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One big party March 17, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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A comment recently here got me thinking. It pointed out that like ‘any broad-based party, Sinn Féin has a left bloc and a right bloc’. I think that’s probably true and it would be interesting to look at that further. The glue of Republicanism works up to a point but as time moves on – as we know from experience with other parties whether more avowedly left wing or centrist, the tendency for them to splinter becomes more pronounced. Still, moving away from the local can people point to mass left parties that haven’t fragmented over time? Actually large or mass left parties can seem on examination of the historical record a bit thin on the ground. I suppose the one I think of as a default is the PCI during the 1950s to the 1970s. British Labour has, albeit a very big party at certain points in its history, been somewhat less left-wing. Though again, getting back to the comment the PCI, the BLP etc are parties with various strands, if not indeed blocs. SYRIZA is a further example with its most leftward component consigned to electoral oblivion at the last election. And so on. But that raises the question as to whether it is possible to have mass political parties with strong cohesiveness and I’m very very dubious about that. I don’t think it was ever true and I think it is less true today. What do others think?

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1. The Broken Elbow - March 17, 2016

Don’t be silly. You are making a basic mistake in assuming SF is like a normal political party with tendencies and wings. It is, and has nothing of the sort. There is only one bloc in SF and it is called the Gerry Adams bloc. Get your head round that and then you can understand what makes SF tick.

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dmoc - March 17, 2016

Eirigi? Or are they too small to register?

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WorldbyStorm - March 17, 2016

Always wondered about them, some good people went with them

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WorldbyStorm - March 17, 2016

So there’s no fissures at all no differentiation on certain policy issues – not even so much as a TD overboard for a while on abortion or evident tensions about economic policy y in the run up to 2007 or 2011? Just one homogenous crew who will follow Adams on everything in perpetuity? Nothing lasts forever TBE in politics, we both know that.

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WorldbyStorm - March 17, 2016

And just to add generational shifts in parties are always problematic, in one with a leadership generation that has been onside for 35 plus years it will be fascinating to see how itbmanages the transition

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The Broken Elbow - March 17, 2016

Yep, now you get it…….

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WorldbyStorm - March 17, 2016

Let’s split the difference and say yes loyalty to GA etc and control from centre was a very real characteristic and in some ways remains so but that there is also a shift exacerbating cleavages already extant but hidden. the sheer growth of SF in numbers alone has an effect. The arrival of a parliamentary party in real. Numbers is another. We’ve seen it all before really.

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The Broken Elbow - March 17, 2016

i believe they marched into the dail like a squadron of obedient soldiers. true? there may well be tendencies within SF but god help the one who speaks up against the leader’s policies. didn’t the SF tame leftie eoin o broin admit recently that there is no parliamentary party in the dail, that all decisions are made by the SF AC whose membership is decided by orchestrated elections at the ard-fheis? it is called democratic centralism, except more of the centralism than the democracy! you must remember that WbS, don’t you?

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WorldbyStorm - March 17, 2016

Well they’re hardly going to go into the Dail like a carnival of clowns so not sure how that makes a difference one way or another. But why is it less democratic that a properly elected AC should be in control of party policy than a parliamentary group? One lesson from the WP or indeed the LP is that those latter groups are less accountable to the membership and ultimately can as with the LP in the Uk and perhaps here reshape the membership to their own ends. Of corse as you rightly say it is possible for orchestration of elections but that seems to me to be a different problem again and one necessary to address on its own terms.

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The Broken Elbow - March 18, 2016

My point about them marching in like a squadron of soldiers was to underline the Stepford Wives nature of that party. And I guess you didn’t understand my point about the party being controlled by the AC, whose election is invariably stage-managed at the ard-fheis to produce a controllable entity. There is a section in my IRA book on how the ard-fheis was manipulated and gerrymandered to produce the decision on dropping abstentionism. I suggest you read it. That is how matters are decided in that party and these are leopards that do not change their spots. To regard SF as a normal political party is a big mistake.

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WorldbyStorm - March 18, 2016

I’ve seen FFers and FGers ‘March’ into the Dail first hand on numerous occasions and there genuinely is as much or as little Stepford Wives about that as SF – they all want to make much the same point for the cameras of party unity full ranks etc so while I get the point you’re making I think it’s overblown. That’s not what I would look to for indications of SFs unity of purpose. I also get the point you’re making re ACs and if you’d read my response again I noted precisely that it depended on elections and controls to such bodies being democratic but that that was a different problem again to the one you originally pointed to of parliamentary groups as against ACs.

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Enzo - March 19, 2016

Ó Broin describes it as “an organization which is both highly centralized in its distribution of power and vertical in its structure of command,” where “discipline and loyalty are often more highly valued than critical debate and internal democracy.”

that was taken from the recent Jacobin article on SF. I can’t have been the only to be shocked by how candid a then Cllr, now TD is about the internal dynamics of his party.

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WorldbyStorm - March 19, 2016

Given the problems we’ve had on here in the past about getting basic info on party structures in relation to other orgs commendable openness on his part I’d have thought.🙂

It’s not a surprise though, is it?

I forgot to say at the outset in comments that no one here has said SF is ‘like other parties’ something that would be implausible given its history and approach though something I’d argue is getting more the case rather than less so due to external and some internal pressures.

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Gearóid - March 20, 2016

The Broken Elbow:

“There is a section in my IRA book on how the ard-fheis was manipulated and gerrymandered to produce the decision on dropping abstentionism.”

That was thirty years ago.

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Joe - March 21, 2016

The internal dynamics of the SF party is a topic of great interest to me. From the above there’s definitely shades of the WP internal dynamics of the eighties. Shades now, I’m not saying they are the same or anything like that.
Question is though does SF carry the seeds of its own self-destruction in this internal dynamic? Time will tell.

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2. gendjinn - March 17, 2016

GP is the problem example. A single issue party that can be subverted by neoliberals upon gaining electoral relevance.

To the degree SF retains a class perspective I think the problem of subversion can be averted. Those of the right, who are nationalist, have so many other homes to choose from, I can’t see them trying to subvert SF.

Of course, the aphorism regarding small company you love today, turns into the large corporation you hate tomorrow, applies.

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3. roddy - March 19, 2016

Would love to comment on this but the last time I pointed out that Mr “boston tapes” might have an agenda I was sectioned 31’nd for a month!

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sonofstan - March 19, 2016

We could get an actor to do your voice.

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4. roddy - March 19, 2016

Fair enough,I was once compared to Sean Connery by a yankee woman on the Aran islands, an incident that I never let Mrs Roddy forget!

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WorldbyStorm - March 19, 2016

Any measured critique or analysis is welcome.

Sean Connery eh? Fair dues.

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