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Meanwhile back at the Presidential Election campaign… May 31, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Irish Politics.
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Well now. It will be interesting to see where all this goes. But one would expect that this wasn’t an unexpected development for any of the protagonists. One interesting thought is how certain David Norris was that the tape – if released – would vindicate him.

Norris said that he was told ‘Presidential elections are as dirty as they get’ – and this may not be the only Presidential election to hang on a tape – even if to date there seems to be a consensus amongst those I’ve talked to on the left that he doesn’t have a hope. But this is true of all political activity except at the most mundane level. Pat Kenny made a reasonable point [bah!] when he noted the way in which in an era of Google some interview would ‘come out of the woodwork’.

But this isn’t really quite as new as it sounds. Granted there’s a distinction between general accessibility and more specific accessibility. Even ten or fifteen years ago when much wasn’t digitised online materials were mediated by the media. Now we can all go to the internet and find texts – sooner or later. But even if one has texts, as is all too clear, then we move towards the realm of interpretation. No doubt that’s the terrain that will be fought over in the next few days and weeks.

And still no Labour or Fine Gael candidates decided.

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Comments»

1. Hugh Green - May 31, 2011
2. EWI - May 31, 2011

Whatever about this (and I’m inclined to think it’s a proxy smear for the real agenda here – to turn Norris’ homosexuality into a negative for voters), I can’t see it being the end of his troubles. He has always been a loose cannon, hasn’t he?

Do we really want a Vaclav Klaus-like loose cannon in the Áras over the next seven years, particularly given the economic situation as well as the centenaries that are coming up?

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dmfod - May 31, 2011

Klaus at least was the only EU leader to try to stop the Lisbon Treaty and the Icelandic president has insisted on referenda on the Icesave deal on two occasions, so a ‘loose cannon’ could be preferable to any of the party hacks we are likely to get instead of Norris. I also think it’s pretty unfair to compare a corrupt Thatcherite like Klaus to one of the very few useful Irish politicians, at least in terms of social issues, who has achieved more in terms of decriminalising homosexuality than any previous President.

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WorldbyStorm - May 31, 2011

I’d agree entirely dmfod. Sure, Norris is exuberant but so what, he’s brave and in many ways principled.

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EWI - June 2, 2011

Klaus went out of his way to thwart the government of the day in several areas, and succeeded to a great extent. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Norris (do stuff like not show up to events that he didn’t agree with (such as the coming anniversaries), bringing politics into what’s supposed to be a neutral role.

The 1916=terrorism thing has been quoted in several places (the most recent being a Sarah Carey column in the IT in March, so take that for what it’s worth). It seems to fall into the category of things that DN says in interviews and then tries to row back from later.

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3. Paddy M - May 31, 2011

Do we really want a Vaclav Klaus-like loose cannon in the Áras over the next seven years, particularly given the economic situation as well as the centenaries that are coming up?

But John Bruton has said he’s not standing.

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WorldbyStorm - May 31, 2011

:)

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EWI - June 2, 2011

A Bruton candidacy would be an interesting trainwreck to see.

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4. Bartholomew - May 31, 2011

‘Do we really want a Vaclav Klaus-like loose cannon in the Áras over the next seven years…?’

But sure this is Ireland. If he questions any legislation, just call him a thundering bollox and he’ll have to resign.

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WorldbyStorm - May 31, 2011

Well that’s for sure…

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Spiondelli - June 1, 2011

Only in Ireland can a drunk minister call the President a “thundering disgrace” for doing his constitutional duty, a President who was exceptionally well versed in law and then be backed up by a Barrister Taoiseach who has spent less time in the Courts than some jurors.

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5. tomasoflatharta - June 1, 2011

The Helen Lucy Burke claims do not merit comment – she can not produce the tape, David Norris denies she quoted him accurately – no story, let’s move on. Treat this scurrilous gossip with the contempt it deserves.

I agree that “a ‘loose cannon’ could be preferable to any of the party hacks we are likely to get instead of Norris”.

David would electrify the race by declaring for repudiation of the IMF/ ECB bank bailout, and turn the presidential election into a proxy referendum on the political establishment’s determination to make ordinary people pay for the casino gambler debts built up by the financial vultures. He would win, give people hope, boost the left – why not?

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Paddy M - June 1, 2011

I have a vague, vague recollection of an association between HLB and Fine Gael being mentioned at some point in the (distant) past, but it may just be my imagination and my suspicious and cynical inclination. I couldn’t find anything in the Irish Times archives, so I may well be wrong.

It’s not as if FG have form with dodgy interviews in Presidential elections, after all.

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Ghandi - June 1, 2011

How would him winning boost the Left. Show me any statements he has made anywhere wihich place him on the side of Workers?

Norris is neither a Socialist nor a Republican, someone who wanted to put gates on his inner city street to keep the locals out.

A supporter of rejoining the Commonwealth and who reffered to those who fought for Irish Independance as Terrorists. A fully fledged supporter of Israels right to exterminate the Palestian people.

Typical of the trendy left to support him, I note that RBB on the Week in Politics indicated that he would support him.

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LeftAtTheCross - June 1, 2011

“A supporter of rejoining the Commonwealth and who reffered to those who fought for Irish Independance as Terrorists.”

Ghandi,

Norris refuted both those accusations in an interview with joe Jackson in 2002:

“Yet, I never said the men of 1916 were terrorists. That’s not true, it’s a slur, and it’s not fair on me. Terrorists are people who use civilian casualties to advance a political end. The men of 1916 produced the proclamation, addressed equally, in an age when women didn’t have the vote, to ‘Irishmen and Irishwomen’, that’s wonderful! But The Sunday Times had a story saying I said the men of 1916 were terrorists, yet it’s editor has apologised, saying he checked this out and it was completely untrue. And as for me wanting us to rejoin the Commonwealth, this, too, was totally untrue. Never! Never. Never.”

http://joejacksonjournalist.com/2010/09/06/david-norris-the-joe-jackson-interview/

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GypsyBhoy - June 1, 2011

“A fully fledged supporter of Israels right to exterminate the Palestian people.”

Any chance that you’d back that up? IIRC David Norris walked out of the Seanad last year when Fergal Quinn started spouting Israeli propaganda that seemed to attempt to give some justification for the attack on the Gaza flotilla.

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Ghandi - June 1, 2011

So LAC,the basis on which Socialists should support him is because he’s not a catholic and that we should totally disregard the fact that he’s not a Socialist.

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jobless paddy - June 1, 2011

Ghandi is comment-baiting. The idea that Norris is a Zionist is ridiculous.

http://www.irish4israel.com/analysis/david-norris-on-israel-445

http://www.senatordavidnorris.ie/blogger/2005/03/israel-palestine-motion-by-senator.html

The idea that he is a pedophile is also ridiculous.

It is obvious that his strong views on the bank bailout makes him a target for the right in Ireland.

But, it can’t be overlooked, some people just hate homosexuals.

where Ghandi stands in all of this, I do not know, but he is making stuff up to attack Norris, and the question has to asked as to why.

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LeftAtTheCross - June 1, 2011

Ghandi,

I’m saying that common cause with progressives requires us to look beyond own agenda at times when the benefit of doing so is to raise awareness of, or win a vistory for, an agenda which does align with socialists in terms of social gains.

Specifically those social gains include LGBT rights and minority rights. Multi-culturalism in a very broad sense. And given the WP position on anti-sectarianism I don’t see this as a negation of republicanism or socialism whatsowver, rather something which builds very strongly on those foundations.

I would prefer to see Norris as president than an FF/FG journeyman/woman, or Michael D for example, despite the latter’s closer alignment to socialism in the broadest sense. And it’s not just a base of the least bad option either, for the reasons I’ve given above.

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Chet Carter - June 1, 2011

+1, Never gave any thought to the Irish Presidential election. But it is an excellent opportunity to rally around one candidate who will actively campaign to repudiate the bankers bailout.

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Ghandi - June 1, 2011

LAC –

How does he benefit the left?

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LeftAtTheCross - June 1, 2011

Ghandi, his candidacy promotes a progressive agenda as he is a gay protestant academic who has been outspoken throughout his public life on a range of issues which challenge the catholic nationalist morally conservative orthodoxy which has captured the levers of power in this state since its formation. I’m not making an argument that his is a socialist agenda, nor one based on a shared economic analysis, but it is progressive nonetheless, despite his own socially elite class origins. Common cause with progressives is surely something which the Left should be pursuing, no? Especially when the role in question is predominantly symbolic.

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EWI - June 2, 2011

Ghandi is comment-baiting. The idea that Norris is a Zionist is ridiculous.

Norris himself has stated in interviews that he was very pro-zionist, but that he had changed his views in recent years.

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WorldbyStorm - June 2, 2011

The crucial word above is ‘was’. His critique of Zionism is not by my recollection ‘recent’ in the sense of last year of the year before that but if you go to his website you’ll see Seanad motions dating back years which are highly critical of Israel. In 2004 he put one forward which contained a statement by Arafat directed to him personally to distribute on suicide bombings. Hardly the work of an arch Zionist.

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tomasoflatharta - June 9, 2011

Speaking on the Wednesday June 8 Edition of the TV3 Current Affairs Programme Tonight With Vincent Browne, Richard Boyd-Barrett TD of the United Left Alliance also argued for a Left Candidate in the Presidential Race opposing the IMF/ECB bailout of private banks. He also condemned the witch-hunting of David Norris – more dubious anti-Norris material will appear in tomorrow’s Irish Daily Mail.

Richard was speaking in a personal capacity – I hope the ULA endorses his position.

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6. Gerry Barnes - June 1, 2011

Amazing how we are getting worked up about who gets that boring job in the Arus. Unless there’s a war (when does NATO rope us in finally?)the President, bless her/him, is mainly a symbolical figure.

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7. D_D - June 1, 2011

LAC has explained why the election of David Norris would benefit the left. On the other hand Ghandi’s arguments against supporting David Norris:

“A supporter of rejoining the Commonwealth and who reffered to those who fought for Irish Independance as Terrorists. A fully fledged supporter of Israels right to exterminate the Palestian people.”

have been refuted and exploded by LAC and GypsyBhoy. There was no acknowledgement of this from Ghandi or accompanying apology to David Norris, just implacability.

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Ghandi - June 1, 2011

“LAC has explained why the election of David Norris would benefit the left”, he has’nt he has only said it would benefit progressives.

We had these same arguments in relation to Robinson, how did her election benefit the Working Class?

Norris has made a good living out of the Seanad yet not once has he used his position to advance the cause of the Working Class.

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LeftAtTheCross - June 1, 2011

Ghandi,

Without descending into a debate on the rights and wrongs of identify politics, I would argue that “the Working Class” includes many people who are gay, many people who are protestant, many peope who align themselves with a liberal social agenda.

The argument you’re making rests on a narrow definition of working class interests.

On Mary Robinson, specifically her election as President advanced gender equality in this state. Would you deny that women constitute part of the Working Class, or that the advances won by the feminist movement over the years do not benefit working class women and are exclusively to the benefit of those who consider themselves part of the middle class?

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8. GypsyBhoy - June 1, 2011

And you advance the cause of the Working Class by falsification?

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9. D_D - June 1, 2011

There is more to the cause of the working class than measures applying specifically and directly to the working class (cf. Lenin). However, to be specific:

http://www.senatordavidnorris.ie/blogger/2008/03/protection-of-employees-agency-workers.html

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dmfod - June 1, 2011

There’s also this:

‘I believe in the good old communist maxim, “From each according to his ability to each according to his needs.” That is the way society should be run’

http://www.senatordavidnorris.ie/blogger/2008/03/social-welfare-and-pensions-bill-2008.html

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10. Ghandi - June 1, 2011

“On Mary Robinson, specifically her election as President advanced gender equality in this state”.

It only benefitted a cetain class of women, women along with men and children in estates in this country still live in poverty and in deplorable conditions and are more likely to be unemployed.

A couple of hundred yards from Norris’s Georgian residence, men, women and children have to put up with sewerage coming into their homes through the pipe work, don’t recall him doing anything about it.

All very well being “progressive” as long as it does’nt close the gap between the have’s and the have nots.

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LeftAtTheCross - June 1, 2011

Ghandi,

Nobody is saying that progressive gains are sufficient, only that they are in the right direction and that the people who benefit from such gains include working class people.

Contraception isn’t a specifically socialist issue, but would you argue that working class women and men don’t benefit from the progressive gains won by the feminist movement over the past decades? For example.

Of course Robinson’s presidency didn’t address the structural inequalities at the centre of capitalist society and economy, that’s clear and isn’t being argued. However, it did align with, and reinforce to some extent, a society-wide moood and momentum for social change that was prevalent during that era. Clearly real gains will be won only through legislation, through legal battles through the courts, through agitation, through community mobilisation. But that doesn’t diminish the symbolic importance of Robinson’s victory.

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11. Ghandi - June 1, 2011

Show me one benefit brought to my area by Robinson or McAleese or indeed any of those before her.

The argument on progressive gains is effectly the liberal middle classes pretending that they care. None of the structural changes will come about by supporting Norris, in fact they will be re-enforced.

Norris has nothing in common with the vast majority in my area.

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LeftAtTheCross - June 1, 2011

Ghandi,

51% of the people in your area are women. Ask them if the progressive gains won by Mary Robisnon and the wider women’s movement such as contraception and dovorce has improved their lives compared to the lives of their mothers during the 80s and before?

10% of the people in your area are gay men or women. Ask them if having an openly gay man in Áras an Uachtaráin would improve their lives by removing the societal stigma that is still associated with sexuality?

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Spiondelli - June 1, 2011

Agreed, Norris is for all his good works in the 80’s pure establishment. He appeals to a liberal subset in Ireland, that wants the feel good factor but do not want the boat rocked too much.

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12. Ghandi - June 1, 2011

The contraception issue was dealt with in the real world long before Robinson became President. The question of whether Divorce improved their lives or not is open to debate. The 96 Divorce Act only differed from the previous legislation in that it gave a right to remarry.

“10% are gay”, don’t know where you get that figure from. This is not a queastion of Norris’s sexuality though you seem to be making it one. No where have I mentioned his sexuality, frankly I could’nt give a damn about that.

I have raised the fact that he is not a socialist. The quotes above are from Seanad Debates in 200, he has not come out and campaigned against the current government programmes designed to impoverish the people of this state for generations to come.

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LeftAtTheCross - June 1, 2011

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_sexual_orientation

Perhaps not a uniform 10% across the board.

Maybe in your part of Dublin it’s 0%.

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13. Ghandi - June 1, 2011

The above left out the 8 should read 2008.

Don’t see any mention of Dublin Central in that article. Again this debate is about what he would deliver on a socialist agenda, not on his sexuality which you keep bringing up.

Clearly the figure is not 0% but certainly its not 10%.

Why is it that those who claim to be on the left argue that the Progressive and socialist agenda’s are one and the same? Our own experience of those who fit that category is taht they will go on to betray their class at teh first opporunity and will end up implimenting the very same policies as the right as seen with Gilmore’s new labour.

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LeftAtTheCross - June 1, 2011

The argument is not that the progressive and socialist agendas are identical. The argument is that there are elements of each agenda which coincide. Specifically in relation to Norris, that is on the issue of minority rights for gays and those of minority religious affiliation.

If you’re arguing that there must be 100% overlap of aspiration in order for groups to work together, and that common cause cannot and should not be sought, that doesn’t really stand up as a viable political approach in my opinion. And in fact I don’t think you would argue that either. So I don’t understand what principles are underlying your opposition to Norris.

Norris represents an inclusive vision of society. Not a socialist one for sure, but one which is far preferable in so far as it goes when compared to the visions which would be represented by Mairead McGuinness, yer man Gallagher is it from Dragon’s Den, John Bruton, or any of the other potential FF/FG/LP nominees that have been mentioned to date.

Perhaps you don’t agree that such a vision is a positive one?

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14. Captain Rock - June 1, 2011

‘A fully fledged supporter of Israels right to exterminate the Palestian people.’

That bit’s just completely made-up.

He also annoyed Senator Harris a few times, which brings him up in my estimation.

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15. sonofstan - June 1, 2011

David would electrify the race by declaring for repudiation of the IMF/ ECB bank bailout, and turn the presidential election into a proxy referendum on the political establishment’s determination to make ordinary people pay for the casino gambler debts built up by the financial vultures. He would win, give people hope, boost the left – why not?

Is he likely to do that?

It’s a great idea, turning the presidential election into such a referendum. If Norris isn’t that candidate, then the means exists to run an anti-consensus candidate: SF + ULA + 2 other TDs = 20 member of the Oireactas needed for a nomination.

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Chet Carter - June 1, 2011

It is a great idea and SF + ULA should work together to make sure it happens. Will Norris make a commitment to repudiate the debt? If not who has the public profile to be a unifying candidate?

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dmfod - June 1, 2011

I can’t imagine any candidate who both SF and ULA would endorse.

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sonofstan - June 1, 2011

well, I guess SF would have to be persuaded to back a non-SF candidate, which would be difficult, and, since they’d probably have the fire power to nominate a candidate all by themselves if they want to, they can go it alone, more or less. And win 20% of the vote max. (even with Grizzly)

But if they could be persuaded to look at how the Robinson campaign benefited Labour, without her being *just* the Labour candidate (and not a party member at that stage), and how it paid huge dividends two years later, then who knows?

26% of voters didn’t vote for FG/LAB/ FF at the GE -that’s some base to start building on.

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16. Just Wondering - June 1, 2011

From the Belfast Telegraph, 21 May 2010

“A politician hoping to become Ireland’s next president has called for the Republic to join the Commonwealth

“Senator David Norris , who plans to run in the country’s presidential race, said membership would reap enormous benefits.

“Speaking at the launch of the book Ireland and the Commonwealth: Towards Membership, at the Royal Irish Academy, he said that although joining the Commonwealth is unlikely to be top of the Irish political agenda, “should it be demonstrated that this is what the Irish people wish I believe that it could be accomplished with a minimum of fuss”.

“The majority of members are of the Commonwealth, he said, were now republics, with the Queen’s position largely titular.

“New successful applicants such as Rwanda have recently joined the Commonwealth even though they were never a British colony. It would produce very useful cultural, financial and political contacts for this country and among other things would enable Irish athletes to compete in the Commonwealth Games, something which I am sure they would welcome.”

“The book, produced by the Reform Group, is a collection of articles, debates and speeches, generally supportive of Ireland’s membership of the Commonwealth.

“The Reform Group believes that the Republic of Ireland should, as a sovereign state, cultivate its “already close relationship with the peoples of the Commonwealth by becoming members of the association”.

“It argues that this would not only be strategically beneficial but would be an important symbol of a new confident state “at ease with its own identity and free from the animosities of the past”.

“Other contributors to the book also voiced their support for the move.

“Professor Robert Martin, an Honorary Fellow of Trinity College Dublin, said: “There is a natural bond between Ireland and the Asian, African and Caribbean countries of the Commonwealth. It should be strengthened and institutionalised. Commonwealth membership would be the best means of achieving these ends.”

“Author and journalist Mary Kenny said: “It would enlarge Ireland’s influence to join the Commonwealth – and enhance the sense of inclusivity in the Irish nation.”‘

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jobless paddy - June 1, 2011

god. more idiots who can’t even read.

Even the quote used clearly shows that Norris didn’t ‘call’ for Ireland to join the Commonwealth.

what a moron. Undermines his own point.

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WorldbyStorm - June 1, 2011

That’s correct. He’s clearly not averse to it, but he also clearly said it was conditional on it being demonstrated that the Irish people wanted it and that it wasn’t top of the agenda. That’s a long way from ‘calling’ for it.

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steve white - June 3, 2011

he clearly is in favour of it but doesn’t think it can happen.

look at his video reply http://www.norrisforpresident.ie/askdavid/ask-david-views-on-1916-and-the-commonwealth

he quotes dev about what other people think in order to avoid being clear about his own opinion.

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ejh - June 2, 2011

Is that the Mary Kenny who’s son is a lunatic?

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17. HAL - June 1, 2011

Is he not at the launch of a book calling for Ireland to join the Commonwealth.He then goes on to mention its benefits,not it’s negatives,but wishes to be seen as neutral.Is this some sort of way that you can raise topics with a get out of jail card.Does he often do this?

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EWI - June 2, 2011

Not only that, but he’s clearly in with the shagging Reform Movement (otherwise known as the crank end of Southern Unionism and assorted British ex-pats). His ‘clarifications’ on this (and the 1916 terrorism thing) aren’t convincing, to me at least.

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Sean O Tuama - June 2, 2011

+1

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18. Crocodile - June 2, 2011

A certain similarity between this thread and the recent Garret one. Neither man ticks all the boxes when it comes to left/progressive credentials, but Norris is arguably the least bad presidential candidate in the same way as Garret was arguably the least bad Taoiseach. The debate, as played out here again, is the old absolutist/gradualist one.
As a veteran of the pluralism wars, I have a lingering respect for both: their beliefs were not always mine – but their enemies usually were.

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HAL - June 2, 2011

+1

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Ghandi - June 2, 2011

Odd that there was no mention in all the guff about Fitzgerald of AIB writing of his loan, totally unconnected with his earlier bailout of them.

He can shaft the majority of the working class and widen the poverty gap, but hey he’s progressive so a good guy.

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19. D_D - June 2, 2011

Ghandi: ‘The question of whether Divorce improved their [working class women] lives or not is open to debate.’

You are a man Ghandi, aren’t you?

Ceist eile agam ort. What did the 1916 Rising (which I support, in hindsight of course)do for the working class? What did the people in the tenements near North Great Georges Street think of it?

“He who expects to see a pure revolution….”

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20. Ghandi - June 2, 2011

“What did the 1916 Rising (which I support, in hindsight of course)do for the working class? What did the people in the tenements near North Great Georges Street think of it?”

Nothing as the Republic was defeated, had the Democratic Programme of teh First Dail been implimented or indeed the Proclamation then real changes would have been made.

“You are a man Ghandi, aren’t you?”, so I should’nt have an opinion? – The real effects of Divorce and family breakdown can be seen in Dolphin House & Phoenix House every day, pop down and have a look, oh sorry you can’t as they are secret courts.

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LeftAtTheCross - June 2, 2011

Divorce and family breakdown are clearly not the same thing. Breakdown occurs regardless of the availability of legal recourse to divorce for those involved.

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21. Chet Carter - June 2, 2011

@Ghandi, you make a fair point that the Left often looks for victories in cultural issues and see that as progress. But being helpless in stopping the relentless onslaught on the working classes economic conditions. Women’s rights, gay rights, multiculturalism and having an exciting variety of restaurants to eat in means very little to a working class family who are on the breadline.

That being said the forthcoming Presidential Election is an opportunity to throw sand in the vaseline. The Left should unite behind a candidate who is against the bankers bailout. So the discussion should be about who could be that candidate.

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LeftAtTheCross - June 2, 2011

“Women’s rights, gay rights, multiculturalism and having an exciting variety of restaurants to eat in…”

You’re not seriously comparing human rights with restaurant choice are you?

Nobody here is arguing that human rights don’t include economic rights. It’s not one or the other, that’s not the debate. Posing it as an exclusive choice is disingenuous.

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Ghandi - June 2, 2011

But arguing and concentrating on who whilst ignoring the other is.

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LeftAtTheCross - June 2, 2011

What’s your point there?

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22. Terry McDermott - June 2, 2011

Are we back to believing that working class women don’t need/want equal rights, equal pay, freedom from harassment, access to safe contraception, protection from violent partners etc? Or that there are no gay working class men and women? I certainly know a few, some of whom would not fulfill any stereotype (including the Norris one). Or that only middle class people care about seperation of church and state, divorce etc?
That the working class equals men from inner-city Dublin?
What bollocks. I recommend Gandhi the DVD ‘Dagenham Girls’. And a night in ‘Out on the Liffey.’

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Chet Carter - June 2, 2011

Terry, LatC fair points. But I would argue that the economic condition of the working class must be paramount. More socially liberal attitudes usually stem from people having a better standard of living.

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LeftAtTheCross - June 2, 2011

“More socially liberal attitudes usually stem from people having a better standard of living.”

So what, even if that’s true, and I don’t agree with the narrow stereotyping going on here that is suggesting that only middle-class IT-reading academics living in Ranelagh care about these issues, it doesn’t negate the benefit to all in society of the social gains made.

Of course the social gains need to be reinforced with economic gains, it’s a battle only half-won if divorce isn’t backed up by mechanisms for financial support, for example. Again, not one or the other, but both.

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Ghandi - June 2, 2011

I have never suggested any of that, and did not raise Norris’s sexuality and don’t see that as an issue, what i do see as an issue is his class.

“What bollocks. I recommend Gandhi the DVD ‘Dagenham Girls’. And a night in ‘Out on the Liffey.”

Not sure what your trying to say here, but if you are trying to suggest that I have an anti gay agenda then you clearly don’t know me, as for going to “Out on the Liffey”, its a place I’ve never been but I could say the same for 99% of the pubs in town, as those who know me will vouch that I seldom venture far from home for a drink. If it was my local I would have no problem going in the odd time.

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Crocodile - June 2, 2011

‘ what i do see as an issue is his class.’
Are we prohibited from voting for middle class people now? That will leave a pretty restricted choice on a presidential ballot paper. Come to think of it, the outlook wouldn’t be too good for, say, Joe Higgins or Richard Boyd Barrett either. Not to mention Gandhi (the Mahatma).

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dmfod - June 2, 2011

I think Terry’s point is that the (now closed) Out in the Liffey was a working class gay club demonstrating that progressve social issues are relevant to the working class – not that you need exposure to gays in general as some sort of homophobe.

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23. Ghandi - June 2, 2011

“So what, even if that’s true, and I don’t agree with the narrow stereotyping going on here that is suggesting that only middle-class IT-reading academics living in Ranelagh care about these issues, it doesn’t negate the benefit to all in society of the social gains made”

I’m not suggesting that, but am saying that those not in that segment are more concerned about living in the real world, rearing their kids, paying their mortgage and ever increaseing bills.

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LeftAtTheCross - June 2, 2011

“I’m not suggesting that, but am saying that those not in that segment are more concerned about living in the real world, rearing their kids, paying their mortgage and ever increaseing bills.”

Many or most will be more concerned with economic issues, yes. But some will be facing unwanted pregnancies, domestic violence, depression and suicidal tendencies due to repressed sexuality or homophobic victimisation, or any variety of personally distressing situations that are not economic in nature but which are having a seriously negative impact on the quality of their lives. They can’t or shouldn’t be sacrificed on the alter of economistic ideological purity.

I don’t know how many times I have to say this but it’s not a question of prioritising social gains over economic gains, prioritising a progressive social agenda over a socialist agenda. It’s about finding synergies and common cause in situations such as the Presidential election where there is a realistic chance of winning a small but significent symbolic victory on the back of a broadly based alliance of progressive social forces, as opposed to either ignoring the election altogether or standing a narrowly focused and presumably agreed far Left socialist candidate who doesn’t stand a chance.

I’d prefer of there was an agreed socialist candidate who could win the election obviously. But I don’t believe that’s likely to happen this year. And in that vaccuum I’d rather see a progressive candidate elected, as was the case with Mary Robinson, than more of the same from FF/FG/LP.

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Ghandi - June 2, 2011

Again you use Robinson as an example, she the highest paid State Pension holder in teh country.

“presumably agreed far Left socialist candidate who doesn’t stand a chance”., so we should not support candidate on principle but on the likelyhood of winning. With that logic then the far left should never stand for election.

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LeftAtTheCross - June 2, 2011

“we should not support candidate on principle but on the likelyhood of winning. With that logic then the far left should never stand for election.”

The point is that on principle there is an element of common cause in terms of social progress. I can only read your continuing argument on this point as being based on disagreement with the progressive agenda per se.

Standing far Left candidates in local / general / EU elections is not analogous to standing one in a symbolic election such as the Presidential one. Clearly multi-seat constituencies offer the possibility of far Left candidates being elected for starters. And compare this to the situation in Britain where the FPTP single-seat system has largely disadvantaged the far Left in electoral terms and led to a situation where a broadly based party such as Labour is still a home to socialists in some areas of the country at least.

Horses for courses is what I’m arguing.

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Ghandi - June 2, 2011

“Many or most will be more concerned with economic issues, yes. But some will be facing unwanted pregnancies, domestic violence, depression and suicidal tendencies”

Yes but all of these have a greater impact on people the lower down the financial chain you go.

The huge increase in suicides can be directly linked to the economy, unsurprisingly middle aged males are so over come by death that that is the only way out ensuring that the mortgage protection pays out on the mortgage and the roof is kept over the heads of the wife & kids. Alos see the numbers from the taxis associations.

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24. dmfod - June 2, 2011

Norris is preferable to the other candidates, especially on social issues and to a lesser extent on economic issues, and I object to attempts to sabotage his campaign on the basis of thinly veiled homophobia.

But this is not same thing as politically endorsing him as a candidate of the left, which he is not. The ULA are not backing his candidacy and I don’t think they should.

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D_D - June 2, 2011

“Norris is preferable to the other candidates…The ULA are not backing his candidacy and I don’t think they should.”

In the absence of a candidate of the left, why shouldn’t the ULA back his candidacy? And when was it decided that the ULA are not?

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WorldbyStorm - June 2, 2011

On a slight tangent, in a broad sense I think your position is one I’d very much identify with D_D.

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Mark P - June 2, 2011

The ULA shouldn’t endorse his candidacy precisely because he’s not “a candidate of the left”. This is distinct from nominating him to allow him ballot access, which is a distinct issue and there’s a democratic case to be made for that.

I am unaware of a formal decision being made either way as to whether or not to back his candidacy.

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D_D - June 2, 2011

To rephrase, in the absence of a candidate from the Left, why shouldn’t the ULA back a candidate considerably to the left of the spectrum of candidates? Especially if the ULA nominated that candidate. Isn’t to nominate to give closer support than to endorse? Say if DN agreed to oppose the EU/IMF deal in his campaign?

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Mark P - June 2, 2011

Working class political independence is a basic socialist principle. I’m against giving support to any candidate or party outside of the workers movement in any election. I’m not in favour of voting for a liberal because he’s a good egg, nor because he’s to the left of the main parties.

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Mark P - June 2, 2011

As for nominations, it is possible to make it extremely clear that you are offering a nomination purely and simply on democratic grounds and that you do not in any way, shape or form endorse the candidate or ask people to vote for them.

If it’s felt that it’s practically impossible to avoid giving political support, then that’s an argument against nominating them at all.

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D_D - June 2, 2011

A problem about debating support for this or that candidate for President is a wider discussion about the office itself. My first instincts would be for the abolition of an expensive farce, a falsely unifying humbug. But you can’t be abstentionist can you? Or not when a contest has some significance, and when people will come out to vote anyway. I never voted for a President before Mary Robinson. It’s not that I thought she was great or anything. It seemed at the time that a vote for her was a blow against Fianna Fáil and reaction, and I think her victory was such a blow. But then I tended to agree with Eamon McCann when her said he was opposed to her because she WAS such a successful unifier in a very unequal society. And she is SUCH a bourgeois. To hear her (on Marion Finucine, where else)go pompously on about how the royal visit and the other imperialist visit had changed us from despair before to uplift after was pukeful.I would hate to hear David Norris come out with similar stuff from the Áras and suspect he might do so in between marvelous mischief.

The vagaries of abstention-avoidance can lead you into peculiar territory. Like supporting the demand for gay and lesbian marriage when you oppose marriage as such.

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LeftAtTheCross - June 3, 2011

D_D,

I think you’re accurately voicing the concerns that occur in the aftermath of a progressive victory, once the dust settles and that small battle is won, many of not the majority of supporters of whatever campaign will feel that’s it then, enough done. Whereas others will be looking to the next hurdle to be overcome, the next campaign to be built. I’m not convinced that the inevitable divergence of aims invalidates the approach by any means. Nor do I consider it opportunist to make the temporary alliances with bourgeois progressives, with the clarification here that I’m only referring to non-economic issues, and ones which are not contradictory to core socialist principles.

I guess whatthis debate has highlighted in part is that, as in any section of society, there are socialists who are socially progressive and socialists who are socially conservative. To me the latter seems massively contradictory, but there it is.

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Budapestkick - June 3, 2011

LATC: Who here precisely has displayed social conservatism?

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LeftAtTheCross - June 3, 2011

Budapestkick, anyone who does not support social progress is by the act of omission a social conservative, no?

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Budapestkick - June 3, 2011

Yes, but I fail to see that anyone here has done that, though I might be missing something. The debate seems to me to be over whether or not the Left should support someone who’s progressive on certain social issues (LGBT rights, divorce, reproductive rights etc.) but has no strong left credentials with regard to everything outside those issues. You seem to be implying that there are people here who are secretly socially conservative merely for having reservations about backing Norris for a plethora of reasons. I myself would never vote for someone who crossed picket lines. Who precisely are you accusing of social conservatism?

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25. Chet Carter - June 2, 2011

But there must be a candidate that can be found who will campaign on repudiating the debt which the Left and progressive forces can jointly support. If Norris will give that commitment – support him. If not find someone else.

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26. Terry McDermott - June 2, 2011

‘more concerned about living in the real world, rearing their kids, paying their mortgage and ever increaseing bills.’
Which working class women and gays also do?
Did the Workers Party not support and campaign for Mary Robinson?

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Ghandi - June 2, 2011

I was speaking about Working Class.

Yes they did, and the question is where did it get them, those most vocal in supporting her are now administering the most vicious attacks every seen on our class.

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27. sonofstan - June 2, 2011

I’d prefer if there was an agreed socialist candidate who could win the election obviously

One that won 20% of the vote, in what’s likely to be a low poll, would scare the shit out of the consensus parties.

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Jack Jameson - June 2, 2011

Some of us can’t even agree who’s on the Left, never mind agree a Left candidate. I wish it were otherwise.

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Chet Carter - June 3, 2011

Yep, a bit like herding cats at times. But it doesn’t have to be a Left candidate. Just someone who will campaign to repudiate the Debt. That is a stance all on the Left can support, allied with the Trade Unions, the Voluntary sector and progressive liberal sections of society. The campaign for Presidency must be a referendum on the bankers bailout and it can be won.

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28. Crocodile - June 3, 2011

John Waters turns up the heat in Friday’s Irish times. I don’t think Norris’s campaign will survive : I’m sure the Sunday tabloids are trawling for past indescretions.

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29. dmfod - June 3, 2011

Putting his shoulder to the wheel in support of reaction as ever. Given Waters’ right wing Catholic views, opposition to gay marriage and frequent allegations of homophobia, he should have zero credibility on this, as someone who has been a direct political opponent of Norris on many issues.

This is the man who opposed gay marriage on the grounds it would see evil women and gay couples conspiring to steal the children of straight men:

“…that child of that man, theoretical, hypothetical man, can be handed to a gay couple across the street by a mother that doesn’t want it.”

http://cork2toronto.blogspot.com/2006/02/john-waters-and-gobshite-liberalism.html

and whose response to the film Bruno was “Is this what the men of 1916 died for?” – so ludicrous they put it on the film poster!

http://tribune.maithu.com/archive/article/2009/jul/19/radio-review-eithne-tynan-and-the-men-of-1916-died/

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30. Clive Sullish - June 3, 2011

I suggest that the left TDs should rally round Michael D., and nominate him after he is shafted by the Labour Party leadership? The shafting now seems very likely.

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31. Joe - June 3, 2011

The Workers Pary also campaigned in favour of legalising divorce. The slogan on the leaflet was “Civil divorce is a civil right”. Good slogan I thought. Iirc, that was the first referendum, which was defeated.
I’ve enjoyed the debate between LATC and Ghandi, two WP members if I’m not mistaken. Good stuff.

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LeftAtTheCross - June 3, 2011

Both WP members yes. All opinions expressed in a personal capacity of course, on both sides.

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32. Chet Carter - June 3, 2011

LatC, just saying that there are a whole load of folk who will campaign on socially progressive issues in Ireland – Bono, Joe Duffy, Bob Geldof, Eoghan Harris, Michael McDowell, Sir Anthony O’Reilly, Mary Robinson, Shane Ross, Leo Vardaker to name a few. Unfortunately, they won’t be so vocal on supporting the working class. Hence, this is where the Left with it’s limited resources should be focussing.

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ejh - June 3, 2011

Mmm, but saying what the Left “should be doing” is a largely pointless exercise. Different people have different viewpoints and different priorities.

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Chet Carter - June 3, 2011

Good point, no use issuing some central diktat on what people should be doing.

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LeftAtTheCross - June 3, 2011

Chet,

It’s clear what values socialists and progressives do not have in common as well as those that I believe they do (generally) share.

On the question of practical resource limits, sure, that’s a valid point. But it’s a different point to the principle of embracing social progress as part of a broad vision that doesn’t focus only on economics. Hearts and minds etc.

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Chet Carter - June 3, 2011

True, it would be a boring world if economics drove everything over the freedom for people to live as they want to live . As for me I am getting out into that lovely sunshine very soon. Have a good weekend!

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crocodile - June 3, 2011

Yeah. We never had weather like this under the last government.

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ejh - June 3, 2011

It’s pissing down here and is due to do the same for nearly a week.

All this is Zapatero’s fault.

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33. Helena Sheehan Leaves the Labour Party « Tomás Ó Flatharta - July 27, 2011

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