Quite some parties we have found… more problems for the left. May 27, 2007Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Election 2007, Irish Politics.
It’s easy to be wise after the event. But perhaps that’s the only way to be wise. Or maybe in politics there is no wisdom, just events which one deals with.
Certainly this election has brought some very difficult home truths for the left to the fore. Basically this remains a strongly centre, centre-right society. Fianna Fáil retains more than a residual core vote in the working class (perhaps one of the reasons pundits and others called it so badly wrong). Fine Gael retains a strong share of the electorate. The left, has for the past five years borrowed from both of these but has been almost entirely unable to hold onto them and all the talk of rising votes masks an inability to transform political success into political longevity.
In previous posts I’ve covered the rise of splinter factions such as Éirigí (now trading as a party, rather than a campaiging group). I wonder how this will impact upon them. While there was the prospect of continuing Sinn Féin gains in a sort of electoral determinism writ small the idea that others might also develop and grow may have seemed less incredible, even the idea that a Connollyite group might do so with a message of ideological purity allied with modish anti-globalism. The SWP projecting itself as People Before Profit might also have thought things could only get better.
Today that seems rather unlikely. If Sinn Féin, surely a serious political formation if ever we saw one, cannot make gains, is in fact largely dependent on hijacking elements of the FF and Labour vote, what possible chance is there for other much much smaller groups?
In a way, perhaps, my worry is that we will look back over the last five years and see that as something of a high point for the Irish left where indeed a thousand flowers bloomed albeit in a patchy and disconnected way.
Meanwhile the coalition behemoth rumbles through town. The combinations are alternately risible, disastrous or unlikely. Fine Gael is still arguing that it is in with a shot. Well, sure, if they bring SF into the fold. I wouldn’t place money on that combination. Fianna Fáil is being coy with various distinct and entirely contradictory messages being sent out. One rumour that was relayed to me from deep within the heart of the Green camp was the conviction on the part of some of them that Labour was already in ‘secret’ talks with Fianna Fáil. Maybe. Who knows? Meanwhile a raft of unlikely names are being tossed around as possible partners in an FF/PD/Independents coalition.
I noted before how this could have been the election for Independents. And yet neither the media nor the Independents themselves played it that way. Cold comfort for those who fell on Thursday. But perhaps we will see the Lowry Deal, or the McGrath Deal or whatever. Somehow though I doubt it. That sort of gun to the head politics is something I suspect Ahern will eschew. A comment he made I think yesterday on the radio very much struck me, and that was the need for ‘stability’ particularly from those outside the country. Localised deals with non-FF gene pool Independents are neither stable nor particularly good politics.
Apologies to John Cooper Clarke for the title…