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The Green Party: Farewell to second and third preferences… and fourth… and fifth… February 7, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.
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What an odd little gimmick the Green Party used at the weekend.

At an event yesterday, the party represented each of the parties’ election spending as stacks of cash: €2.25m for Fine Gael, €1m for Fianna Fail, €1m for Labour, €250,000 for Sinn Fein and €40,000 for the Greens themselves.
Okay.

The party deliberately portrayed Sinn Fein’s campaign funding as €250,000 worth of Northern Bank notes. The former junior coalition partners also challenged Fine Gael to reveal where it was getting its funding.

Hmmmm… [sorry, that…erm…phrase… crops up a lot in this election]. You’d never think they’d been part of a coalition government for the past three and a half years. But worse, if possible, they didn’t seem to want to take responsibility for it.

Former party leader Trevor Sargent said there was no double-meaning.
“It’s coincidental,” he said. “It’s legal tender.”

And what of this masterful non-sequitur?

And Green Party leader John Gormley added Sinn Fein was based on both sides of the border.

What’s dispiriting about this is the lack of awareness of yet again how badly this plays with at least a chunk of their former vote, a vote that through second and third preferences assisted in the return of six TDs in both 2002 and 2007.

The Green Party seems blithely unaware of the perception of it on that soft fuzzy liberal shading into left and independents flank, a flank it seemed almost willfully to jettison when it originally went into power.

Worse again is a sense of something approaching an almost sniggering attitude towards an electorate (and to political competitors) that, to judge by the polling data of the last week, is about to give then less than 2 per cent of the vote, a result that would leave them potentially on no seats at all.

I wonder what’s behind this, is the idea that they want to present some sort of ‘anti-Republican’ face to the world and thereby cull a few FG third preferences [ironically this is just a little like the current LP strategy]? All very well, but never a great tactic to try to appeal to one side of one’s [in this case rapidly shrinking] base by antagonising another. Though in truth how much of their former leftish base is going to give them preferences?

Or is it a case of seeking to make news, any news – and again, however gimmicky, in a context where the profile they had as a government party is now gone and they are back seeking to compete with a Sinn Féin now rising dramatically in the polls (and with only one seat less than the GP had at the dissolution of the Dáil), a ULA that has garnered considerable attention and a contest that at the level of the bigger formations is now concentrated on government formation and is almost indifferent to the fate of a party with a poll rating so low as to be insignificant in political terms.

Another slightly entertaining aspect to this is the tone of the Independent piece, which is headed ‘Greens hit sour Northern Bank note’. Is that a ‘tut-tut’ I hear emanating from Fionnan Sheahan? For dissing Sinn Féin? Surely not! Almost as if a distaste of the latter is outweighed by a disdain for the GP. Never!

Comments»

1. Justin Moran - February 7, 2011

In fairness I wasn’t going to transfer to them anyway, but it’s the only party I’ve ever transferred to in the past and this doesn’t help the idea of ever doing it again.

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WorldbyStorm - February 7, 2011

I think it’s the sheer gratuitousness of this that irritates me. It’s precisely the sort of shallow political discourse that they always presented themselves [and sometimes were] above. Not impressive.

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2. Budapestkick - February 7, 2011

You’d be surprised how cocky their canvassers are too. Still, looking forward to the look on their faces when they’re thrown into the dustbin of history.

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WorldbyStorm - February 7, 2011

Really? Where was this? I’d have thought the penny would have dropped now as to how bad things have got for them. BUt maybe not.

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Budapestkick - February 7, 2011

Cork. I should mention it was a moral cockiness, a refusal to admit they’d done any wrong. They’ve no illusions about the election.

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3. Drithleóg - February 7, 2011

I also noticed that on last nights “The Week in Politics” they were included in an item on the Left. The Greens have always stated that they were “neither left nor right”. Any party that supports the bank bailout or the cutting of public services and wages cannot be considered to be left-wing.

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WorldbyStorm - February 7, 2011

That would be one major criticism of mine about them. No class analysis so once things went pear shaped they could throw pretty much anything out as it suited them. Certainly I think most on the left would correctly not see them as left of centre. Centre – perhaps, some progressive elements, but not at all left wing.

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Budapestkick - February 7, 2011

Indeed. I think that’s one of the deep flaws within green politics in general, which leads to disastrous right-wing coalitions. If they’re ‘neither left nor right’ and reject class politics then going into government with right-wing parties is a natural step.

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WorldbyStorm - February 7, 2011

When of course in a way they’re profoundly class politics based, just it’s not working class.

I’ve always been strongly attracted to red-green politics, but it has to have the red in there to make sense or to make it work.

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Budapestkick - February 7, 2011

True, however I think it’s more a case of socialist and left organisations incorporating environmental concerns into their programmes and activism in a serious way rather than trying to convince middle-class greens of the joys of socialism.

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ejh - February 7, 2011

Or perhaps more a case of radically-inclined people having found more to do, these last couple of decades, in environmental causes where they can engage in real action, than in labour movement causes where very little has been happening. (I mean this sympathetically rather than critically.)

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LeftAtTheCross - February 7, 2011

Maybe also a feel-good factor for the middle-classes during the economic good times, easy to devote energy to saving the planet when the bank balance is ok. Now that isn’t the case anymore they’ll be focusing attention on their class consciousness again, some rightwards and some leftwards.

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ejh - February 7, 2011

Maybe, but I suppose I’m thinking of the sort of environmental activist you look at and think “hmm, in my day they’d have called themselves a socialist”.

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LeftAtTheCross - February 7, 2011

Yeah, I know what you mean, like a “green is the new socialism” of the 90s and 00s in popular culture, the new radicalism. Well not any more though. Back to old school again hopefully.

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4. Pope Epopt - February 7, 2011

Entirely in character. The only thing we have to thank them for is exposing the bankruptcy of capitalist greenery. Which is very little compensation for the disaster of the bank guarantee and what followed.

To wash your mind out, consider insteadthis article on the incompatibility of capitalism with no-growth economies.

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LeftAtTheCross - February 8, 2011

Good article Pope, thanks for that.

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Pope Epopt - February 8, 2011

For those without the time – it is essentially a rebuttal of the economic theories of Herman Daly – that capitalism can be tamed to produce zero growth and ecological sustainability. This influential meme has sustained many a capitalist green in the last couple of decades.

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Di - February 8, 2011

Afaik Eamon Ryan is a fan of Herman Daly alright.

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5. Niall - February 7, 2011

Groupthink. You can imagine the number of backslaps the bright young Green who came up with this got when he first expressed his genius idea. Alas, the Green powers that be forgot that they had the general public, not just their own party members.

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Earl Williams - February 8, 2011

I was going to write that the use of the ‘Northern bank’ notes would play well to the ABC1 demographic who shun the shinners. But I think really that the Greens are too far gone for that be of any use to them.

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6. The Mostly True Guide to the Irish General Election « Adventures of a Middle-Aged Boy - February 8, 2011

[…] The Green Party: Farewell to second and third preferences… and fourth… and fifth… (cedarlounge.wordpress.com) […]

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7. Di - February 8, 2011

Second post on CLR (first was only a little one) so excuse me if I’m getting my language all mixed up.

This stunt by the Greens which made me cringe does lend credence to the story that they have been taken over by ex PDs! It then makes perfect sense.

The ‘not-left, not-right’ line was never meant as a muddy middle way but was a clear recognition (at the time) that sustainability is incompatible with growth be it for labour or capital to profit from it.

My younger more idealist eyes thought that the green party structure of democratic decision making within the party was great but it has left it very vulnerable to having, what was it’s core radialism, completely decimated.

I agree about the green/red thing and there’s an interesting piece here:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n03/benjamin-kunkel/how-much-is-too-much it has been (should be accessible at least once from behind a paywall) reviewing David Harvey’s books which talks about Harvey talking about the limits to capitalistic growth, one being natural limits of course.

Climate change mitigation is a new arena to be incorporated into capitalism which is why the ex-PDs (I know of one, but the story is there are lots more) have more or less taken over.

Hence the northern bank note young-pd-style ‘prank’. Cringe for them alright.

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Pope Epopt - February 8, 2011

Yep, the ‘sustainability derivatives’ market is ramping up right now.

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8. John Green - February 8, 2011

Immanuel Wallerstein’s taken to saying the same thing about the natural limits to capitalist growth in recent years. He’s convinced it’s coming to an end within the next 20 to 40 years. What it’s going to be replaced by, however, is another matter.

http://www.theory-talks.org/2008/08/theory-talk-13.html

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Pope Epopt - February 8, 2011

Thanks for bringing him to our attention, JG. His idea of an integrated social science and reconciliation with the other sciences is attractive, if daunting, especially to a confirmed dilettante such as your humble servant. 25 years of hard study and you’d be about ready to begin…

His quasi-blog of short essays of much larger historical and geographical scope than usual is a real find.

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ejh - February 8, 2011

What it’s going to be replaced by, however, is another matter.

You know when Charlton Heston falls to his knees on the beach?

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9. soubresauts - February 8, 2011

I have to say, WorldbyStorm, you’ve been slow to recognize the Greens’ sell-out for what it was. It started before the last general election.

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