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The Elections and the Left: Some Thoughts June 8, 2009

Posted by Garibaldy in Irish Politics.

Bit early to be doing this given that all the results aren’t in yet, but it seems like it might be useful to have a dedicated post on which the issues resulting from the election can be debated all together. So, clearly this has been a good election for the left, both broadly defined and more narrowly. The Labour Party did the best of the parties on the broad left. Its share of the vote has gone up from 11% to around 14% (I’ve also seen 15 and 17% given). It has around 30% of the local election vote in Dublin, and is the biggest single party on Dublin City Council. So in terms of seats, vote share, and profile, it has done very well in the local elections. On top of that, they have done very well in the European elections. We shouldn’t forget that a couple of months ago, when Labour’s Dublin candidate was being discussed, there were some suggestions that De Rossa was running again at 69 because they were in a real battle to keep the seat either with or without him. As it turns out, he took the seat easily. Overall then, a very effective campaign.

The next biggest winning party on the left is the Socialist Party. I said to regular commenter Joe in the comments on a thread some weeks ago that I thought Joe Higgins had no chance of becoming an MEP. Shows you what I know. Well done to him and to the Socialist Party. I’d be interested to hear what people think happened. It seems to me that until a couple of weeks ago, people weren’t really talking about him as a likely winner, and that the campaign was realistically about building towards the next Dáil election. Then about two weeks ago he emerged as a serious candidate and kept building momentum. Not being in Dublin, it’s hard for me to judge. But clearly, the Socialist Party does not have the type of party or electoral machine to match the parties it was competing with against for the seat, except on a localised basis. As everyone knows, Higgins is an extremely articulate and able representative, well-regarded across the political spectrum. So it looks like a party machine operating at maximum capacity added to a very capable and media-effective candidate. I’ll come back to this below. In the local elections, they have taken four seats, with three candidates topping the poll. It seems their first preference vote has almost doubled since 2004. There is another candidate involved in a recount. However, Mick Murphy lost his seat in Tallaght Central. Joe Higgins looks a shoe-in for the next Dáil election in Dublin West. WBS has noted that he thinks there might be other SP TDs too. I’m not sure that that is the case, but it certainly cannot be ruled out. In short, the Socialist Party can be well pleased. The profile, money, and organisational outcome of these elections for them is very positive.

As can the People Before Profit Alliance. It also did very well, with five candidates elected. Boyd Barret has a very real chance of taking a seat at the next Dáil election, but I think it is far from certain. While equivalent alliances (or SWP electoral fronts if you prefer) in the UK have collapsed, it looks as though People Before Profit is here to stay, and it stood candidates in rural areas where the further left has little tradition.

The Workers’ Party’s Davy Walsh kept his seat in Waterford, against the predictions of many. Ted Tynan also took a seat in Cork, which is significant because it means that The Workers’ Party once again has represetantion outside Waterford. In Waterford East The Workers’ Party stood for the first time since 1991, and Joe Tobin missed a seat by 8 votes in the final count. Willie Moore missed out by about 40 votes in the final count in his constituency, where former WP councillor John Halligan topped the poll by a country mile. The other candidates in Cork did relatively well, on about 5%. In Dublin and Dundalk, the percentage of the vote taken was higher than it has been in the past. The WP also stood in the Dublin Central constituency for the first time since 1991. The performance in Dublin was more about reflecting organisational growth and redevelopment, and in that respect is a fairly satisfactory result. Overall, The WP can be pleased with the performance, doing relatively well in securing transfers athough it could easily have won double the number of seats with a few more. So positive signs for the future after a long period of disappointing elections.

Maureen O’Sullivan taking the seat in Dublin Central was a great thing for the left. Given WBS’ extensive and superb discussions, I’ll say nothing more.

To move then to those within the broad left who can not be so pleased. Firstly there is the Green Party. It now has only three councillors, none of them in Dublin where its TDs are situated. It had the biggest disaster of election. If economic conditions do not improve, it could be facing wipe-out at the next election, and without a strong local government profile to rebuild from. I think that they will probably hold at least one Dáil seat, but they can be in no doubt that their voters are thoroughly disgusted with them. An economic upturn might save more than one of them, but we shall see. Having said that, I doubt their activist base will disappear on the back of this, given that many have been active in green politics long before it was fashionable.

Gerry Adams is putting a brave face on his party’s mixed southern performance. Their performace in Dublin was, frankly, disastrous. Six seats in Dublin City Council have been lost, including Daithí Doolan’s. He has been someone in whom high hopes had been invested for the future, and he may of course come back. Overall, there was a slight slip in percentage in the locals, but an increase in seats, including in some virgin territory such as Limerick. Adams was saying that he expected a difficult time for Mary Lou, and that the loss of her seat was not a surprise. That might be true. What is a surprise is who she lost the seat to. Losing the seat to a sitting Fianna Fáil MEP would have been entirely understandable, even if a little disappointing in the present economic circumstances. Losing it to Joe Higgins will probably set alarm bells ringing. It demonstrates that there remains a huge reluctance to transfer to PSF among many in the southern electorate, and it is possible that part of Joe Higgins’ momentum was a desire to see neither Fianna Fáil nor the Provisionals in that seat. having said that, at the time of writing, Ferris remains in contention for a European seat in Ireland South. The Fine Gael candidate Burke has just been eliminated, which should benefit Kelly and Sinnott much more than Ferris. I doubt she’ll take that seat on the basis of transfers. In the north, there was success in Bairbre de Brún taking her seat on the first count, and topping the poll due to Jim Allister’s success in taking around 40% of the DUP’s vote. So a very mixed day overall, with neither major progress nor decline. But a halted momentum in current circumstances would I imagine be a big worry.

Overall then, a good set of elections for the left. But we should not get carried away. In the south, there are causes for serious pause. Firstly, Fine Gael did the best in the elections, taking 32% of the vote, and in a general election this would be 70-something seats. There is no prospect of a left-led coalition government, and there are serious doubts that any FG-led coalition would behave that differently to the current government, although that would depend on how far Labour – or indeed PSF – played hard ball. Which none of us places that much expectation in. Secondly, will Fianna Fáil ever do this badly again, or at least in a Dáil election? That will depend on where the economy is two years from now. The example of Fine Gael after 2002, or the Tories after 1997, suggest that we should not expect to see Fianna Fáil stay at this level forever. There needs to be a lot of hard work put in by the successful left candidates – especially those who took the latter seats – to save them at the next local elections. I say regular comment Wednesday on Politics.ie say that there was no chance of Joe’ Higgins’ European substitute holding that seat. I am inclined to agree, and I am sure the Socialist Party will be planning to use that seat primarily for domestic advantage. If the left continues in the fragmented state it is in now, then will we be able to do so well in two years or five years? I doubt it. We are looking at maybe three or four TDs to the left of PSF as things currently stand. If a left alliance of some sort can be put in place, then that could change, and these elections could mark a significant long-term change. We should note that there was no left candidate in the north’s European elections, despite some attempts to find a way forward to get one. That should be a worry. If the left is to stop being a mere spectator in the north, it needs to find a new approach. It seems to me that the time is right for a convention of the left to meet with the aim of securing electoral alliances to secure a serious left voice in Ireland north and south. It might be now or never.

ADDS: Bits I forgot to include.
While the results have been good, we also need to think about what the elections tell us about the strength of the parties of the left. The reality is that the left remains very geographically concentrated, even the bigger parties in the Dáil. If you look at the parties outside the Dáil, of the further left, then you see just how small and concentrated it remains. PBPA put up the most candidates – 14 – overwhelmingly in the Dublin area, but distributed a bit more widely, with candidates in Dundalk, Tralee and Roscommon. The WP put up 12 candidates, in Dublin, Cork, Waterford, and Dundalk. The SP put up 11, in Dublin, Cork and Drogheda. The west is basically out of electoral bounds, as are rural areas. We need to work on that as well.
In NI, the turnout was lower than the EU average of 49%. This represents a withdrawal from political engagement, and when you look at the Greens/Alliance vote, you see that the united community/broadly progressive vote has also suffered. This disengagement is also bad for the left.

UPDATE: Thanks to No.11 in the comments for further details confirming that The SP has taken 6 seats.


1. jc - June 8, 2009

While Labour did well compared to its recent history, it is well below its recent opinion poll highs and, more importantly, its1992 peak of 19.1%. This should be rather depressing for Labour, as a complete collapse of the FF vote should have been an opportunity to move to another level. It is true that Labour did well in Dublin, but will it be able to add second seats in Dublin constituencies or will it simply retain its existing single seats in a number of constituencies with a larger share of the first preference vote? What was also striking was the continued weakness of Labour outside the cities. Remember that Labour had seats in Sligo, Clare, Laois/Offaly, Kerry (North and South) and Louth in 1992. Does anyone seriously believe they will take seats in any of those (except Kerry on a good day) in the next election? Can any Labour member on here provide an insight into what the party’s reasonable seat target is for the next election and where the gains will come?


2. Mark P - June 8, 2009

On Joe’s campaign:

The Socialist Party will be thinking about the results over the next while and coming to a more considered conclusion but two things occur to me off the top of my head which provided a major boost during the campaign. Firstly, the MRBI opinion poll which put him level with Ryan with a week to go suddenly promoted him from also ran to dark horse in the media. Media coverage is extremely important to a candidate in a vast constituency who doesn’t have much money and before that poll, Joe wasn’t getting much despite having 7% support in an earlier poll.

Secondly, even before that poll (and probably contributing to the showing in that poll), the Socialist Party received a phenomenal number of phone calls and emails from people who aren’t our members, who we largely had never met before, who wanted to help out in the campaign. On top of our members and the supporters who have helped out in previous elections, I believe that there were more than a hundred completely new (to us) people out leafletting, canvassing, postering etc. A lot of the credit has to go to those people, who made it possible for a small organisation to run a campaign out of all proportion to our membership and financial resources.


3. alastair - June 8, 2009

Losing it to Joe Higgins will probably set alarm bells ringing. It demonstrates that there remains a huge reluctance to transfer to PSF among many in the southern electorate, and it is possible that part of Joe Higgins’ momentum was a desire to see neither Fianna Fáil nor the Provisionals in that seat.

I’d suspect there more antipathy to MLM than SF in that vote. No-one likes a cocky representative who doesn’t pull their weight in the job. deRossa might well be accused of coasting in Europe too, but he’s nowhere near as grating in defending his record.

But maybe I’m just projecting my own prejudices.


4. Garibaldy - June 8, 2009

Thanks for that Mark. I agree that that poll was vital. I hadn’t realised it was so soon before the election. Somewhat amazing when you think about it.


5. Tim Von Bondie - June 8, 2009

‘Maureen O’Sullivan taking the seat in Dublin Central was a great thing for the left. Given WBS’ extensive and superb discussions, I’ll say nothing more.’
You might tell us why the WP called for transfers to Ivana Bacik rather than O’Sullivan?


6. Brotherhood of Man - June 8, 2009

‘No-one likes a cocky representative who doesn’t pull their weight in the job.’
I suspect that if the going was good for SF nobody would give a shite how many meetings in Europe Mary Lou missed. Its when your in trouble people look at your record- when she and SF were spearheading the anti-Lisbon campaign nobody was talking about her going to the ploughing championships or whatever.
Given that she seems to be a political animal she’ll be back looking for a Dail seat I presume, though not in Dublin Central.
As for the rest- Killian Forde retained his seat easily while Seamus McGrattan (who? exactly) scraped in ahead of de brudder Ahern in Cabra. They got a couple in Tallaght, where the SP lost a seat.
I believe SF poll topped a couple of seats in Cork city, got one in Limerick city, did well in Waterford but lost in Wexford and Meath.
Noting JC’s comments, given the scale of the mess we’re in, and all the hype, Labour did not do as well as hoped, while FG clearly are cok of the walk- and who runs FG these days, in terms of driving theirt policy…come on Leo, Lucinida and now George of the cut, slash and burn school. Happy days ahead?


Drithleog - June 8, 2009

Sinn Féin LOST a seat in Waterford and went to a position where they were seen as potentially challenging for a Dail seat to just 117 votes ahead of the Workers Party across the whole city.

SF did disastrously in Dublin too.


7. Garibaldy - June 8, 2009

This was discussed on a previous thread IIRC. I saw Malachy call for a vote for left candidates on the Browne show, rather than anyone in particular. This has been party policy, especially where there is no WP candidate. That statement on the website refers to the need for those in leadership positions in the Labour movement to become involved in discussions to form a serious left alternative to the right consensus shared by FG and FF, and so it is in that context I’d have thought.


8. alastair - June 8, 2009

I suspect that if the going was good for SF nobody would give a shite how many meetings in Europe Mary Lou missed. Its when your in trouble people look at your record- when she and SF were spearheading the anti-Lisbon campaign nobody was talking about her going to the ploughing championships or whatever.

Well – some of us were on the opposite side of the fence in regard to Lisbon, so the going was never good on account of that campaign afaic.

All I can tell you is that I (once again) gave Christy Burke a preference, but wouldn’t consider it for MLM. The difference? Burke can be relied on to do something other than promote himself.


9. sonofstan - June 8, 2009

Remember that Labour had seats in Sligo, Clare, Laois/Offaly, Kerry (North and South) and Louth in 1992.

An absolutely crucial point – and remember, Labour (or the Spring family) had a seat in Kerry North for ever: there was always, until the ’90s a labour seat in Louth, and one and sometimes two in Tipp. North and/or South. These weren’t Spring tide gains: they were seats rooted in the larger industrial towns, and nurtured through the trades unions over decades.

The withdrawal of that tide didn’t just lose the bien- pensant middle-classes who voted for Eithne Fitzgerald in Dublin South – it lost seats that had sustained Labour through lean years. Labour needs to work hard to get these seats back: urban Ireland isn’t just Dublin and the other cities: it’s towns like Dundalk, Drogheda, Sligo, Clonmel, Tuam and Tralee as well.


Eamonn Cork - June 8, 2009

Great point. Labour could start by seeing if they could get Bree back in the party in Sligo and the Healy people back in Clonmel. Otherwise those two constituencies are probably lost for good. Arthur Spring’s poll-topping performance, beating Toireasa Ferris, was very encouraging for the party in Kerry North. From that point of view Labour’s performance in Kildare, for example, is poor in terms of making a general election breakthrough.
Regarding Mary Lou McDonald, it’s been mentioned before that her total when elected to Europe was less than the total Sinn Fein local vote of the time. She’s not a particularly charismatic figure and I imagine all those articles written about her as the new face of SF, not like the old working class one, would piss me off if I was an activist on the ground. I wonder if SF staking so much on her as the face of the party in the Republic was a disaster. Compare how well Ferris did in a much less promising situation in Munster. Jonathon O’Brien in Cork city is another impressive young candidate.


10. Dr. X - June 8, 2009

Is Labour even capable of doing the work required in that area? Bertie labelled Ruairi Quinn (I think it was RQ) as ‘Mr. Angry of Sandymount’, because he knew that if he slinged that particular kind of mud, it would stick very effectively.

All I’ve seen over the past few years is a Labour party that is only interested in appealing to those ‘bien-pensant middle classes’. That’s the only reason I could see for the way Pat Rabitte picked a fight with Declan Bree, for example. . .


11. Pete - June 8, 2009

Labour not doing well in rural areas – who cares, its a Labour Party, I’m not aware of many landless Labourers contuning to ply their trade in bungalow Ireland. On another note where stands Gerry Adams dream of left unity? Let the Provos soak up the left vote in rural Ireland and the north, let Labour (“stickies”) rule the cities – finally put the ghosts of 69 to 94 away.


sonofstan - June 8, 2009

I didn’t say ‘rural’ areas – i specified larger, somewhat industrialised towns. And there are still landless labourers plying their trade alright, all over the place. There’s plenty of casual, unskilled labouring work going on, possibly right under your nose: way below the purview of the taxman or the unions.


12. Joe - June 8, 2009

Gari: “I said to regular commenter Joe in the comments on a thread some weeks ago that I thought Joe Higgins had no chance of becoming an MEP. Shows you what I know.”

Joe knows, Gari.

IIRC, you also dissed my suggestion several months back that FF might lose its MEP in Dublin. Joe knows.

I also know this. Bree and Healy should stay a country mile clear of the Labour Party. It’s not of the left but of the centre – see Eamonn Cork’s well made point about why he preferred SF’s Ferris to Labour’s Kelly. And I know that the left candidates who won local election seats did work on the ground in their communities, turned up at boring community meetings and put their views across and helped communities sort out problems. And if the left is to build on the modest gains it made in these local elections, that is what it has to do more and more.


13. Garibaldy - June 8, 2009

Joe, Guilty. And my Higgins prediction was related to my FF prediction. A twin-headed mistake.

You’re right on what is required at local level. My point being that even that mightn’t be enough unless we can forge some kind of left cooperation.


14. jc - June 8, 2009


Having spent my formative years in Clonmel, with family and friends still there, I can tell you that you have little understanding of “rural” Ireland. Clonmel has long had a significant industrial working class, working for multinationals like Merck and indigenous companies like Showerings (they make Bulmers cider) and Clonmel Healthcare. This is why Seamus Healy has had a significant political base there since the 1980s for a political group to the left of Labour. By the way, the Labour Party was actually founded in Clonmel. Only a small (and ever-declining) proportion of the population of rural Ireland works in agriculture. As most of the non-farm working population are not managerial or self-employed, it should be obvious that most of them are non-managerial employees and therefore a suitable target audience for any serious left party. Labour may need a change of tone to make itself viable in places like Clonmel — a little less Chardonay and a little more GAA.


15. sonofstan - June 8, 2009

BTW, and this ties in weirdly with the mention of Sligo Rovers earlier on another thread, one of the best portraits of working class life outside the cities in Ireland is contained, inter alia, in Eamonn Sweeney’s great book about supporting that club, ‘Only One Red Army’


16. Thoughts on the Elections « Garibaldy Blog - June 8, 2009

[…] Thoughts on the Elections By Garibaldy Anyone who is interested can read some thoughts I’ve put up on the recent elections in Ireland, north and south, over at Cedar Lounge Revolution here. […]


17. Brotherhood of Man - June 8, 2009

Ignorant shite from Pete. Where was that great ‘Sticky’ TD Joe Sherlock from again-Mallow.
A substantial share of working people live in the country- some of them even, gasp, work in Dublin!
The Sticks have not radiclaised labour in any way; Gilmore and co can not think beyond getting into bed with FG, and pissing away whatever gains they have made, and they haven’t actually even done that well.


18. alastair - June 8, 2009

A substantial share of Labour’s vote comes from the, gasp!… middle class. Last I heard, there’s working and middle class voters all over the bog, as well as the big smoke.

Ignore at your electoral peril.


19. No.11 - June 8, 2009

“In the local elections, they [the SP] have taken four seats, with three candidates topping the poll.”

Hi Garibaldy,

Good piece, but the SP also picked up a council seat on both Drogheda and Balbriggan town councils. Six councillors in total.

I’d be grateful if someone could let us know how the WUAG got on as well, they were tipped for big gains beforehand.


20. Mark P - June 8, 2009

The WUAG won five seats on Clonmel Town Council and one on Carrick on Suir Town Council. It also won 2 seats on South Tipperary County Council (which I believe are also held by two of the Clonmel Town councillors).

I believe that this represents only one new seat, the one in Carrick. That’s quite significant though as previously all of their representation was based in Clonmel and as far as I know this is the first time they’ve managed to break out of their stronghold.


21. Eamonn Cork - June 8, 2009

By the way, the last seat in South comes down to Alan Kelly and Kathy Sinnott. It will be decided by Ferris’s transfers. I suppose you could use it as a test case as to the nature of the SF vote as it pits a (kind of) left wing candidate against a (fairly) rght wing candidate.
I kind of agree with the man who says Healy and Bree should steer clear of the Labour Party. But I’d like to see them in it, just as I’d like to see Joe Higgins in it, because then it would be a very different kind of party. A pipedream but pipedreams are what keeps a man going.
As for the suggestion that everywhere outside the cities constitutes some kind of zone of reaction, to qoute Steely Dan, not incidentally a nickname for Dick Spring’s father, “the things that pass for knowledge I can’t understand.” I thought that notion went out with the Irish Industrial Revolution.
The Joe Sherlock reference was apposite. Bree in particular sees himself as part of a tradition stretching back to Jimmy Gralton. Some of the descendants of the landless labourers are working in pretty unrewarding poorly paid jobs. I know this because that’s who I drink, bet and generally hang out with. The property boom was built on the backs of labourers, not all of them East European by any means, whose average wage was around 600 Euros a week. I’d submit that for the work involved that’s a pretty poor return. I wouldn’t be able to put in too many days of it. They’re also the first people to have suffered from the downturn. There are also a lot of skilled tradesmen short of work at the moment who will be eating their Breakfast Rolls in other jurisdictions before long. The “harsh decisions,” are harsher on them, and that frighteningly large number of people below the poverty line, than the pundits who advocate them.
And, of course, as Alastair points out only a fool would turn down middle class votes. But there are areas which are more fruitful for Labour parties than that of the much invoked small businessman whose only feeling about trade unions, for example, is that he won’t have them in his shop because they’d drive up wages.
I agree with sonofstan that Eamonn Sweeney’s book is quite good. But then that’s probably because I am Eamonn Sweeney.


22. sonofstan - June 8, 2009

Thought I’d smoke you out…..


23. Cathal - June 8, 2009

In Louth Lab cllrs in Drogheda topped the poll in two LE areas. The rise of SF in Louth stopped chances of regaining a seat there, and Bell the former Labour TD wasn’t what you would call left wing.

I think we are missing the wood from the trees, in urban areas FF vote collapsed and that has ensured strong left gains. They have lost the benefit of incumbency and tribal voting has disappeared in our cities.

Look at the numbers in any rural area and FF support held up well. Its tribal support more than anything else, people vote for who they know and have always known.
There will always be exceptions to this with someone scraping past the FF/FG dominance in rural areas but to change this requires an almighty effort on the ground to attract the support.

FF and FG always have the twin advantages in rural areas of incumbency and tribal support which isn’t present for left wing candidates.
Its taken SF 15 years to build support up in many areas and they have been helped significantly by nationalist voters.

The challenge for Labour now is to build on gains in Louth, Meath, Donegal, Sligo, Galway, Kerry, Carlow, kilkenny,Cork and Tipp. No one said it would be easy. There are seats there to be won and over time it will happen once the organisation is continued to be built on.


24. Pete - June 8, 2009

Simply put Labour’s vote has grown in the Dublin area, in a European sense the only area along with Cork and greater Belfast that in this country constitutes a truly urban, industrialized region. I don’t see the small working classes of the small towns in Ireland giving Labour the amount of votes to see TDs elected that will have to pander to ‘rural concerns’ and act as drag upon the party’s attempts to bring a social democratic government to Ireland – re abortion etc Joe Sherlock was a drag on the WP and his tendency to parish plump poltics damged the party’s growth IMHO. I’m not saying that rural Ireland is per se reactionary, although Fianna Fail’s votes in Cavan and Longford would point to a certain support for corruption and narrow mindedness in at least parts of the our less developed areas. What I mean is it takes different approaches to crack a nut, and it would seem the Sinn Fein radical approach is paying more dividends in rural Ireland than Labour’s. So let Labour develop along its course in urban Ireland and the commuter belt Ireland, which saw Childers elected, and let the Shinnners develop their formula in rural areas and the North. If both parties are turely Social democratic and place these values above sham careerism and dead nationalism, they should work together to challenge the conservative hegemony – ITS A VERY BIG IF – but in my opinion it is the fastest track to social democratic government in this country, Socialism can follow later.

On whether the former sticks have made Labour more radical, who gives a shit, as they have certainly helped create more votes for the Left – taking SF, Labour and the Hard Left Indos all together support is now standing for the Left of center at around 30% quite a leap form the Lab, WP, DSP etc under 15% of the 1980s.


25. Pete - June 8, 2009

Line above should read
TDs elected that will NOT have to pander to ‘rural concerns’ and act as drag upon the party’s attempts


26. Omar Little - June 8, 2009

‘agree with sonofstan that Eamonn Sweeney’s book is quite good. But then that’s probably because I am Eamonn Sweeney.’

If you really are ES then your article on Rabbitte and Labour in the SINDO magazine two years ago was one of the better things written on the subject. Any links to it exist on the net?


Eamonn Cork - June 9, 2009

The short answer is that I don’t know.
And believe me, no-one would claim to be Eamonn Sweeney if they weren’t.
This, by the way, is a great site. I’m an old school print snob and web sceptic but there isn’t anywhere in print you’ll find anything like the Cedar Lounge Revolution, it’s the only internet forum I’ve written a word on. Being here as the results came in was more fun than being in a pub with particularly intelligent company.


27. Garibaldy - June 8, 2009


You are assuming that this does mark a permanent sea-change. I think that that is far from certain. Though I agree with hard work and new tactics we might be able to make it so to some extent.

As for the DL crowd. They’ve probably pushed Labour to the right, not the left.


28. Paddy Matthews - June 8, 2009

Fianna Fail’s votes in Cavan and Longford would point to a certain support for corruption and narrow mindedness in at least parts of the our less developed areas.

Corruption and narrow-mindedness is neither equivalent to or exclusive to Fianna Fáil, either down here in “our less developed areas” or in the haven of civilisation that you are presumably fortunate enough to inhabit.

A Fine Gael-controlled county council in Longford (with county councillors doubling up as property developers) presided over the smothering of half the county with poorly-built, half-finished, three-quarters-empty housing estates.


29. Eamonn Dublin - June 8, 2009

Talk of Mary Lou being given the shinners senate seat to maintain her profile. May happen after by election of Gallaghers seat.


30. Paddy Matthews - June 8, 2009

Talk of Mary Lou being given the shinners senate seat to maintain her profile. May happen after by election of Gallaghers seat.

The problem with that is that even if Doherty wins the by-election in Donegal SW, the senate vacancy would be filled by the Dáil, ensuring a seat for FF (or perhaps a consolation prize for the Greens).


31. Niall - June 8, 2009

“I agree with sonofstan that Eamonn Sweeney’s book is quite good. But then that’s probably because I am Eamonn Sweeney.”

Since we’re playing the “if you’re really Eamonn Sweeney game”, if you’re really Eamonn Sweeney, tell me what does a Paddy Nangle do?


Eamonn Cork - June 9, 2009

He was my English teacher, and also the man who attempted to make a footballer out of me.
I’d have to say that set down in print, “I am Eamonn Sweeney,” looks considerably less stirring than, “I am Spartacus.”


32. WorldbyStorm - June 8, 2009

Hmmm… this thread is interesting… for lots of reasons 😉

What’s that about a senate vacancy being filled by the Dáil, is that definite?


33. WorldbyStorm - June 8, 2009

Oh yeah, and a further question. How does this play out in terms of left seats at the next election… Healy? Boyd-Barret? etc…


sonofstan - June 8, 2009

Every Green seat is clearly up for grabs, and in quite a few there’s a well placed left candidate in the wings: Alex White in Dublin South (Eamonn Ryan), Clare Daly in Dublin North (Trevor Sargent), RBB in Dun Laoghaire (Chemical Cuffe) – Gormley has to be vulnerable as well, though it could be taken by anyone from SF to FG. Is there a PbP hopeful in place in Mid-West to target Gogarty?


WorldbyStorm - June 8, 2009

`Interesting, although that would suggest a cannibalisation of a broadly speaking left leaning vote…


gabbagabbahey - June 8, 2009

since Ciaran Cuffe’s seat is gone anyway (constituency resize from 5 to 4) a Boyd Barrett win would be at the expense of FF or Labour. according to RTE the FG voteshare in the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown locals went up 10%, with Labour only up 2%. I presume that’s the PBPA eating into the Labour vote.


gabbagabbahey - June 8, 2009

so my constituency would be Gilmore v. Boyd Barrett v. Hanafin/Andrews for the non-FG seats, which wouldn’t be that many (and Labour would be against three sitting FG TDs in Dublin South). some fun!


Tim Buktu - June 8, 2009

Dublin MW. Councillor Gino Kenny is in the middle of the constituency.

But the Green vote has mainly been a Lucan vote, and has its grounding in the long-standing, organised and independent) strong opposition to bad planning (as in bad on planning grounds, not simply because of the brown envelopes; The activists wiped the county manager’s eye a year or so ago on the stated impact of the Clonburris SDZ). FF has no councillor in the Lucan half of the constituency in both the outgoing and incoming elections.

Dublin MW will be interesting: Harney is not running the next time (her brother Richard told the Labour party that when it came time after the general election to take down posters — the two parties took down each other’s in different areas)

And Gogarty’s “eccentricities” will have lost him votes apart from any change in sentiment about his Party.


Tim Buktu - June 8, 2009

Should have said: Cllr Gino Kenny is PbPA


34. Starkadder - June 8, 2009

Slightly off-topic, but Mr. Ganley appears to have conceded



35. Garibaldy - June 8, 2009

Not at all off-topic on a thread about good news for the left Starkadder!


36. Garibaldy - June 8, 2009

If left voters abandon the greens, WBS, I think that would be a good thing, although obviously the left also has to take on board more environmentalism. Though as a class issue, which it is.


37. WorldbyStorm - June 8, 2009

If the broad left moves forward you’ll find no argument from me 🙂


38. Paddy Matthews - June 8, 2009
39. sonofstan - June 8, 2009

`Interesting, although that would suggest a cannibalisation of a broadly speaking left leaning vote…

There are still some left-leaning people in the Greens, but as the real Eamonn Sweeney suggested, they’ve been taken over by the kind of people who think ‘politics needs people like us’ – Ciaran Cuffe, in particular, is a PD in environmental clothing.


40. Tim Buktu - June 8, 2009

I think there are two issues here, one of which I will call “bean counting”. On that front, Labour has a lot of work to do to mend bridges. (For example, what ever the rights and wrongs of what Declan Bree is supposed to have done about Traveller accommodation, it was outrageous that the party leader should use the letters page of the Irish Times to make his case. And the overlooking of Denis Landy for Michael Ferris’s widow was another blunder. They risk another one emerging in Dublin Mid West where the Tuffy clan has antagonised foot soldiers in the south of the constituency.) The party needs to get its own people and new people into the tent.

Overall, I think using a bean counting approach there isn’t anything of substance to the left’s gains in the elections. What really happened is that Fianna Fáil (and the Greens) lost, and the votes and seats went to a variety of alternatives on offer, some of which are part the left.

And that leads to the second issue. If (a form of) the left is to grow to become dominant, it needs people voting for it for the sake of what it stands for rather than because it is “not the other shower”. Labour seems to me to lack that, and the other parties of the left that do have it do not seem to be able to secure engagement with it. Even Joe Higgins’s win I would see as being a recognition of and support for a man of integrity (who stood with GAMA workers, went to jail for his stance on the bin tax, etc.) than support for nationalisation of industry.


41. WorldbyStorm - June 8, 2009

Thanks Paddy, that’s certainly clearcut and likely to make them stay their hand on shifting indviduals around…

sonofstan… there are more than some, but they’ve allowed their voice to be too muted. Not sure about CC, I think he’s a bit more left of centre than that. But I could be wrong.


42. anthony bosco oneill - June 8, 2009

Just read through this thread, took me awhile, but am enjoying it immensly.Have to say made a few bad predictions re: Christy Burke in DC but was delighted to see Maureen get it still think she is to much of a lady for leinster house though.

She polled almost 7500 first preferences almost 80% more than Tony ever managed so whether these stay with her indefinitely will be a subject for future debate.

SF in dublin lost 5 seats and gained 1 with Mary Lou also gone. Outside Dublin SF done rather well which has gone unnoticed by most media pundits with the exception of Bowman. They picked up seats in Cork LImerick Roscommon and a number of other areas where they had no representatives previously. In the Europeans which is a national poll they were only 3% behind labour although with no seat gain.

I am still undecided whether the emergence of so many other left wing groupings is a good or bad thing. Not taking away from the efforts and the dedication of the various candidates, at the end of the day the left seems to be fragmenting while the right is still represented by the 2 main parties.

Labour although having a good election are still a long way off the spring tide and it is an indication of how far they slipped that they think 14% is good. There needs to be an agreed left alternative unfortunately all i can see is gilmore in his pyjamas waiting to jump into bed with enda.

Joe taking the seat in Dublin was a nice sweetener and he has made it very clear that he is waiting for the next dail elections, perphaps he should be proposed as an agreed left candidate for lord mayor. Wouldnt that throw the shit in the fan.


43. gabbagabbahey - June 8, 2009

Mary Lou floating a left alliance on Q & A – incl. Greens.

interesting comment about CC as “PD in environmental clothing” and for the party in general. unless you’re doubting their sincerity on the environment itself, which I assume you aren’t, then there’s a couple of interesting similarities and differences to my mind: they were both socially liberal, gay rights, privacy, etc; and in fundamental economic terms environmentalism doesn’t sit will with neo-liberalism insofar as it calls for a reduction and sustainability of economic growth – which is in turn fundamental to having an equitable society.

I’d welcome a broad left focus on the environment – and it’s probably fair to say that Labour has moved away from mere lip service, e.g. Tommy Broughan is/was quite good on Transport – but I fear it’s a while before they can supplant an active Green movement on the issue.

(btw I’ve been lurking on this site for several months now – really enjoy the coverage!)


44. CL - June 8, 2009

‘Waiting for the Healer’-by Eamonn Sweeney,- a great read. Hope there’s more to come.


Eamonn Cork - June 9, 2009

Thanks for the kind words. I’m writing a history of Ireland between 1973 and 1985 at the moment for Gill and Macmillan, also a novel set in Dublin in the eighties.
On the day of the election I was, funnily enough, reading up about the PAYE protests of 1979, perhaps an object lesson of how a great wave of radicalism can be dissipated into not very much.
One of the joys about reading up on the period is the unlikely sightings, young Eamon Gilmore becoming President of the USI, beating Carol Coulter (replacing one Patrick Rabbitte), young Brendan Howlin in the anti-nuclear movement in Wexford, Frank Connolly at Carnsore as well, Kevin Myers arguing in Magill that we should never forget that colonialism and the nature of the Northern state is the cause of IRA violence (seriously), Eamonn Dunphy as Magill health columnist.
And, seeing as he’s been mentioned here, Ted Tynan playing a big role in the rent strike on the North Side of Cork city in the mid seventies (along with, among others, Kathleen Lynch’s father in law) where people held out for years, went to jail, took over the council chamber, because they refused to live in houses everyone admitted were sub standard. It’s incidents like that, too little known I suspect, I’d hope to shed some light on in the book.
And, I’ve asked WBS this already, if anyone has any suggestions on books, magazines, other sources from the period which they feel might be helpful, I’d be a very grateful man. Or if anyone thinks there might be some story which, though overlooked, might be telling about those years. Thanks, and thanks again for the comradeship over the election nights.


45. Betty - June 9, 2009

Even including Joe Higgins winning the seat ahead of Ryan, even including Maureen O’Sullivan’s success – I can’t think when I’ve read a sweeter headline!


“Ganley quits politics after conceding NW seat”


46. Tim Buktu - June 9, 2009

There’s a map, rather amateurishly added to, showing the areas in Dublin where FF have zero seats here: http://www.gaire.com/db1-images/04951023_fianna_fail_zero_seats_5.jpg


47. Leveller on the Liffey - June 9, 2009

From Sinn Féin Cllr Seán Crowe in Tallaght on Sunday:-

[Sinn Féin South Dublin County Councillors] call for Left alliance against cuts. Tallaght Cllr Seán Crowe called for unity against cuts and for better delivery of public services. Cllr Crowe said that the local and European election results give left-wing parties the chance to offer people what he called a Left Alternative to Fianna Fáil and, he emphasised, an alternative also to Fine Gael.


48. Leveller on the Liffey - June 9, 2009

The Workers’ Party’s Davy Walsh kept his seat in Waterford, against the predictions of many. Ted Tynan also took a seat in Cork, which is significant because it means that The Workers’ Party once again has represetantion outside Waterford.

Ted Tynan got rave reviews on RTÉ Radio 1’s Late Debate on Monday night from Fergal Keane (a Corkman) and another reporter from down that way for his hard work over the years.


Eamonn Cork - June 9, 2009

Ted Tynan was also, if I remember rightly, involved in the marches out to the Old Head of Kinsale where people from Cork who’d walked and picknicked over there for years protested against the fact that they’d been excluded because the amenity had become part of one of the most expensive golf courses in Europe. The manner in which they were derided by local press and politicians was a case study in modern snobbery which would have been derided as unsubtle if included in a Ken Loach movie.


Garibaldy - June 9, 2009

You do indeed remember rightly Eamonn. My inbox is still full of the emails about the campaign. It certainly was class war.


49. Garibaldy - June 9, 2009

Thanks for that Leveller. I might try and get it on Radio 1. There was a thread on P.ie congratulating him started by a member of the SP. So he must be doing something right to get praise from such disparate viewpoints.


50. Wahlsplitter « Entdinglichung - June 9, 2009

[…] Zumindest in Irland ist, wie Cedar Lounge Revolution berichtet, die Welt noch einigermassen in Ordnung, Joe Higgins von der Socialist Party […]


51. Seán Ó Tuama - June 9, 2009

Since Joe is drawing attention to his own predictive abilities, may I humbly point out that I predicted a few weeks ago, on the basis of the Suday Indo poll, that MOS was likely to take the Dublin Central seat rather than FG?

I note from Pete’s comments that the old Eoghan Harris-WP urban chauvinism is still unfortunately alive in parts of the left. Will these people ever learn?

I write as a person Dublin born and bred who was active in left and union activities in Dublin and am convinced many like me despise this urban chauvinism.


52. Eamonn Cork - June 9, 2009

Isn’t it strange how that if Ganley had won we would now be reading tons of articles about how this boded a huge seachange in Irish politics and announced the arrival of a serious new force, but that Joe Higgins’ victory is kind of getting the, “ho-hum, of course it’s all a protest vote nobody really takes his politics seriously.”


53. Leveller on the Liffey - June 9, 2009

Good point, Eamonn, very good point.


54. Eamonn Cork - June 9, 2009

One more thing before I go off and do a bit of work. Mark Hennessy in the Irish Times suggest that one way back for the Greens will come through Gormley’s imposition of water charges. You see, it will be Gormley’s idea but people will blame the local councils because their name will be on the bills.
1. If Mark Hennessy is clever enough to figure out that Gormley is behind the legislation, maybe, just maybe the voters will be too.
2. I’d like to see a government with 25% support trying to railroad through nationwide water charges.
Also, I notice that my reading of the election counts was almost always wrong. The confident predictions in favour of Burke in South and Ryan in Dublin stand out. My dreams of becoming the new Richard Sinnott lie in tatters. Maybe I’ll buy a Cara computer next time.
I also said that Labour had done badly in Kildare, this stems from a lifelong tendency to get Kildare and Meath mixed up.
Sometimes I wonder if we can be too harsh on the left for not making big breakthroughs in Ireland. The Ryan Commission report lays bare, as I don’t think had been done previously, that class was probably a greater motivator behind the operation of these gulags than sexual repression. In a society where a large amount of the poorest children were incarcerated and many of the others were emigrating, the left was never going to have an easy time. In the McGreil report, Prejudice and Tolerance in Ireland, published in 1977 only 23% of people said they would welcome a Communist as a member of the family, 29% would have welcomed criminals and the same figure would have welcomed “itinerants.” The Reds also trailed Pakistanis (24%) but did slightly better than Africans (22%). This is where we’re coming from.


55. Joe - June 9, 2009

Seán Ó Tuama: “Since Joe is drawing attention to his own predictive abilities,”

Sad saddo that I am, I have to also claim credit for first spotting Eamonn Red Army Sweeney on another thread. SINDO columnist on CLR – be careful, man! I wonder could we get Declan Lynch on too? I’d like that.
Keeping up the plámás, yes There’s Only One Red Army is a great read. And iirc the correct line was also taken on the Cork hurling “dispute”. I’d be afraid to ask for a retrospective view on Keane/McCarthy in case feet of clay might be revealed. But keep on writin and rockin.
PS: I am not Joe Higgins.


56. Stephen Spillane - Green Down But Not Out - June 9, 2009

[…] The Elections and the Left: Some Thoughts (cedarlounge.wordpress.com) // Share this Post[?]     […]


57. Gypsy - June 9, 2009

Speaking of predictions – did anybody forsee Christy Burke leaving SF. Just been announced on IT breaking news.


Gypsy - June 9, 2009

Oops, just seen that Garibaldy has started a new thread on it.


58. Mark P - June 9, 2009

Jesus, Burke leaving after all those years is an odd one.

Does anyone know if there are any actual political differences between him and SF, or is this all about personal and organisational disagreements?


59. Jim Monaghan - June 9, 2009

I wonder will Christy B. orient to Eirigi.
SF are paying the price for respectability. I think their willingness to go into coalition was a factor in the steady drift of people waay from them. was not Gilmore lucky that Bertie selected the Greens for the treatment.
Again it is up the the LP to show that reformism works but they will alas be happy with mercs and perks.
The FFers have a point what is the opposition plan. Besidwes just replacing the useless present government.
We need a program for government. There is a left plan for the crisis and a rightwing one.
Again who will pay for the crisis. And lest it be forgotten who will be punished.
Oh and I would like to see the orders pay for the child abuse. Like we suspect of the bankers they have moved their assets into trusts.
Nationalise the education system and the hospitals for a start.
What about it a mimimum plan for government.
I suspect that Lemass was right the LP will wrestle with its conscience and the LP will win.


60. Fergal - June 9, 2009

Eamonn Cork,
Writing a history of the country from ’73 to ’85 you lucky so and so!
As you’ve asked for ideas here’s my penny’s worth-try to get your hands on the minutes books from as many unions as possible,you could try out the various trades councils to get them.I reckon they’d be a goldmine and would fit into the whole idea of history from below.History from below as opposed to the usual “important” people/events.Howard Zinn has written a great history book in this genre called “A people’s History of the United States”.Brecht puts brilliantly in his poem “Questions from a worker who Reads”Anyway,keep it up!


Eamonn Cork - June 10, 2009

I must check out the Zinn. By the way, an absolutely brilliant book, which is described as “a people’s history of the third world,” is The Darker Nations by Vijay Prashad, a genius young Indian academic working in the States. It’s a fantastic overview of independence struggles and the post-colonial world.


Fergal - June 10, 2009

Cheers Eamon, I’ll check out Prashad’s book


61. Ferenka Fred - June 10, 2009

I won’t presume to tell you how to do your job or write your book; that excellent piece you wrote on Michael O’Leary in the SINDO was one of the few articles on our beloved business leader that actually talked about class and class background and how it affects people’s world view.
I’m very interested your writing on the 70s; might I humbly suggest you have a look at the files of the SF-WP paper The Irish People for the kinds of stories they were breaking in the late 70s (lots on PAYE of course) or perhaps talk to Padraig Yeates the former editor of the IP.
There would be interesting stuff there. Look forward to reading the book.


Eamonn Cork - June 10, 2009

Fred. Thanks for that suggestion. It’s an awful pity that there isn’t a full-scale history of the WP like Michael Gallagher or Niamh Puirseil’s book on the Labour Party. Whatever anyone’s political affiliation, it is a fascinating story. By the way, if anyone had any old magazines from the period, I’d love to get hold of them and would return them in pristine condition.
Have you a connection with Ferenka? One of the things that fascinated me is that although the factory closure has now become a right wing myth about the perils of union intransigence, at the time even Des O’Malley apportioned equal blame to the company and the inherent crappiness of the working conditions were widely stressed, something I don’t think would happen now. It’s striking that most industrial correspondents of the time seemed sympathetic to the unions whereas now even the ostensibly liberal ones seem to focus on the man standing at the bus station saying, “I know they’re protesting to save their jobs but I’m going to be late home from work.”
By the way, whatever happened to Philip Byrnes?


62. Ferenka Fred - June 10, 2009

I might also add that in my opinion Zinn’s book is too polemical and lacks a bit of nuance and complexity. The annoying stuff that makes us human.


63. Ferenka Fred - June 10, 2009

I’ve no connection with Ferenka except it loomed large in my childhood and in my teens was always held up as an example how the ‘greedy’ unions had destroyed Limerick (article on it in the early Magill which I’m sure youv’e seen). On the WP, theres a book out soon I believe.


64. Ferenka Fred - June 10, 2009

There was supposedly graffiti in the toliets at Ferenka ‘Herrema kidnapped up years ago’! That episode also sticks in my mind.


65. Ferenka Fred - June 10, 2009

It should be ‘us’ years ago- kind fucked up that joke didn’t I?


66. sonofstan - July 6, 2009

Late entry here, but i implore you to listen to this – Cork rapper Gerry MacCarthy’s tribute to the new Labour MEP in Munster: a new benchmark for irish political songs….


67. Bartholomew - July 7, 2009


If only the visuals had as much oomph as the music – ‘twould be a masterpiece, boy!


68. WorldbyStorm - July 7, 2009

It’s certainly a benchmark… just at what point? 😉


69. sonofstan - July 7, 2009

“25 year old man goes back to UCC/
To do a two year masters degree”

that’s my favourite line, only rivalled by ‘Fianna Faíl without the fadá is Fianna Fail

Thanks are due to my daughter for bringing it to my attention – apparently it gets played more than once at every social gathering of her friends, and they know all the words…….kids are weird…..


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