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An impression of the Local Elections Campaign from The Left May 30, 2019

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.

There will be some examination of the Lefts performance in the Local Elections here but I thought this piece on impressions from the campaign from a person involved in the Left was thought provoking.
Where now for the left after the local Elections?


1. Paddy Healy - May 30, 2019

I have read the piece by “Sheffo” who campaigned for sitting councillor Tania Doyle (IND) who was elected in the Dublin Fingal Ongar Ward. Councillor Doyle is a former member of Solidarity. While there is some interesting informaton and comment in the piece, which I welcome, I believe that the reason for the very low turnout in strong working class areas is not adequately probed. I am working on my own analysis. I am deliberately taking time to ensure that it is correct, honest and deep-going. It is vital that this be an inclusive and constructive discussion. The usual “slagging match” on the left would do further damage. Thanks for posting SHEFFO’s piece, which is a positive contribution to the discussion.


WorldbyStorm - May 30, 2019

I worked on two campaigns for the locals and helped out a very little on a euro campaign – all saw people retain or take seats, all were left wing (natch). My sense was that ‘flatness’ Sheffield mentions was widespread. As to the answer – I just don’t know. We’ve been in much worse situations re the left as evidenced by say the number of left tds and cllrs (unlike Sheffo I consider sf of the left even if not quite there) but the results now are deeply disheartening because I can’t see why turnout will uptick next time out at a GE and I think there will be considerable losses. And yet we have one if the most right wing govts this state has seen.


2. Joe - May 30, 2019

It’s all a bit depressing isn’t it?
That piece mentions the difficulty candidates and parties had in getting people to go out canvassing.
I was talking to a former FG councillor in Cabra Glasnevin on the day of the count. She told me that FG had problems getting anyone to run. Their second candidate only came on board very late. They were without a candidate based in the Glasnevin end, which should be their natural ground. I’m sure they approached said former councillor but she did one stint on the council and said no thanks after that.

The reality is, is it not, that the work of a councillor is thankless drudgery. And that councillors and councils have very, very little power. Let’s see how many councillors resign from their seats in the coming term, like so many did in the last term.
Why bother? Why bother standing? Why bother going out canvassing? Why bother voting? When all you are voting for is a glorified gopher?

I suppose Left parties, moreso than others, would see work on Councils as an opportunity to promote their policies. So you get elected, you do the local work and you advocate and promote your politics and policies. That’s what the Left councillors elected in 2014 did – but it didn’t get them far with the people in 2019.
Like I said – depressing!


3. Jim Monaghan - May 30, 2019

In my opinion all the far Left seats are in danger. And a few of the Sinn Fein seats as well. FF has to gain seats in Dublin. There needs to be some sense of urgency in analysing the vote and the failure to get the vote. One factor is the non existence of a real Left front. Solidairity/PbP were so not a front that they failed to even use the free leaflet postage.While FF and FG are not as powerfiul as they used to be, in a large sense what they lost was to populists out of their gene pools or so-called Lefts such as McGrath and Halligan. I know talk of a Left front bores the committed zealots but maybe the fear of losing more hard won seats might focus minds.
Sinn Fein lost for maybe a few reasons. I think Lyra hurt them, the whiff of cordite, unfairly in this case. I think becoming respectable enough to become coalition friendly hurt as well. Is there a basis for the bullying claims, if so, it hurt them as well.

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4. Jim Monaghan - May 30, 2019

From John Meehan. A number of Dáil By-Elections beckon within six months – get ready for Dáil by-Elections in Dublin North (Clare Daly), Dublin Mid-West (Frances FitzGerald), Cork North-Central (Billy Kelleher) and Mick Wallace (Wexford). I suggest just one fighting-left anti-coalition Candidate in each constituency. Let’s fight against counter-productive fragmentation, which has made the fighting-left pay a heavy price in the May 24 Euro and local elections.


5. Jim Monaghan - May 30, 2019

All the Left seats are in danger. Quite a few of the SF ones as well. FF musty expect to add to their seats in Dublin.
Vartious factors for the loss of votes.
Sf suffered because of the whiff of cordite caused by teh murder of Lyra. (Unfair, but that is politics). It suffered because it is becoming respectable to fit into coalition. Moving away from it poor workingclass base. The bullying scandals (don’t know if true) but they had an effect.
The far Left. They could not even get their act together to avail of the free postage.Do they even say hello to each other in the Dail? A Left Front might see some kind of shadow national Left alternative. In my opinion, people worry about “wasting” their votes. I know the committed zealots wil rolll their eyes at talk of a Left front. In my opinion not having one gives the message that the far Left are not serious.

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6. Fergal - May 30, 2019

I think all of us here are licking our wounds somewhat… wbs mentioned somewhere that it felt like 2007 all over again… I agree with Jim… there needs to be some kind of left slate… for the next election or indeed the by election… the water war hasn’t yielded a peace dividend… so, how to get a left front up and running? Labour included? SF included.. and the slate aims for 80 seats in the next election and runs in search of five targets… housing for all, an NHS, higher tax on rich, better labour laws, climate change… and the message is FG or FF/ Indos or The Left Front… keep it simple… us… the many or them, the few…people need hope… and only the left can do that…


WorldbyStorm - May 30, 2019

Very true. Time to go for presenting an alternative.


7. CL - May 30, 2019

“Leitrim’s Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny has admitted it was a “disastrous local election” both in the county and nationally for his party….
He said the party have not been hit so hard in the Republic for at least 20 years. “Five years ago the floating vote came to us, this time we didn’t appeal to them,” he stated….
Martin Kenny did not shy away from the hard questions and said his party will need to re-evaluate and work out what the problem is, “is it our policies, leadership, presentation … we need to come up with real solutions.”


8. Paddy Healy - May 30, 2019

Sinn Féin TD-not in denial. A welcom and sincere Approach-Paddy Healy
Leitrim Observer: Nationally, Martin Kenny TD(Sinn Féin), admitted it was a “disastrous local election” for Sinn Féin. He said the party have not been hit so hard in the Republic for at least 20 years. “Five years ago the floating vote came to us, this time we didn’t appeal to them,” he stated.
Martin Kenny did not shy away from the hard questions and said his party will need to re-evaluate and work out what the problem is, “is it our policies, leadership, presentation … we need to come up with real solutions.”


9. Pasionario - May 30, 2019

Votes for the left and particularly the far left in Ireland are often protest votes. So the Sol/PBP did well over the past decade because people — many of them not socialist, and not working class — were mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. That success was also tied to the anti-water charges campaign, which has died down now, and the fight for abortion rights.

To achieve more durable success, the left has to be seen to be proposing something rather than just opposing. And if that’s to be an effective message, then voters have to think the left has some realistic possibility of holding power. A single broad left party with a pithy name that doesn’t change every two weeks — “The Left Party” for example — is essential to achieving that goal.

Alas, there’s no immediate prospect of that happening in Ireland because of the exceptionally sectarian make-up of the left and even the centre-left. An anomaly of Irish politics is that the radical left is dominated by Trotskyists, who are singularly devoted to splitting (whereas parties and movements in continental Europe such as Die Linke that emerged from old Moscow-backed CPs tend to be more pragmatic). STV-PR also reduces the incentive to form a single party and allows people like Daly to run as left indos.

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CL - May 31, 2019

“These four groups – Social Democratic, Sinn Fein, Radical and Greens – constitute the broad range of progressive parties….
2016 RTE exit poll found the voters of these parties to be on the left side of the fence when asked them to self-identify on a Left/Right scale…
Overall progressives fell back from 27 percent in 2014 to 25 percent…
Why the collectively poor performance? First, many progressives have not moved on from the austerity period while people and the economy have. There are more people at work, growing incomes and falling poverty. This is not to dismiss issues such as housing….
Labour in 1992 and 2011, Sinn Fein in 2014, the PDs in 1987 – all saw their ‘surges’ quickly dissipate….
Compounding these individual party challenges is the lack of a common economic narrative….
We need concrete cooperation strategies….
We need a new popular front, a broad coalition of progressive parties, individuals and groupings. We need to ditch sectarianism and pre-conditions. Progressive cooperation is about persuading, not hectoring; leaving the door open to all, not closing it to some. It is not about abandoning principles. We do not lose our ideological convictions or strategic preferences because we seek a cooperative relationship with those who don’t share them all right down the line”-Michael Taft.

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CL - May 31, 2019

“Sinn Fein …has struggled to articulate a clear message over the last few years. …
doing a U-turn on its long-held opposition to the European Union, softening its stance on coalition with right-wing parties and confusingly for many republicans; welcoming British royalty to Ireland. For a party that had for long appeared unambiguous about its position, this new departure has failed to gain purchase with many of those it had previously depended on for support….
All too often, left unity is considered only in the context of winning electoral office rather than building a social changing movement…
There is, moreover, the real question of how to exercise power, as distinct from office, if elected in a country controlled by privately owned wealth.
A viable alternative to this particular electoral cul-de-sac is to focus on building an effective grassroots movement capable of challenging the undemocratic distribution of wealth in society…

Doing so would effectively empower working people and make the winning of a general election a final step towards transforming society rather than a beginning that would be vulnerable to attack by capital and all its reactionary allies.


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