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Abstention November 14, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Is Fintan O’Toole correct in arguing that SF’s willingness to abstain in certain seats in Northern Ireland constitutes a softening of abstention. I’m not so sure. To me it seems more that the imperative of diminishing a DUP voice is greater. And the DUP has used its influence at Westminster, without question. For SF to attempt to dent that influence is not quite the same thing as rendering abstention null and void.

All that said I think O’Toole is simply wrong in thinking SF would have a key role in a future vote at Westminster – if it did abandon abstention (which it won’t and shouldn’t). If that were the case one could see how its participation would be used to delegitimise that vote.

Still, a most interesting comment BTL which asks why if participation at Westminster is so crucial are FF and FG or Labour not contesting seats as non-abstentionists in the North and O’Toole not demanding that of them?

Comments»

1. Michael Mullan - November 14, 2019

A Jesuit might say they’re not abandoning abstention, just selectively abstaining from the practice.

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2. tafkaGW - November 14, 2019

I’d say it was O’Toole that’s being Jesuitical.

SF won’t be sending MPs to the British parliament. Whether they choose to ensure the maximal non-DUP presence in the British parliament is simply a matter of tactics, not principle.

Sylvia Herman, last time I looked, is not an SF candidate.

I know the Irish Times love to conflate the two, but it just doesn’t wash with me.

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3. Roger Cole - November 14, 2019

Every time anybody reads O’Toole they should know that what he writes has nothing to do with any kind of Jesuit, he just hates SF.
It is absolutely obvious that SF strategy of having pacts with other parties to to defeat as many DUP candidates as possible, it is as simple as that.

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4. Saints and Scholars - November 14, 2019

Well life is too short to parse FOT’s last piece line by line. As the psychiatrist said of Basil Fawlty; there’s enough material there for an entire conference.

On the specific point, it strikes me that there is a clear bright line between Sinn Fein (a) maintaining a clear policy of abstentionism in relation to any seats that it might win itself; and (b) seeking to influence the outcome of contests between candidates of other parties who have no such policy. Its a difference of category not of degree.

I will allow myself (and inflict on you) one more general point. FOT’s case is a bit (not entirely) like the old joke.

“Would you sleep with me for a million quid?”
“Sure”.
“Would you sleep with me for a tenner?”
“What do you think I am?”
“We’ve already established that. We’re just haggling over the price.”

Fintan works backwards from a “dream” election outcome for SF (that is so unlikely and has so many hurdles around the possibility of its becoming real as to be delirium rather than dream). Surely, the party would abandon its abstentionist policy in those circumstances – and if it would, why not abandon it in all kinds of lesser circumstances, when it has already abandoned it anyway by tacitly supporting candidates of other parties.

The notion that Sinn Fein is withholding vitally important answers from voters by not addressing this hypothetical is stupid for several reasons. (a) We know the answer. SF will continue to abstain. Period. (b) But its a bit like our saying IT readers have a right to know what FOT would do if offered a million quid net of tax and no strings attached by Denis O’Brien; money that could house four homeless families for the foreseeable. What would FOT do…….

And definitely last: contingency outlined just above is only marginally less far fetched than the one FOT postulates. He should get off this bandwagon.

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WorldbyStorm - November 14, 2019

I like that!

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