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Any old European Parliament group will do… June 24, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in European Politics, Irish Politics.
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And as CMK notes in comments, Brian Crowley has been expelled from the FF parliamentary party!

Ireland South MEP Brian Crowley is no longer a member of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party.

The long-serving Cork politician lost the party whip as a consequence of his decision to depart from the Alde group in the European Parliament to join the Eurosceptic European Conservative and Reformist group.

Can’t really say I’m surprised at the news that Brian Crowley MEP for Ireland South, and member of Fianna Fáil, has jumped from FF’s EP Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group to the Conservative Reformist group led by the British Tories. Crowley has always been a more conservative figure than some might have thought.

Entertaining too to see FF slowly push back as it began to realise just how problematic this actually was, moving from a relaxed enough position on it to one where FF chief whip Seán Ó Fearghail acknowledged that Crowley’s actions constituted ‘major difficulties’ for them.

And so it does. Bad enough to be beaten back to one MEP representing them from Ireland, but to see the one remaining MEP go on a solo run is worse again (and have to effectively jettison him). Does this damage Martin’s authority? Sure it does, but political parties are voluntary associations and there’s little he can do. Eject Crowley and he loses him – probably for good. Sit tight and nothing changes, but Crowley remains a member of a group which Ó Fearghail admitted that ‘FF had absolutely nothing in common’. That’s probably pushing it, but it has to be a bitter pill to swallow to see Crowley joining a Tory led group.

Interesting to see this comparison made:

“If you take this course of action, then you move on,” said one TD, who did not want to state his position before today’s meeting.
“It would be like someone here joining the technical group and it’s not dissimilar to Lucinda [Creighton]leaving the Fine Gael parliamentary party but remaining a member of the party.”

Of course the issue of groups is fairly fluid in the EP but there are limits to that fluidity and Crowley appears to have reached them.

As to FF more broadly, well, yet another example of how the party is unravelling at the seams. It’s not a major crisis, it has little functional effect upon domestic politics in this state, but it contributes yet another small example of how things are not as they were. The seemingly near-invincible political machine that dominated the Celtic Tiger years is now a smoking hulk shifting hither and yon across the political landscape with no clear direction in mind and with some members of the crew happy enough to hang on by a fingernail.

You know, I’d almost have some sympathy for Martin.

Almost.

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Comments»

1. CMK - June 24, 2014

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/fianna-fail-formally-expel-brian-crowley-from-party-30380509.html

He’s been expelled. No FF in the Euro Parliament. No Labour either. Only FG to go! As Ming put it on his FB page: there are now more MEPs in my house than in FF. It looks like FF’s ‘recovery’ is as overplayed as the economy’s.

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2. LeftAtTheCross - June 24, 2014

We’ll have to wait for the weekend in depth analysis in the Sindo of course but my money is on calls for Crowley to align with the Reform Alliance and provide them with the added weight of an MEP seat.

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Jack Jameson - June 24, 2014

Interesting idea.

If that happens, might we expect more fracturing of Fianna Fáil’s socially conservative wing?

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3. WorldbyStorm - June 24, 2014

Thanks CMK. That’s not exactly a surprise, what choice did they have. As you say, now just FG to go!

LATC, that’s a terrifying thought.

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4. Nessa Childers MEP (@NChildersMEP) - June 24, 2014

I find all this fuss about Crowley infuriating in the media. There are serious things going on out here involving attempts to ensure that the EPP god along with the centre left majority agenda. Which isn’t likely. Partly because of Crowley the EcR are now bigger then ALDE. Which affects this process and therefore us here. Does he care? NO!

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Mark P - June 24, 2014

Jesus, Nessa, you don’t half talk some drivel.

There’s a business as usual, neoliberal majority in the European Parliament. That includes the group Crowley joined and the group he left. It also includes the group you crawled back into.

Convincing “the EPP to go along with the centre left majority agenda” may well be the single stupidest proposition anyone has put forward here since the last time some Labour clown went on a trolling spree about Labour’s allegedly positive influence on Fine Gael.

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WorldbyStorm - June 24, 2014

Don’t be so personally obnoxious Mark P. If you’ve a political critique fair enough but rein in the rest. And just to add NC is the only MEP or prospective MEP who has ever come on here in all the years we’ve been going and been willing to engage – not one other ever bothered their barney.

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Mark P - June 24, 2014

Nessa Childers is an extremely highly paid professional politician. She does not need to be protected from the trauma of being told she is talking drivel. Particularly when she is in fact talking drivel.

Childers has scurried back into the right wing, neo liberal, former social democrats group in Europe, which will as always be voting for business as usual politics. I didn’t expect anything much better from her, and I doubt if you did either, despite her doing her best to present herself as vaguely anti-austerity when she was running for election. In fact, so little would anyone reasonably expect from her in terms of radicalism that I wouldn’t usually waste the pixels criticising her.

However when she puts forward a point of view that is not just wrong but outrageously, almost unbelievably, stupid, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to point that out. Nobody who can count thinks that there is a majority in the European Parliament that is “centre left” in any way that doesn’t define the Liberal Democrats or PASOK as “centre left”. The argument that not only is their a centre left majority but that this “majority” has an “agenda” that is meaningfully to the left of the EPP is borderline flat earthism. And anyone who further thinks that the EPP could be convinced to “go along” with this fictional agenda (if only it weren’t for Brian Crowley and his shocking abandonment of the Lib Dems!) is frankly beyond my ability to do justice to.

There is nothing in the above I wouldn’t have said to any non-MEP contributor here.

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WorldbyStorm - June 25, 2014

Just to be clear, I don’t want undue deference to anyone and particularly not elected reps, but nor do I want elected representatives who should be answerable to citizens, and in particular reps who make the effort to engage here, to encounter a pointlessly hostile response that by its very nature short-circuits any meaningful communication. Nor is there any merit in sub-macho internet chest-beating of a type that has made other sites a waste of time. The instance we get into terms like stupidity and drivel and terms that through their waspish asperity are immediately loaded we’re on the path to there and given that on this site I’m one of a number of people involved in its smooth running this is my call, not yours.

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workers republic - June 24, 2014

Re Marc’s comment; I don’t know much about European parliamentary politics, but if Nessa rejoined the group that the Irish LP are part of, well as Queen Vicky was know to say, ” we are not impressed”!
They do not espouse socialist ideals or policies. France is supposed to have a Socialist president and government , but when capitalists started pulling their money out of the country, the country government took no remedial action to to counter this and buckled and went down the so-called “austerity” road of cutbacks . Again one their former”Socialist” leaders is Secretary of the IMF (afaIk), some socialist!

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WorldbyStorm - June 25, 2014

I’m quite happy to critique her for that. But again it’s a matter of tone.

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ejh - June 25, 2014

Again one their former”Socialist” leaders is Secretary of the IMF (afaIk), some socialist!

Bit out of date here, though the basic point still holds.

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5. Mick - June 24, 2014

Amusing to hear FFers in the media going on about how the right-wing parties of ECR are anathema to FF. FF only joined ALDE in 2009. If you look at the smaller constituent parties of Union for Europe of the Nations, of which FF was one of the two major parties before 2009, it was comparatively much more to the right of ECR and closer to the make-up of EFD. Indeed after the implosion of UEN, some of the parties switched their allegiances to ECR, others (I think most!) to EFD. FF didn’t seem to have a problem bedding down with the Danish People’s Party and even Lega Nord five years ago.

Sorry, abbreviation overload.

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hardcorefornerds - June 24, 2014

Well, prior to the UEN Fianna Fáil was allied with the French Gaullists, but they were kinda stuck when they left for the EPP, as did the other main non-Eurosceptic part of the UEN… odd bedfellows (conservative or liberal) are obviously preferable to ‘merging’ with FG at the European level. Essentially as long has Ireland’s continuing conservative duopoly isn’t mirrored in Europe, FF have a problem (although said duopoly has clearly been considerably weakened at home).

I’m surprised there’s been so little reference to Crowley’s original opposition to joining ALDE. God forbid ideological stances, especially the more reactionary ones, are discussed in mainstream Irish politics, I suppose (not saying there isn’t opportunism or pragmatism in his move either though)

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6. sonofstan - June 24, 2014

Crowley was always basically an independent anyway.

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7. sonofstan - June 24, 2014

It’s kind of amusing that Seán Ó Fearghail thinks the Tories are ‘a bunch of headbangers’

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Mark P - June 24, 2014

There’s a certain eventoif truth to that – MEP is not a prized position in mainstream British politics and the Tories tend to tuck away their more swivel eyed sorts on Euro lists.

But from the point of view of a Fianna Failer (or any other Irish establishment politician) the key dividing line between sensible people and euro sceptics. O’Fhearghail may be in broad accord with the gist of Tory politics on most matters, but anyone who is critical of the blessed EU in any way is by definition a dangerous nutter.

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Mark P - June 24, 2014

“Element of”

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8. Nessa Childers MEP (@NChildersMEP) - June 25, 2014

Sure I’m used to mark p and jrg at this point. Pat Rabbittes new, mysterious, cyber thought police will protect me!

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Jolly Red Giant - June 25, 2014

In all honesty Nessa – you are back in the EU Parliament a couple of wet days and you broke probably the only promise you were willing to make during the election campaign – to remain an independent.

When you were in the S&D group you voted for practically every pro-austerity measure in the parliament with the rest of the neo-liberals in the S&D group – then you resigned from the LP and left (or got booted) from the S&D group and starting apologising for all the nasty things you voted for.

Once the election began you played up all the ‘independent’ nonsense and then as soon as you get a chance you get your two feet back into the very same parliamentary group that is cheerleading for austerity first, last and always.

Nessa stepped in – Nessa stepped out again – Nessa is an independent when it suits her for an election campaign – Nessa is back supporting austerity once she gets the chance. Clearly Nessa never forgot the lessons from the parish pump politicians when she was in FF.

This comment by Nessa would be laughable if it weren’t such a downright lie –
“I am delighted to return to the leading progressive family in Europe. We have a record as a very cohesive group that has fought for an alternative to the conservative, austerity-led response to the crisis”

http://nessachilders.ie/2014/06/18/nessa-childers-mep-formally-re-joins-the-socialists-and-democrats-sd-political-grouping-in-the-european-parliament/

Just to remind people of some of the drivel that Mark P talked about – direct from the horses mouth

“We’ve had quite enough, thank you.” It’s the day to say that the suffering inflicted by the Troika programme, and now continued by the Fine Gael/Labour government is unacceptable and immoral.”

‘After all, if six or seven out of our 11 MEPs – and that is a realistic figure – are independent or from a non-establishment party, then we can really drive change together.”

‘I don’t have a slick party-machine behind me, so I don’t have to toe a party-line”

Jeeezzzz

One has to wonder was this decision more to do with the funding available from the group than any real political conviction?

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WorldbyStorm - June 25, 2014

You know what gets on my goat, so to speak, is the shoot first ask questions later approach which generates more heat than light.

Now, if it were me I’d be asking why did NC rejoin (after all the issues relating to it) the SD group. What measures has that group taken to counter austerity both within the EP and in terms of influencing their parties at a national level where in government. Why wasn’t another group chosen to join, etc, etc.

Each of those – and more – is well worth asking and well worth hearing the response to. And we can come to a judgement about how satisfactory those responses are.

But no, rather than asking what the rationale is it’s ‘drivel’ and so on, and then below we have NC making the point that she never promised to not join an EP group which if accurate undermines most of the above critique again leading to more heat than light.

I’m all for holding our politicians accountable, particularly those who seek to represent the left, but when it descends to this farcical level…

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Jolly Red Giant - June 25, 2014

You don’t have to look very far for the answer she would give WbS – its there on her website and I linked to the article above.

The real reason of course is that Nessa Childers never really had a problem with supporting austerity, cried crocodile tears when it became clear she wouldn’t have a dog’s hope in hell of holding her seat as a LP candidate – and then went back to business as usual. There is another 5 years before she has to face the electorate again – maybe at that stage she’ll have joined the Reform Alliance’s new ‘Independents Alliance’. Like I said – she didn’t forget the training she got in the ranks of FF (and the GP and the LP and the S&D – have I forgotten anybody?)

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WorldbyStorm - June 25, 2014

Sorry, none of those actually answer the questions I’ve suggested or the point I’m making JRG. They’re your interpretation as to her politics and her motivations. And the nature of that sort of interpretation and sort of intervention makes the simple task of communication much less easy.

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Jolly Red Giant - June 25, 2014

WbS – do you believe there is any basis to the assessment of the S&D outlined in the quote above from Nessa Childers – because that is the best you’re going to get.

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BB - June 25, 2014

Mark P and JRG: the tone of some comments above is unwelcome. You seemed to steer clear of this in recent times. Nessa’s statement is not “drivel”: it is a different point of view.

I can only reckon that such comments can be made with the explicit intention of causing offence, or at least annoyance. However, I don’t disregard the notion that the motivation is critique. And I know how to value the frequency and astute comments you can sometimes make too.

While regard should be had to the right to free speech – including the right to be offensive or even abhorrent on occasion – consideration should be given also to the off-putting effect on contributors. This can manifest itself in different ways which varies from fear to repugnance.

You do yourselves no favour with the offensive knee-jerk response. This kind of critique is about as persuasive as vegetarians lecturing us on the value of meat. My gut instinct is always to switch off giving consideration to the more substantive arguments you tend to make. It’s poor show.

I ask you to tone it down and show respect for others. Of course, feel free to be as critical as you wish, the sharper – the better. But, let’s have some on-line behaviour that is conducted in a comradely way.

“Abusive language and swearing are a legacy of slavery, humiliation, and disrespect for human dignity, one’s own and that of other people.”
― Leon Trotsky

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Mark P - June 26, 2014

BB, not all “different opinions” are equal, nor are they all deserving of respect. On any issue some different opinions are misguided, some are disingenuous, some are silly, or reactionary, or poisonous, or malicious and some are complete drivel. People are entitled to hold whatever opinions they like, but that includes the right to hold the opinion that someone else’s view is mince.

I understand your opinions on politeness and on what you call “offensive knee jerk responses”, but unfortunately I have no particular interest in your views on the subject.

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WorldbyStorm - June 29, 2014

That’s well out of order Mark P to BB (and your response to ejh is of the same tone). I only came back to this thread in relation to another and it’s very disappointing to see how much antagonism there is from you directed to people asking for the bare minimum of reasonable engagement on this site.

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9. Gewerkschaftler - June 25, 2014

“almost have some sympathy for Martin.”

Na – not almost. Not even possibly.

What they did to us during the ‘plastic Celtic Tiger / debt enslavement’ years and especially during the bankster guarantee is (at least for me) still fresh.

Long may the smoking hulk collapse inwards!

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CMK - June 25, 2014

+1!!! No quarter for FF!

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WorldbyStorm - June 25, 2014

Fair points all!

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sonofstan - June 25, 2014

No argument with an of the above re sympathy for FF, but, from a distance anyway, it looks as if they handled it fairly well. Kicked him out and were fairly clear as to why – I agree with Mark P. that euroscepticism is the big issue nad not the headbangers, but by their own lights, it looks as if Martin had a good game. Not disarray anyway

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10. Nessa Childers MEP (@NChildersMEP) - June 25, 2014

Sorry JRG but that is absolutely outrageous and possibly defamatory, I ALWAYS said I would join a group out here, as you well know. And remain an Indo at home. Do you think revolutionary politics gives you an excuse for this kind of thing?

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Jolly Red Giant - June 25, 2014

And you joined the group that implements the exact same policies that you claim you oppose here and why you left the LP?

I await how you can square that circle.

As for what you said before the election – there were several occasions, including the TV debates, where you danced circles around the issue.

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que - June 25, 2014

What revolutionary politics Nessa?

Spending 100k on an election campaign and engaging in multiple TV debates isn’t revolutionary.

I think the barracking you have been on the end of here lacks a touch of class but to move beyond that and just focus on what you wrote I would suggest calling them revolutionary is to maybe join in their game and gives their childish approach a weight it does not have.

There also may be a rancour that you have the three letters after your name.

Being petty isn’t revolutionary otherwise my nephew who has some petulant stormers with his sister would be a new Che but he’s not a revolutionary he’s a very haughty boy

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Mark P - June 26, 2014

Yes of course, there are no political issues at stake between Childers and people to her left, and anyone who criticises her is motivated by bitterness, envy and childishness. It’s always useful to have someone around to post this kind of smug apolitical piety from time to time.

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ejh - June 26, 2014

You really don’t understand about not using insults, and you really ought to by now.

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Mark P - June 26, 2014

You really don’t understand that I have no interest in your views on this subject and you really ought to by now.

I would have thought, by the way, that a renowned pedant would be able to distinguish between the characterisation of a view and a characterisation of a person. The reference to you as a pedant might usually be considered an insult (although in this case it isn’t intended as one). The description of que’s smug and apolitical view as smug and apolitical is a characterisation of a point of view and is no more or less insulting than his characterisation of my own views as childish, motivated by envy etc in the very post I was responding to.

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ejh - June 26, 2014

Mark, I’m afraid you’re a bully. There’s no way around this any longer.

You insult people and you try to win arguments by making life unpleasant for them.

I don’t know whether it’s you or the organisation you’re in, but either way it’s not going to change until you recognise it and address it.

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Mark P - June 26, 2014

Now that actually is an insult. Well done, you will get this distinction yet.

But I’m afraid for a response you will have to see my comment immediately above. In particular the sentence starting “you really don’t understand…”

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Liberius - June 26, 2014

…possibly defamatory…

While I’m not massively keen on getting involved in this ding-dong, I would however like to state that I don’t think it’s helpful for a professional politician, who claims to be on the progressive side of the political spectrum, to be making crypto-threats towards anyone who utters anything that might be partially inaccurate or wholly inaccurate. As someone who was on the receiving end of one of these crypto-threats during the LE by a candidate who objected to me potentially overstepping the confines of “actionable” language when referring to their past dalliances, I can’t help but feel strongly that it is a habit of politicians in this state and elsewhere that needs to be discouraged. Political debate shouldn’t be subject to middle-class menaces, but rather open disagreement, if you’re in the right then people will see that in the words.

The above is probably an opinion which won’t earn me much in the way of kudos, and some might think that I’m overstepping with the meaning of those words, however it is an opinion that I’m convinced has validity.

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WorldbyStorm - June 26, 2014

I’d tend to agree Liberius, the whole point about this space for whatever it is worth I’d that it allows people who might not otherwise interact a chance to do so without the usual P.ie stuff and therefore the thing is to give a bit of leeway in all directions, less rhetoric more communication, absolutely hard questioning and not saying things that aren’t appropriate for the context.

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BB - June 26, 2014

Snap

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11. Nessa Childers MEP (@NChildersMEP) - June 25, 2014

Perhaps you in turn might explain why the SP and PBP split the vote and lost the election?

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Jolly Red Giant - June 25, 2014

Nessa – when we get an answer from you that explains how you can claim that you oppose austerity and yet are comfortably at home in a neo-liberal pro-austerity parliamentary group – I will happily answer your question.

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12. Nessa Childers MEP (@NChildersMEP) - June 25, 2014

Que: I’m slightly confused. I described them as having “revolutionary” politics because that is what they believe themselves to have. The last post of mine was a question directed at JRG re splitting the vote. I should have made that clear. My own political position cannot be reconciled with those of either the SP or PBP. However I wish somehow there could be a respectful discussion. I was elected in part because of Murphy transfers which dismayed some. Without that split I think Paul or Brid could have won. Perhaps me too!

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Jolly Red Giant - June 25, 2014

And as I said – when you square the circle from my question I will happily address yours.

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13. Colm B - June 25, 2014

I agree that using language like ‘stupid’ and ‘drivel’ is unwelcome not just because its disrespectful but because it clouds the discussion. Using this sort of language is counterproductive.

However the substance of Mark P and JRG’s arguments are accurate in my view: Nessa is a member of a group which is almost entirely composed of parties which have implemeted neo-liberal policies for decades and severe austerity programmes in more recent times, when in government. Of course they are not anti-capitalist or revolutionary (fine, they dont claim to be) but they can hardly be described as even reformist or centre left.

Here’s the question that I would pose to Nessa: you obviously had a problem with the policies the Labour Party was implementing in government in Ireland: why then dont you have a problem with the exact same policues that are being implemented by all the ‘social democrat’ parties whose group you belong to? PASOK in Greece? The SP in France? The Social Democrats in coalition with the right in Germany? etc. etc. The group you belong to is just the Irish Labour Party writ large so why, if you had a problem with the Irish LP, are you in this group?

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BB - June 25, 2014

Good question. I await the reply with some interest.

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CMK - June 26, 2014

I think you’ll be waiting a while…….

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WorldbyStorm - June 26, 2014

Very valid questions.

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Gewerkschaftler - June 26, 2014

I have to say I can’t understand either why someone would leave the Irish Labour Party and choose remain in S&D.

S&D member parties are happily collaborating in the austerian policies that the ILP so avidly implement at the national level.

Other options were and remain available. Both in terms of policies and parties.

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Pasionario - June 26, 2014

A conceivable justification would be that it is easier to be a critical, semi-detached member of the S&D than of a national party and that meaningful change is more likely to emerge from within historically social democratic parties because of their institutional heft and trade union links. Tony Benn remained a Labour Party member for similar reasons throughout his life. I’m not even saying I agree with this but that would be the justification. She hasn’t made it, mind you!

As regards austerity, Renzi seems to be having a bit of an impact in Italy and Hollande could and should have done so when he was elected so perhaps there is some potential on this question within the S&D. One function of left-wing parties (i.e those in the GUE) is to try and push the centre leftwards even though they may never actually hold power themselves. If more people in the S&D were like Childers, then that would be no bad thing.

Incidentally, JRG and MP seem to be suffering from a little bit of amnesia seeing as their own political grouping was for a long time happy to sit it out in the Labour Party when it was part of governments responsible for such enlightened proposals as putting VAT on children’s shoes and holding a “pro-life” referendum. No doubt they made similar arguments about working inside social democracy at the time. I’m not sure all that much has changed in the interim.

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Mark P - June 26, 2014

You will be a long time looking through old issues of Militant trying to find “similar arguments” to the ones you make on Childers behalf.

You may not be “sure all that much has changed”, as you have apparently payed no attention to the evolution of the former social democracy over the last three decades. But presumably you can tell the difference between operating as a supporter of a party/grouping and it’s leadership and operating as an uncompromising opposition within a party. If Childers was trying to build a socialist opposition within the former social democrats, I’d think that she’d completely misjudged the situation, but that is not what she is doing, is it?

She’s in the former social democrats because, incoherent complaints about the Irish Labour Party aside, those are her politics. And when she shares her fantasies about Crowley making it harder to convince the Christian Democrats to “go along” with the “centre left majority agenda” [!!], meaning the views of the likes of PASOK or the Lib Dems, she really does believe that nonsense.

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Pasionario - June 26, 2014

The history of social democracy has long been defined by a series of sell-outs since at least 1914. Any involvement in historically social democratic parties wil have to come to terms with that and I don’t think the issue is fundamentally different now than it was thirty years ago.

Yes, there has been a shift towards neo-liberalism but that was already well underway when Militant was a part of both Irish and British Labour and in both cases they were still there in the Nineties before being expelled en masse. Irish Labour got up to some seriously right-wing stuff when Militant was still within the fold which is why your vitriolic attacks on Childers ring a little hollow to me.

Contrary to what you say, she has actually been principled in her opposition to the leadership in the past few years and bravely stood up to some intense bullying over the Cardiff issue. The fact that there weren’t many others in the party willing to join her isn’t her fault.

Consequently, I don’t see what choice she had other than to stand as an independent. It was not opportunism even if it obviously helped her get re-elected. It was always pretty clear she would try to join the S&D group; the question was whether they would accept her as a member without the Labour endorsement.

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Jolly Red Giant - June 26, 2014

Just a couple of corrections –

1. There has been a fundamental shift in the nature of the former social democracies over the past 30 years. In the 1980s there was a large, active and organised left-wing (including but a lot larger than the Militant) and the party had an organised base among the working class (I am talking about the rank-and-file here not the leadership). That ceased to exist by the end of the 1980s. The party had been in a process of evolution to the right during this period but it was the collapse of Stalinism that significantly accelerated these developments.
2. There is a difference between a principled opposition to right-wing policies from the LP leadership and actively opposing such policies in the 1970s and 1980s and voting for austerity, realising it will cost a political career, claiming to be anti-austerity and then rejoining the same pro-austerity neo-liberal grouping as soon as the election is over (and all the while doing absolutely diddly-squat to actively oppose any measure of austerity).
3. The Militant had left the LP in Ireland and Britain long before the 1990s – I was the last member of the Militant in Ireland left in the LP and I left in 1992. I stayed that long because there were a couple of left-wingers in my branch who I worked with and hoped to convince to join the Militant. There were no mass expulsions – I think about a dozen Militant members were expelled in Ireland and a couple of hundred in the UK. I would accept (and it is widely acknowledged within the Socialist Party) that we should have left earlier, probably 1985 after Spring’s leadership survived by a handful of votes at the LP conference and others on the left capitulated. Certainly we should have been gone by the 1987 general election and Joe Higgins should have stood in that election as a Militant Labour candidate.
4.The opposition to Cardiff’s appointment was the one and only incident where Childers ‘stood up’ to the LP leadership – and the reality whether he was appointed to the position or not would have zero fundamental impact on the policies pursued by the EU. Yes it was correct to oppose the appointment given the guys record – but the opposition should have been taken a lot further than it was by Childers if she was committed in her opposition.
5. Childers had no choice other than to stand as an independent if she wanted to save her political career – and she was perfectly entitled to do that. The criticism is that she presented herself as an anti-austerity independent when she wasn’t and that has been amply demonstrated by the fact that she rejoined the neo-liberal pro-austerity S&D. The move is a slap in the face for those who voted for her in the belief that she was anti-austerity.

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ejh - June 26, 2014

The Militant had left the LP in Ireland and Britain long before the 1990

Not quite.

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Jolly Red Giant - June 26, 2014

ejh – the ‘open turn’ debate really had little to do with remaining within the LP. The debate was about political orientation and a whole load of other issues primarily based around the collapse of Stalinism. The Grant / Woods group were denying what had actually happened was actually happening and didn’t realise the scale of what had changed even within the Militant.

The Militant had effectively abandoned the LP in Britain by the time of the Poll Tax campaign. The LP leadership were condemning a campaign that had the support of 10 million people.The Militant was already support Broad Left candidates against official LP candidates in local elections. The Militant and other lefts still within the LP were fighting tooth and nail to win the remaining socialist elements out of the LP.

In Liverpool for example Kinnock had shut down the District Labour Party in 1987 and the Broad Left had functioned outside of LP structures from that time on. The socialist MPs on Merseyside were officially still within the LP but were effectively supporting the Broad Left on the ground. The DLP had been re-established but was now tightly controlled by Kinnock’s hatchetman, Peter Kilfoyle. The 29 socialist councillors remaining on Liverpool city council had been booted out of the LP as the new pro-Kinnock council leadership began implementing massive cuts on the council. In the subsequent council elections in 1991 six broad left candidates stood against the official LP and five of them successfully defeated the LP (and Tories and Libs) Subsequently, Eric Heffer died and a Militant member, Lesley Mamood, stood as the broad left candidate in the by-election. In the 1991 general election Dave Nellist and Terry Fields stood against official LP candidates.

In Ireland Joe Higgins stood as a Militant Labour candidate in the 1991 local elections and Militant in Mulhuddart had been campaigning as a separate organisation for some years before the election.

The Militant in Scotland had been working outside the LP for at least three years by the time of the open turn. The formation of SML was nothing more than a confirmation of what had been in existence for three or four years in Scotland. The resistance of Grant and Woods to these developments we the result of a mistaken political outlook on a whole host of issues and the debate had been ongoing within the Militant for three years before it was formalised in the open turn documents in 1991.

The reality is that even though it hadn’t been formalised the reality is that the Militant were outside the LP by 1988/89. As I said earlier, we actually should have begun open work a number of years earlier – circa 1985 – but we dragged our feet for a couple of years before developments forced us to recognise what was actually going on.

One minor point of interest – when the ‘open turn’ was officially decided in the Irish Militant at conference I was one of only two members who didn’t support the decision – both of us abstained on the vote. But again – as in the UK – the debate in Ireland was not about remaining in the Irish LP, it was about what the political orientation of the Militant should be.

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14. Nessa Childers MEP (@NChildersMEP) - June 26, 2014

People on this site may disagree with my choice of group, but do not say I have never been clear about my intentions. Since I left the Irish Labour Party and said I would run in the European Elections, I have always defined myself as a social democrat and clearly said that my preference was to join the S & D group if re-elected. I had also wanted to remain in the group. During debates and interviews I always answered that I would join a centre left group, would not remain unattached. But towards the end of the campaign, I was concerned about my ability to get back in to the S&D group and worried about my choices. Joining S&D is not an endorsement of the Irish Labour Party in Government. The party has been completely out of step with S&D policies in the parliament. I’ve received a clear mandate from the voters in Dublin and I will live up to that mandate, which is to vote in such a way, and work to turn around the policies of austerity. There is a wide range on the politcal compass in this Group. Many have trade union backgrounds for instance. We have six of our MEPs sharing this common ground, it’s a start. Regarding other allegations being made against me by certain posters, unless people are very specific I will not second guess questions. But I stand over my campaign and my right to present my opinions and proposals to the voter and not be censored by those who disagree with me.
I am responding here because I believe that being a social democrat also means accessibility. However there is only hostility from some of you and also entrapment of a kind. I seem to be guilty until proven more guilty. In a discussion forum this is unfortunate although the forum itself is unmatched in its creation and moderation . I am also curious about the SP attitude to SF. There was an unwillingness to engage or separate from them in debates. Although it happened near the end. Their group GUE, in its centre left part, is reckoned to be the closest to S anD.

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Mark P - June 26, 2014

Who precisely is ‘censoring you’? Some random people on a website having the temerity to disagree with a highly paid professional politician are “censoring” her? Or who exactly are you claiming is trying to remove your “right to present” your “opinions and proposals to the voter”? How exactly are they trying to do this? If you are going to come out with these kind of vaguely paranoid insinuations, you should at least try to be a little clearer about who and what you are complaining about.

Your response above is long on “I stand over my campaign” pieties and short on attempts to justify your earlier comments here about and your imaginary European Parliament centre left majority and its agenda. You remember, that agenda you want the Christian Democrats to go along with? The one that complete irrelevance Brian Crowley apparently endangered when he left the poor old Liberal Democrats in the lurch?

I do have to admit that you made me crack a bit of a smile when you started telling us about how out of step the Labour Party are with their brethren in Europe. Those principled social democrats, fighting the good fight in government in Greece or France must just be appalled at them.

As for your last comment, I wish you luck in trying to find some traction for the notion that the Socialist Party are soft on Sinn Fein. Surely when you were trying to find a way to go on the offensive at the end, you could have come up with something a bit more credible?

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Gewerkschaftler - June 26, 2014

Thanks for outlining your reasons for remaining in S&D, Nessa.

I have to say I don’t share your analysis of the role of the S&D – the S&D remain dominated by the German SPD who are promoting ‘austerity with a human face’.

In othewords purely cosmetic changes to policies (self-destructive even from a wider capitalist point of view) which promote depression, deflation, widening poverty and exclusion and the political disintegration of Europe.

Is S&D doing anything to make the TTIP negotiations (sorry I should have said lobbying) public and subject to a popular vote? Will S&D vote against TTIP if it ever reaches the European parliament?

What’s the role of the S&D in promoting TISA – essentially making the control of finance capital illegal in international law? I just did a search of the S&D web site for TISA. Nothing. Is this what ‘accessibility’ looks like?

Some answers on these specific topics would be appreciated, but I won’t hold my breath.

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6to5against - June 26, 2014

But surely the idea of political groupings that can somehow maintain some sort of coherence, size, power and ideological purity is itself ridiculous.

Political parties/groupings are a part of all political systems because they are needed. Any signiifcant movement in Ireland or Europe to the left will be created though such a grouping, and by the nature of things, this group would have to be pretty big – holding at least dozens of seats in Ireland, or hundred in Europe.

But even very small groupings have dificulty maintaining coherence – have a look at pretty much any of the smaller left groups in Ireland over the last few years. There is no way a large group would do any better.

The only path to politcal improvement is going to be through a large grouping that contains disparate elements. Most of us will find some of those elements irritating but if we indulge that irritation it leads only to schism and ineffectiveness. It is usually better to work within a group to keep it on track.

I voted for Nessa (and SF, and the SP). I am happy for her to belong to the SD group in the EP. I understood all along that she was likely to do so. I think it actually sends a significant message that the LP in Ireland has in fact abandoned the social democractic tradition. I hope (and trust) that she uses her position there to fight against austierity policies from within the remnants of that tradition.

That would seem far more productive to me than remaining ideologicaly pure and entitrely ineffective

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Jolly Red Giant - June 26, 2014

I think it actually sends a significant message that the LP in Ireland has in fact abandoned the social democractic tradition.
More drivel – utter tosh – How can joining a political grouping that abandoned social democracy thirty years ago send a ‘significant message’ or any message to the LP other then ‘na.na,na,na,naa – I held my seat the rest of ye didn’t’.

There are no ‘remnants’ of the social democratic tradition in the former social democracies – there is Tony Blair, Hollande, Papandreou, Zapatero etc. – down the line pro-austerity neo-liberalism.

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6to5against - June 26, 2014

drivel and tosh…its just like I’ve wandered back into p.ie-land.

I do understand your point, JRG, and I have some respect for it. The social democratic parties around Europe have behaved shamefully over an extended time. But I simply don’t agree that the tradition is dead: I know members and supporters of the LP in England, for example, who I believe adhere to that tradition.

And I don’t know much about French politics, but I was there over the weekend and made some attempt to read the papers. It seems pretty extreme to me to say that not a remnant of social democracy exists there

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15. Tomboktu - June 27, 2014

Isn’t an underlying problem the fact that people on the Left who do not espouse revolutionary socialism have no real option?

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