jump to navigation

Presidential Election Bulletin… July 31, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.
trackback

It’s very difficult to assess the situation in the Norris campaign. In part, and reading comments elsewhere, one gets a sense that there’s a remarkable animosity towards his very candidacy. At the same time there’s also the issue of why at least three people have left his campaign at this juncture and over this issue.

How much clear space he can put between himself and it is of crucial importance, or at least how much can be clearly explained in a manner that is satisfactory to his potential electorate.

A lot comes down to who was told what and when.

If this was something that was raised but not seen as an issue it’s one thing. If it wasn’t then that’s another.
There’s also tactical and strategic issues here. This wasn’t something that could possibly be unexpected. At some point someone somewhere would release this information and one wonders whether the response to that eventuality was thought through.

Norris appears to be hoping to continue forward, and it’s ironic, in some respects his chances of making it to the ballot paper looked particularly good this week – albeit FF seemed less likely to give any support. It’s worth noting just how difficult it has been for him to get anywhere within a sniff of the ballot paper. In that respect it’s clear that the largest parties effectively closed ranks to keep him out of contention – the Galway example merely being the most pointed.

Even now it’s possible that all this will be another step on the road. But it’s become an increasingly bumpy road. Then again to have got this far, with the earlier controversy, is in its own way quite an achievement and that Norris should, in the most recent polls be the most popular candidate is quite something.

More broadly the contest is pretty dull. Still no sign of an SF candidate, nor of an Fianna Fáil one. But then, why is it such a surprise? This is, in a way, the phony war stage of the campaign. When it kicks off, once we know who is standing… well… telling in its own way as to the shape of contemporary Irish politics. The qestion will be whether Fine Gael can leverage their political predominance into a successful candidacy, or whether even in its currently weirdly emasculated state Labour can do likewise. In a field without Norris, or with a seriously weakened Norris candidacy both those outcomes become more possible.

About these ads

Comments»

1. Ghandi - July 31, 2011

Norris should step aside now, and also resign from the Seanad. If this wwas any one other than Norris people would be calling for his head on a plate. The weekend relevations along with the Magill interview mamake his views very clear.

Like

2. John Goodwillie - July 31, 2011

The weekend revelations tell us nothing about his views, only that he is willing to write a character reference and make a plea for clemency.

Like

Niall - July 31, 2011

It’s the notepaper that’s the official problem. But it’s not the official problem that will kill Norris’ campaign, but the pattern that has emerged.

He defended O’Searcaigh, made favourable comments about pederasty and is now using the resources of the state to plea for clemency in the case of a man who was convicted of raping a 15 year old boy.

Put it like this: If Michael D turned round tomorrow and defended Roman Polanski, suggested that under some circumstances it might be okay to have sex with a 15 year old girl and then wrote a letter asking for leniency for a man convicted of statutory rape, he’d be a gonner too.

If his campaign survives this latest development, it may turn out that Kevin Myers had a point.

Like

3. Jim Monaghan - July 31, 2011

If you loook at the tradition of Dail deputies looking for early releases/exemptions from fines and call for expulsions/resignations etc. then there would be very little left of FF for a start.I think of the scandal surrounding a certain leader of the LP as well, or is it allowd in the Phoenix Park. Look at the sweetheart deal with the religious orders.Look at how the cops refused to investigate almost evrrything.
He was got because he was relatively decent about Palestine (a soft zionist).
Wait until they have a go an Michael D.
While my partner would have voted for him, I had reservations and these were about his politics.

Like

4. Paddy M - July 31, 2011

I didn’t (and still don’t) intend to vote for Norris; one of the jobs of the President should be to be able to credibly represent us as a people and, judging by his Seanad performances documented on here, Norris had turned into a queeny parody of himself. The current and previous controversies so far also indicate poor judgement on his part, which should make him unsuitable for the job.

But I would prefer the decision to not make him President to be left to the Irish electorate, rather than have the decision taken out of our hands by a far-right loon who finds “there is much in [Anders] Breivik’s manifesto [to] agree with” and who thinks that the wrong side won the American Civil War

Like

EWI - July 31, 2011

It’s like a perfect storm of right-wing extremism. He even gets an endorsement from a certain someone:

Mark Humphrys said

February 24, 2011 at 3:07 PM
Like your site! Give us a shout sometime on the enclosed email address. Mark

http://thesystemworks.wordpress.com/about/

Anyone recognise the face? I’m sure that such an individual has popped up either in the IT or at one of our Anglophile right’s PR events here.

Like

Paddy M - July 31, 2011
EWI - July 31, 2011

Thanks, good man.

Like

EWI - August 1, 2011

The reason I had to ask, is that nowhere does the IT (which is where I’ve been reading about this) mention Mr. Connolly’s identity or even (that I can find) his role as the conduit for this.

Like

5. rockroots - July 31, 2011

I find this wholly depressing as I’d felt a sense of anti-establishment optimism I haven’t felt since Mary Robinson was elected. The likely outcome of all this just feels so very inevitable, one way or another. I believe David Norris has been an enthusiastic and conscientious Senator, and one of the main arguements for not abolishing the upper house. As Jim said, there are plenty of other TDs and Senators who have used/abused their influence to try to secure leniency for convicted friends, including some found guilty of sexual crimes, and I find the practice very questionable to say the very least, even on Norris’ part.

Even though Robert Ballagh has ruled himself out as a Sinn Fein/ULA candidate, those two groups are probably less likely than ever to climb off the fence on Norris’ side now – I wonder if they might be more encouraged now to look for another joint candidate, and try to mop up Norris’ deserting supporters? No one springs to mind though.

Like

fergal - July 31, 2011

Eamon McCann?

Like

6. sonofstan - July 31, 2011

I’ve been away from any kind of news media for 3 days, so the first I heard of this was on the news at lunchtime…. so let me get this straight: a pro-Israeli blogger is tipped off by someone within the LP about this story, in which an ex of Norris, a pro-Palestinian Israeli activist is convicted of statutory rape in what is suspected to be a honey trap and Norris pleads for clemency…..and this story is plastered all over the Sindo. So on one side you have the Israeli state, an Irish Zionist, a Labour source, presumably attempting to discredit Norris for the benefit of Michael D. and the Sindo – and on the other, Senator Norris. I don’t always judge people by the quality of their enemies, but here, I would at least be minded to sympathise with Norris.

Like

rockroots - July 31, 2011

I really want to sympathise with Norris. The most damaging thing for me is not the attacks from without, but the fact that his own campaign team have quit en masse, apparently because he could have, but chose not to, warn them that this already public letter might be used against him. I might be inclined to give him the benefit of whatever doubt there is, but the perception is of someone who’s own supporters don’t trust him anymore. I think he’s been quite naive, but not ‘evil’.

Like

WorldbyStorm - July 31, 2011

I’m sort of a mix of sonofstan’s and rockroots positions. Norris is, on occasion, his own worst enemy, and clearly there’s a sense of a breach of trust within members of his own camp but this simultaneously seems like a classic attempt to take him down.

All that said perhaps the best thing to do is let the dust settle a little bit more before rushing to a definitive judgement one way or the other. This is distinctly problematic, but whether it’s game over remains to be seen.

Like

EWI - July 31, 2011

“Irish Zionists” don’t have much time for the anti-Zionist, anti-NATO Michael D, at least not that I’ve ever heard of.

Like

sonofstan - July 31, 2011

I wasn’t suggesting a conspiracy, simply a common interest in ending the Norris bid. Once the Sindo sinks David, they’ll turn on Michael D.

Like

EWI - August 1, 2011

I’m sure they will. The Sindo has absorbed the lessons of the GOP playbook on derangement very well (no doubt through the personal connections of certain contributors).

Like

Paddy M - July 31, 2011

a pro-Israeli blogger is tipped off by someone within the LP about this story

I think the reference was to a trade unionist. That’s, of course, assuming that this isn’t simply disinformation; the Israeli far right and their supporters would be just as happy to throw spanners in the works of Higgins’ campaign.

Like

7. A reader - July 31, 2011

A see Mr Connolly has a Zionist labour cllr listed as a friend on Facebook.

Like

EWI - August 1, 2011

A fairly decent list of pro-Zionist rightwing nutters (the likes of the deranged Daniel Pipes and our own RDE and Waghorne are there as well).

Like

8. A Bit Of Cloak And Dagger? A Pro-Israeli Irish Blogger And David Norris « An Sionnach Fionn - August 1, 2011

[...] some interesting speculating over on the Cedar Lounge Revolution about what exactly lies behind the latest revelations over the [...]

Like

9. Torah Boy - August 1, 2011

Connolly has links with the Irish Independent journalist, David Quinn, who is also head of this Catholic nutter organisation, The Iona Institute.

http://www.ionainstitute.ie/

Looks like the Catholics didn’t want any chance of a sodomite up the Aras.

Like

10. Torah Boy - August 1, 2011

By the way, it’s more likely that the ‘trade union friend’ tip-off is what it appears to be – a strawman by a zionist and right-wing nutter to get two groups he hates at each other’s throat.

The line in the irish independent about how he was ‘conned’ by his trade union friend and so as a result the Michael D. higgins’ campaign have a case to answer is typical baiting.

Unless, of course, it is possible that a privileged 22-yr-old law graduate from a private college to left for England almost immediately upon graduation, and who is a Milton Friedman admirer who sees Barak Obama as a communist, would make friends with trade unionists.

Apart from Mark P, I can’t think of anyone stupid enough to actually fall for that story.

The leak came from the right-winger within this country. That much is for sure.

Like

smiffy - August 1, 2011

“Unless, of course, it is possible that a privileged 22-yr-old law graduate from a private college to left for England almost immediately upon graduation, and who is a Milton Friedman admirer who sees Barak Obama as a communist, would make friends with trade unionists.”

Stranger things have happened, particularly as you’re talking about one ‘trade unionists’ (whatever that means), rather than trade unionists in general.

However, without getting into conspiracy theories, the question about leaks should be less about how the story of Norris’ former partner came out (the story of the case itself should be easy enough to find, if someone had a mind to do so) but how the fact that Norris had written the reference and clemency plea became public knowledge.

It’s hard to make any kind of judgement about the story, without knowing the details of the case, but on the face of it, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. A bit naive, perhaps, but the comparisons being made between Norris and the Catholic Church hierarchy in the cover-up of abuse are ludicrous. I don’t think it’s a resigning matter, nor should he have to withdraw from the race because of it. However, he’s probably very unlikely to get the nomination now anyway.

Like

WorldbyStorm - August 1, 2011

+1

Like

11. sonofstan - August 1, 2011

BTW, Norris is not the only presidential hopeful to have made a controversial plea for clemency: this is from the Daily Mail….

In 2003, Mr Mitchell called on then Florida governor Jeb Bush to spare the life of Paul Hill, who in 1994 murdered a doctor and his bodyguard because the medic performed abortions. But Hill was executed by lethal injection.

Last year, Mr Mitchell invited to Dublin Dr Alveda King, a radical anti-­abortion activist and a niece of Dr Martin Luther King. The American has for years been a flashpoint for controversy, making statements that include comparing abortion to racism and likening gay marriage to genocide.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2015630/Gay-Mitchell-Controversial-views-lavish-junkets-notorious-gangster-cousin.html#ixzz1Tm6mtZUW

(Thanks to kbranno – as he is here – for finding this)

Like

WorldbyStorm - August 1, 2011

In a way you’d wonder if this isn’t going to open up a much bigger can of worms across the Irish political system and in particular the Presidential election and parties…in the sense that the collateral damage is unpredicatable for everyone. there’s Mitchell,then the Indo which is taking a much more ameliorative line on Norris – perhaps because it thinks he’s a goner, reminds us of Kathleen Lynch’s of the LP’s little spot of bother not that long ago.

Like

12. Torah Boy - August 1, 2011

I see that you took down my comment relating to smiffy’s use of logic regarding John “Anders Breivik has some good ideas” Connolly and the michael D. Higgins camp.

good to know.

Like

WorldbyStorm - August 1, 2011

If I have a horse in this race it’s David Norris. No secret there, made it plain from day 1 of his candidacy. But, this site doesn’t have deep pockets and there’s certain ways of phrasing stuff that might – stressing the might – get us into a bit of trouble. So we’re a bit discretionary. Now your point is fair enough and I think the way you phrase it in 12 is okay, but in the other comment it was a bit blunt. So yeah, it went into the pending folder.

By the way, I don’t really disagree with your analysis either.

Like

smiffy - August 1, 2011

????

I don’t know what was in the reply now in the pending folder, but – to clarify – all I said in the post above is that it’s not impossible for someone like Connolly to have a friendship with someone who is ‘of the left’ (for want of a better term).

That said, I don’t particularly believe him, particularly given how he’s now saying the weird ambiguous language he’s now using – stuff about this person having canvassed for Higgins in the past, and who may or may not be a Labour member. It smells a bit like bullish*t. It’s not fair to tar everyone with the same brush, but Connolly does strike me as very much of a certain type of young right-wing blogger (I’m not going to name names, but most people would know who they are) whose commitment to basic truthfulness leaves a lot to be desired.

At the same time, I don’t think there’s enough evidence to suggest that this is the work of some shadowy cabal controlled by a Mossad black ops unit operating on Pembroke road. Sure, it’s fun to speculate about that, but it misses the more important aspects of the story, and the substance of the issues at stake.

Like

EWI - August 1, 2011

but Connolly does strike me as very much of a certain type of young right-wing blogger (I’m not going to name names, but most people would know who they are) whose commitment to basic truthfulness leaves a lot to be desired.

Did Connolly claim to have a copy of the original letter? I can’t find reference to this anywhere. This seems unlikely to be something a “trade unionist” would have.

I look forward to seeing if Paddy Prendergast follows the trail on this one.

Like

WorldbyStorm - August 1, 2011

excerpts I think…

Like

EWI - August 1, 2011

The origins of the story stink, as does the attempt to link it to Higgins.

Count me in with the people who would trace this one back to the Israeli Embassy. There’s been increasing noise out of that quarter in recent years about how their well-funded propaganda efforts haven’t been working on the Irish public or body politic.

Like

alastair - August 1, 2011

Connolly didn’t know anything about the letter it would appear. Norris just seems to have released the letter to the indo after the fallout in his team.

Have to agree that the Michael D link is probably fabricated – Connolly’s facebook friends don’t suggest he’s likely to be engaged in idle gossip with any Michael D canvassers; past or current. Gotta love that Enoch Burke character too – definitely Ireland’s young answer to Marcus Bachmann – over-compensation much?

I’d still give Norris a vote. Just don’t see the opportunity arising now.

Like

13. EWI - August 1, 2011

Ah, more here:

This is something I have been emphatic about from the beginning. My friend is a trade unionist. That is what I meant by ‘labour movement’ when I spoke to the media. It does not necessarily mean Labour Party. However, recently it ‘hit home’ that the person is fond of Michael D. Higgins and canvassed for him many elections ago. That unnerved me a bit.

So, full of bullshit and now walking back the imputed Labour connection when quizzed on it (mission accomplished in time for Sunday’s Indo?).

Like

The System Works - August 1, 2011

EWI:

I find your opinions on this matter, and your joining of the populist Israel-bashing conspiracy crowd, very odious.

I never, ever said to any Irish news source that the person was a member of the Labour Party. That I have made clear on my blog today.

This fallacy seems to have been started on RTE Radio, but it is without any basis in fact. I haven’t been streaming RTE on-line but I am told their reporting has been full of errors. The first mention of me in the broadsheets was the Irish Times on Sunday. They were the first paper to interview me, and I used the label ‘labour movement’ for a trade union, which I believed to be a standard nomenclature. I specifically said this wasn’t the Labour Party. That is what I have consistently claimed ever since.

Kind Regards,

TSW.

Like

EWI - August 1, 2011

Well, Mr. Connolly, I find *you* very odious so that makes us even, I guess.

I see that you’ve announced elsewhere that you don’t want to answer further questions on how this mysteriously fell into your lap. I regret to have to tell you that, like a considerable number of people, I have trouble believing your story as presented so far.

Perhaps you can assist with a more coherent explanation?

Like

sonofstan - August 1, 2011

This fallacy seems to have been started on RTE Radio, but it is without any basis in fact.

That was my fault – I reported from memory up thread what I’d heard on RTE in the car yesterday morning.

Like

smiffy - August 1, 2011

You see, that’s precisely why it’s difficult to take your claims at face value. It’s hardly standard nomenclature to say that someone is part of the ‘labour movement’ is they are a trade unionist, when describing them in answering a question such as ‘where did you get the tip-off’.

If the person in question is a trade union official, then that’s what you would call them. If the person just happens to be member of a trade union, then surely you would describe them in terms of what they actually do, e.g. teacher, factory worker, bus driver etc.

It seems to me that the only reason you might use the term ‘labour movement’ in the current context is to implicitly suggest membership of the Labour Party, without actually saying it. Frankly, the ongoing equivocation on that question – i.e. saying that you aren’t necessarily saying they’re a member of the Party, while not confirming one way or the other – only adds to that suspicion.

Oh, and the idea in your most recent post that it’s only lately occurred to you that the person who tipped you off might have their own agenda is hard to take. It suggests either dishonesty, or a staggering level of naivety.

Sorry if I’ve missed any latest developments, or misread what has been attributed to you, but if I have misunderstood anything, the way this story has been presented does you no favors.

Like

14. Richard - August 1, 2011

Tom Carew, ‘Chair-Ireland/Israel Friendship League’, is a trade unionist and a Facebook friend of Mr Connolly.

Like

WorldbyStorm - August 1, 2011

Ah, a number of people have pointed to that in the last hour.

Like

Torah Boy - August 1, 2011

Tom Carew is a former trade unionist.

I mean, would you say that eoghan Harris is a member of the workers’ party? I was reading today an article in the Sidno by a member of the workers’ party?

tom Carew, former trade unionist, full-time Zionist.

Love the way commentators here who have never been a member of a trade union are quick to validate the press release of a 22-yr-old Griffith College Alumni.

I know that trade unions have never been flavour of the month on the cedar lounge revolution but this is something else altogether.

It’s a ruse to try to land some shit at the door of the higgins campaign, and I am frankly amazed that people here are falling for it.

Like

WorldbyStorm - August 1, 2011

Erm… how do you know people here aren’t members of unions. Looking through the comments on this thread I know directly of at least five including myself who are.

As regards unions not being flavour of the month what does that mean? You haven’t read many of my posts if you think that. Where I might have an issue is critiquing the leaderships of some unions across the Celtic Tiger years.

As regards the Labour link, it seems to me the tenor here is towards, wrongly IMO, an Israeli intelligence link. But I doubt the Higgins camp sat down and cooked this up either.

Like

Paddy M - August 2, 2011

Finian McGrath on Morning Ireland saying that he wants more information from Labour about the “leak”.

Meanwhile, over at Crank Central, a thread is started about Labour’s alleged complicity in the leak. The original poster just happens to have the same monicker as a Tea Party-supporting bilingual that specialises in pro-Israeli postings.

Nothing to see here, move along.

Like

sonofstan - August 2, 2011

McGrath is a bit windy to say the least. Fair dues to Maureen O’Sullivan for sticking with DN. and explaining it calmly and not rising to the ‘won’t someone please think of the children?’ line of questioning.

Like

Paddy M - August 2, 2011

As regards the Labour link, it seems to me the tenor here is towards, wrongly IMO, an Israeli intelligence link.

My guess is freelance wingnuts, probably with assistance from Israel-based wingnuts. (The degree to which the current Israeli government overlaps with the second category is a separate point.)

The “trade unionist who once canvassed for Michael D” strikes me as being complete misdirection, aimed at getting your enemies to concentrate on battering the hell out of each other.

Like

15. Gay Mitchell: Right-Wing, Conservative, Christian… And President Of Ireland? « An Sionnach Fionn - August 1, 2011

[...] of balance, since we have had a lot of focus on poor David Norris, lets look at his main rival, Fine Gael’s Gay Mitchell (don’t get [...]

Like

16. Torah Boy - August 1, 2011

I see now that Mr. Connolly is claiming that his trade union friend canvassed for Higgins in Galway many moons ago, and that this is probably the TRUE MOTIVE for the ‘tip’.

The bullshit just keeps on coming.

As far as the view of trade unions on this site – say anything positive and you get thirty tonnes of shit thrown at you, so no wonder Mr. Connolly’s bullshit gets such a receptive audience.

At least EWI has called it for what it is.

Like

smiffy - August 1, 2011

Has anyone on this site been ‘receptive’ to Connolly’s claims?

Like

WorldbyStorm - August 1, 2011

There’s a fair bit of hyperbole in that assessment in your second last paragraph Torah Boy. I’ve argued in post after post about the necessity for workers to join unions. I’m always talking about the positive aspect of them and how despite my problems with aspects of social partnership I’m a staunch supporter of same. Garibaldy likewise, IELB implicitly. Yourcousin is a strong union activist in the US. Tomboktu a member here. And that’s the five core people who post on the site [smiffy who was a cofounder is also strongly supportive of unions]. Now, granted that doesn’t mean that you won’t find people criticising them from left [and centre and right] but to suggest that it’s ‘thirty tons of shit’ is simply incorrect.

And to suggest that the CLR somehow lays the ground for someone with frankly bizarre neo-Confederate views, and a complete lack of critical distance in his identification with Israel [a state I've been to and whose right to exist I fully support even if I strongly disagree with the decisions of its governments in certain areas], is way over the top.

I hold no candle for Connolly or his claims in any area.

By the way reading back, I see I left out a crucial word in my response to you comment at 12… it should have read ‘I don’t really disagree with your analysis’… apologies. I could understand you might see that as an hostile comment, when it was meant in quite the opposite way.

Like

WorldbyStorm - August 1, 2011

By the by, re the neo-confederate stuff, this is interesting…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo-confederate

Like

EWI - August 2, 2011

It’s simpler just to observe that he doesn’t appear to like anyone who isn’t pasty-white (and his Breivik apologism is creepy).

Like

17. Richard - August 1, 2011

In saying ‘Tom Carew is a trade unionist’ I wasn’t saying anything about trade unions at all but speculating as to Mr Connolly’s potential source. He lists trade union activities in his Facebook profile, which is why I said ‘is’, but ‘was’ is hardly going to change the basic point: that maybe it was Tom Carew. I have no idea why you should construe this as an attack on trade unions (I agree with what WbS says on the subject of unions above).

Like

18. Jock McPeake - August 2, 2011

I think Norris’s position is untenable. It is also correct to criticise him for his judgment on this. But would I be mistaken in thinking that Kathleen Lynch has also made represetations on behalf of a rapist? Has not FF and F G politicains not done the same?
Closer to home, are there not serious questions about the judgement of Gerry Adams regarding 20 years of knowledge of the abuse of his niece?
Looks like Norris will take the fall though.

Like

sonofstan - August 2, 2011

Politics+ morality = a total mess generally.

I have no patience with anyone who thinks Norris did something wrong *morally* here – whatever Nawi did or didn’t do, DN presumably loved him, and part of the deal with that is unconditionality – if you were only called upon to support your loved ones when they were morally in the clear, it would hardly be any kind of demand would it? Put it another way: what would we think of someone who didn’t support a partner in such circumstances and abandoned them to the courts without even trying to use whatever slight influence they might have?

So all the ‘we have to think of the children’ bollocks from Finlay and McGrath is not remotely relevant.

What is questionable is DN’s political judgment in not considering how this would play when it came out, and how it would expose his campaign.

Like

19. Jackson Way - August 2, 2011

Morality this morality that – I certainly think a man who does not seem to fully realise the wrongness of old men sleeping with boys deserves any decent persons’ support for any position. Norris’s inability to condemn the Nonce Irish poet molesting poor kids in Nepal should have been the red line. then we have the McGill interview crap, which I was aware of from the first time it was out and thought it was the spewing’s of sick mind then – now we have continuing a relationship with a convicted child molester. When priests do this I’m all for them (and their defenders being strung up) – no different when Norris does it – plus the guy is not even left, unless you reduce the simple identity politics.

Like

Chet Carter - August 2, 2011

Morality issues aside I don’t know why anyone on the Irish Left is bothered about the Norris Presidential bid. Yet another example of a middle class liberal appealing to the left on the grounds of identity politics. In this case he is a homosexual so he must be the progressive candidate. Shouldn’t the debate be about which candidate will represents the left on the important economic question of the day?

Like

Jackson Way - August 2, 2011

100% agree Chet

Like

WorldbyStorm - August 2, 2011

“Shouldn’t the debate be about which candidate will represent the left on the important economic question of the day?”

Yes, but that’s a very short debate indeed. So far I can’t see one who by act or deed can be said to do so in the sense I presume you mean it – and by that metric Norris come’s across as perhaps more progressive than the other candidates, I mean there’s Michael D still a TD in a governemnt imposing swinging cuts on working people and not a peep let alone actual action.

Actually, just to add to that. Identity politics is a part and parcel of the left project in my opinion. Now that’s not to say that at times the left, ie the LP and others, haven’t substituted it over economic issues [and I'm harshly critical of that approach], but it doesn’t stop being a part of it because some misuse or prefer to go for it.

I’ve read the transcripts of NOrris’s contributions in the Seanad week in week out. By that metric he would appear to me to be somewhat centre left on economic issues.

Like

EWI - August 2, 2011

Identity politics is a part and parcel of the left project in my opinion.

Well, if you don’t fall under the identity of “privileged white male Anglophone asshole conservative who opposes gay rights even if personally gay”, you’re not going to have much other option.

Like

sonofstan - August 2, 2011

I envy your certainty.

Like

Chet Carter - August 2, 2011

In an uncertain world!

Like

Conor McCabe - August 2, 2011

“When priests do this I’m all for them (and their defenders being strung up) – no different when Norris does it ”

What the fuck????

What sexual crime has David Norris ever committed? What rape has he committed? Man, that has got to be libellous.

Do you honestly believe that homosexual relationships are as bad as child abuse?

Unbelievable.

Like

Conor McCabe - August 2, 2011

The more I read about this case, the more it seems to be homophobia.

I mean, homosexual love and the rape of orphans in state care are the same in the eyes of Jackson Way?

What a disgusting person you are.

Like

Jackson Way - August 2, 2011

I can assure you I’m not homophobic, never have been. A man in his forties having sexual relations with a 15 year old is against the law here and in Israel (a state I hasten to add I do not think should be allowed exist in its present form – a sectarian monstrosity – and possibility not at all), if the man can’t keep his mickey in in these circumstances that’s bad, but to have a man who wants to symbolically represent this country asking for clemency for this man, as an elected state representative, while continuing a loving relationship with the same person throughout but failing to mention it – no thinking Norris has gone well over the line of any form of decency is not homophobia just a consistent moral position. I’m also only drawing a parallel in Norris activity to the Catholic Church cover ups by some – on the wider the issue of the Catholic Church it is an abhorrence on scale that outweighs anything Norris could ever do, but if we truly want to drive it from our society we can no wobble on the Norris issue – he must get to f*ck. Norris is an insult to the homosexuals and most I know wish he would now shut his month and stop confusing paedophilia with normal sexual relations between men.

Like

Conor McCabe - August 2, 2011

“…to have a man who wants to symbolically represent this country asking for clemency for this man…”

Well, I see that you decided to check your facts.

It must have been after taking a break from pasting pages of the bible to your bedsit wall and searching for acrostics in the Irish Times.

Because now you’re saying (correctly) that Norris appealed for clemency. He did not defend the actions. He apealled for clemency after Nawi had been found guilty but before sentence was passed.

“I’m also only drawing a parallel in Norris activity to the Catholic Church cover ups by some – on the wider the issue of the Catholic Church it is an abhorrence on scale that outweighs anything Norris could ever do”

That is not what you said. you said that Norris should be strung up after you compared him to this nation’s army of Roman Catholic paedophiles.

“Norris is an insult to the homosexuals and most I know wish he would now shut his month and stop confusing paedophilia with normal sexual relations between men.”

It is not Norris that is confused, Jackson Way, it’s you.

Hate does that to people.

Like

Jackson Way - August 2, 2011

I may well be confused but not as much as Norris is about respecting the right of teenagers to discovery their own sexuality rather than having older men impose themselves on them – the behaviour towards his former lover now explains why Norris gave such a wrongheaded interview to Magill and why he supported that beast poet. A sicko is sick whether he wears a Roman collar, sticks copies of Ulysses up his arse or is avid News of the World reader – see ya after Norris thee protector of Nonces.

Like

Conor McCabe - August 2, 2011

“I may well be confused but not as much as Norris..”

wow. I didn’t realise it was a competition.

Like

Jackson Way - August 2, 2011

Conor – “When priests do this I’m all for them (and their defenders being strung up) – no different when Norris does it – plus the guy is not even left, unless you reduce the simple identity politics…” – Norris was unashamedly (until 3pm today) it the defender catergory – he was concerned that hsi lover might commit sucide but less concerned (as hs now admits) that the young person involved might do the same – his defenders have egg on their face – and just because soemthing politically motivated (as this incident may well turn out) does not mean that the the accusations are not true.

Like

Conor McCabe - August 2, 2011

You keep looking for those acrostics baby.

Like

meng die - August 2, 2011

“I mean there’s Michael D still a TD in a governemnt imposing swinging cuts on working people and not a peep let alone actual action.”

Michael D’s no longer a TD.

I agree with you on your wider point, though. It’s odious to see Norris being attacked in this way when both Michael D. and Mitchell represent a government which is practising wilful neglect and cruelty against children, from health cuts, through SNAs and child protection – http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2011/0802/breaking4.html

Like

WorldbyStorm - August 2, 2011

Sorry, you’re absolutely correct…

Like

20. Jackson Way - August 2, 2011

I certainly “do not”

Like

21. John Goodwillie - August 2, 2011

Relations between an older man and a 15 year old boy who consents (to the extent that he is able) may well be wrong but it is not what most people mean by “child molesting”.

Like

A reader - August 2, 2011

Get a grip – 15 year olds are kids.

Like

Dr. X - August 2, 2011

And that’s why we have age of consent laws.

I think is probably an attempt to take Norris down by cynical people using cynical means – but those cynical people wouldn’t be able to do it if DN hadn’t already behaved foolishly, and wrongly, over this issue.

Like

dmfod - August 2, 2011

Having consensual sex with a 15 year old may be sleazy, morally dubious and illegal, but is not the same as molesting a six year old or raping someone of any age. There is a big difference between paedophilia/rape and consensual sexual relations with post-pubescent teenagers on the verge of the legal age of consent.

Take for example the popularity of the Channel 4 series Queer as Folk, in which one of the central plots concerned a 15 year old boy chasing after much older men. There is no circumstance in which a similar series would be made about a six year old because paedophilia and consensual relations of this sort are very different. That doesn’t mean it’s ok for forty year olds to go around having sex with 15 year olds, but it does mean different issues are involved and it shouldn’t be classed as paedophilia.

Public attitudes to all this are hopelessly confused by double standards relating to all sorts of issues, from sexism to homophobia to anti-clericalism to paedogeddon.

Like

Mark P - August 2, 2011

There are many countries where 15 year olds are above the age of consent. Further, in this country there are many 15 year olds who are sexually active of their own volition, largely with other teenagers.

This does not mean that therefore it is fine for middle aged men to sleep with 15 year olds, but it does mean that there is quite clearly a distinction between sexual activity involving a 15 or 16 year old and sexual activity involving a younger child. In fact, such a distinction has long existed in Irish law too. For instance, unlawful carnal knowledge of a 15 or 16 year old girl was a distinct (and less serious) offence from unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 15. And similarly the current “defilement of a child” provisions also create distinct offences with significantly varying penalties depending on the age of the child.

The current Irish law is, of course, itself highly problematic in a number of ways. 17 is an unusually high age of consent by European standards (and indeed the prevalence of foreign media in Ireland means that many people wrongly think that the age of consent is 16). No distinction is made between experimentation between teenagers and the exploitation of teenagers by older people. And, of course, Irish law does make an absurd distinction between girls under 17 and boys under 17 with the result that if a 14 year old boy and a 16 year old girl have consensual sex, he is guilty of an offence and she is not.

Like

WorldbyStorm - August 2, 2011

Excellent analyses.

Like

22. torah boy - August 2, 2011

It appears that Michael D. Higgins supported a motion condemning the arrest and treatment of Ezra Yitzhak Nawi in 2009.

Presumably, the “trade unionist” who also “campaigned for Michael D. Higgins” and who set out to use poor naive John Connolly was unaware of this when he decided to blacken David Norris’ name by raising the issue of Ezra Yitzhak Nawi.

Like

Paddy M - August 2, 2011

poor naive John Connolly

I assume you’re being sarcastic.

I think Connolly knows exactly what he’s doing. The “trade unionist” – if he actually exists in the first place rather than just being a convenient figment of Connolly’s imagination – had campaigned for Michael D. a long time ago. The purpose of the whole exercise seems to be to try to get Higgins as collateral damage while sinking Norris.

Like

Paddy M - August 2, 2011

The 2009 arrest is not related to the statutory rape case.

Like

EWI - August 2, 2011

The 2009 arrest was for demonstrating against Israeli policies towards the occupied territories. I’m aware that trolling right-wingers have been leaving this little detail out (not least on Twitter).

Like

23. Dr. X - August 2, 2011

>>>there is quite clearly a distinction between sexual activity involving a 15 or 16 year old and sexual activity involving a younger child

Well, yes, but even if the former is not in the same category as the latter, it’s still a very bad way for an older person to behave towards a junior person; no matter what the level of consent, or the ability to consent may be on the part of the younger party, there is still a fundamental imbalance of power between the younger and older parties.

Like

Mark P - August 2, 2011

Which is why the other half of the sentence you quote was “this does not mean that therefore it is fine for middle aged men to sleep with 15 year olds,”!

Like

dmfod - August 2, 2011

I agree completely Dr X. It could definitely be an abuse of power and I have the same issue, to a greater degree, with O Searcaigh and the over-age Nepalese teenagers or anyone who uses prostitutes. It’s not an age of consent issue per se, but specifically a question of power. Obviously there’s an overlap between the two, which is why the age of consent exists.

On Norris’ actions, I wouldn’t continue a romantic relationship with someone who had sex with a 15 year old, especially while they were going out me! That struck me as more odd in relation to Norris personally, but that’s really his own personal business and is not something he should be judged for politically. I don’t think he did anything wrong in appealing for clemency though. He made it pretty clear he was a close friend of Ezra’s in the letters rather than a disinterested politician and I think most people would appeal for clemency for a close friend in that situation, particularly if they had a reputation as a trustworthy person themselves. Courts routinely take character references into account so there’s nothing ‘corrupt’ about it.

Like

24. RosencrantzisDead - August 2, 2011

RTE are reporting that Norris has withdrawn from the Presidential bid.I am a bit disappointed about this since the whole thing seemed to be a storm in a tea cup. I was planning to vote for Norris should he be on the ballot, and I am now considering spoiling my vote by writing in his name at the bottom.

I would point out to some of the commenters above that Norris did not, as far as I can tell, defend the engaging in sexual congress with 15-year-olds in his letter for clemency. In fact, he tacitly accepted that it was criminal behaviour and instead pleaded that a non-custodial sentence should be imposed. He also complained that the whole thing seemed to be a police set-up (which ordinarily you shouldn’t do in a plea for clemency in any jurisdiction).

There is certainly a smell about this. Gay Mitchell’s history and association with the hard-line anti-abortion/anti-gay movement has gone unmentioned in the media (even Fintan O’Toole neglected to mention Mitchell’s past form in his recent IT article). Personally, I do not see much of a difference between what MItchell did and what Norris did – both used their position to lend support to a cause in another country. Mitchell is getting no flak; Norris has seen his campaign end.

Who are we to vote for now? A victory for Michael D. is a victory for Labour no matter which way you look at it, and I cannot tolerate handing those smug gits any more power or prestige. Mitchell in there makes my stomach turn. The rest are crypto-Fianna Fail.

Like

Mark P - August 2, 2011

I can see no case for voting for any candidate who is likely to be on the ballot.

Like

Chet Carter - August 2, 2011

At this stage, I fully agree.

Like

rockroots - August 2, 2011

Absolutely agree, I like Michael D. as a person, I don’t like Mitchell, I have no idea who the other two are beyond that one of them was a senior FF member until fairly recently, but I don’t know if I could bring myself to endorse an official Labour candidate right now. I’m gutted about this, not so much because I fully supported Norris, but because of the way the elitist system has blocked his candidacy in the most grossly anti-democratic ways (and I’m not just referring to these last few days). Of course, there’s the possiblity that the other candidates will go on to generate anything approaching as much interest as Norris has, and that this will be an exciting election, in which case people might move on from this, but frankly I very much doubt it. I think even on election night the treatment of Norris will cast a shadow over any celebrations.

My instinct is the same – to either spoil my vote or register a protest in some other way… unless it looks like Mitchell or the TV guy might win, in which case I might reconsider.

On related topic, has there been any mention of the presidential nomination process in relation to the abolition of the Seanad? It seems to me that if they plan to have 60 (or 70, including TDS?) less Oireachtas members then they would pretty much have to revise the process. They would still want to keep it sown up for the big parties, but there would presumably be pressure to at least make a token gesture at greater democracy? And if that was the case, there’d be a much bigger likelyhood of a contested election in 7 years time (or sooner if – God forbid – a president were to die or resign from office). I wonder if Norris’ aspirations are completely ended or just postponed. Only the next few years will tell.

Like

EWI - August 2, 2011

but I don’t know if I could bring myself to endorse an official Labour candidate right now.

If it’s any consolation, it’s clear that Michael D. wasn’t the Labour leadership’s choice for candidate (that would be former tobacco lobbyist Finlay, who allegedly was involved in spiking MDH’s 2004 candidacy).

Like

Tomboktu - August 2, 2011

Who are we to vote for now?

Spoil that ballot paper? If enough did it, in an organised way (say, by writing “Re-open Nominations” on it), it might propmpt a change in the nomination process.

Like

25. Death By A Thousand Cuts « An Sionnach Fionn - August 2, 2011

[...] hindsight I think it might be seen, as others have already stated, that Senator Norris was perhaps not the most suitable of candidates for the job. Bringing with [...]

Like

26. WorldbyStorm - August 2, 2011

There’s a terrible habit that I’ve seen take hold on this site where people are attacked for expressing opinions as distinct from acts.

Alastair was hounded extremely unfairly every time he commented by people accusing him of supporting abuse because he’d expressed an opinion on the Polanski issue. I disagreed with his opinion, and in another context he certainly wore out his welcome and our ability and willingness to uphold both his freedom of speech and the stability of this site in the face of flame wars in large part provoked by a pattern of commenting, but that doesn’t take away from the fact he was attacked unjustifiably for what was an opinion – and one held by more than him – than an act.

The use of terms such as ‘nonce’ etc is pointless. The elision of a letter for clemency by Norris and supporting underage sex is equally pointless. They’re not the same thing. Recently I was reading the Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson and there’s a bit in it where he describes Broadmoor’s visiting room where the worst psychopaths are held, and there was a snippet about a mother both of whose sons were in there and she was gently touching their cheeks. Those guys may well have done unimaginable crimes but there are bonds that come into action which operate in spite of those actions and that’s true across a range of crimes from mild to monstrous. It’s incredibly easy to be keyboard warriors and make statements, not about the crimes committed – or those who commit them, but about the responses of people around them. I know in my own family how very very dark acts in previous generations blackened peoples relationships and of the concealment of same until they began to die off. In light of that I’m certainly not going to second guess or judge responses in that sort of a context without a much better grasp of all the facts.

Which returns to the current case, I don’t know if the letters Norris sent are online in full for consideration, I don’t know at precisely what point in the process they were sent, though pleas for clemency are far from unusual and indeed character references are well known in the legal process both here and elsewhere – how else to build up a picture of defendants? And therefore I’m loath to make an absolute judgement one way or another. The idea though that Norris is equivalent to someone who carried out certain acts is dismally wide of the mark.

Like

27. A reader - August 2, 2011

I heard something about police jumping out a van and arresting Nawi in Norris’s Today FM interview, possibly post the act with the 15 year old. Will need to download Pod cast but all this loving consensual stuff may turn out to be wide of the mark.

Like

WorldbyStorm - August 2, 2011

Or it may not. Who the hell knows? Better by far not to throw around assertions as regards extremely serious issues on the internet before actually being sure.

Like

rockroots - August 2, 2011

David Norris’ Today FM interview:

http://audioserver.todayfm.com/audio/norris020811.mp3

I wonder if he’d given such a frank and honest interview a few days earlier would things have worked out any differently. Just out of interest, I know there’s some countries that require a minimum valid poll before an election is declared void. I don’t think that’s a likely outcome, but is there any such provision in Irish constitution?

Like

WorldbyStorm - August 2, 2011

I can’t recall hearing about it. But like Tomboktu’s thoughts above, interesting.

Like

Tomboktu - August 2, 2011

but is there any such provision in Irish constitution?

Nope

Like

Conor McCabe - August 3, 2011

“but all this loving consensual stuff may turn out to be wide of the mark.”

Not according to the Israeli court in 1997 which found the sexual relations to be consensual, but illegal.

Of course, maybe if it had ‘heard something about police jumping out a van and arresting Nawi’ that would have changed the picture entirely.

Because, you know, police jumping out of vans, that’s the key, yeah?

God bless your patience WBS, I don’t know how you put up with these morons.

Like

Dr. X - August 3, 2011

I picture WBS modding this site while sitting in the lotus position, clad in an orange sheet, and with tilak on his forehead.

‘Ommmm’ he says, as he achieves one-ness with the universe.

Like

WorldbyStorm - August 3, 2011

It’s all part of the CLR Outreach programme.

But yes, that lotus position sounds about right… :)

Like

28. Clive Sullish - August 3, 2011

Norris was never going to be elected anyway – this is all about blocking the left-wing candidate, Michael D. The only credible opinion poll to date (in the Irish Times) indicated that MDH would probably come thru on transfers. With Norris out of the way, this becomes less likely. And no doubt, after a decent interval, the Indo guns will have a serious go at MDH.
With a serious left v right contest in prospect (and with right-wing elements gung-ho about sabotaging any possibility of a pinko presidency), it’s and alarming that so many Cedarlounge leftists are rushing to proclaim their neutrality. FFS!

Like

WorldbyStorm - August 3, 2011

Why the surprise? MDH is a member of a party that in government is acting in a way that is largely indistinguishable, or by some metrics worse, than its predecessor. Hard to feel any enthusiasm for the ‘left-wing candidate’ in that instance. Hard to see what the ‘left v right’ contest means in that context.

And I say that as someone who has enormous respect for many in the LP and quite some for MDH.

Like

Joe - August 3, 2011

I had decided to vote for Michael D. and not Norris long ago. I just think Norris never had the ego for the job. Btw, does anyone know what the D. stands for?

Like

ejh - August 3, 2011

Anyone who looks at Wikipedia, yeah

Like

Joe - August 3, 2011

Thanks for the heads up, ejh. That’s a really cool website. Loads of information about loads of things on it.

Like

fergal - August 3, 2011

Why would right wing elements be gung ho about sabotaging a pinko presidency?What’s in it for them?Would it have any kind of impact on the austerity planned for us by FG and Labour?Didn’t we have a pinko presidency with Mary Robinson,who is now a saint.
Disappointed that Norris pulled out.My beef with David was breaking a strike in November 2010.

Like

EWI - August 3, 2011

It’s the “bitch-slap theory” of politics, which our very own Young Fogey Teabaggers have learned at the knees of the originators, the US Republican Party (most have spent time in the VRWC at one point or another, even z-listers like McGuirk). That basically mandates kicking progressives and socialists as often as possible, as hard as possible, in order to discourage them and their supporters and to whip up the Right.

No-one should underestimate the extent to which they are capable of mischief, and of ignoring any boundaries of fair play or decency.

Like

Mark P - August 3, 2011

Clive clearly has a vivid imagination. A “serious left v right contest” between two parties which are in coalition together and are both committed to a ?programme of savage austerity? Left and right of what exactly

Michael D Higgins has a left wing past. As do Eamon Gilmore, Emmet Stagg, Pat Rabbitte and Prionsias De Rossa. The operative word in that sentence is “past”. All of them made their peace with the right wing consensus long ago. In the cases of Stagg and Higgins that was part of what was a wider collapse of the Labour left, and both of them were rewarded with high office as a result.

Like

ec - August 3, 2011

The term is ratfuckers

Like

29. Clive Sullish - August 3, 2011

By their enemies ye shall know them – and there’s no doubt that the rightists over at the Sunday Independent have a virulent hatred for Michael D. Mark P may well be right – they hate him more for what he represents than for anything he has done. At the same time there will be a political debate over the coming months where ideological positions will be taken – blather about entrepreneurs from Gallagher and family values from Holy Mary Mitchell. Whatever valid criticisms are made of Higgins, he consistently places himself on the left in debates. Unless the United Left produces a candidate to put forward a socialist economic position, Higgins will be far and away the most left-wing candidate. And whether you find him credible or not, he is still capable of powerfully defending some of the better traditions of the labour movement. That’s why he’s mocked in the Independent and by right-wing bloggers. If Higgins loses, they will regard it as a victory. That’s why Higgins is better than Norris was, and it’s why he deserves support (however critical).

Like

WorldbyStorm - August 3, 2011

There’s something in what you say, and as I say I’ve some time for MDH while little for his party, and I’ve no doubt it will be thrashed out over the next while here and elsewhere, but given that it’s literally hours since Norris stepped out of the contest perhaps it’s not quite time for people to transfer enthusiasm elsewhere, and of course, who knows whether a more left wing candidate will emerge.

Like

Mark P - August 3, 2011

Michael D. Higgins is a minor hate figure for the Sindoistas because his position on the margins of real power in the Labour Party means that he has kept a slightly more “left” profile than his fellow former radicals who actually run the party. Also, he’s hilariously pompous and full of waffle, which makes him an easy target for ridicule.

However, there is no political substance behind his ability to keep a vaguely leftish profile and there hasn’t been since he, Stagg and the rest of the 1980s Labour left capitulated to Spring and were rewarded with some minor offices. He was a quiescent, timid, Labour TD during the Rainbow Coalition years and he’s been a quiescent, timid, former Labour TD since Labour joined the most right wing government Ireland has seen since, well, since either the CnaG government of the 1920s or since indepenence depening on how you look at it.

If he’s standing as a left wing candidate, where is his impassioned condemnation of the government and of the Labour Party’s role in it? It doesn’t exist because he’s not standing as a left candidate. He’s standing as a candidate of one of the two right wing government parties. Voting for him isn’t a vote for the politics of the 1980s Labour left, but a vote for today’s Labour Party and an endorsement of the government. And quite frankly, fuck that.

Like

Dr. X - August 3, 2011

Voting for Gay Mitchell, however, would seem to be a vote for the 1980s right.

Like

Clive Sullish - August 3, 2011

So Mark P, with Labour and FG in coalition, there’s nothing to distinguish Michael D from Gay Mitchell. This analysis is redolent of 3rd period communism.
And the ‘hilariously pompous’ Michael D is a social blueshirt, I suppose.
Oh, and when I hung out with your lot, they insisted I should join the Labour Party (which was in coalition at the time)

Like

Mark P - August 3, 2011

Again, Clive, you apparently possess a vivid imagination. At no point did I say that there was nothing to distinguish Higgins from Mitchell. I didn’t use the language of Third Period Stalinism, nor did I call anybody a “social blueshirt”. In fact there’s nothing in your response which engages at all with anything I actually said.

I don’t believe that social democrats are secret fascists. I simply don’t accept that the modern Labour Party is social democratic in any meaningful sense. It is a liberal, capitalist, party. It is also an integral part of the most right wing government in recent history. Michael D Higgins has a radical past, but his record in recent decades is not one of radicalism and he has not, to my knowledge, been critical of the right wing policies of the government. He isn’t running against the government, but as a representative of one of its constituent parties.

This doesn’t make him identical to Mitchell, or a “social blueshirt”. But it does mean that his is not a left wing candidacy and that he deserves absolutely no support on a left wing basis. I note that you provide not one reason to support him in either of your posts, nor any defence of his political record since his part in the collapse of the Labour left, bar saying that he isn’t Mitchell. Lots of people aren’t Gay Mitchell, that isn’t much of a recommendation.

Finally, yes, the predecessors of the Socialist Party advocated that socialists should work in the Labour Party, alongside the then large number of other left wing activists in that party, including people like Higgins and Stagg. But those other left wing activists are long gone now, and their former leaders made their peace with the right (and eventually ascended to minor office). The last time the issue of coalition with one of the two major right wing parties was debated by Labour conference, about 50 people voted against and not one of them, as far as I am aware, argued against Coalition on principle. There simply is no Labour left left.

Voting for Michael D Higgins because he used to be a left wing radical is like voting for Gilmore or Rabbitte for the same reason. Pure idiocy.

Like

30. Dr. X - August 4, 2011

>>>There simply is no Labour left left.

Undeniably true.

>>>Lots of people aren’t Gay Mitchell

Yes, but they aren’t running for the office of president.

>>>Voting for Michael D Higgins because he used to be a left wing radical is like voting for Gilmore or Rabbitte for the same reason. Pure idiocy.

Again, this is true. But voting for Michael D. to block the victory of a Gay Mitchell who represents an unrepentant Catholic conservative agenda is not idiotic at all IMO.

In most cases the ‘lesser evil’ argument doesn’t pass the smell test, because it ignores the ways in which the appeasement of neo-liberalism by a Clinton or a Blair sets the scene for further twists of the knife by more aggressively, and openly, right-wing governments. The Clintons and Blairs (and Kenny and Gilmores) are able to do this because they occupy positions of executive power – that’s how you get Clinton signing off on welfare ‘reform’, for example.

In the case of the Irish presidency, however, we’re not talking about an executive office. Even if Michael D. has sold the pass long ago, his ability to do damage in this role would be reduced, but his ability to block a conservative Catholic right (who haven’t gone away, you know) would still be there.

Like

WorldbyStorm - August 4, 2011

I think that’s a fair point about the nature of the office.

Like

Dr. X - August 4, 2011

Why vote for the lesser evil?

http://www.cthulhu.org/

Like

Mark P - August 4, 2011

1) Mitchell is a rather unpleasant right winger, but it isn’t as if the Irish Presidency would give him access to powers which he could use in an obnoxiously right wing way and which he must be blocked from accessing at all costs.

2) The “conservative Catholic right” stuff is fighting the battles of yesterday. The central dividing line in Irish politics today isn’t the remnants of Catholic power, it’s the banks, the EU/IMF debt slavery and massive austerity. Labour and Fine Gael are on the same side of that divide, as are Higgins and Mitchell.

I’m almost never convinced by “lesser of two evil” arguments, but these points make the Irish Presidency today a particularly unsuitable election to vote on that basis in. More generally, a win for Higgins will be taken as an endorsement of the Labour Party, of the government and of government policy. Or to be blunt about it: A vote for Michael D Higgins is a vote for the EU/IMF, just as a vote for any other Fianna Fail, Fine Gael or Labour candidate would be.

Like

Chet Carter - August 4, 2011

I agree, it’s all about economics and if Michael D isn’t fighting the good fight he does not deserve the support of the Left. Irish middle class liberals are going to have to come off the fence and campaign against the EU/IMF bank bailout. It is the number one priority for any political candidate whether it be a local council election or the Presidency.

Like

31. Clive Sullish - August 4, 2011

While the extent to which MDH is compromised as a Left candidate is open to debate, it is certainly the case that he is perceived to be a left-wing. This is why people from the Further Left were tripping over one another to get him on their anti-war platforms five, six, and ten years ago (And that was after he’d served in what were arguably more culpable governments than the present one – having tax amnestied some of the richest people in the country, and redistributed wealth upwards at a time when state coffers were filling up).
Left-wing isn’t a position but a spectrum. Most of the time, those on the left of it have tried to exert influence over the rest of the spectrum. The antecedent of the present Socialist Party did this quite effectively in the Labour Party until their very effectiveness led the Labour leadership to have a number of them expelled c.1990 (whereupon the rest of them left). Their departure was followed, it is true, by a decline in the Labour Left (in the absence of an organised source of pressure from their own left).
As it happens, I still have contact, through friends, work, and family, with quite a few people who remain in the Labour Party, and who would have been within the Labour Left ambit, and I think it’s an over-simplification to say that there is no left in the Labour Party. As far as I can see, these people think the same things that they thought when there was an organised Labour Left, they retain an interest in the history and culture of the movement, and they closely follow the fortunes of the likes of Chavez, Ortega and the Castros. These are the sort of people that will be most relishing the election of Ortega’s old buddy to Aras an Uachtarain
Sure, they’re culpable for not asserting themselves, but they might well respond to a bit of leadership from the Further Left (most of them approve of Joe Higgins, if not of Kieran Allen). Insulting them with statements like ‘there are only ten left-wing people in the Labour Party’ and disparaging their candidate by describing him as ‘hilariously pompous’ is juvenile (in the non-disparaging sense) and counter-productive.

Like

Mark P - August 4, 2011

Clive,

Saying that there are only about 50 left wingers remaining in the Labour Party isn’t an insult. It’s an observation based on hard evidence. That is the grand total of Labour Party members who voted against coalition with Fine Gael on the basis of the most right wing programme for government in recent history. There is no useful definition of left wing which includes anybody who voted for that coalition or that programme for government.

I have no interest in what some people who were leftists in the 1970s or 1980s think deep down in the privacy of their own hearts about Castro or Chavez. It simply isn’t relevant. These are people who are members of a right wing party which they supported going into a right wing coalition on the basis of right wing policies and a right wing programme for government. That is what’s relevant. If someone supports the EU/IMF bailout and massive austerity, they are on the enemy side and I don’t give a shit what their views on Latin American Presidents are. I’m sure that even Prionsias De Rossa probably has the odd private moment where he thinks that it’s a pity that the whole socialism thing didn’t work out. Who cares?

Nor do I greatly care one way or the other if these quiescent Labour members feel insulted by the rather commonplace observation that Higgins is pompous. He is and he was pompous even back when he was a leftist. No significant grassroots opposition is going to come from the kind of people who not only stayed in the Labour Party over the last 20 years but who also went along with its political course in that period, including going along with right wing policy after right wing policy without even the slightest whimper of opposition. Those people are political write offs (as opposed to the 50 or so actual Labour leftists, who may be disorganised and tactically confused but who can be expected to take part in oppositional movements at some point).

Michael D Higgins has a shameful political record. His supporters have a shameful political record. He deserves no support and they deserve no sympathy.

Like

Clive Sullish - August 4, 2011

Mark: it must be good to be so certain of everything.
I’d tentatively suggest that your ‘hard scientific’ figure of 50 Labour leftists is neither hard nor scientific, being based on conference delegates rather than on members. Each one of the 50 was representing the position of perhaps one, five, or even ten others. Delegates, from my own somewhat hazy memory of the Labour Party, were usually mandated by the their branches, so a simple majority at branch level might generate a full pro-coalition delegation. I recall refusing a delegateship to a Labour conference because of such a mandate. By your own criterion of leftism (that someone opposed the most recent coalition package), therefore, the 50 becomes 100, or even 500+. There is in fact no ‘hard scientific’ way of determining the number.

Like

Mark P - August 4, 2011

Actually, Clive, given the state of the Labour Party membership books, the fact that a large majority of their members are members on paper only, and the generous provision for delegates, the Labour Party special conference with its very large turnout was about as good a snapshot of the Labour Party membership as you could hope for.

I’m sure that there were a handful of members who weren’t at the conference who wouldn’t have voted for the coalition and programme for government, but those are counterbalanced by the inclusion of some people who voted against for purely tactical reasons of the party’s own long term interests and not for reasons of ideological opposition to coalition or the programme for government. Remember, not one single delegate argued against coalition on principle.. That was the key symbolic left/right dividing line, back when there was a Labour left.

It’s worth noting, if you want further evidence, that this wasn’t a once off. On the occasion before that where the possibility of coalition was discussed at Labour conference, the circumstances were slightly different. It was a debate about whether or not to go into the election before last as part of an alliance with Fine Gael. 80% were in favour. Of the minority opposed, a majority were in favour of coalition with Fianna Fail. And the remnant were in favour of deciding which to go into coalition with after the election. Again, not one member argued against coalition in principle.

This is the reality of the Labour Party rank and file. It’s a small party in terms of paper membership and a much smaller one in activist terms. And those activists are almost to a man and woman right wingers. Anyone talking about strategies to appeal to the left leaning Labour rank and file membership (as opposed to Labour voters) can be safely dismissed in the same sort of way we’d dismiss someone arguing about the properties of angels. They are talking about figments of their imagination.

If you really insist we can move on to talking about the disappearance of Labour left organisations, left controlled branches, Labour left publications, nationally known Labour left leaders, alternative programmes etc. All of this is gone. There is nothing left.

Like

Mark P - August 4, 2011

Ah crap, I forgot to turn off the italics tag. Only the first half sentence of the section in italics was supposed to be.

Like

Jolly Red Giant - August 4, 2011

There is no ‘left-wing’ in the LP and there hasn’t been for 20 years. In regards to numbers it is insignificant. Thraditionally left wingers have been far more active in the LP than the right and traditionally have had a far higher proportion of delegates than their numbers would dictate. During the 1980′s when I was in the LP the Militant had 120 delegates at Conference. With five members to each delegate this would indicate 600 members of the Militant. Yet at a high point the numbers were never even half of that.

At most the LP has 1000 people who are active on any kind of a regular basis (and by that I mean canvassing at election time and turning up to a meeting three or four times a year). Out of that hundred I doubt if you could find fifty people who could be classed as left-wing. In the constituency that I am in I know every single member of the LP (there aren’t that many) and every one of them would comfortably fit into FG or FF (a few would even have been very at home in the PD’s when they existed).

Like

Mark P - August 4, 2011

Like a certain Mae Sexton.

Like

32. Mark P - August 4, 2011

On the two other points you raise, Clive:

1) I think that you are putting a bit too much emphasis on the importance of the Militant expulsions on the decline of the Labour left. It was a factor, certainly, but there was a much broader Labour left and Militant was only its furthest left section. The complete disappearance of the Stagg/MD Higgins left coincided with the collapse of the Eastern bloc and a general march to the right by the Labour and social democratic parties (and locally the split in the Workers Party).

2) The SWP have a different analysis of the Labour Party than the Socialist Party does. They are possibly the last people in Ireland to imagine that there is some vast number of left reformist Labour members hiding under some very large rock. They think that by puting people like Michael D Higgins on their platforms they can reach these fictional people. They are wrong. In fact so wrong, that I’m unaware of them successfully recruiting even one person from the Labour Party in the last decade.

3) It would indeed be nice to be certain of everything. Unfortunately, I”m not. I am however convinced of the death of the Labour left, a conviction based on quite considerable evidence (as provided by Labour conferences, the disappearance of all of the institutions of the Labour left, the abandonment of left positions by the former Labour left leadership and the near disappearance of Labour members from radical campaign groups). I’m willing to listen to any evidence to the contrary, but strangely enough nobody ever provides any bar the assumption that there must be a left somewhere if we look hard enough.

An example of the kind of people attracted to the Labour Party nowadays can be found here: http://weonlywanttheearth.blogspot.com/2011/08/labour-party-party-of-lies-and-broken.html

Like

WorldbyStorm - August 4, 2011

What always struck me was that rather than pulling the LP further left when DL coalesced arguably it pulled it further right. It’s as if the pockets of leftism left were overrun. Now I’m not suggesting everyone in DL was more rightwing, but perhaps the dynamics of shifting rightwards from WP to DL to… carried a price. Someone like Catherine Murphy is interesting because she stood somewhat leftwards of the LP in terms of policy and as importantly approach. But that’s very very unusual.

On the specific point about three years ago I had lunch with an LP person fairly close in to the apparatus who amazed me by saying off the record so to speak that if in power ‘of course we’d do much the same as FF/GP because there’s no alternative’ and I thought, really, you’re not even trying to determine if there is one and if so then what precisely is the function of your party? I liked the person enormously but I lost a lot of respect for them and their party then – and by the way this was in the early days of the crisis.

Like

Jolly Red Giant - August 4, 2011

You are absolutely correct WbS – the merger with DL was symptomatic of the collapse of the left in the LP and the sntire process pushed the LP into an open neo-liberal party.

Like

33. The Irish Times letters page… « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - October 12, 2011

[...] way the letter writer of the above appears to share a first name and surname with someone mentioned here in [...]

Like


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,339 other followers

%d bloggers like this: