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What are they up to? January 5, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.

The latest (confirmed) news from the Reform Alliance is that:

[it will] hold its first conference on 25 January at the RDS [as] TD Billy Timmins has confirmed.

But perish the thought that this is a step towards a political party.

…the conference would not focus on any political ideology and was not intended as a step towards the launch of a political party.

Though it will…

focus on three main policy areas – political, economic and health reform.

You’d have to wonder at some people’s grasp of the concept of political ideology, and how that can be so neatly detached from ‘policy’ – most particularly in the areas suggested.

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1. Tawdy - January 5, 2014

You think they are gonna be a new and improved version of fg/ff/lab/pd/grn combination? A sorta one for all in the audience mixed bag thingy?

Albeight sorta away from the middle and closer to the edge of right whinge……….sorry, wing, non party like?

Really, are we that easily fooled? Is that what they think or even hope?

Vote for us cause we are shiny new.

2. Mark P - January 5, 2014


3. fergal - January 5, 2014

This is depressing. Creighton is becoming a kind of icon for the Sindo. The RA has 5 TDs and 2 Senators, with the possibility of more. People like McWilliams and Tom McGurk will be at the RDS.Just another version of the PDs. They will capture a populist vote that wants lower taxes and public services down to the bone.This really is a strange country, New York gets De Blasio and it looks like we’ll have fine Gael in government for the next twenty years.

CL - January 5, 2014

Well Peter Sutherland is a Fine Gaeler and a Goldman Sachs man.
“On Monday, Mr. de Blasio announced that Alicia Glen, an executive of the Goldman Sachs investment banking firm and a former city official, will be the deputy mayor for housing and economic development”

6to5against - January 5, 2014

The RDS can’t come cheap for a meeting like this. It would be very interesting to know who’s writing the cheques for this non-party.

EWI - January 5, 2014

Very. Let’s hope either the Village or the Phoenix gets on the case.

que - January 6, 2014

RDS has a no. of venues from 150 through 1000 on to the many thousands so they could probably avoid the very big costs but it will still be a costly day out.

workers republic - January 5, 2014

yes Fergal , on the ball! whether the becomes a registered party or stays an alliance it will be a political force to the Right of the government, like the BNP is to the Right of the British Government, competing for populist right -wing voters and pushing the gov. further to the Right.
Creighton’s ECONOMIC criticisms of gov. were that it compromised too much to the LP. That it wasn’t enough to the Right. A lot will depends on the support they get at the next GE and after the votes are counted. It’s ominous that Sutherland , former of Goldman Sachs, former Chairman that is of GOLDMAN SACHS is supporting them.

WorldbyStorm - January 5, 2014

Very true workers republic, it will operate in the way that some left parties try to operate in relation to the LP (more in the UK than here it has to be said). And it can of course be used by Kenny as a convenient excuse too.

richotto - January 5, 2014

Thats true but on the other hand to be fair the ULA spokespeople must have had some serious inside influence to be getting on the telly for a couple of years at least out of all proportion to their support of 2.5% in 2011. So you have to take the rough with the smooth.

Ed - January 6, 2014

Yeah, that’s it exactly – the ULA Industrial Department had RTE current affairs sewn up.

4. Liberius - January 5, 2014

Those obscurantist tendencies aren’t working too well, I mean who doesn’t look at their website, swish logo and quasi-party recognition in the Dáil and not see an embryonic party in the making? albeit a party probably likely to stay inside the EPP orbit.

Still for all the nebulous talk they’ve gone into this ‘rebel’ business with a lot more courage than the Labour defectors who haven’t even the wherewithal to organise a loose grouping. Fabians groping thin air, who would have ever guessed such a thing?

littlemicky2012 - January 5, 2014

That’s a fair pint Liberius the labour defectors are the ones who should be making the running in this new party business instead tis the Sindo/RA. Fortune favours the bold.

Ed - January 6, 2014

Yeah but I suppose from the LP defectors, Broughan and Nulty would like to launch something on a left-social democratic platform, with some of the indies, Shortall just wants to keep her seat, and Keaveney has already done the dirty deed. Whereas the FG defectors aren’t too pushed about coming up with a coherent platform, they can just pick a few talking-points from Sindo columns, self-promotion is the name of the game. Also, if there was a left-of-Labour party/alliance formed tomorrow, it might get a fair bit of publicity, but it certainly wouldn’t have the Sindo bigging up Broughan, Nulty or Pringle as the great white hope of Irish politics. Creighton is the latest in a long line of politicians with the brains and charisma of a decrepit herring to get a sycophantic hearing in the media because it suits them to pretend that Cowen/McDowell/Noonan/any auld eejit is a political titan.

5. CL - January 5, 2014

‘Those who try to lead the people can only do so by following the mob’-Oscar, I think.

But jokes aside its good to see that they will ‘focus on three main policy areas – political, economic and health reform.’

and that ‘the conference would not focus on any political ideology’. Way to go.

EWI - January 5, 2014

I like how “political policy” is differentiated from the other two magically.

And for people wondering about the awkward language being used by the RA and their neoliberal cheerleaders in the Dublin media, I’m guessing that they discovered “non-partisan” and “centrist” didn’t travel well from Washington DC, which is where a lot of this nonsense originates.

Johnny Forty Coats - January 5, 2014

“Je suis leur chef, il fallait bien les suivre” (“I am their leader, I really had to follow them”). Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin, one of the leaders of the 1848 revolution, referring to the Paris mob.

Ideology should be left to the academics; policies are the stuff of politics. Indeed, French uses the same word for both “policy” and “politics”.

que - January 6, 2014

I think too much weight is being given to the comment that there will be no political ideology.

If there was going to be no political ideology at that meeting we would not now be commenting about it.

There meeting will be full of ideology because policy is ideology in practice.

Johnny Forty Coats - January 6, 2014

“Policy is ideology in practice” – this is an idea that could only be entertained by someone with an ideological commitment.

If it were true, it would be possible to link policies to an ideology which inspired them.

Try that with the following random examples:

1. Ireland should develop nuclear power.
2. Ireland should leave the euro.
3. Sponsorship of sporting events by drinks companies should be prohibited.
4. The age of sexual consent should be lowered to 16.
5. Greater power should be devolved to local authorities.
6. Major power lines should be routed underground.
7. The restrictions on growing GM crops should be relaxed.
8. Ireland should take measures to reduce carbon emissions.
9. Government departments should be relocated to the regions.
10. Science should be a core subject on the primary school curriculum.
etc. etc. etc.

6. Brian Hanley - January 5, 2014

There are a lot of angry people out there and they are looking for a home. Some of them would be reactionaries in any era but some are ordinary people who are disillusioned. McWilliams is adept at populist rhetoric, Donnelly is widely liked, Ross is never off the radio denouncing corruption- if they hook up with SINDO Lucinda the RA might have traction for a while. The right’s key arguments were never really damaged despite the recession, in Ireland at least. On social issues (and perhaps dealing with Sinn Féin) that line-up would have differences so they may be a flash in the pan.

Blissett - January 5, 2014

I don’t think McWilliams will get involved with them, I think he’s only chairing a session and he’s a just a hoor for accepting any invitation to get on a platform

CL - January 5, 2014

Although Milton Friedman is his hero and he has praised the neoliberal experiment in New Zealand, David McWilliams is not an ideologue. Right.

Ed - January 6, 2014

Didn’t he speak at the opening rally for the Enough! (remember them) campaign?

7. fergal - January 5, 2014

Apart form her Neandethal stnace on abortion rights I recall two of Creighton’s intervetions on the radio recently. One was in opposition in favour of cur=tting the minimum wage and the other was equating the far left in Greece with Stalin.How come a bunch of reactionaries can get it together but those on the left can’t/

EWI - January 5, 2014

Who gets to pick the uniform and the salute, then? Lucinda? Though I hear McDowell has form in addressing meetings in a military uniform.

richotto - January 5, 2014

Possibly because they are nicer people. I was struck once reading one of Michael Moores book, think it was “Stupid White Men” when he said he could’nt help but noticie how nice people of the right were as individuals. I think there is something in the “ferrets in a sack” cliche about far left parties. It seems to bring the worst out in people.

que - January 6, 2014

I don’t think there are in any way nicer people at all.

The main reasons the reactionaries get it together is because they have a broad goal and work for it while accepting or tolerating their differences on some issues.

Something like the Rebel alliance above are all broadly neo-liberal and will likely help shape the debate away from where it needs to go without having everyone line up in a clear ideological fashion.

Everyone on the left have the same broad goal but we can’t work together for it because as it gets granular we all fall out.

Basically they are more venal and open to compromise and we are more purist and factional.

ejh - January 6, 2014

They also have a lot more money, and their contacts are a great deal better. And they say things that people in positions of influence tend to find attractive.

8. sonofstan - January 5, 2014

So who’s going along as the CLR mole? I’d do it, but I’ll be back in economic exile by then.

WorldbyStorm - January 5, 2014

You know the thought struck me that someone should. But… :(

Joe - January 6, 2014

Yep. It’s open to all. Potential there to disrupt by being very silly at it. Maybe Ben Gilroy’s gang might turn up to bring some common sense to the occasion.

EamonnCork - January 6, 2014

A possible approach.

9. RosencrantzisDead - January 6, 2014

I would wait a bit before we all start lamenting the rise of the Fine Gael extra strong. This group has to turn into something coherent. A good chunk of those will be seeking to return to the Fine Gael family as soon as is reasonably possible. Mathews will probably go it alone, but FG regards him as a loose cannon, anyway. He might stand a better chance of re-election if he stands as an independent.

Do recall that the New Vision group of right-wing independents/Libertas leftovers ran in the last election and the only candidate elected was Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan. He would seem to be an outlier for New Vision (they were all anti-choice). I have yet to see any evidence of these groups doing any better than any comparable left-wing grouping.

RosencrantzisDead - January 6, 2014

Also, Marc Coleman started the National Alliance. He then discovered that there was already an ultra-right wing, patriarchal, hate group using the name.

So he changed it to the National Forum. Anyone heard of them since?

CL - January 6, 2014

Whatever happened to ‘Claiming the Future’ which was all the rage one weekend a few years ago?

LeftAtTheCross - January 6, 2014

CoF wasn’t a political party though CL. They’re still ticking along, I was at an event co-hosted by them in Laois a month or so ago on the subject of renewable energy and energy democracy in general (which is a growing public issue in the midland counties what with the private sector windfarm project planning on putting up 1000 wind turbines across the area to generate electricity for export to GB). To answer your question though, my impression is that the enormity of the initial discussion in the RDS was difficult to follow up in any useful way, in a way that kept up or built upon the initial momentum, so it just dissipated in too many directions after all the initial talking stopped. And it’s probably easier to keep up momentum behind something as relatively superficial as a new party than it is behind a loose discussion around more deeply structural issues which effect the economy and society.

Tomboktu - January 7, 2014

(Was searchin for CL’s comment. Couldn’t find it with the search engine. The group’s names is Claiming Our Future. Bah!)

I got their email today. Their work programme is available here: http://www.claimingourfuture.ie/events/latest/2013/12/19/cofs-work-programme-for-2014/

It has a central group and three working groups:
- The Democracy Working Group
- The Income Equality Working Group
- The “Declaration For a New Republic” Working group

CL - January 8, 2014

Thank you, comrades. Good information and good points. Its good that COF has an Income Equality Working Group.
Income inequality is the political topic du jour here in NYC and in the U.S. generally. Perhaps Occupy had some effect.
The man from Hot Springs, Bill Clinton, expressed his dismay at the growing inequality worldwide at the de Blasio inauguration; this from the ideological successor to Reagan who brought us NAFTA, welfare reform, and the repeal of Glass-Steagall,etc. The hypocrite has no shame.
de Blasio i think means well but its doubtful if he is altogether aware of the deeply structural issues that create inequality. (But he’s better than Bloomberg who said that homelessness was the will of God) Obama might well make inequality a theme in his upcoming State of the Union address.
Its good that the topic of inequality has entered public discourse; an interesting question is what happens when the political rhetoric of mainstream pols is seen to be just that-rhetoric.

WorldbyStorm - January 8, 2014

“de Blasio i think means well but its doubtful if he is altogether aware of the deeply structural issues that create inequality.”

Excellent point CL.

10. Joe - January 6, 2014

Back to the original question: What are they at?
I think what they are at is founding a new party, a new PDs.
The usual drill for people who get kicked out of a Parliamentary Party on a “matter of principle” is that they keep their heads down, vote along party lines on all subsequent Dáil/Seanad votes and get re-admitted to the Parliamentary Party after a respectable period of time – like how Willie Penrose was dealt with.
But Lucinda’s gang is doing a lot more – registering as a third party with the whatsit commission, holding this conference, niggling away at Enda’s FG in the media.
To me, it’s quite clever, a sort of slow-build mimic of the PDs inception. So far, there isn’t the momentum/frenzy of the PD formation period – packed, packed public meetings up and down the country. But by starting with this RDS conference, something similar could build or something that they could found a new party on, could build.
With the get-out clause that, if momentum doesn’t build ( and/or they don’t get the sugar-daddy backing of a Denis O’Brien or other assorted wealthy exploiters ), they can ditch it and climb back on board the FG ship.

ivorthorne - January 6, 2014

The RA is a vehicle for its core members.

The likes of SD – should he join it – will be thrown under the bus should the opportunity arise for LC to return to FG in a position of influence.

Jack Jameson - January 8, 2014

Simon Donnelly would be a fool to dignify Lucinda’s true blues by joining them.

11. BB - January 8, 2014

It is rather ironic that the Reform Alliance sees no problem in having representatives of different viewpoints in the same group. Sad to see that there could be more unity in their ranks than there is on the Left. But hey, when you are not in power, opportunist politics beckons.

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