jump to navigation

Far Right is left? May 31, 2019

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.

Thanks to the person who forwarded this to the CLR.

The National Platform EU Research and Information Centre
24 Crawford Avenue
Dublin 9
Tel.: 01-8305792

Gerry Adams TD,
Mary Lou McDonald TD,
c/o Dail Eireann,
Kildare Street,
Dublin 2

Tuesday 28 May 2019
Dear Gerry, dear Mary-Lou,
As someone who as been a Republican all my life and who voted for Sinn Fein for decades until the party decided to adopt the same position on Brexit as Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour, may I make some points to each of you re Sinn Fein’s poor results in last weekend’s elections.

I am circulating these points also to your TD, MLA and MEP colleagues for their information, and to various SF members whom I know.

The fundamental reason why so many Sinn Fein activists have become party’s support base stayed at home last weekend is that Sinn Fein is no longer seen as a radical Republican party. It has been trying so hard for years to make itself “respectable”, with a view to joining a Coalition Government in due course with either FF or FG, that large numbers of its natural support base now see it as fundamentally the same on key policy matters as the other Dail parties

Sinn Fein’s opposition to Brexit and an accompanying Irexit is fundamental to this perception. For how can a genuine Republican party champion membership of the EU when that membership means that most of our economic laws and policies are now decided by Brussels, when the Irish State is subject to huge fines if it does not obey those laws, when the EU had deprived Ireland of its own currency and with that any control of its interest rate or exchange rate, and when the EU Treaties have made us all into real citizens of a Federal-style EU, for one can only be a citizen of a State?

As you know, the EU now has all the features of a fully-fledged State, apart from its own army and direct taxation powers, and Germany and France frankly acknowledge their objective of its acquiring these in time. Is this “the unfettered control of Irish destinies” the 1916 people struggled for?

Talk of changing this situation or bringing about a so-called “Social Europe” while remaining an EU member is so much self-deception; for there cannot be the slightest change to the EU’s rules or structures without that being agreed unanimously amongst the 28 Governments of its Member States – which it is not realistic to see happening.

The British Euro-election results shows that a real and meaningful Brexit is now increasingly probable under a Brexiteer Tory Prime Minister, with Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party breathing down his or her neck. This means that the UK as a whole, including the North, will in due course leave the EU Single Market and Customs Union. That inevitably means adding a whole new dimension to the North-South border within Ireland.

Partition is not going to end in the next few years and the idea that the effects of Brexit on the 26 Cos. in that event can somehow be headed off by Northern Unionists being blandished or dragooned into a link-up with the Republic inside the EU – which would, inter alia, require them to abandon the pound sterling as their currency and adopt the euro instead – is just so much fantasy.

Sinn Fein’s embracing of EU membership for the 26-Counties while the North leaves the EU along with the rest of the UK must inevitably turn the party into a participant in a new Partition of Ireland – unless the party’s leadership changes course and reverts to the true Republican position which it upheld in all the South’s EU-related referendums between 1972 and 2012.

May I put it to you that the best way to do this is for the Sinn Fein leadership to say that if the UK leaves the EU single market and customs union – as now looks probable under a Brexiteer Prime MInister – then the 26 Co. State should do the same to avoid adding the new dimensions to the Partition border that must otherwise arise, and in the process get back control of its own laws, currency, fishery resources, citizenship and borders.

A Sinn Fein Party with such a policy could put the other Dail parties on the defensive for conniving at a new Partition of Ireland by seeking to stay in the EU when the North leaves along with Britain, and for selling out the country to rule by Brussels over decades. Of course such a policy would need to be spelled out and explained to Sinn Fein’s supporters and the general public; but if that were done patiently and consistently it would set Sinn Fein on course to becoming in time the largest party in the Irish State.

That would be a return to a proper Republican policy. It would at once restore Sinn Fein’s lost radicalism and make it really different from the other Dail parties. It would give Sinn Fein the policy initiative vis-a-vis these others, for it is certain that a real Brexit will shift large swathes of Southern opinion in an EU-critical direction over the next few years.

A real Brexit, which will get rid of the nonsense of Varadkar’s spurious “backstop”, will put the other Dail parties on the spot as “Euro-unionists”. It should also make possible a new dynamic between Sinn Fein and the DUP in the North, give the latter some idea of the leading role they could play in a United Ireland that was really independent outside the EU, and correspond to the practicalities of what this State adapting to a real Brexit will require.

Otherwise I am afraid the longterm prospect for Sinn Fein must be one of decline into political irrelevance, for unless the party stands for real national independence – and Irish unity in independence – there can be no real substance to its Republicanism . . . And that would surely be sad after all the sacrifices that have been made by so many since 1970, and the hopes so many had of what the political and peace process could deliver for Sinn Fein.

Finally, may I put in a plea to you and your Sinn Fein colleagues not to keep referring to British Brexiteers such as Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove et al as “right-wing Tories” when they are actually “left-wing” ones.

Bexiteers of all kinds are objectively “on the Left”, whatever their political party, in that they are opposed to the core policy of international High Finance and Big Business, the globalisers, the City of London, the CBI (Confederation of British Industry), George Soros, Peter Mandelson, the Eurocrats of the Brussels Commission and the most conservative and reactionary economic interests in the EU and the UK – that policy being to remain in the EU at all costs and to try and prevent the citizens of the UK getting back the power to make their own laws; a policy with which the Sinn Fein leadership has currently decided to align itself.

The cause of national independence, sovereignty and national democracy is a progressive and objectively “leftwing” one and not reactionary, even if it is championed by Tories or erstwhile Tories, as stigmatising those who support that cause in the EU context as “right-wing” seeks to imply.

I recall Desmond Greaves, who was a communist all his life, saying to me once, at the time of Harold Wilson’s UK referendum on staying in the EEC in 1975: “You must remember that Enoch Powell is on the Left of the Tory Party, not its Right. It is Edward Heath who is on the Right.”

Powell was the Nigel Farage of his day, who broke with the Tories and urged people to vote Labour in 1974 in the hope of defeating Heath’s appplication to join “Yurrup”.

Heath was the Tory Prime Minister who brought Britain into the EEC in 1973, representing as he did the interests of British and international High Finance and Big Capital and the Transnational Firms who wanted – and still want – their profit-making activities to be free of control by national States as much as possible, which membership of the supranational EU ensures, as it erects the “free” movement of goods, services, capital and labour across the EU into constitutional principles.

The Enoch Powells and Nigel Farages of this world want their respective States to be able to control Big Capital, often in the interest of smaller capital; and if ignorant people call them ”right-wing” because they maintain the democratic principle that people should make their own laws, it is only because parties that like to regard themselves as progressive and “on the Left” are utterly failing to defend national independence and democracy in face of the EU’s assault on Europe’s Nation States.

If Sinn Fein wants to have a viable longterm political future, it should start by putting this genuine Republican message to the Irish people.

Le dea guí,

Anthony Coughlan
(Associate Professor Emeritus in Social Policy, TCD)


1. John Goodwillie - May 31, 2019

The blindness of thinking that ‘Bexiteers of all kinds are objectively “on the Left”, whatever their political party, in that they are opposed to the core policy of international High Finance and Big Business, the globalisers’! It is precisely because the Tory right want to leave the field open for high finance and the globalisers without any possibility of control or subordination to any political influence that Brexit has been thought up. The idea that any individual country can control transnationals is cloud cuckoo land.


EWI - June 3, 2019

It is precisely because the Tory right want to leave the field open for high finance and the globalisers without any possibility of control or subordination to any political influence that Brexit has been thought up. The idea that any individual country can control transnationals is cloud cuckoo land.

This. Things can easily get so, so much worse than they are right now.

We are no longer in the 1970s, ’80s, ’90s or even ’00s.

Liked by 1 person

2. Alibaba - May 31, 2019

Calling Farage, Johnson, and Gove as “left-wing” Brexiteers, is oxymoronic commentary. Yet the letter is telling. The author knows that some Sinn Féiners, including leading ones, reckon that the bad electoral results are not just a bump in the road, there’s something more serious going on there. So self-declared radical republicans are trying to take some control.


3. Jim Monaghan - May 31, 2019

The Red Brown alliance. This is the logic of Brexit and Irexit.

Liked by 1 person

4. An Sionnach Fionn - May 31, 2019


I tend to agree with those observers who think that SF is having a post-Troubles’ midlife crisis but we shouldn’t exaggerate it. SF was also hit by exceptional circumstance. Not least, the presence of Daly and Wallace in the EuroParl contest which spiked SF’s chances. Plus events in Derry and the resulting poor election in the north and the negative shade that put on the party (one week people all over Ireland are posting Alan Partridge “Come Out, Ye Black and Tans!” memes and images, a while later they are hastily deleting them). No one likes to back a loser. Or to be even vaguely associated with the death of a young woman. Plus all the other issues of recent years.

Additionally, I would ask how much of that Green Party vote was “virtue signalling” by some voters, mostly floaterish/Labourish types? And how much of it was of the “committed” type?

Many of the Greens’ 2019 voters might think differently in a bread and butter general election.


WorldbyStorm - May 31, 2019

+1 The saddest example of virtue signalling was to my mind those who participated in the exit poll where Casey was well behind McHugh. I’d love to know the rationalisations going on there.

Liked by 1 person

5. Daire O'Criodain - May 31, 2019

Mr. Coughlan has become the human equivalent of the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone!


EWI - June 3, 2019

Mr. Coughlan has become the human equivalent of the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone!

I don’t understand lexiteering at all. It is utterly in defiance of the world as it is, not as we wish it to be.

Liked by 1 person

6. oiltranslator - June 2, 2019

Why not examine the 2-variable Nolan Chart? Left and Right apply to altruistic socialists–whether righteous and godly like William Jennings Bryan and Hitler or lay looter collectivist like Karl and Lenin. Outside the Altrurian socialist universe of discourse is libertarian and objectivist non-aggression. Its defenders listen appreciatively to what communist and fascist altruists say about each other, and wish more voters would do the same. Altruist aggression is what right and left fervently desire.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: