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A New Party? …. probably not …. October 31, 2012

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Politics.
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I’m currently reading ‘Radical or Redundant? Minor Parties in Irish Politics’ which is so far anyway an excellent read. One of the things covered is why the much vaunted new party failed to emerge prior to the 2011 General Election. (New Vision, Fís Nua, CPPC, DDI and of course the ULA and some others did emerge and since then others such as Sli Nios Fearr and Tús Nua emerged).
The book notes that…

An opinion poll in the Sunday Independent in June 2010 detected a desire for a new mould-breaker, with the majority of voters feeling a new political party was needed.
A new political movement ‘Democracy Now’,was resultantly established to tap into this sentiment. Its intention was to run a list of high profile non-political candidates, including…Eamon Dunphy…Fintan O’Toole and economist David McWilliams. With as much as €400,000 pledged to the group in one day and a significant number of voluntary staff and even free campaign offices provided, it seemed as if the new group’s aim of twenty seats in the new Dail might not be unrealistic. In the end , however, the aspirations of this movement came to naught, as it decided not to contest the election in the absence of one resource it could not acquire: time.

So even with all that, they didn’t fight the election. Now some may say it wasn’t time but that some of the high profile individuals got cold feet about running. Time though was needed to launch the party, public meetings countrywide, establish a HQ, establish countrywide, get (and vet) potential candidates, get an electoral strategy together and all the other things that go along with running for election.

Despite Fianna Fail and The Greens electoral hammering… Twenty months on from that election there is a significant portion of the electorate disillusioned with the government (mainly Labour) and politics in general. The undecideds in the recent Irish Times MRBI Poll was 33% and in the latest RedC poll for the Sunday Business Post it was 22%. That Business Post poll also told us the ‘softness’ of the Labour and to a far lesser degree the Fine Gael support.
Despite the failure of a ‘mould-breaking’ party to start we still get the odd piece about Michael McDowell, Declan Ganley or the like being ready to spearhead a new party. If the papers get what they want it would be a PDs mark 2.

There probably is room on the right for a niche scrap Croke Park, cut welfare , cut allowances etc or to borrow a phrase ‘Corrective Action’. I presume too that there would be an appetite for burning bondholders here also. However I’d imagine the appeal would be limited unless it had an O’Malley type as leader or at least someone who was well respected.

There is a gap to the Left of Labour also, indeed probably a bigger gap than that of the right.  Or as EamonnCork recently put it

What there is a lack of is a new social democratic/socialist party to represent the public servants who are going to get the lash from Croke Park 2, the opponents of the household and water taxes and the victims of austerity. The ULA was never going to be that kind of party because of the parties involved, they have no interest in being mass parties and I say that without prejudice because I have time for both the SP and SWP. But with Labour committed to implementing austerity and SF showing worrying FF type tendencies in the Quinn affair, it strikes me that the space is to the left of centre rather than to the right of centre. If you want something even more right wing than the current dispensation all you have to do is wait for Labour to disappear and FG to govern on its own.

The funny thing is that a part of this group is one that the Greens may have appealed to had they not gone into government and subsequent meltdown.

So Where would this new party come from?  disaffected Labour TDs ?   a number of the ‘Left’ Independents joining up? or a party emerging from the CAHWT and other campaigns?

Of the four Labour TDs that have jumped ship , whilst they no longer sit on the Labour benches in the Dail and have voted with the opposition against various cuts,  none of them have left the party. Groups like The Campaign for Labour Policies and other initiatives indicate that there is an effort to change the direction of the party from within rather than a new formation being founded. Its possible that we may see a leadership challenge within the party if the poll numbers continue to decline. …… were it to succeed then what?
A radical change of direction or a stand on a few issues like cuts to home helps or whatever the cause célèbre of the day is?
If a leadership challenge is unsuccessful then we may have a few more losing the party whip but resignations from the party…. and enough to spearhead a new Left party?

So to a new party with some Left Independents in it. One of the many points from the book was the huge disadvantage a new party would have would be the State funding of the political system.
This manifests itself in various ways.
- Why would (for instance) Left Independents Catherine Murphy or John Halligan jettison their €41,000 leaders allowance to join a new party? Especially when it would probably lead to the loss of some of their constituency staff.
- The changes in the rules regarding political donations makes it very difficult for a new party (especially a Left of centre one) to assemble a war chest to organise and fight elections.
- The current model of Political funding is based on previous election performance, so a new party is at an immediate disadvantage to existing parties. The bigger the number of seats won the bigger slice of the political funding pie the existing parties get, whilst the new party gets nothing.

Now could ‘opponents of the household and water taxes and the victims of austerity’ found a new party? possibly but it would more likely be An Anti Austerity Alliance rather than an actual party. Even then what policies would be in common, what agreement would candidates sign (Like The Statement agreed at the foundation of the United Left Alliance) to stand for the new Alliance? The problem too is that its highly unusual for a party without a high profile leader or without electorally experienced candidates to make any kind of breakthrough.
The Local Elections are due in May 2014, so we’ll find out if there’s going to be a new party soon enough.

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Comments»

1. BroadLeftBrowne - October 31, 2012

http://www.politicalcompass.org/ireland2011 from last year, i wouldnt wait on Nulty to form a ‘Democratic Labour Left’-type party, it wouldn’t have a huge base, most young angry urban workers will vote Sinn Fein or emigrate, many businessmen are calling for a PD-type party that would crack the Croke Park pact, while the Socialist Party is extremely extremely reluctant (its not the time nor correct objective conditions, towards even a unitary party (one label, multiple parties), while People Before Profit think they can go solo in building an activist-type party, not sure what the ULA’s Clare Daly or independent Joan Collins would think. It is a paralysis

2. BroadLeftBrowne - October 31, 2012

This was in June after the Austerity Treaty from a ULA independent but is still highly relevant about the challenges of building a real Left party http://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2012/06/30/shock-austerity-sinn-fein-and-the-united-left-alliance-a-view-from-ireland/

3. fluffykontbiscuits - October 31, 2012

We have been discussing this here , we drew up a policy of what we are about and looking to discuss it more in depth http://www.politicalworld.org/showthread.php?t=13047

BroadLeftBrowne - November 1, 2012

That debate started off as list demands , fair enough, but then suddenly degenerated into name-calling over lack of/toomuch nationalism & the Left

4. Julian Assandwich - November 1, 2012

CAHWT is not and will not be a party. There is a very strong anti-electoral strand within it and rightly so. Should the movement be tempered by electoral aspirations then it’ll lose the edge that sustains it. It would be an absolute disaster if anyone saw it in that light and pushed for it.

Also, I’ve coughed up a rambling post after reading Campaign for Labour Policies calling for Labour to renegotiate the PfG and encouraging people to protest on 24 November. There are some good people in Labour who are running out of time that we should support.

http://weareragbags.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/last-stand-of-the-labour-left/

Mark P - November 1, 2012

I don’t think the CAHWT will be “a party”, nor do I think it should be. I do think however that it’s entirely possible that it will endorse electoral candidates at some point, as the Dublin Federation of Anti-Water Tax Campaigns did to considerable effect. Or then again it may not. Elections are a long way away.

eamonncork - November 1, 2012

It’s also possible that should the CAHWT win its battles, people who’ve got involved in it, having realised that there is actually an alternative, may be emboldened to fight further battles against right wing economic policy. Which could lead to the foundation of a new party.

Julian Assandwich - November 1, 2012

I agree. Encouraging workingclass people who have drawn more political(leftwing) conclusions over the course of CAHWT to get involved with establishing a new left party would be the best use of any good-will generated towards the left.

5. richotto - November 1, 2012

The only appeal a new party would have in my opinion is if it says something new or at least offers a different combination of proposals. A lot of assumptions from contributers here assume that those for instance who favour a wealth tax or serious redistribution of wealth also support for example the priviliged position of public sector workers earning 60-100k a year, or oppose a property tax. Whos to say that all these beliefs which are advanced as left wing neccessarily go together. Yet its effectively considered heresy among left wing activists to analyse each issue on its merits. Thats why a new party will have to recognize that the Irish public especially among private sector workers just dosn’t buy the slogans about blaming it all on the bankers etc. Its not accurate to dismiss all arguments found in the Sunday Independent as unfounded propoganda. Good propoganda has to have a some factual basis. There is I believe a huge social democratic feeling out there and its a disgrace that the so called left have been too self indulgent to listen preferring instead to lecture.

eamonncork - November 1, 2012

Genius, sheer genius. If the Left had you in charge they’d be sweeping up. All they’d have to do is blame the public sector rather than the bankers and the job would be oxo.

RosencrantzisDead - November 2, 2012

It is exactly what the left needs right now: another concern troll.

And one who reads the Sindo too!

CL - November 2, 2012

Certainly the social democratic ideology of Eoghan Harris is a regular feature of the Sindo.

6. richotto - November 2, 2012

If the far left were serious about engaging with relevant issues such as severe pay inequality between teachers for example and workers earning the average wage compared to our peers in Europe rather than being so highly selective on what they wish to discuss then at least I would argue they would strike a better cord than they are at the moment. For 40 yrs or so many public sector professionals were filling their boots taking advantage of their manoply position and private sector workers were being left behind and treated effectively as second class workers. These are facts we have to face up to otherwise the right will be judged to be more accurate in their statements. Why give the Devil the best tunes as the guy who founded the Salvation Army said?

7. richotto - November 2, 2012

The above reaction is predictably sad considering that intelligent activists should at least be considering what they are doing wrong at this stage. There is no entity from the ULA which has been able to even register in opinion polls. Even the Greens get 2%! This at a time when the boat should have really come in for the left. The sporadic support Ula parties received has been drained since the election at a time when the levels of street activity were being ramped up. I did indeed read the Sunday Indo once in about five or six years recently on the plane when there was nothing else available so sorry, guilty as charged! This kind of arrogance and intolerance has to be registering with more than just political anoracks and transmitting itself in media appearences. Its time for left wing people interested in real equality to speak up. I’m interested in helping people at the bottom not well off vested interests like public sector professionals on 60k up and property owners who should pay their way as they do in every other country with universal socialist approval.

8. Zinaida Nourreddine - May 10, 2013

Join Sli Nios Fearr. We walk against Austerity, 10 – 18th May 2013.
On the N7. To Dublin. Look us up. Join us.

Zinaida Nourreddine


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