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The CLR political awards of 2014? December 29, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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Probably not, I’m not hugely fond of the tendency for political columns in newspapers to hand them out. Backroom in the SBP hasn’t a problem with it though. Had to enjoy the following under their Politician of the Year heading:

Joan Burton deserves consideration because she quite ruthlessly finally took out Eamon Gilmore and became her party’s leader and Tánaiste. Standing in her way is that she has had a steady air of “what now?” since then. She has not revived her party and has not implemented a new strategy.
There was also no personality that shone more than others.
That’s why, for the first time in the long history of these awards, Politician of the Year remains on the shelf for 2014.

Those who have studied her Dáil performances will not disagree.

Passing over ‘Minister of the Year’ – Charlie Flanagan, apparently, there’s also this:

A special, once-off award for 2014 has been sanctioned to mark the number of resignations we saw this year. Out of a wide field the clear winner is Ruairí Quinn who resigned early and with considerable good grace. His post-ministerial period has, so far, been marked by discretion and bonhomie.

Reading the Phoenix recently on just that topic one might wonder at that last ‘award’.

Meanwhile, what of the left?

Backbencher of the Year has as its field everyone who’s not in government or leading a party. The newest member of the Dáil, Paul Murphy of the Socialist Party is runner-up because of how his election and strident advocacy has managed to force big changes in government policy and scared the living daylights out of Sinn Féin.

But the winner is:

Stephen Donnelly of Wicklow. In the Technical Group he sits among some of the great showhorses of Irish politics – TDs who have mastered self-promotion but little else. What makes him different is that he combines this with being one of the workhorses of the Dáil. He is prepared on everything and knows his stuff. His filleting of Alan Kelly on the net budgetary income from water charges was brutal.
Interestingly, when serious issues are being discussed he has taken to moving down from the highest row of seats so that he is more on the level of ministers and party spokespeople.

I like that last little detail.

The ebullient Gerald Craughwell is ‘Senator of the Year’. There’s no end of candidates for ‘Mess-up of the Year’, but the winner being ‘the handling of the water issue’.

And what of this? ‘Backroom of the Year’

In election years it has been our practice to give this semi-automatically to the party which has won the most important elections. This year these were the local elections and they were won comfortably by Fianna Fáil.
We’re going to stick with practice, but set some context.

Go on…

Before May, no one at all was predicting that Fianna Fáil would come first, and since May almost no one has acknowledged that Fianna Fáil came first. Certainly there is no understanding of why Fianna Fáil came first (if you know, please send it in to the Post political staff who are eager to enlighten readers).
The party remains its own worst enemy, with former leading members and anonymous Oireachtas members appearing to be always available to talk its performance down.
In truth, not so long ago the party’s disappearance was widely predicted. It has clearly solidified its organisation and it has returned to growth.
Its victory in May was won the hardest way possible – with very little media attention and low-key ‘shoe leather’ work. Certainly it doesn’t have the money of former times and is probably the fourth party in terms of spending in Dublin. However it did it, it was an impressive performance. Let’s see if it can repeat it next year.

I don’t know. Another factoid that’s worth keeping in mind in relation to the locals is this, that FF won .3% more than they did in 2009. No fair comparison you might say. You might be right, that was during the first year of the current crisis. How was it in 2004 for them? 31.8%. Okay, 1999. 38.9%. And 1991? 38%. 1985? 45.6%. Need I go on? In other words FF managed to get marginally higher than their worst election outing in two decades. That’s the comeback? That’s the return to growth? That’s an ‘impressive performance’? Remarkable.

ADDENDUM

Liberius in comments makes the following important observation:

[I] caution against using the wikipedia page on the Irish local elections for your data as whoever is editing them adds together the Town & Borough votes with County & City votes for the pre-2014 elections (something inappropriate given the crossover between those two sets of data, and indeed the lack of crossover for many voters). A more appropriate comparison would be with the county & city council votes alone, in which case FF got 25.38% in 2009 and 25.20% in 2014, a reduction of 0.18% rather than an increase of 0.3%; so their worst result ever then, once the data massaging is removed.

Comments»

1. Liberius - December 29, 2014

I’d caution against using the wikipedia page on the Irish local elections for your data as whoever is editing them adds together the Town & Borough votes with County & City votes for the pre-2014 elections (something inappropriate given the crossover between those two sets of data, and indeed the lack of crossover for many voters). A more appropriate comparison would be with the county & city council votes alone, in which case FF got 25.38% in 2009 and 25.20% in 2014, a reduction of 0.18% rather than an increase of 0.3%; so their worst result ever then, once the data massaging is removed.

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WorldbyStorm - December 29, 2014

Thanks Liberius, added into the post. A very useful and important clarification.

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eamonncork - December 29, 2014

The illusory FF revival is a real example of setting up a straw man and then affecting amazement. Pretty much anybody with any sense regarded the FF general election result as freakishly low, a bit like FG’s 2002 result and expected they’d bounce back to some extent. But these commentators pretend that there was a chance of the party being wiped out altogether all the better to laud a historically pathetic 25% as somehow significant. There is a great nostalgia in these quarters for a return to the certainties of the old two and a half party dispensation.
You saw a similar thing at work before the last water protests when there was a pretence of expecting a cross between the storming of the Winter Palace and the 1932 Eucharistic Congress turnout so that whatever the crowd at the march it would be dismissed as (sniff) ‘somewhat disappointing.’

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2. Joe - December 29, 2014

Winner: The Anti-Water Tax Campaign. For giving the govt a good hiding. For setting up the slaughter of the govt and the right wing parties at the next election.

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eamonncork - December 29, 2014

Amen to that. And for frightening the bejesus out of complacent commentators who’d spent years chiding ‘The Irish People’ for not rising up against injustice and then discovered they didn’t like said rising up at all when it happened. Exposing the contradictions you might call it.

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