difficulties of competing between the different grouping.

The challenge, I think, for ULA if it is to build numbers and secure a stability for those who have been elected, is to move from a group that says change is needed to spelling out some of it.

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2011

I don’t think there’s anything to prevent a Technical Group being bigger than FF, though internal issues would make it tricky.

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Tomboktu - February 27, 2011

Well, the last time I looked at the standing orders (now, there’s nerdiness for you), if I recall correctly, a technical group could be formed only of those who were not in a political party that had secured enough seats to get a party allowance/allocation. SF has achieved that, having more than seven TDs.

Again, if I recall and understand correctly, Seamus Healy, the two PBA and 2 SP TDs will be seen as coming from three groups initially because of the registered political parties when they stood. (However, that doesn’t make any difference to their formation of a technical group if they can get others to make the seven. I presume Catherine Murphy would be open; what is known of the reason for John Halligan’s departure from the WP and would it prevent him from joinging a left Technical group?)

All of the independents, plus the 2 SP and 2 PBPA, would make a group (as the counts are at the time I am typing this) as large as FF. Would love to see them edge ahead and then use that, but I suspect the prospect of Shane Ross and Joe Higgins working together in that way would be a step too far.

We could see two techincal groups working in the Dáil: one based on the Left, including the ULA, and one on the right, with Ross at its core.

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2011

I think you could well be right re a TG not being possible for SF to join, though why would they? And I think you’re right, I can’t see Ross joining one with JH in it.

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que - February 27, 2011

TG requires a majority of the non party designated. 19 indos means 10 required for the Technical group.

Only 1 technical group as well allowed apparently.

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Jack Jameson - February 27, 2011

I’ve heard from someone who works with TDs there can be only one Technical Group.

Ant chance the discussion between Molly Maguire and opponents can relax on the abuse and deal with the political issues although I’d rather they examined possibilities and potential for the left of centre rather than problems.

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3. molly maguire - February 27, 2011

I agree with the two comments above. The economy, the banks and the national debt are all centre-stage, and unless the socialist party starts to actually engage with those issues in terms other than sloganeering, it’s hard to see how they WON’T come across as shrill and evasive. Certainly that’s how they come across today.

Alastair is right. The moral argument put forward by Higgins isn’t wrong, but it’s not dealing with the issues. The Socialist Party’s brand of politiking is outmoded and outdated, but it seems to be the only one they understand.

In terms of the election, those from the ULA who actually got elected – Healy, Collins, Higgins and Daly – are all old-fashioned gum-shoe politicians. This would lead you to believe that the key to gaining a seat is ground-floor, grassroots works. Does the ULA have the network for such growth? Is it even interested in doing such work outside of Dublin?

As an aside, what is interesting is the relative lack of a Sinn Fein voice on Cedarlounge. I mean in comments not in posts. The ULA’s presence on this site is akin to the PD’s presence on politics,ie – totally out of relation to its size and influence. 97% of all voters have absolutely no time for the ULA. Now that can change of course, but obvious attempts to hide one’s ignorance of how an economy works and how banks work is not going to do it.

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4. ejh - February 27, 2011

97% of all voters have absolutely no time for the ULA.

What a remarkably silly comment.

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molly maguire - February 27, 2011

Why?

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ejh - February 27, 2011

Well, perhaps you could explain your basis for selecting that figure.

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molly maguire - February 27, 2011

Well why don’t you tell me why you thought it was silly in the first place?

Or do you treat all of your comments like they are chess moves?

You butted in, you explain yourself my friend.

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ejh - February 27, 2011

I was hoping to help you to understand why it was silly. But it’s OK, I don’t have to, I have other things to do.

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molly maguire - February 27, 2011

Thought so.

You were hoping I’d play along until it was time for knight takes bishop, but now that I’ve scuppered your game-plan you’re scarpering.

wonderful.

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molly maguire - February 27, 2011

By the way, how come you didn’t have better things to do when you read my comment, but when asked to explain yourself, suddenly there’s hoovering to be done?

Knight takes bishop indeed.

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ejh - February 27, 2011

I have time for discussion, but not, I’m afraid, for foolishness. Life’s like that sometimes.

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molly maguire - February 27, 2011

So. your plan was to tell me I made a remarkably silly comment and then wait for me to be bowled over by the power of such rhetoric, was it?

How does that usually work out for you in the real world, when you’re dealing with actual real people?

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molly maguire - February 27, 2011

Oh. by the way:

“What a remarkably silly comment.”

Is this your idea of a discussion?

Me, well, I would have something like:

“where did you get the figure from?”

or

“Are you sure about that?”

or

“I’m not sure that’s fair. What are you basing that on?”

But knight takes bishop here goes:

“What a remarkably silly comment.”

and calls that a discussion.

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ejh - February 27, 2011

But knight takes bishop here goes:

“What a remarkably silly comment.”

I think we could lose “but” and “here goes” from the above.

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molly maguire - February 27, 2011

I bet you smoke a pipe, don’t you?

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2011

C’mon now. There’s no need for sniping on any side.

On a more substantive matter I was sorry to see Larry O’Toole lose out in Dublin NOrth East. Can’t help but feel that the FF candidate there stitched it up agin him. I suspect we’ll see a lot of that in 2016, or whenever the next election comes around as FF try to claw back support.

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5. molly maguire - February 27, 2011

Is this how this blog works? People make statements about how silly the banks are and then leave it at that, and then make comments about how silly other people’s comments are and then leave it at that?

The depth of intellectual discourse is whelming.

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Pope Epopt - February 27, 2011

MM – Good to see a new face and please don’t be put off – people can be abrupt and sectarian, but that is exceptional and less so that on many other left sites.

To answer your substantive points – the ULA are dominated by traditional vanguardist leninist formations – and many of us on the more libertarian left only gave electoral support because we thought the left-of-labour vote needed to be at least visible, and the ULA could lead to a platform for resistance to the continuity-FF/Labour government coming into being. Some thought electoralism was a blind alley, and I can see where they are coming from, even though I mildly disagree with them.

On the SF presence, I agree. Some left SF supporters post here, but I would like to see more. Here in our constituency of Sligo / North Leitrim the SF candidate was tipped over the finishing line by the energy and organisational abilities of one activist from a (non-Irish) hardcore radical union organising background (shout out to Randy – why not?) So IMO it’s unwise to dismiss SF’s move to the left as pure posture.

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molly maguire - February 27, 2011

Thanks Pope Epopt.

I’ve heard this argument a lot, that Sinn Fein’s left-wing analysis is merely posturing. Yet, in Ireland surely the sure-fire way of not getting elected is to take a left-wing posture?

Fine Gael and Labour attracted nearly 55 % of the vote by saying nothing. A cynic would say that that is the way to go, yet Sinn Fein have taken a different route – much harder and much longer. Why go through all of that just for a posture? Why not go the way of New Labour and promise people everything but use vague well-sounding words to do so?

There is little doubt that there is a strong left-wing presence in Sinn Fein. Not only that, the every-day struggle helps not only to radicalise but to deepen the commitment to radical alternatives.

This has hardly been a break-through for the Socialist Party/PBP, and maybe that should be reflected upon.

Clare Daly finally got the seat that was in all probability robbed from her in 2007, Richard Boyd Barret is in the same position as 2007, instead he’s fighting with Labour instead of the Greens for the last seat. Seamus Healy has regained a seat he lost in 2002.

The real success has been joan collins. wonderful news in itself, but again that’s years of back-breaking ground-work.

My concern is on sites like this one, it seems that anything that approaches a mainstream left viewpoint, or one that points out the mouse that roared element of the ULA, gets shouted down. And the lack of a Sinn Fein voice on this site, in comments I mean, probably points to what they think about sites like this one. They’ve won 13 seats, are going to win two more, and have done so with a mainstream left-wing programme and with people like Pearse Doherty who so plainly know what they are talking about.

The ULA response? Joe Higgins on Vincent Browne incapable of explaining who international finance works, but still criticising it as unfair, and a one-seat victory in joan Collins that has been replicated by Sinn Fein in ten different constituencies but will probably be dismissed in the same terms as above – they are not ‘real’ left-wingers and anyone who thinks otherwise is just silly.

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2011

Should add, I certainly don’t think SF’s left-wing analysis is posturing. Coming from a WP/DL background it’s clearly further right-wards than that I’d have known, but it seems to me to be somewhere between traditioanl social democracy and democratic socialism, and that’s more than fine in my book.

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molly maguire - February 27, 2011

That would be the DL of such people like Pat Rabbitte and Eamon Gilmore?
:)

(This is a joke, please don’t jump on my back.)

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2011

Unfortunately yes. But I saw the light and left them before they went into coalition with Fine Gael and the LP.

My major gripe? Well primarily that they were unreasoning in their view of the Peace Process and SF given their own history.

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que - February 27, 2011

Molly,

you’ve put forward a view which i have long argued. That the further left in Ireland (all of it) was attempting to push forward its project in a way that was self-defeating and failing to respond and evolve to the modern world (to put it bluntly).

I commended the formation of the ULA as being a response to the further left’s failings and am glad to see they did well. I am thrilled to see SF ending with 14-15 seats.

Left wing analysis needs to be over hauled and reworked. Instead of one final push or the third way it needed to be remade for 21st century ireland.

the left is maturing in Ireland. Seems positive future.

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Mark P - February 27, 2011

There’s something genuinely beautiful and touching about Molly’s whining. His/her party gets its best ever result, but deep down, s/he can’t fully enjoy it because the real left also did well.

If you think that there isn’t enough of a Sinn Fein presence here, then by all means provide more of a presence. If you do, you’ll have to put up with being criticised from the left, something Provos have never been very good at dealing with, but unfortunately you are going to have to learn to live with that. The ULA has won more seats on this occasion than SF managed at the last election. We aren’t going away you know.

Finally on the issue of not understanding finance, here’s left wing radical Martin McGuinness on the subject of PPP/PFI privatisation schemes:

“PFI contracts highlight the opportunities for partnership with the private sector in the pursuit of good value for money and the effective use of resources to meet the needs of schools.”

“It is now clear that PFI does offer real potential for value for money solutions to the pressing capital investment needs of our schools generally. My Department will, over the coming months, be consulting with schools authorities and other interested bodies, on its plans for the extended future use of PFI in conjunction with conventional capital new starts”.

“My Department has proved that PPP is a viable method of procuring facilities for young people – just last month the last of four pathfinder projects opened its doors to pupils. My Department will continue to work with school authorities to ensure that the best use can be made of PPP in tackling the backlog in the schools estate. Building on last year’s PPP announcement, I have decided to include two PPP clusters in this year’s capital programme. This will be subject to a value for money deal being secured with the private sector.”

“This is a challenging but exciting project, which will for the first time bring together controlled and integrated school sectors working together within PPP to procure new facilities without in any way compromising the ethos or management of the individual schools and I would hope to pursue this approach further in the future.”

“These two clusters represent new approaches to using PPP and I believe that the Department and the school authorities should continue to explore the opportunities provided by PPP.”

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molly maguire - February 27, 2011

What party am I a member of?

Is this common on this site? Just call everyone a sinn fein supporter and be done with it?

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Mark P - February 27, 2011

I neither know nor care in the slightest what party you are a member of. Your posts here have been dripping with admiration for Sinn Fein, so I responded to you as Sinn Fein supporter.

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molly maguire - February 27, 2011

But not to the points I made about Joe Higgins on Vincent Browne.

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molly maguire - February 27, 2011

you know what, you win.

Cedarlounge is yours to enjoy.

Sorry I dropped by now, but at least I know what to expect here.

Won’t be here again.

Goodbye.

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Mark P - February 27, 2011

I didn’t see Joe on Vincent’s programme and so am hardly in a position to comment on what he did or didn’t say.

As for your abrupt departure, if you can’t take someone disagreeing with you without storming off in a huff, I’m afraid you will find the internet as a whole a very difficult place. This is much less of a bear pit than the vast majority of sites where politics are discussed.

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6. WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2011

There are a few SF members who comment on here. It would be nice to have an SF contributor, our last for personal/work reasons had to stop a few years back.

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molly maguire - February 27, 2011

oh. ok.

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que - February 27, 2011

Molly,

I’ll be your friend

there are a few like minded people here ;)

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7. Michael Carley - February 27, 2011

“I’ve heard this argument a lot, that Sinn Fein’s left-wing analysis is merely posturing. Yet, in Ireland surely the sure-fire way of not getting elected is to take a left-wing posture?”

The argument against this is that there is no point being elected unless you have a left wing programme and SF don’t, as demonstrated by what has happened in the one jurisdiction where they hold office.

“Fine Gael and Labour attracted nearly 55 % of the vote by saying nothing. A cynic would say that that is the way to go, yet Sinn Fein have taken a different route – much harder and much longer. Why go through all of that just for a posture? Why not go the way of New Labour and promise people everything but use vague well-sounding words to do so?”

The obvious answer to this is to look at New Labour’s record in office.

“There is little doubt that there is a strong left-wing presence in Sinn Fein.”

There is plenty of doubt: there is no real left wing programme and the left wing activists, especially in Dublin, have left the party. Compare Mary Lou McDonald and Cbristy Burke.

“Not only that, the every-day struggle helps not only to radicalise but to deepen the commitment to radical alternatives.”

What struggle? If you decide to operate on a platform of saying nothing much, you cannot help to lead or organize any struggle.

“This has hardly been a break-through for the Socialist Party/PBP, and maybe that should be reflected upon.”

Declaration of interest: I was a member of the SP in Ireland until I moved to the UK ten years ago and I am a member here. The SP results have been pretty good: Joe and Clare in, Micks Murphy and Barry building up support. From a very low base, the party has steadily built up support to where SF were a few years ago. If it plays its hand well (and there is an important decision to be made on who replaces Joe in Europe), it can be in a position to be a major part of the opposition to the programme FG and Labour are going to implement. These are no times for saying nothing.

Re Clare Daly, RBB, Seamus Healy, Joan Collins: that is four genuinely left TDs in the Dail, better than SF had a few years ago, and with no Greens to draw off the `radical’ vote.

As for the `silly’ comment: ULA has taken about 3% of first preferences, running in half the constituencies. So you might reasonably say that 94% of voters have no time for the ULA but that also ignores people who gave lower preference votes to ULA candidates or who are sympathetic but didn’t vote ULA. So your figure of 97% was silly.

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molly maguire - February 27, 2011

ok, so I should have said 90% have absolutely no time then, is it?

97 per cent = silly.
92 per cent = reasonable comment

Is this the rabbit hole you want to go down?

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alastair - February 27, 2011

Have to say that I was a bit taken aback at Christy Burke’s poor showing this time out – a bit over half his GE percentage he’d previously managed under SF, and even worse compared to 2009. But then Maureen O’Sullivan is down considerably from her by-election percentage too.

The O’Sullivan drop ensured that none of my transfers went anywhere, which is a bit of a bummer.

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Worldbystorm - February 27, 2011

It’s an odd election in that way, did you see how poorly Nicky Kelly did in Wicklow as an Indo after running for Labour once or twice

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Worldbystorm - February 27, 2011

Should add cieran perrys vote was lower than expected by some

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alastair - February 27, 2011

I believe that there’s been a bit of a Nicky Kelly backlash on foot of his drink/driving problems. Maybe he just doesn’t have the staunch Jim McDaid style support base?

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Mark P - February 27, 2011

Perry’s vote was certainly lower that I expected. There were first time far left candidates without anything like his record of work getting more votes. I will admit to being a bit disappointed by his showing. And that of Steenson.

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2011

I think if they both see this as a flag flying operation then they shouldn’t be too disheartened. The Locals are drawing closer and in both instances this provides a further extension of their bases.

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Michael Carley - February 27, 2011

No, it’s not. First, talking about any percentage is a bit pointless: we don’t know what percentage of people have `time’ for ULA/SP/SWP/PBP/whatever. That goes both ways. We shouldn’t fool ourselves that there is some massive pool of voters who are only waiting for the right leaflet to be put in their hands but we shouldn’t be so defeatist as to think that people can’t be convinced that there is an alternative. My own experience is not that people have no time for us (on the left generally) but that they think there is no hope. Our job is to work on showing that an alternative is possible.

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2011

Christy Burke certainly doesn’t strike me as a good example of the ‘left’ in SF. Now I want to say I have enormous respect for his work across decades when it was neither popular nor profitable for SF, but ‘left’? Not so much.

I agree Molly Maguire’s points about 97% aren’t necessarily a deal-breaker (nor is giving out to ejh re chess), but SF has never claimed to be a marxist party, so to complain it’s not a marxist party seems to be a little unfair.

By any measure it’s Election manifesto and party policies are sharply to the left of the Labour Party, both as it – the LP – is now and as it was when Militant was a member of it. By that standard it clearly is a left wing party.

And the a central failing of the ULA, and I am dubious about criticising them on this a very very good day indeed for them, and rightly so, is that their programme is simply far too underdeveloped in terms of the issues I outline above.

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que - February 27, 2011

well as i’ve noted before I have many issues with the SP and SWP but applaud them for setting up the ULA.

That said i find their lack of detail in policy terribly remiss. They dont have policy documents but rather posts on policy.

I’ll switch to a grouping who I would respect (if not agree with their approach) – Éirigi. They have made a mistake that is typical of the left. A type of obsessive compulsive need to restate its ideological committment.

Eirigi’s from socialiasm alone policy document ends up being a mish mash. Its an eloquent argument on why socialism can solve Ireland’s problems and occasionally touches on policy issues. But its not a policy document just another theoretical paper.

There should have been 2 documents. (1) Why Socialism alone can save us ; (2) our policies.

Would that not have been better? We know they are socialist. Why did it have to be reexplained? And if it had to be explained should that not have been separate to its policy document.

As I said its a type of monomania which does not further their project

http://www.eirigi.org/pdfs/socialism.pdf

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anon-anon - February 28, 2011

“The argument against this is that there is no point being elected unless you have a left wing programme and SF don’t, as demonstrated by what has happened in the one jurisdiction where they hold office.”

(Context = SF’s involvement in 6 county budget cuts)

Leaving aside the obvious issue of structural institution arrangements which are uniquely binding to the parties involved in the 6 counties, there is a more fundamental issue highlighted here by SF’s situation there and a situation which those of us on the left in the 26 might take heed.

When you lose/fail to regain economic sovereignty, you cannot implement an economic policy. You have no control over the purse. Hence, You have no control over the direction of policy. This is the essence of modern politics.

SF’s weakness from the start of their political program was an almost complete lack of understanding of how economics/finance works in a macro sense with regard to governance. It didn’t seem to inform their negotiations with a foreign state, and was sadly lacking in their analysis of 26 politics. This deficiency was highlighted by Irish Labour initially. It correctly impacted on their electorial stance in 2007 and beyond.

Since 2007, (but it seems more like 2009 in real terms), they’ve worked on their deficiency. They’ve begun to wed an economic/financial program to their rhetoric. This activity seems to have paid some dividends during this election. They were able use standardised economic and financial jargon for their own particular agenda.

Those who’ve read some SF economic programs/proposals know their programs, based laregely on the same assumptive language used by Capitalist parties like FG, come to starkly different conclusions than main stream Irish parties who enjoy nearly 80-85% electorial support. Therefore, no Capitalist Irish party could fault their analytical antecedants, and in the end seemed reluctant to actually engage in economic debate once they understand even Adams could articulate an alternative economic/financial program coherently.

Are SF Socialist? Imo, no. But they don’t broadly claim to be. Are they left(ist). Yes, imo. I currently working on a litmus test to categorise politicos in the modern era. One of my main criteria is that a party actually promote working class people as candidates. SF do. Do SF articulate an economic/fiancial policy that is leading towards some sort of Socialistic society. Hmm. I doubt it fundamentally, but their policies are certainly more appealing than the mainstream Irish parties and could lead to better things. Do they deliver from their rhetoric? In the 6 counties – largely no in constrained circumstances. In Irish county councils where they have council majorities, yes they do with what little resources Central govt allows them to have. I currrently don’t have a problem throwing SF a vote. I’d have real problems throwing Labour a vote, and wouldn’t pish on FF or FG if they wer . . . well yeah I’d pish on them if they were on fire.

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anon-anon - February 28, 2011

This post popped-up in the wrong area in response to another observation. This happens quite often. Oh well

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8. D_D - February 27, 2011

“The ULA’s presence on this site is akin to the PD’s presence on politics,ie – totally out of relation to its size and influence. 97% of all voters have absolutely no time for the ULA. Now that can change of course, but obvious attempts to hide one’s ignorance of how an economy works and how banks work is not going to do it.” (molly maguire)

Well, well the ULA have not yet officially won all their five seats and a Sinn Féin bully is lorrying in to one of the very few fora, the Cedar Lounge, that has provided, alongside ample space for other currents, a platform for commentators sympathetic to the ULA.

It takes a remarkable lack of self-knowledge for a Sinn Féin supporter to attack a ULA leader for financial and economic ignorance. In two words: Gerry Adams.

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molly maguire - February 27, 2011

And when a sinn fein supporter shows up, I’m sure your comment will make sense.

This is how Sinn Fein appears to me. I’m not a sinn fein supporter as such, but I am interested in the left in Ireland.

But the response I get from whom I presume is a ULA associate?

Gerry Adams.

However, while you’re here, can you give me an example of Gerry Adams’ economic ignorance?

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yourcousin - February 27, 2011

I point you to the 2007 televised debate. Adams was a train wreck. Fair play to him he seems to have learned his lesson and came out Bill Clinton+ in this election.

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alastair - February 27, 2011

He wasn’t exactly inspiring this time out either – not knowing where VAT stood, or the specifics of the child benefit cuts. And that’s as he walks into the leaders debate.

At least he didn’t try too hard to pretend that he did. If he applied that honesty to the whole IRA thing, he’d probably garner a bit more respect. I’m assuming he can’t admit his active service though – given that it will lead to rather more awkward questions (or legal consequences) on specifics of the Belast command.

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molly maguire - February 27, 2011

You point me to a television debate four years ago?

The VAT and child benefit cuts is something every opposition party leader should know, but surely these are minor points, things which can be picked up in a n afternoon.

With regard to Sinn Fein’s economic strategy, what are the weak points? What is it about Sinn Fein’s economic and banking strategy which makes the ULA say that he doesn’t know what he is talking about.

The right-wing don’t agree with the economics behind it, but they don’t agree with the economics behind ULA or even Labour either.

The criticisms here, coming from whom I presume are ULA activists, that Gerry Adams/Sinn Fein don’t get economics is a reference to a tv debate where Adams was shown up by the leader of the PDs (does that mean that ULA agrees with PD economic analysis) and quotes of PPP – neither of which have anything to do with Sinn Fein’s economic and banking policy.

What is it about Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein regarding economic policy that the ULA points to and goes – that will not work.

The right will say that, but why is the ULA using right-wing economic arguments against Sinn Fein?

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yourcousin - February 27, 2011

Molly,
Yes I did as it was a huge embarrassment for SF and GA in particular. That, MLM’s failure in Dublin Central mark and Crowe losing his seat marked a crash into the glass ceiling for SF in the South. Almost all of it related to SF’s economic policy, or lack threof. I believe balrog got post of the year for his post election critique.

BTW I’m in no way related to the ULA. And I’m pretty sure I can say the same thing about alastair.

alastair,
No he wasn’t “great” this time about, but he knew his limits, and played to his strengths. The IRA thing is a red herring IMO. He added a sense of excitement to things without totally going off party line and didn’t set off any personal land mines in his campaigning. Hence “Bill Clinton+”

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9. Ciarán K - February 27, 2011

The one thing that mitigates against SF’s great results is the sense that if anyone and I really mean anyone offered them coalition they would take it. Left of centre they may be, some candidates maybe avowedly socialist in their outlooks but as a party and in matters of principle they are lacking. They would in my mind, with no hesitancy, enter into Government with whoever offered. The SF project is not principled left opposition or left voice but Government by any means.

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molly maguire - February 27, 2011

What has principled left opposition got to do with Joe Higgins not knowing how international finance works?

My point, and the point of two of the commentators above which drew me in here, is that such a response on national tv is not a credible response.

Just repeating ‘credible left opposition’ is not enough to cover up glaring inadequacies in comprehension, no more than repeating how morally reprehensible bankers are is a left-wing argument. Even shane ross believes that.

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CMK - February 27, 2011

It’s obvious from your contributions so far you have an animus towards the ULA and that’s fair enough. Yes, their ‘policy’ platform is underdeveloped from the perspective of a traditional political party. But there’s way too much emphasis on having a seemingly coherent policy platform in order to be a credible party. And there seems to be little recognition that when policy collides with events it’s always stated policy that concedes. A political party which fought the 2007 election on a platform of giving 100bn+ to banks, creating NAMA, reducing social welfare and public sector pay would never be elected. None of these elements were in either GP or FF policy documents in 2007, yet these were the policies they actually pursued, as we now to our cost. SF have a very well worked out economic policy document, costed to the nth degree and very presentable to political commentators. How much of it would survive a coalition government? Very little to none, in all probability.

What the ULA does have, which is far more coherent and intelligible than policy documents, is a principle of resistance to the inevitable attacks that will be made on working people. Furthermore they also have a principled rejection of participation in any government that wishes to implement further cuts and austerity. Principles will sustain a political movement and struggle to a great degree than well thought out policy documents, IMHO.

SF will duck and dive to the Left or to the Right in accordance with its perceived political needs. I understand that they have an aspiration to be in government in 2016 for the Rising’s centenary and they’ll do and say anything to ensure they have sufficient electoral strength to go into government next time. Which is their perogative and I wish them all the best with that.

Political movements rooted in Trotskyism will always have a handicap in Ireland. Political movements rooted in nationalist republicanism here will be pushing against open doors almost all of the time. So, trying to belittle the ULA’s achievements by comparing them with SF’s admirable showing is not a little unfair and cheeky.

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molly maguire - February 27, 2011

“But there’s way too much emphasis on having a seemingly coherent policy platform in order to be a credible party.”

That’s true – and it’s usually by voters.

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molly maguire - February 27, 2011

CMK, on this point here you made:

“I understand that they have an aspiration to be in government in 2016 for the Rising’s centenary and they’ll do and say anything to ensure they have sufficient electoral strength to go into government next time.”

The logic of that statement is that Sinn Fein orchestrated the global financial meltdown, the bank guarantee, nama and the IMF/EU deal so that the general election would be called one year early, ensuring that the NEXT general election wasn’t held in 2017 as planned, but in 2016.

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CMK - February 27, 2011

Molly, you’ve lost me! That wasn’t the logic of what I wrote about SF’s plans for 2016, and you’re response is completely devoid of logic, in any of its recognisable forms.

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10. molly maguire - February 27, 2011

“It’s obvious from your contributions so far you have an animus towards the ULA and that’s fair enough”

where is that obvious? I gave ULA a preference on Friday.

I pointed out what I see as weaknesses, drawing on the comments at the start, and all I’ve received for my troubles are long quotes from Martin McGuinness (?) and getting called a provo!

This is along with the argument that saying that 97 per cent of voters have absolutely nothing to do with the ULA is silly – what I should have said is that 94 per cent of voters will have nothing to do with the ULA!

It doesn’t matter what quotes from Martin McGuinness are put up on this site, Joe Higgins still comes across as someone who knows nothing about debt finance and banking.

If Joe Higgins said to Vincent Browne last night, in response to Higgins’ lack of knowledge on national debt mechanism, well here’s a quote from Martin McGuinness on PPPs, would THAT have given the viewers a sense of an individual and a party with a coherent analysis of the problems facing this country?

Apparently so.

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CMK - February 27, 2011

Molly, were 100% of the voters given a chance to vote for ULA candidates? You know well that the ULA ran 20 candidates in 19 constituencies. Therefore, less than half of the electorate had an opportunity to vote for the ULA. Your claim that 97% ignored the ULA is silly, and evidence of bad faith, when less than 50% had a chance to vote for them!

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CMK - February 27, 2011

Give it a rest, Molly!! How many politicians have an in depth knowledge of debt-financing? A half dozen? One of the things we have found out from the financial crisis that most of those working in the finance industry have little idea of the system works and what the products they’re selling actually do. Browne was and is playing silly buggers with Higgins, and he knows it. I didn’t see or hear once from any of the mainstream parties a policy on what they are going to do when the sovereign defaults. Everyone working in the financial sector expects it, but it’s been utterly ignored in this election. That’s what I mean about too much emphasis being placed on policy documents which cannot, by their very nature, take into account contingencies and changes in circumstance. Can you, for instance, give me links to FF,FG, Lab or SF policy papers on charting a course from sovereign default to economic recovery. The next biggest crisis, actually two crises, will be the sovereign default and mass mortgage default. Two issues completely absent from the campaign.

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11. WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2011

Look, can we not just all try to get along ;)

But let me reiterate. This is a good day for the left in all its forms, center left, Republican left, further left etc, etc.

There’s going to be plenty of time to critique each others positions over the next few years.

Me? I’m just relishing the fact that SF has 14/15 and has consolidated its vote nicely, that the LP for all its faults is up in the mid-30s, that the ULA may have 5 and that there are a raft of Left leaning Independents.

And as I was writing on Friday, fair dues to all those across a range of groups who made that possible.

Sure, it’s nominal, but we now have 60 plus TDs who self-describe as being on the left.

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CMK - February 27, 2011

I agree, and I’m bailing out from this argument. It’s been a great day for the Left, however broadly or narrowly one defines it. And circumstances might dictate a greater degree of co-operation between SF/ULA and Labour (if in the unlikely event of them not going in with FG) than is currently thought possible by each of the separate organisations.

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2011

THat’s a very interesting thought you have. I’ll say this, I saw the DL/FG relationshiop from the inside in the 1992-4 period and there’s no question that opposition can bring assist in developing relationships (in that instance not one that I liked).

Got to add to the above isn’t this sort of exciting in a way?

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12. Jim Monaghan - February 27, 2011

“Political movements rooted in Trotskyism will always have a handicap in Ireland. Political movements rooted in nationalist republicanism here will be pushing against open doors almost all of the time. So, trying to belittle the ULA’s achievements by comparing them with SF’s admirable showing is not a little unfair and cheeky.”

This is not really that valid.SF has come in from the cold. Ceasefire obviously good, but entry in government in North bad (in my opinion) as well as readiness to enter coalition in South. Statement “if we can do business with the DUP we can do business with anyone”
But this is SF and not totally representative of republicanism which like the Labour movement stretches from reformism to the left.I would submit that SF is more and more seen to be house trained so is becoming respectable. The rise of Eirigi and the persistence of the dissidents (I agree mad politically) shows that there is a republican resonance which is not house trained.I feel the national struggle is not over and in fact has taken a new turn where the formal independence of the 26 county is under threat. This means it has not gone away and that the far left can ignore it at their peril.Relating to the specific dynamics of the Irish struggles is important.
Think of Connollys dictum about the cause of Ireland.
Republican parties have been destroyed by reformism (Clan and maybe SF if it keeps in a certain direction) so have many movements that derived from the marxist tradition. The challenge is to avoid absorption.
Left republicans who are not wedded to suicidal militarism and marxist socialists have a lot in common and maybe something to learn from each other.Anti-coalition with bourgeois parties is the necessity.
Can I say during many years on the left it is my republicanism (in the sense of believing that there is an unfinished national revolution) which has given me harassment not paradoxically my Trotskyism?.

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CMK - February 27, 2011

Yes, that’s interesting. My comment was very broad brushstrokes and unsophisticated, looking at it again in the light of your response. I agree that the gap between the marxist left and left republicans is a lot closer than is admitted.

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Jim Monaghan - February 27, 2011

We have a lot in common. Looking forward to a ULA momentum where we can develop the struggle which will grow in intensity esp. as teh crisis deepens and FG frontload more and deeper cuts.I also look forward to friendly debates on all our differences both small and big. For me a large part of the momentum of ULA was the friendly atmosphere created by SWP and SP especially.The Labour Party especially is hoping for a Trotskyist meltdown where we start exaggerating differences and fall out. I canvassed with SP, SWP, independents. Comrades all. Thank you to everyone who made this possible. Let us ensure that we don’t mess it up. We don’t need another SLP.

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Budapestkick - February 27, 2011

Good to hear Jim, hope to see you at a national supporters meeting in the near future.

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Jack Jameson - February 27, 2011

I don’t share Jim’s view of SF (although I am alert to the dangers of ‘house training’ he flags).

That said, I’d like to see some sort of co-operative or constructive approach between the ULA and SF TDs with both elements (respectfully) retaining their own ideological positions and views about the other.

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Jim Monaghan - February 28, 2011

I have a lot of time for teh SF left, esp. Eoin O’Broin. But I do hear a discourse about being ready to do business. But the dynamics are forcing SF left during this Dail and probably the next so we will see.

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13. RepublicanSocialist1798 - February 27, 2011

I suppose the most obvious question is whether SF, the ULA and the left independents will co-operate in killing off Fianna Fail on the opposition benches.

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Budapestkick - February 27, 2011

Probably, even without any sort of formal agreement though it’s good that the ULA can easily join up with left inds like Pringle or O’Sullivan to form an all-left technical group. The fact that the opposition is now in reality ULA, SF and independents of various stripes means that there will likely be a significant change in the discourse. By that I mean that most of the criticism of the Blueshirt – Capital Party coalition will be coming from a discredited FF, a handful of right-wing independents (albeit with a strong spokesman in the shape of Ross) and then SF and the ULA. It means that criticism of the government is going to be phrased in left terms (we have our disagreements about SF’s left credentials but their rhetoric is currently phrased in left terms) so that will, in my opinion, really alter the political discourse in this country,

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RepublicanSocialist1798 - February 27, 2011

I’ll put a hypothetical to you. Lets say it was possible that SF, the ULA and the left wing indo’s could form a Dail grouping to deny Micheal Martin the chance to become leader of the opposition. The leader of the opposition would then alternate between SF, the ULA and a rep from the left wing indo’s.

That would deny FF a lot of time in the Dail (and subsequently a lot of media coverage) and it would get the message from this group across to a much wider audience.

Would the ULA be in principle in favour of it? (Ok i know there would be a few problems which would need to be ironed out but just bear with me here).

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Mark P - February 27, 2011

My understanding is that a technical group has to be open to any TD who wants to join it. According to Dail standing orders no TD can be denied admittance.

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Budapestkick - February 27, 2011

It’s a complicated one but I don’t think there would be a problem unless such a grouping required political concessions.

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14. “It’s going to be a very very strange Dáil…” « Slugger O'Toole - February 27, 2011

[...] says at the Cedar Lounge Revolution This is all that 2007 was meant to be [albeit without the apostate Green Party, and one wonders [...]

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15. fergal - February 27, 2011

Heard on the radio that only one technical group is possible under Dail rules.A technical group needs to have a majority of non-party TDs to exist.This creates a few possibilities.
1.An all-in technical group including all comers
2 The majority of “indos” appear to be left-wing(5 ULA,C Murphy,T Pringle,J Halligan,M O Sullivan,F McGrath?,M Wallace?,C Connolly(if elected)
Option 1 is generous,to say the least.Sharing speaking rights with Healy-Rae and Shane Ross
Option 2 could potentially confine the right-wing indos to the dustbin of the 31st Dail,unless FG go rummaging in there.
Heard Ming on the radio late last night cooing to Shane Ross…strange
Can people stop the futile arguments for a while.Let’s judge SF on what they do in the Dail.The non-Labour left has performed very well in this election,let’s see what happens next.We now have a good group of TDs thet will stand up to the rich and powerful…..

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Jack Jameson - February 27, 2011

Can people stop the futile arguments for a while. Let’s judge SF on what they do in the Dáil.
The non-Labour Left has performed very well in this election; let’s see what happens next.
We now have a good group of TDs that will stand up to the rich and powerful . . .

I’ll second that.

Let’s stop the bickering and look at the possibilities otherwise Fine Gael/Labour will be laughing all the way with the banks.

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Tomboktu - February 27, 2011

From the Standing Orders, as of 2007:

116. (1) Subject to paragraph (2), for the purpose of this Standing Order a group shall mean—

(a) any Party which had not less than seven members elected to the Dáil at the previous General Election or which, if it had less than seven, attained the number of seven members as a result of a subsequent bye-election, or

(b) a majority of the members of the Dáil who are not members of a group as defined in paragraph (1) (a), being not less than seven in number, who request formal recognition as a group in writing to the Ceann Comhairle: Provided that such request shall be signed by all such members. The Ceann Comhairle shall grant formal recognition as a group to such members as soon as possible thereafter.

(2) A group shall cease to be a group within the meaning of paragraph (1) for any period in which its membership falls below seven members, (or below a majority, in the case of a group within the meaning of paragraph (1)(b)), save where such membership falls by reason of a vacancy in the membership of the Dáil, the provisions of this paragraph shall not take effect until such time as the said vacancy has been filled.

(3) Without prejudice to the generality of paragraph (2)—

(a) if at any time, it appears to the Ceann Comhairle that, in the case of a group within the meaning of paragraph (1)(b), the membership of the group has fallen below seven members or a majority specified therein, he or she shall write to each member of the group seeking confirmation of their continued membership of the group. Unless at least seven members forming the said majority confirm their membership in writing within two weeks of the date of issue of the Ceann Comhairle’s letter, the group shall cease to be a group within the meaning of paragraph (1)(b); or

(b) where the Ceann Comhairle is notified in writing by a member of a group within the meaning of paragraph (1)(b) that such member no longer wishes to be considered a member of such group, and the membership of the group falls below seven members or a majority specified therein as a consequence, the group shall cease to be a group within the meaning of paragraph (1)(b).

Provided that nothing in this paragraph shall prejudice the right of members to seek formal recognition as a group under paragraph (1)(b).

(4) Each group shall have the right to nominate a private member of the group to present a Bill provided that there is not before the Dáil another Bill presented by a member nominated by the group.

(5) Each group shall have the right in rotation to nominate a private member of the group either to move a motion standing in his or her name or to proceed with a Stage of a Bill in the Dail. The order in which the right may be exercised by the various groups shall be determined on the basis of the numbers of members in the groups, a larger group having precedence over a smaller one. In the case of an equality of numbers precedence shall be determined by lot. Provided that a party which is a group under paragraph (1)(a) shall have precedence over a group recognised under paragraph (1)(b).

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16. D_D - February 27, 2011

Actually, the point about the far left needing to be more specific and concrete about financial and economic matters on the media is ‘on the money’. I’ve made the point myself. But some considerations need to be taken into ‘account’.

After TV3 and RTE had asked for the nth time, ‘where would you get the €19 billion?’ it should have been a priority of the left to arm its candidates with ready and detailed answers. On the other hand, there is a danger of playing the media game of focusing on the budget deficit in an overall situation of economic crisis caused by the usual workings of capitalism and, more specifically, of billions being handed to the banks and more billions being handed out in interest rates to pay for the billions handed to the banks. The framing of the question is important.

It is almost amusing to hear the constant refrain that the economic policies of the ULA (and Sinn Féin too!) would lead to economic collapse when the policies of Fianna Fáil and neo-liberalism have actually brought about precisely this. More, the orthodox ‘solution’ will not work and, ironically, ‘the money isn’t there’ to pay back the loans and the interest on the loans from the EU/IMF.

That said, the ULA or its constituent parts have actually moved to address alternative economic and financial policies in detail. I am not vouching for their perfection but you can consult the (rather bowdlerised update of) the People Before Profit’s ‘Alternative Economic Agenda’ at http://www.peoplebeforeprofit.ie/files/PBP%20Alternative%20Economic%20Document.pdf or this paper from the SWP at: http://www.swp.ie/editorial/can-we-find-money/4089 The People Before Profit-United Left Alliance produced a substantial document on how Ireland could take control of our natural resources. You can read it here- http://www.peoplebeforeprofit.ie/node/601

ULA supporters have also endorsed many economic alternatives produced by NGOs, trade unions, community and campaign groups, TASC, etc. For example ‘The People’s Budget’ from the trade union Unite: http://www.unitetheunion.org/pdf/045-Peoples%27%20Budget%20-%20Final%20Draft.pdf

Michael Taft made a point recently that there appeared to be a consensus on the left around varying degrees of radical Keynesianism. That is true and it is also a mark of the fact that the far left is not, by and large, sending out ‘revolutionary’ slogans but, adequately or not, posing radical alternatives aimed within the realisable ambit of the current circumstances.

An observation on the modus operandi of the generally admirable Vincent Browne. He has grilled, sometimes inexperienced, panellists on the details of their economic policies, making them look foolish and utopian, asserting that the proposals which the panellists are making are ridiculous. Regularly they are the same, or closely akin to, the proposals and pronouncements he has made in his ‘Irish Times’ column the same week! What the motivation for this pretence is, is anyone’s guess. Mine is that he is torn between being a radical lefty and desiring the image of the macho anchorman digging out the ‘facts’. If molly malone caught some recent episodes of ‘Vincent Browne Tonight’ she might have seen that some of the left have sharpened up and provided Vincent (often to little avail in satisfying their interviewer) with the data he was demanding. Incidentally, one of the ‘guests’ he gave a hard time on specifics was Eoin Ó Broin of Sinn Fein, and on that occasion again I don’t think Vincent was listening to, or recognising, some of the specifics Eoin furnished.

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17. que - February 27, 2011

” He has grilled, sometimes inexperienced, panellists on the details of their economic policies, making them look foolish and utopian, asserting that the proposals which the panellists are making are ridiculous.”

But is that not as much the fault of the panellists who effectively only followed the respective party line which was fairly broad and some what sloganistic.

That does need to change, and should have changed years ago. Equally the very fact these parties are now in Leinster house will cause change in the parties.

Finally this is not sniping at each other. I am well disposed to the ULA. These issues need to be faced up to and resolved for them to make thier necessary impact.

Am sure that all left parties SF to ULA will make solid contributions in the next session in Leinster house

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18. shea - February 27, 2011

political parties are made up of people and all people are idiots. no one has a monopoly on it therefore no political party has a monopoly on it, get over it. more working class people voted for FG on friday so this SF ULA spat over who is the true champions of the dispossed is a bit much. both are still minority parties put out your ideas, when yis can agree respectfully agree and when yis disagree, respectfully disagree. because while youse are wasting time fighting over nonscence the people your fighting for are googleing job oportunities in canada or the likes and when that happens you both failed.

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shea - February 27, 2011

also like to add looking forward to two fighters like higgens and adams leading the oposition. it would be the biggest of wastes if they ended up fighting each other because i don’t see how me or mine win out of that.

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19. que - February 27, 2011

agree with you. I dont think there will be that much sniping. Both groups SF & ULA will need to walk together. The media will only be too keen to have Ross and his indos set as the only credible opposition.

This is a big opportunity for both SF and ULA to build up. I dont believe the respective parties will waste time in trying to tear each other down.

I also agree with the point that FG is effectively the new party of the working class – judged by the criterion that who the working class votes for is the party of the working class. In this they replace FF. Thats a bit of realism for the left.

I dont think the left will ambush itself this time or at least I hope

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shea - February 28, 2011

hope your right. i respect theres internal dinamics and differences that they where always there and always will be, but now adays when we engage on public platforms like this the spats should be more tempered if there is a plan to work together in the future. if theres not fine but there should be, great respect for joe higgins and the SP but get a cold shake when i see that tag line on the frount of there paper stateing there objective is a socialist federation of britain and ireland. but thats where there at. i’ll walk with them some of the way and the rest of the way i won’t. would guess they get a mixture of bad taste and respect for what republicans come out with and thats up to them. where theres comonality it needs to be worked on 1000 people leaving a week, to important so really hope your right.

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20. que - February 27, 2011

and off course the FF lot but that might have to rest for a few months. but the first 3 months will be an important time for SF and ULA and better to settle in well with each other now rather than later. Better for both.

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21. EamonnCork - February 27, 2011

I’m starting to go election cold turkey already. So I won’t say anything more complicated than congratulations to the ULA. To go from zero to five seats is a signal achievement for a formation which never soft peddled the left wing message during the election. RBB’s triumph in the most competitive constituency in the state is extraordinary as is the ease with which Joan Collins got in.
I’m also very pleased with the showing by both Labour and Sinn Fein. For SF Sandra McLellan’s win in Cork East shows that the party can win away from the city and far from the border. The Meath West and Wicklow showings are also significant.
And because old habits die hard I’m pleased Labour did better than I predicted and that their electoral campaign wasn’t such a disaster after all. Like it or not, in many country constituencies in particular many people regard their vote for Labour as a left wing vote or at the very least a gesture against the kind of thing a single party FG or FF administration wants to inflict on people. I think they should stay out of coalition, I always think this, but the zeal with which right wing pundits are urging FG to go it alone makes me wonder if I’m right.
And finally let us hail the electoral magic of Cyprian Brady. As FF fell to pieces all over the country there was one sitting TD who almost doubled his first preferences. Cyprian we salute you.
Seriously though, fair play to everyone who worked hard for the left in the election. Hats off. We might end up with an FG government but the 53% total for FF and FG combined in unprecedented. And if FF can be tumbled to this extent, so can FG. I do think there is a new alignment in sight after this election.

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2011

+1

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EamonnCork - February 27, 2011

And also thanks to the CLR, it was good company during those long election days and nights.

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2011

Sent you an email, but did you get to count?

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EamonnCork - February 27, 2011

Nope. Watched it all in hotel room with sound turned down when coverage went back to the studio because the analysis would do your head in.
By the way, who’s going to make it in Wicklow? Can’t make it out from the figures.
Moment of the night was when Hanafin moved past Bacik and I realised Boyd Barrett had caught a break. And also seeing SF break their Cork duck with Jonathan O’Brien topping the poll in Cork NC. And for local reasons Michael McCarthy beating FF to the last seat in Cork SW despite Labour polling about half as much votes as them.

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2011

I was elsewhere too.

It’s hard to read Wicklow. Did you see Dick Roche has called for a recount? He’s miles behind.

Adding in I’d think SF should take 1 seat, but you’d never know with the press of FGers ahead of him.

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22. Captain Rock - February 27, 2011

The fact is there will be nearly 20 TDs who will not join in public-sector worker bashing, or sneering at the notion that the rich should pay more: who will advertise protests and demonstrations in the Dail and raise hell when the cops kick-off with protesters: who will not cross picket lines (SF were the only party not to cross two years ago). The SF and ULA TDs will put forward an alternative view to the mainstream media and parties. That’s a good thing.

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2011

+1 too.

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23. EamonnCork - February 27, 2011

And if Labour do go into coalition and are unwise enough to act as a mudguard for FG, expect that 20 to at least double in size at the next election. SF in particular have a lot of people hovering just outside the final seat. Mentioning which, I was sorry to see Eoin O’Broin miss out, he was denied only by a pretty spectacular piece of vote management from Labour. And however Ming Flanagan and Mick Wallace pan out, the fact remains that their election, and that of Richard Boyd Barrett and Sandra McLellan, means that the Dail looks a bit more like the actual Ireland we live in with less of the politicians appearing to have come out of a box stamped ‘middle management types – assorted.’

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Tomboktu - February 28, 2011

I was sorry to see Eoin O’Broin miss out, he was denied only by a pretty spectacular piece of vote management from Labour.

If only. Tuffy cannot stand Dowds’s guts. There was no vote management between them.

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EamonnCork - February 28, 2011

I misread it then. Labour were lucky in that case because if Tuffy and Dowds hadn’t come in almost exactly level, O’Broin would have made the seat.

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24. Captain Rock - February 27, 2011

Yep, female SF and ULA TDs at last. Makes a difference too.

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25. Captain Rock - February 27, 2011

Might note though, that though SF narrowly missed out on a couple of seats in Dublin, they are not doing as well in the capital as they might. An enormous effort was put in to get Mary Lou elected, and she didn’t exactly walk it.

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2011

True, but she was ahead of Maureen O’Sullivan on first preferences and comfortably ahead of FF’s Mary Fitzpatrick at the end.

I think I said it before, Larry O’Toole was one who I was very sorry for. So close and yet so far. And built on significant work. Mind you, if he is willing to hang on I’d bet Labour will lose Kenny in four/five years time and that seat will be his for the taking.

We might see a similar dynamic in Wicklow.

Problem here is that SF’s transfer friendliness has been weak. But, it’s clearly improving significantly and I think four/five years from now could be very much a thing of the past.

Particularly in the face of an LP/FG government.

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Jack Jameson - February 27, 2011

SF not doing as well in the capital as they might.

Surely that sort of ambiguous assessment could apply to everyone, from SF to the ULA and WP?

As for Mary Lou ‘not exactly walking it’ – Maureen O’Sullivan and RBB didn’t walk it either. So what? They all got in.

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2011

You have a point there. Four seats isn’t bad for a left party. If one looks at the closest similar example I guess one could take that of the WP which took a not disimilar number of years to break into capital in numbers, but was never able to get the same spread of urban/rural TDs though at different times they did well in both Cork, Waterford and Dublin.

By any measure SF has done remarkably well, particularly given that transfer issue above. And being in contention with O’Broin and even more so O’Toole is no mean achievement.

My great concern over the past four years was that the heart would go out of them and that it was essential that people recognised how difficult it is to win and retain seats. The WP had a hell of a struggle. Why should it be [much] easier for SF?

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26. #GE11: Labour now the second largest party in the State… « Slugger O'Toole - February 27, 2011

[...] Pete noted earlier from the Cedar Lounge Revolution: Whether on the levels that count it will make any great difference as we emerge from our three [...]

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27. Captain Rock - February 27, 2011

‘Surely that sort of ambiguous assessment could apply to everyone, from SF to the ULA and WP?

As for Mary Lou ‘not exactly walking it’ – Maureen O’Sullivan and RBB didn’t walk it either. So what? They all got in.’

An observation, not a criticism. And no, your not comparing like with like. SF are a well-known party, with a national presence and nationally known leader: Mary Lou has been a major public figure for a decade. The ULA are new, and outside a few areas, small. Maureen O’Sullivan has limited resources and profile. I got maybe eight seperate Mary Lou leaflets, glossy four page jobs. O’Toole was unlucky, as was O Broin, but you would think they would have more than four TDs in Dublin. The ULA have four, with much more limited resources.

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2011

But the ULA has none outside Dublin, bar Healy who is in a way sui generis and already been a TD.

This isn’t a criticism of the ULA, but you’re not really comparing like with like either. SF might be well known, but it comes with certain baggage that has clearly caused it problems in the past. And the WP example also shows how difficult it is to win seats and how long it takes. It’s not something that happens overnight. It takes years on the ground, and arguably two, three or even four elections.

MLM a major public figure. Some might think so, but I’m not so sure. In any case she’s done something very few have achieved in DC.

Tony Gregory once said to me about parachute candidates there that simply because there were high profile TDs such as Ahern and indeed, though he didn’t mention it himself, himself, people thought coming into DC was a shoe-in when the truth was very different. This is a constituency where local is very very important indeed.

For MLM to finally break in given how so many, I think rather unfairly given the work I have seen her put in on the ground, consider her a blow-in is no small achievement in itself.

And look at the examples of Patricia McKenna and Ivana Bacik for those who tried and failed.

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28. Captain Rock - February 27, 2011

Not disagreeing- but MLM was pushed upfront by SF on numerous occasions over the last decade, is party vice-president and has been an MEP. I agree about Dublin Central- it is very tough area to break into. But Dublin is the capital of Ireland, with over a million people living there and substantial working class areas. Labour are clearly ahead of SF in the city. The ULA have the same number of TDs (if not the profile or perhaps membership). In the long run it will be interesting to see how it goes for all of them.
I see elsewhere someone has suggested that the 2007 result saved SF in the south- had they done well they would have jumped into bed with FF and who knows what would have happened to them.
As it is, I’m glad to see them and the ULA, and left independents do well.

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2011

Ah yeah, and I’m not disagreeing with you, or not exactly, just I think there are, as the phrase has it, extenuating circumstances.

That’s true re MLM, and yet, at the end of the day it’s what she does on the ground that counts. To be honest I was a bit surprised she made it this time, not through any lack of work, but more because I wasn’t certain that in the very crowded field that we saw that FF might not scrape a seat, or even the LP get two.

I think that the LP might be in trouble at the next election in five years time – though God knows what things will be like if the electoral system is ‘reformed’. That’s something the left will have to be very clear on, whether this is a good or bad idea. Personally I think it’s bad to cut the number of TDs or abolish the Seanad, but no doubt we’ll see.

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DC - February 27, 2011

Im a bit late to the conversation, but Im wondering FGs options arent a little more extensive than go it alone with Ming the Merciless and Shane Ross or coalition with Labour. The former to get Enda elected Taoiseach, but with support from FF outside to gut the public sector and make the bailout “work”. FF could try to out “rabble rouse” SF or the ULA but since their whole position is that they took the tough decisions bla blah they might be better advised to try to restore their ahem credibility with the middle class and the media by facilitating the bloodbath, in the national interest of course. :)

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29. Jack Jameson - February 27, 2011

My point isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to criticism but an observation that there are many reasons why SF doesn’t have more seats, from its ‘baggage’ (as WBS calls it), the capital’s only evening paper being virulently anti-SF, boundary changes (Larry O’Toole’s DNE had Portmarnock lashed on to it), and day-to-day things that happen to all parties such as candidates moving on and organisational issues.

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30. Tomboktu - February 28, 2011

So, could we get a left technical group? With 13 non-party and the 2 + 2 small parties, to give 17 they would need 9 TDs to be recognised:
2 x SP, 2 x PBPA, Catherine Murphy, Séamus Healy, Maureen O’Sullivan, Finian McGrath, John Halligan, Thomas Pringle?

That would cut speaking time for Ross, Healy-Rea, Grealish and Lowry. Hah!

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dilettante - February 28, 2011

Surely a technical group is just that – a technical group – established with purely technical objectives for its members?

A group which includes or excludes people on political grounds is surely something more than a technical group?
A political group, perhaps?
No harm to it if it can happen, but call it what it is – a political alliance of TDs!

Either that or get ready for a technical broup which includes Ross, Healy-Rea, Grealish and Lowry.
Hah!

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31. EamonnCork - February 28, 2011

Glad to see Keaveney for Labour beating Fine Gael to the last seat in Galway East. I can remember around thirty years ago Labour doing handstands because Kevin Dwyer got 1,000 votes there in a by-election.
Is there any chance I wonder of Catherine Connolly overhauling Grealish on transfers? Probably not.
Wicklow should be finished some time next year but it does look like there’s a Sinn Fein seat which would be a nice cheering coda to the whole contest.
Can’t see FF making any significant recovery. Listening to Carey say about how well Martin did as new leader made me realise that the party just can’t contemplate the possibility that they’ve failed. They will take that mentality into opposition and present SF with a golden opportunity to become the main opposition. The comparison with FG’s performance in 2002 doesn’t really hold water because (A) FF have done much, much worse. (B) It will be a very long time before people forget this outgoing government and (C) FG are used to rebuilding after failure, FF aren’t. The USP of Fianna Fail is that they are winners.

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CMK - February 28, 2011

What is the point of FF now? It serves no useful purpose, it might as well disband and it’s members filter off to whatever other party they feel closest to.

If we accept, for the sake of argument, that FF did its very best in the interests of the country from 1997-2011 and that resulted in the present, worsening, economic catastrophe, then any individual with a scintilla of self-awareness or reflective capacity would question themselves, their political beliefs and, fundamentally, whether they are actually capable of governing a country. FF will do none of that, of course, but will retreat into their typical aggressive self-pity mode.

What’s the solution? I think FF should be made a prescribed organisation with criminal penalties for membership. They’ve arguably been, by far, the most successful subversive group since 1922 and most particularly in their 1997-2011 incarnation. A focus for the left opposition should be on ensuring that FF never rises again.

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Pope Epopt - February 28, 2011

Hm… Predicting the death of FF feels like celebrating the death of the anti-hero in the middle of a vampire movie.

There’s a gap in the market for a full-blooded right-wing anti-furriner nationalist party. FF might go that way. I’d like to think that that constituency isn’t huge, but after a couple of years of continuity-FF and their blushing Labour brides, who knows.

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CMK - February 28, 2011

Vampire….most apt for FF.

The only way they’re going to salvage something is to do a deal with FG and, while not sitting in government, they can have access to favours and some small degree of patronage to keep the party on ‘life support’ for the next ten years. Stranger things have happened in Irish politics.

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32. EamonnCork - February 28, 2011

What Fianna Fail have stood for in the eyes of many of their traditional supporters is a kind of nominally anti-elitist populism.
This was generally something the party didn’t really believe in. A planning official told me one time about an FF TD who brought in a deputation of working class constituents and, when the official was speaking to them, suddenly rounded on him with a speech about ‘the likes of you sitting there in your shirt and tie with your fancy accent telling these people what to do. I’ll tell you, they won’t put up with it.” When the deputation had gone, the TD shook his head and said to the official, ‘now do you see the kind of scum I have to deal with.” The TD in question was in the last Dail but won’t be in this one.
FF pulled off this trick for many years but they totally banjaxed themselves in the last couple of years by forgetting that it was one of the keys to their success. To see one FF minister after another decry ‘populism’ was extraordinary. It was as though they had forgotten the basis of their support.
And perhaps Mad Ned O’Keefe’s statement that they’d spent too much time in the Galway Tent, and their equivalents, had a lot of truth in it. Down to the last Martin and Lenihan gave the impression of talking down from a great height to people who didn’t understand the complications of the economy. It was very un FF and it killed them.

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33. Terry McDermott - February 28, 2011

‘There’s a gap in the market for a full-blooded right-wing anti-furriner nationalist party. FF might go that way.’
Haven’t the FG mayor of Limerick, Leo Varadker, and Pat ’40 million Poles’ Rabbitte already tried to tap into that market?

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