More on Mandela… December 19, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, Northern Ireland, The Left.
Some interesting stuff in the Phoenix this week, the last issue proper of the year (and I’ve already points towards the excellent annual Phoenix…erm …Annual which gives a pretty good overview of the bad and the not so great).
The current issue notes the contortions the orthodoxy have got into in trying to put distance between Mandela and Sinn Féin, but also notes that the ANC was keen to use IRA expertise (as those of us who paid attention when this first broke a while back this was apparently through the good offices of Michael O’Riordain) during the Sasol bombing operation in 1980. It notes that one of those who subsequently pointed to that as an example of justifiable political violence was David Miliband.
More recently the ANC played what some would argue was a fairly central role in encouraging the SF base to accept the peace process in the late 1990s, and this is – naturally – in addition to the continual links between the ANC and SF throughout the period.
And it is difficult not to agree with the proposition that:
The spectacle of coalition minister, egotistical rock celebrities and other body snatchers basking in Mandela’s reflected glory is only be be expected. But he airbrushing of SF and Adams from the frame – regardless of political views and arguments from all sides – is another example of the Irish media reverting to Section 31 mode.
There’s a longer piece on Adams in the magazine which engages with precisely that issue, and makes the sensible observation that if anything these attacks make the prospect of Adams going sooner rather than later much less likely. And while it is entirely possible this will put a dent in SF’s ratings, as the Phoenix notes, so far it hasn’t damaged them anywhere near as badly as might be expected (by those who are making the attacks).
It does address other issues, such as the party’s hope of doubling its representation. Personally I think it much more feasible for them to reach the low 20s. That said though, the lesson of 2011 was that they were suddenly succeeding in places where their broader profile was lower than might be expected with names who had no national currency whatsoever. That too has changed. But 28 seats would be an huge task even on the best of days.
And yet, as always there are other issues. Worth considering is the fact that they are almost inevitably going to see an increase in the number of councillors, with a possible knock on effect on their Seanad representation further down the line. And then there’s the European elections. They should, at a minimum take one seat. It’s possible they might get two, thought three is probably pushing it.
In other words, despite the problems they face (and by the way the Phoenix notes something that we’ve pointed to here also, that in relation to the Liam Adams case the Irish political class has tended to leave well alone – it also notes that both Colm O’Gorman and the director of One in Four have ‘refused to pass judgement… circuiting the human complexities in family situations’ which may well account for the lack of traction that has had) SF as a political force in this state is here to stay and the overall situation is extremely favourable – nor least the decline of the LP.
Using Adams as a lightning rod is probably an inevitable element of that dispensation. It was bound to happen sooner or later, in a more covert or more explicit fashion – though interesting to reflect on how events might have unfolded if he hadn’t contested a seat in the Dáil.
I wonder if that’s such a clever approach on the part of those who oppose SF, because it does suggest that short of breaking SF as a political force in this state – a deeply unlikely proposition, they will instead exhaust their energies in trying to dislodge him as leader. And in doing so, it will merely accentuate the distinction between SF with Adams and SF without, something that is going to occur with the passage of time.