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Speaking of the Presidential Election October 31, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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I’ve been wondering this last day or two about a candidate left of the Labour Party. It’s dubious that would have materially impacted upon the Casey nonsense. But perhaps it would have flown a flag that in a way was absent from the contest. For those supporting the incumbent, or indeed SF, that’s absolutely fine. I can’t blame Michael D. Higgins for the support from FF and FG either. But a more clearly radical voice positioned even further left? Could they have been nominated? That’s another question as well (and it was telling to see Independents of various stripes almost searching around in regard to someone to nominate). And if nominated would such a candidate have done any better than the others? I’m dubious, indeed if they’d breached 10% that would have been remarkable. And yet flying the flag, that’s far from unimportant. Particularly at a time when despite the far from inconsiderable weight of numbers in the Dáil – and influence, at least on the broader narratives, there’s a sense that a broader political weight may be a fair bit less than it was even a few years ago.

Perhaps the reality was that Higgins was too well positioned from the off, single term promise or not, and that there was huge support already behind him. Perhaps the means of consolidating behind a single candidate were impossible to achieve given the disposition of those who would have to line up. Perhaps a route to nomination even were the other elements to come into play simply didn’t exist.

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1. Pasionario - October 31, 2018

Joe Higgins would have been an obvious choice if he had been able to round up enough support in the Dail.

The problem is that a revolutionary socialist has no real business occupying a largely ceremonial office like the Irish presidency, which is pledged not to contradict Government policy.

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Alibaba - October 31, 2018

+1

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WorldbyStorm - October 31, 2018

True Pasionario (though neither of us are revolutionary socialists IIRC!) but I can’t help but think a number of other factors come into play, primarily and first the lack of likelihood of winning, secondly the opportunity to show through a campaign the limitations of the office. And while I’d be the first to acknowledge the limitations of the office it seems no harm to keep in mind it does have some powers and a campaigning President might be able to use them. In any event, speaking for myself, I think the left is probably best to go for each and every opportunity it can electorally to spread the word (resources permitting) because the right does and otherwise the right becomes the default. And Joe Higgins would be a perfect candidate.

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Pasionario - October 31, 2018

But Higgins — the obvious choice — is.

And what would he have said when asked, for instance: Would you sign a bill privatising the ESB? or Would you welcome President Trump to Ireland? etc.

Because of the nature of the office there are some politicians who could not plausibly carry out its duties. That’s just as true of Casey by the way. The difference is the left ought to be sincere about that. So running a candidate for the sake of it to raise the profile of the radical left could end up backfiring horribly. Higgins is basically as good it gets.

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Paul Culloty - October 31, 2018

Unless he resigned, rather than sign a controversial Bill, what could Higgins or a left alternative do in the constitutional circumstances?

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WorldbyStorm - October 31, 2018

The option of resignation is an interesting one – but I’m still unsure unless one believes Higgins would definitely win, and I’m a) unconvinced he would win it b) that some sort of formula couldn’t be arrived at to offer plausible answers to the questions as to how he could be President. But let’s say the point is to win – is it genuinely impossible to think of other plausible left supported candidates?

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2. Jolly Red Giant - October 31, 2018

Joe Higgins would never even consider running in a Presidential election. The Socialist Party has a long-standing policy that the presidency should be abolished – and Joe Higgins is 100% in support of this policy. Anyone who has even a mild acquaintance with Joe Higgins would know such a notion is a non-runner

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WorldbyStorm - November 1, 2018

I’ve a very mild acquaintance with him (in so far as we know each other by name and it is always a pleasure to pass a few words with someone who I have very great political respect for) and did not know that re SP policy. But more seriously that’s entirely reasonable and in bringing his name into play the point wasn’t that it was feasible, more that some figure to the left of Labour/SF was possible and might be no harm as a runner in keeping a flag flying and carving out political territory. In fact I’ve no problem with people running who want to abolish institutions – after all isn’t that the case with the Dáil and Seanad for many? My only concern in all this isn’t the intstitution of the Presidency but rather the space to get a message across.

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Pasionario - November 1, 2018

The Central Committee hath spoken! Still, Higgins and Daly offered to give their votes to Norris in 2011:

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/boost-for-norris-as-left-wing-tds-to-support-nomination-1.603252

That’s not the same as running a Socialist candidate, but forgive me JRG for having failed to grasp the finer dialectical details of the party’s stance.

I also saw Boyd Barrett on the Tonight show a week or two back saying there had been some discussion among left-wing TDs about nominating somebody, but it didn’t go very far.

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Jolly Red Giant - November 2, 2018

Leaving aside the silly attempt at sarcasm – Norris was being shafted by the establishment and that is why the SP offered to nominate him.

As for PBP – what they do is their business. If I recall correctly – Smith spoke about supporting MDH – and apparently there was some nonsense about Collins and Daly nominating Gemma O’Doherty.

Now – it is a case of never-say-never – if the Presidential election became the focal point of mass opposition to the political establishment and a principled left campaign could be agreed – then I could see the SP supporting such a campaign – but I suspect there is a better chance of seeing pigs fly than a Presidential election in this country becoming the battleground for the class struggle.

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3. oliverbohs - November 1, 2018

These undertakings cost money too, and with a general election never far away apparently, it would have been a waste. Next time though it would be very necessary if only to have someone voicing left opinion. Imagine Clare Daly tearing into P Casey, or some such scenario.

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