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Election Count Day 2 – Open Thread February 10, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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And so it takes shape. Some result that was, and the challenges ahead for the body politic are considerable.

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1. David - February 10, 2020

I wish I’d taken the day off work!

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WorldbyStorm - February 10, 2020

Me too!

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ar scáth a chéile - February 10, 2020

Lot of sickies being pulled today. Lefties being struck down with delirium

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2. ar scáth a chéile - February 10, 2020

Taking a long view I think we can thank Bobby Sands for yesterday.

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Paddy Healy - February 10, 2020

Correct Bobby and his comrades

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3. oliverbohs - February 10, 2020

Spare a thought (and laugh yourself silly) for Govt Chief Whip Sean Kyne whose pork barrel politics regarding the €20m grant to the Showgrounds in Galway didn’t save his seat. Didn’t do the Minister for Sport any good either. He won’t be missed if the utterances of Michael Collins is anything to go by

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4. NFB - February 10, 2020

What a result for the Soc Dems in the early hours in Cork. Now looking at definitely 5 seats, and 6 if Gannon can hold on in Dublin Central.

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Joe - February 10, 2020

Cork South West! I did a constituency profile on it here a couple of weeks back.
Three comments on the result.

The new SocDem and FF TDs are going out with each other. At least they were when the campaign started. If the relationship survives it could be handy – sharing lifts etc up to Dublin. But good luck to the two bright young things in managing the blurred lines between the personal and the political as seo amach.

No FG TD in Cork Sth West! This is a first. Michael Collins (of Treaty fame, not their current Indo TD) home patch. A bit of a disaster for FG and bad for the rep of Simon Coveney who is the party boss down there, and bad for his influence generally within FG.

No TD in Bandon! No TD in the east of the constituency. All, afaik, based in or west of Clonakilty.

Hope our Road Bowling Correspondent tunes in – I’m sure the bowling is off at the moment with that wind – and shares her local news and views on here again.

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dermot - February 10, 2020

Sort of being overlooked, but the election turns SDs into a real party instead of a fancy vehicle for two splitters. SD performance was very strong (not % wise, but creating shored up seats in urban areas makes them very strong competitors for Labour (and they’ll poss. have more seats than Lab now). Woe to Labour.

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5. tafkaGW - February 10, 2020

Let’s be thankful that beginning of the breakup of the neo-lib duopoly of FF & FG came without an appeal to the basest racist and xenophobic instincts. Quite the contrary.

The Irish electorate can congratulate themselves on that!

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6. makedonamend - February 10, 2020

Thanks for the forum WBS. Without wanting to sound too much like a pretentious pr**k, I think it’s invaluable for the Irish Left.>>>

Leaving aside the game like aspect of the election (i.e. who won), I think the message by a large chunk of the electorate is that they want a Responsive government. Full stop.

PR flakmen like Leo aren’t able to plaster over the weeping social wounds inflicted by purist Capitalist ideology. The market is failing many of us on very many fundamental levels, plus there is a yawning gap appearing in the identity of what it means to be a citizen of a country. Right now neo-liberal capitalism, imo, has reduced us all to economic units. That system does not allow us any other identity, and it inherently does not allow us to recognize any other achievement other than that of cash accumulation and class status. Just being a normal human with a modest aspiration to a home, a family and the ability to pursue interests without some money-grubbing fecker trying to charge you for everything you do isn’t possible. As for many young people (especially from the working middle classes*), do they look at a future where opportunities of any sort just don’t exist, or exist in much reduced forms?

From what I’ve read of the some demographics posted here and looking at the numbers of votes SF gathered in Dublin, I have to think a sizeable proportion of the younger vote seems very dissatisfied with the current status quo. They want an active government involved in our society. Will any government formation listen this time? And if a government formation does try to respond will the “system” thwart their attempts domestically, in the EU level via neo-liberal party dominance, and via global capitalist imperialism of the bond variety?

SF: Sure they want to change the world, and they are a party that wants to be in government. I’ve heard too many of their representatives simply say what’s the point of running for government if you don’t want to be in government. But even if they had won every seat in Ireland, very little would change in the short run IMO. The inertia of the system and the dominant narrative won’t change over night. (Too many rice bowls are threatened here and abroad.) Anyway, SF is potentially entering a new dimension of politics that will involve learning. This is a dangerous time for this party. They will have to compromise on issues but will they fall into the comfortable trap of accepting the status quo, or will they continue to fight it?

FF: Will their much diminished leadership heed the warning signs this time? I tend to think a large proportion of their vote base wants the same thing that some SF voters want in terms of a Responsive government and democracy. But I think the lasting virus implanted by the PDs still infects that organisation. MM still seems blinded by the bright lights of neo-liberal capitalism.

FG: The true believers and the pied-pipers of neo-liberal capitalism. I tend to think their core support isn’t as virulent as the leadership but the supporters are willing to go along with the system as long as the system provides for them and their families. They rely on the status quo. The leadership, on the other hand, would rather become the official opposition, as this at least ring-fences and focuses a proportion of the electorate on their political agenda. Sure they want the political system to be unresponsive via having no effective opposition to their ideology but, if they can’t have that right now, they’d rather be an effective standard bearer for neo-liberalism. The can rely on the economic system to place burdens on all non-believers via financial shenanigans, for example, in order re-align the political system back into TINA. They still bring a gun to a knife fight.

PBP: Did well to get members elected. I tend think they need to get local representatives elected and lobby for a return of powers to local government. A Sisyphean task? Imo, party formations like this are essential for Irish democracy now more than ever.

Greens: Represent an important issue – i.e. the most important issue of our day as a species. But how can they, or any other party, do anything to address that issue. Our economic system, which we all use to survive, is based upon continual, non-stop, relentless consumption.

>>> I can’t help but think that very much will not change in the short term. The only real question is will the dominant narrative continue until we destroy our societies to the point where we hit rock bottom and crash, or has a very small step in a new direction taken place?

Today I’m in a totally neutral place. I’d like to be surprised but I ain’t holding my breath.

*I tend to think many of the working poor have given up on this political bullshit. For them it doesn’t matter which party is in power. The system just continually grinds them down. Nice words have no value.

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WorldbyStorm - February 10, 2020

Great overview and thanks for your thought at the top – genuinely appreciated. In work so can’t respond as fully as I’d hope to yet

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NFB - February 10, 2020

Would second makedonamend’s sentiment, it’s nice to have this avenue for discussion. Better than Twitter anyway.

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WorldbyStorm - February 10, 2020

Thanks NFB, again v much appreciated. As is the participation of everyone here.

makedonamend I’d strongly agree about responsive government. The failure of markets is key to this – and the only force able to step into that in a systemic way is the state (though community and co-operative approaches are key too). This is the inevitable result fo the retreat from activist government. At some point the cracks can’t be papered over – they’re just too great. Health, housing, opportunity, etc. A sense that the society has a degree of solidarity within it that encompasses all. And none of these are givens, they have to be fought every generation and again and again for.

I share your sense of being in a neutral place. It’s not that I disagree that SF’s rise is a good thing. Anything but. I know a lot of their elected reps and they’re very sound, well left of the centre and centrist policies. But I worry about how much they can actually do in the short term to address immediate issues, or how that dynamic functions.

The problem in part is the political system is static, unable to move forwards or backwards but stuck with FF/FG still the poles around which political activity seems to orbit. That that in itself is problematic for both those parties is almost irrelevant, though it is problematic for them. They’re an obstacle to forward movement. In a way they’re weakened but not weak enough. A decisive break isn’t yet possible, indeed the fact you list three parts fo the ‘left’ in itself (and there are others, some Inds, some in SD, even some in the LP albeit fewer by far etc). I think it may take another election again to consolidate the change (or to see it reversed).

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7. Stan - February 10, 2020

If we had a FPTP electoral system, SF might well be looking at a majority govt. – on 25% of the vote!

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Harris Eoghan - February 10, 2020

I was wondering about this myself. How did the free state end up with PR? Was it a gift to Collins from the Brits who would never contemplate such instability?

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NFB - February 10, 2020

It was first used in the Dublin University constituency in 1918, then spread from there.

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Harris Eoghan - February 10, 2020

Thanks NFB. Do you know is there any detailed treatment of how PR came to be used in the free state?

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NFB - February 10, 2020

It came from the Home Rule Bills and was thought to be the best way to ensure nationalist/unionist satisfaction with election processes (so they would both have the best chance of having reps everywhere I suppose?) Griffith was a big supporters pre-Independence. Through some quirk of the law it was allowed it to be used in that one constituency in 1918, then it was the locals in 1920, then everywhere after, and then it was just the way it was, bar FF’s efforts to replace it in the 50’s.

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WorldbyStorm - February 10, 2020

Easily. Perhaps we should be glad we don’t! Btw,btw Who is Matt Shanahan and the other guy?

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Joe - February 10, 2020

Matt Shanahan, afaik, is the ‘hospital candidate’. They want 24/7 cardiac something or other in the hospital down there and I think Mr Shanahan is one of the main organisers of the periodic protests on the matter.

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Harris Eoghan - February 10, 2020

Thanks again NFB. Didn’t know that about the 50s and FF.
Personally Id prefer PR gone, wouldn’t care which party enacted that. It would lead towards giving the largest party a few years to enact its policies without instability.

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NFB - February 10, 2020

They tried twice actually, once under Dev, once under Lynch. Defeated narrowly the first time, more broadly the second.

I couldn’t stand over FPTP, the discrepancy between vote and seats is too great. 75% of the country voted against SF this time for example, so a system that could give them a majority based on 25% isn’t desirable for me. If the parties want stability they can just learn to get along.

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8. tafkaGW - February 10, 2020

Ruth Coppinger is out of the Dáil.

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9. entdinglichung - February 10, 2020

how did the far right?

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Michael Carley - February 10, 2020

Low triple figures at best.

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10. Stan - February 10, 2020

At the airport and in fancy T2 – no sign of capital flight yet. Any helicopters over Tara St.?

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Joe - February 10, 2020

I was thinking about it but I’ve decided to stay and face the music. Fook them. What’s the worst they can do? I’m rehearsing my stirring rendition of the ballad of Joe McCann for the firing squad.

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Stan - February 10, 2020

They’ll nationalise your patio Joe.

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11. 6to5against - February 10, 2020

Just drove into work listening to the endless speculation as to what happens next. The pundits seem to be settling on FF+SF but I’m not sure its going to be that simple – regardless of the rights and wrongs of it. Everybody seems to be holding back from predicting a final seat tally, but it seems likely to me that FF and SF combined will still be a few short of 80. So it would have to be FF+SF+others.

And those others could really change things. We’re all aware of the pitfall awaiting SF here, of being the junior partner with FF and losing most or all of their gains next time out after another 3 – 5 years of what could be perceived as the same-old-same-old. And we can see that they wont have the seats – whatever about the votes – to be the senior partner.

But what if MLM uses the next few days not really trying to put together a Left Wing Govt – the numbers aren’t there – but putting together a grouping that will back her in negotiations with FF to form a collation which will be left led, with MLM in the driving seat? Say SF + SDs + 2 or 3 others, giving them more combined heft than FF.

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6to5against - February 10, 2020

Obviously Michael Martin would reject such a plan. At first. But what options will be open to him? And what options are open to FG, if things begin to drift towards another election?

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Stan - February 10, 2020

Would be a good plan and a marker for the next outing: if there was a relatively managed ‘left’ (caveats apply) vote, FFG would have been squeezed in DC, in DSC, possibly DMW and more.

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tafkaGW - February 10, 2020

Something like your last suggestion, then if FF rejects it, they have the choice of an (unstable) coalition with FG or another election. Both of which could benefit the broad left.

For SF to be junior partners in a FF led coalition would be disastrous for them and the wider chances of a left coalition government in the future.

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oliverbohs - February 10, 2020

+1 It would undo a lot of good work

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makedoanmend - February 10, 2020

+100%

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rockroots - February 10, 2020

Eoin Ó Broin seems to be suggesting a left coalition with C+S from FF. It’s a bit of a stretch, but FF are extremely limited in their options and could present themselves as the government-in-waiting.

And just to add, I’m very glad to have the CLR as an antidote to mainstream media and (unfortunately) friends and relatives acting like there’s been a death in the family.

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Gearóid Clár - February 10, 2020

I don’t know how much agency M Martin has here. I can imagine that his parliamentary party will not allow him to negotiate anything where FF are not the dominant party.

I imagine that they see it as that they have been out of power for too long.

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lcox - February 10, 2020

I’m tending to think another C+S with MM supported by LV is most likely. Might not be in the “strategic” interests of FF and FG in the broad sense but … at least one of those two will cease to be leader of their party if they aren’t in power, perhaps both. And the last arrangement did last far longer than predicted.

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Joe - February 10, 2020

“And just to add, I’m very glad to have the CLR as an antidote to mainstream media and (unfortunately) friends and relatives acting like there’s been a death in the family.”

I’m conflicted. I didn’t / can’t vote SF for historical reasons. But the horrified reaction of colleagues at work is a sight to behold. It’s probably related to the particular function I work in in the job. It’s a snobbery thing and a belief that SF will potentially wreck the economy. Like the economy has been going so well for everyone up to now.

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ar scáth a chéile - February 10, 2020

Imagine the poor DoJ mandarins contemplating Dessie Ellis Aire Dlí is Cirt

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Liberius - February 10, 2020

That’s the trouble with not having an effective grasp on real political ideologies and economics that you can be easily lead into believing that there is something radical about SF when they aren’t exactly much different to the FF of yore, certainly aren’t going to upend the economic order of the fetid little state.

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rockroots - February 10, 2020

I was recently reading Mel Farrell’s ‘Party Politics in a New Democracy: The Irish Free State, 1922-37’, a blow-by-blow account of the establishment of party identities that are only fading now. You think that in 1932 Dev & co won power, just 9 years after laying down arms in the civil war, and the first thing they did was legalise the IRA. Fair enough, they weren’t great with the economy, but the sky didn’t fall in. Then you look at 2020 when SF win less than a quarter of the seats and it’s 24 years after the ceasefire. A bit of perspective is badly needed.

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12. Stan - February 10, 2020

Just notice that Joe Costello was eliminated before Gillian O’Brien. Former poll topper…

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Joe - February 10, 2020

Costello, Stagg, Burton, O’Sullivan. All political careers end in failure.

SPbP proving fairly transfer-friendly. Gillian Brien won’t make it but still looking possible for Reddy in DNW and Gino Kenny in DMW.

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NFB - February 10, 2020

Stunned Labour went with Stagg in Kildare North. Such a spent force after the 2016 election, would have been better-off blooding someone young if only for getting their name out there. Same with Burton in Dublin West.

Feel a bit sorry for O’Sullivan though, she always struck as a better class of politician than many in Labour. But no one forced her to be part of the 2011-2016 government either.

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baalthor - February 10, 2020

Saw Joan leaving Blanch Centre earlier with her grocery shopping … I guess life has to go on !

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Fergal - February 10, 2020

Liberius, I think that’s a good point… but it can cut both ways …. having a grasp of ideology and being in power is no guarantee of transforming capitalism… Mitterrand promised to ‘break with capitalism’ in 1981… by 1983 he was doing austerity…before him Allende was ousted of course… and Syriza would be a more recent example…

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13. NFB - February 10, 2020

What chance of FF minority with C&S from SF? MLM could kill it anytime she wanted, but would MM agree?

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14. roddy - February 10, 2020

If there was even a hint of a FF/SF coalition ,I have no doubt there would be a media storm of such intensity that FF would buckle and not go there.

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oliverbohs - February 10, 2020

So many warnings from history, you’d think

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entdinglichung - February 10, 2020

merger under the label “Anti-Treaty SF”? 😉

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15. NFB - February 10, 2020

Sister voted SF yesterday for the first time. Reading that they may choose to stay out of government of their own volition, she’s already not happy. She’s not politically active and no dyed-in-the-wool republican, she just wants USC gone and doesn’t care a jot if MLM dislikes Martin or Leo: “They should all just come to an agreement”.

Anecdotal as anything, but I think that’s the danger of this vote, that it could all evaporate if SF are perceived as not doing enough to bring the change people voted for. Just have to tread very carefully in the next few weeks.

Kieran O’Donnell back in in Limerick I see. Doubt Noonan will be too pleased. Last seat there between a Green and Independent Frankie Daly, whom I don’t know much about, other than he’s a Limerick FC fan!

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WorldbyStorm - February 10, 2020

I can’t blame your sister for wanting the problems solved. You’re right – this is going to be tricky for SF

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Paddy Healy - February 10, 2020

Seamus Healy eliminated in Tipp. Despite his ceaseless work and campaigning on health, housing etc he was outpolled by Sinn Féin. His transfers will elect Martin Browne Sinn Féin who is short of the quota (and unfortunately has no surplus to distribute!) Congratulations Martin!
Because trade union leaders failed to act on Seamus’ persistent calls for national action on housing and health, huge layers of the population felt they needed a big party like Sinn Féin to force urgent change through parliament.. The trade union leaders created a political vacancy for Sinn Féin. Likewise the failure of Trade Union Leaders to stand up to the very right wing First Free State Government created a vacancy for Devalera to sweep to power in 1932.
Sinn Féin and the left should launch major national demonstrations immediately to force change on health and housing
It is impossible to do so through joint government with parties committed to capitalism and protecting the rich. To attempt to do so will merely compromise Sinn Féin and destroy their support. Dick Spring once got more than 30 Labour seats.! There was no Labour candidate in Kerry in this election.
Major national demonstrations to end the plight of desperate people is the road to travel. A governmental road will lead to disaster!

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Colm B - February 10, 2020

Very Sorry to see Seamus lose his seat. A dedicated and principled socialist who has given many years to the struggle. I hope Seamus and the WUAG continue the fight and that he will return to the Dail next time.

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NFB - February 10, 2020

Would second. Sorry to see him go.

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WorldbyStorm - February 10, 2020

+1

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Daniel Rayner O'Connor - February 10, 2020

Me, too.

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16. Stan - February 10, 2020

Adrian Kavangh currently has this as final prediction:
FF 43
SF 37
FG 36
IND 16
Green 11
SocDem 6
SPbP 4
Labour 6
Aontu 1

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WorldbyStorm - February 10, 2020

Where are the LP ones coming from?

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Michael Carley - February 10, 2020

SocDems level with Labour, and Labour in the Technical Group?

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Liberius - February 10, 2020

Post-2016 reforms mean the the threshold for having a party group is 5, and multiple technical groups of a least 5 can be formed. Here is the relevant bit of the standing orders, page 84-85.

Groups.
143. (1) A group is a body of members in Opposition who may avail of the rights provided
for in these Standing Orders for groups.
(2) The minimum number of members required to be recognised as a group is five.
(3) Where members of a registered political party are elected to the Dáil, those elected
members are referred to in these Standing Orders as a “party”, and such a party is
automatically recognised as a group where it has five members or more.
(4) A body of members which includes any combination of the following categories of
members—
(a) members of a party with five members or more,
(b) members of a party with fewer than five members,
85
(c) non-party members,
may also be recognised as a group, and shall be referred to as a technical group.
(5) A group may not include—
(i) a party which contains a Minister or Minister of State;
(ii) a member who is a Minister or Minister of State;
(iii) some of the members of a party but not the others.
(6) A member of a technical group may not also be a member of another technical group.
(7) There is no limit on the number of groups which may be recognised in a Dáil.

https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/parliamentaryBusiness/standingOrders/dail/2019/2019-01-11_consolidated-dail-eireann-standing-orders-january-2019_en.pdf

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Michael Carley - February 10, 2020

Lucky escape for Labour (and I need to update my Standing Orders).

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WorldbyStorm - February 10, 2020

Assuming they get 5!

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Dermot M O Connor - February 10, 2020

Am I missing something? Only seeing 7 or 8 FF seats probable remaining, and they’re on 26. 26+8 = 34.

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Dermot M O Connor - February 10, 2020

FG possible highest = ~35 give or take 1.

Would seem (again, am I missing something?) that FF and FG both on 35/35 or 36/36 isn’t impossible?

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17. terrymdunne - February 10, 2020

Not sure if this is the right thread but want to throw some comments/queries out there. Firstly, to what extent would some mild social democratic reform addressing the housing crisis, as one might hope with a S.F./left-led government, be in fact in the interests of some of the multi-national companies which invest here. At the moment are they not effectively paying a ‘tax’ to private interests, like landlords, does the cost of housing not show up on a wages bill somewhere – indeed do some companies not rent housing for their own workers, and is this not an issue when many such companies (I am thinking of the Googles and Facebooks etc… of the world here) have to attract migrant staff to Dublin. Has this not actually been raised by the representatives of such companies a good deal over the last few years. It seems to be often local interests, aside from the vulture fund-landlords, who benefit from the housing crisis.

Also curious to what extent do people think there is an American/British influence over the rise of Sinn Fein – I mean we are culturally dominated by those countries and they have also experienced these swings to the left of late, while the British one may have been rolled back, this is not the case in the U.S..

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WorldbyStorm - February 10, 2020

I don’t know the answer to that first question – though I think it would be no harm either way, even if it benefits multi-nationals as an unintended byproduct.

Secondly, that’s a very interesting point re American/British influences. Can’t help but think that a broader sense of social democracy, in its more traditional iterations, is a byproduct of the BLP’s shift. And indeed the manner in which that has inflected British politics (to the extent of the Tories talking intervention). Does that sound reasonable?

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terrymdunne - February 10, 2020

Yeah what I am getting at is that we will be hearing, are hearing and have been hearing all about the economic chaos, disruption etc… which will be caused by a left-led or left-heavy government – I am just pointing out in purely capitalist terms that sorting the housing crisis – through state intervention – seems to make sense (or at least does in terms of the interests of one fraction of capital). Likewise ending the insurance rip-off, obviously no longer happy hunting for insurance companies, but, actually have not lots of businesses needing particular insurance been running into difficulties with this in the last year.

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18. Colm B - February 10, 2020

Once again the tricky question of coalition arises. The simple fact is that no coalition between a left-of-centre party and a right wing party in Ireland has ever been successful from a left perspective. It has always led to the decimation of the left party and has produced no structural or transformative reforms – how could it when the gov contains a party committed to capitalism.

Like every other left-of-centre party before, SF have no ideological objection to coalition with right wing parties. The question now is do they have the common sense to hold out and force FF/FG to work together. In the short-term this might seem counter-productive but in the medium term it could realign Irish politics completely.

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19. Joe - February 10, 2020

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20. roddy - February 10, 2020

Have to combine a couple of thoughts here (wasted too much time on election watching and work piling up on me!).Saw Brid Smith on twitter pre election seated at home below a portrait of Bobby Sands so was delighted to see the massive SF transfer she got.Secondly DMW showed a transfer from Eoin to Mark that could only be matched in the most Republican constituencys in the North.Obviously Eoins time as a councillor in Ardoyne wasn’t wasted.

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21. NFB - February 10, 2020

Limerick City elects a Green. Strange times.

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Fergal - February 10, 2020

What a stunning election result… sad to see great fighters for working people like Seamie Healy and Ruth C bite the dust…
Maybe Eoin O Broin’s idea of a minority’s left government isn’t so far-fetched…
Fine Gael, according to Coveney are going to sit out this one!!! Wtf! We have nothing to offer except neo-liberalism but the only we can boot our poll numbers is by… doing nothing….
Fianna Fáil… must be disappointed…

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Fergal - February 10, 2020

Let ff and fg be forced to come together… or a left minority govt. with c and s from FF?! 0r indeed with ff as a junior partner?!!
The electorate will forgive SF for not getting a left/progressive govt. up… it won’t forgive it if it pursues ff’s policies with ff in govt.
Possible pbp gain in Dub N W? SF sit it out and make ff and fg coalesce… best mid to long term strategy though!

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22. Colm B - February 10, 2020

If Paul Murphy and Mick Barry make it (as seems fairly likely), that puts S/PBP on 5 seats which, given the circumstances, is better than we could have hoped for. Yesterday I feared they would would only get two. Add to that Catherine Connolly, Thomas Pringle and perhaps Joan Collins and it looks like the further left has survived better than one could have hoped given the SF wave, despite the sad loss of Ruth Coppinger and Seamus Healy.

BTW Have two days off work – my FE College gets Glasgow mid-term schools holiday. I can enjoy minutiae of election watching and indulge in CLR commentary to my hearts content!

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Joe - February 10, 2020

Reddy of SPbP in DNW and Joan Collins in similar situations. In Reddy’s case the FGer is being eliminated and it’s down to whether they transfer more to the FFer or to Conor. In Joan’s case it’s the FFer being eliminated and whether they transfer more to the FGer than to Joan.
Let’s hope Civil War politics is ingrained in those voters and they would transfer to the divil himself before those Free State/Republican bastards.

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rockroots - February 10, 2020

And either way, that’s a brilliant result for Reddy, a newcomer on the scene. As it was a topic of conversation here – there’s a chance my 1st preference might get elected for the first time ever.

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rockroots - February 10, 2020

The left vote here has usually been completely dispersed, but just one S-PbP candidate, no WP and no I4C this time seems to have focused minds.

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23. Paul Culloty - February 10, 2020

Gannon and Hourigan elected in Dublin Central.

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NFB - February 10, 2020

Six for Soc Dems then. Labour should win five at least.

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24. NFB - February 10, 2020

Verona Murphy elected. Big slap in the face for Fine Gael.

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25. Aonrud ⚘ - February 10, 2020

No FFG in Dublin South Central. Great to see both Bríd Smith and Joan Collins got the seats.

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26. WorldbyStorm - February 10, 2020

Joan elected! Fantastic news. No better person.

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Stan - February 10, 2020

+1

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27. CL - February 10, 2020

Interesting result in Clare.

Cathal Crowe wins a seat for FF. Timmy Dooley, outgoing FF TD, defeated.

Also elected.

MICHAEL MCNAMARA,, IND, formerly LAB.

VIOLET-ANNE WYNNE, SF

JOE CAREY, FG

“Fianna Fáil Mayor of Clare, Cathal Crowe, fired the first shots of general election 2020, when he decided to boycott the proposed commemoration of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) in early January.
This sudden capture of the public mood breathed life and momentum into his campaign, transforming him from a dark horse, into a candidate with a realistic chance of topping the poll.”
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/election-2020-ric-commemoration-boycott-boosted-mayor-s-campaign-1.4162580

Liked by 1 person

28. rockroots - February 10, 2020

Reddy misses out in DNW, but FF needed big FG transfers. I think they expected it to be a lot easier than that.

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Joe - February 10, 2020

Yeah. A pity. Proof, if proof was needed, that the Civil War is indeed over and that FF=FG.
On your comment above RR that “The left vote here has usually been completely dispersed, but just one S-PbP candidate, no WP and no I4C this time seems to have focused minds.”
I suppose it did focus minds a bit but the reason SPbP did so well was the massive transfer of surplus from SF.

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rockroots - February 10, 2020

Yes – you’re right about that, Joe – a second SF candidate would’ve eaten up that vote. But the way circumstances fell, a single left candidate was able to get the edge over Labour and the Greens here, whereas they would have previously disappeared in the early counts. Another way of looking at it is that there’s a left vote waiting in the wings should SF sell out.

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29. Joe - February 10, 2020

Clinging to hope.
This can’t be right but …
John Lyons in DBN is still in the mix. FF’s Heney votes currently being distributed. Prob won’t be enough to get Haughey over the quota. Then PbP candidate will be eliminated. Followed prob by the Green. If they both transfer enough to Lyons and very, very little to Haughey… Lyons just might make it.
Or as the Germans say (hat tip Gewerkschaftler) – hope dies last.

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Fergal - February 10, 2020

Joe! Some man for one man !!! Great spot!

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Colm B - February 10, 2020

I nominate Joe for Left Psephologist of the Election prize

Liked by 1 person

Dermot M O Connor - February 10, 2020

Haughey out would be gravy on top of gravy.
COME ON!!!!!

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Joe - February 10, 2020

Left Lost Causes Psephologist.
Dreaming a bit with the Lyons thing. He’ll need to do really well on Mulvaney’s (PbP) transfers to get ahead of the Green. Transfers (from Mulvaney and the Green) will also go to Cian the SD, probably in significant numbers.
Thing is Sean Haughey has a history (ha! – the glorious victory of the great revolutionary McCartan) of getting stuck near the finish line but not getting the transfers.
So if the stars align it could be Lyons. Failing that it could be the Green.

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Dermot M O Connor - February 10, 2020

Gahh, Haughey in the 5th seat. Too bad, that was one where second SF might have popped his pimple.

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irishelectionliterature - February 11, 2020

If the Greens hadn’t been so stupid in fielding a Pro Life candidate I’d imagine Haughey would have been gone.

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30. oliverbohs - February 10, 2020

Early to say yet, but Varadkar looks set to have overseen the second worst FG campaign for how long, 50,60 years or longer? 2002 still gets the wooden spoon.
Are they like FF- noone better to replace him?

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31. Michael Carley - February 10, 2020

If SF get into government, John Banville says he’ll flee the country …

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Fergal - February 10, 2020

Who’ll have him? But children having dinner on a pavement is alright, a million on hospital outpatient waiting lists, direct provision aka internment, homelessness, sky high rents… they’re grand…

Liked by 2 people

Fergal - February 10, 2020

Any truth to the rumour that Roddy has been spotted floating on a cloud somewhere above Swatragh??

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Colm B - February 10, 2020

Cant you just see it, a brigade of Contras led by the liberal literati and the Harrassistas – bet SF quaking in their boots!

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ar scáth a chéile - February 10, 2020

Cant find this anywhere re Banville . Anyone got a link?

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Michael Carley - February 10, 2020
ar scáth a chéile - February 11, 2020

Thanks. I see he,s doing an EH on it , calling SF fascists. I know youre supposed to distinguish the art from the man….but always thought he was a bit over rated myself.

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Michael Carley - February 11, 2020

Not a very well-informed foreign correspondent, but then given his sources.

For her many critics, with her gestural and rough rhetorics, [Mary Lou] McDonald is the acceptable face of a party still covered in the blood of the Troubles, or the civil war which led to more than 3,500 deaths from the end of the sixties, unleashed by the “Provisional” Irish Republican Army (IRA) in its undying desire for a united Ireland. There followed repression from London and decades of reciprocal attacks. Car bombs, executions, the “Bloody Sundays”, the IRA massacres in London and Birmingham, the “martyrs” Michael Collins and Bobby Sands.

I had thought the Italian press were a bit better than that.

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32. Liberius - February 10, 2020

Looks like Duncan Smith of Labour will just about hold on with Dean Mulligan missing out (assuming that recount doesn’t overturn the deficit. So Louise O’Reilly, Darragh O’Brien, Joe O’Brien, Alan Farrell and Duncan Smith, not far off what I predicted though my assertion that O’Reilly would be gone never really got properly tested given the SF surge.

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stillradical - February 10, 2020

Really excellent performance by Dean, he’s a very decent guy, hopefully he can build on this and take a seat next time out

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - February 10, 2020

An amazing performance. Very strong and very likely to do so I’d have thought.

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33. Liberius - February 10, 2020

Mick Barry re-elected in Cork North-Central!

Liked by 2 people

34. roddy - February 10, 2020

Everybody’s talking about it up here.Called at a workplace today and the minute I went in the door- “that’s some result boy” and people who I deemed apolitical pleased too.Dont worry about Roddy Fergal- think of poor Mrs Roddy who hasn’t had a nights sleep in a week due to Roddy being unable to settle for a minute.

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Fergal - February 10, 2020

Good! But I’d say you’re still on a cloud … figuratively…
The number of Fine Gaelers and Fianna Failers who are talking of the left… and the onus is on the left to come up with an alternative… Joe McHugh up in Donegal, O Callaghan in Dublin, Coveney, Alan Farrell… I mean I thought class politics didn’t happen in this place…

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35. CL - February 10, 2020

Dail Seats.

SF 2020- went from 23 to 37

LAB, 1992- went from 15 to 33

LAB, 2011- went from 20 to 37

Labour percentage, 2020,- 4.38

Liked by 1 person

Fergal - February 10, 2020

Labour’s seats were won in a bigger Dail.. 166 seats… that’s dropped to 160 now?
Did Labour talk to anybody but themselves and the Blushirts before going into coalition in 2011?

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36. Aonrud ⚘ - February 10, 2020

I’m finding the group therapy sessions on RTÉ fascinating as they try to square it all without hitting the psychic pain of cognitive dissonance. Brian Dobson just told the panel we live in a society and not an economy, like he knew that before. It’s ok, the left is a spectrum. SF are more centre-left. Don’t worry. It’s really remarkable stuff to watch.

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Dermot M O Connor - February 10, 2020

The shower on RTE radio 1 are a thing to hear. Snark beyond belief directed against Mick Barry by the interviewer (don’t recall name at the moment, but a real smug middle class fuckface).

Had I been in MB’s shoes I’d have fired back with snark on steroids.

Talked about ‘schoolboy dreams’. Amazing that these arsepipes are staring at a Dail where SF have a 50/50 at being the largest party in TDs, if the last few seats break against FFG, and he’s still peddling this BAU bollocks.

Next few weeks expect a LOT more derangement from the RTE/Indo/IT types.

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oliverbohs - February 10, 2020

Just as well you can’t access virgin one tv3 whatever the fuck it’s called. The podge n rodge show on that is something else. Saw it briefly last nite: Ivan Yates sounding tumescent, basically, when congratulating M Healy-Rae. An embodiment of the old politics, and the fact nobody knows anything in the circles he moves in. Bloviating turd

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baalthor - February 11, 2020

RTÉ have had a clip on repeat all week where Yates describes an old house as like “a woman with a fur coat and no knickers”
The woman with him actually gasps in shock but anyway RTÉ think must think this kind of misogynistic crap is OK.

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WorldbyStorm - February 11, 2020

I saw that. Says it all doesn’t it?

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37. Stan - February 10, 2020

MLM would need to be careful about the idea of a minority left govt. with support from the right – Mary Lou ‘Ramsay’M(a)cDonald?

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38. An Sionnach Fionn - February 10, 2020

Ruth Dudley Edwards in the BelTel has lost the plot:

“Today I am ashamed of my country, a vast number of whose voters have intentionally or unwittingly just endorsed a fascist party.

This reminds many who know Sinn Fein as puppets of the IRA Army Council of Germany in 1932, when the Nazi party became the largest in parliament: Hitler became Chancellor in January 1933 and wasted no time in establishing his brutal dictatorship.”

Even by revisionist standards, quite deranged.

Liked by 1 person

An Sionnach Fionn - February 10, 2020

Meanwhile The Atlantic attributes the outcome of the general election to “anti-English sentiment” and “anti-British nationalism”. Fun times!

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2020/02/ireland-election-sinn-fein-brexit-nationalism/606328/

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WorldbyStorm - February 10, 2020

What a load of old crap that is. Anti-English sentiment. I’d love the author of it to point to some. But isn’t it the old line of ‘nationalist’ bad, come what may.

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An Sionnach Fionn - February 10, 2020

More nonsense from Eoin O’Malley:

“I suspect what Brexit has done is it’s made Irish nationalism—a really aggressive Irish nationalism, or anti-British Irish nationalism—more mainstream and more acceptable,” said Eoin O’Malley, a professor at Dublin City University and an expert on Irish politics, “which makes Sinn Fein’s position more mainstream and acceptable.”

https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/02/07/irish-elections-unification-brexit/

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WorldbyStorm - February 10, 2020

+1 It really is lazy and I’m not sure I buy UM’s linked to article from the Guardian either which seems to overstate matters too.Can these guys not see the distinction between criticising the British political class and English and/or British people.

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WorldbyStorm - February 10, 2020

And that Ruth Dudley Edwards piece – in all honesty one could reasonably suggest she was whipping up fear where none need exist. It really is intolerable the stranglehold this crew have had on a part of the media in the past three decades. At every juncture where calm heads are needed they make it their business to run around like headless chickens predicting not just the worst outcomes but absolutely impossible stuff. Not to mention the absurdity and offensiveness of SF being equivalent to the Nazis.

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oliverbohs - February 10, 2020

The Atlantic, a “liberal” current affairs rag, gave David Frum the run of a few pages in a recent issue for anti-Sanders scaremongering. Frum was George W’s speechwriter. The thing is, I’ve read good articles in it before. But they will resort to the usual black propaganda unblinking when it’s time to

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tafkaGW - February 10, 2020

Best laugh of the day, in a day that was full of chortles and whoops.

Godwin’s law has been dusted off and given a good outing in the shocked commentariat this election.

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Starkadder - February 11, 2020

But Dudley Edwards praises Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Kevin Myers (still!) and retweets Breitbart.

If SF were really “far-right” she’d probably be supporting them.

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39. Paddy Healy - February 10, 2020

RTE now quoting “UCD” as predicting that Sinn Féin will be joint first with FF on 37 seats with FG lower!!! Sinn Féin had two candidates in 4 constituencies only!
Those who voted SF NO 1 in their majority transferred leftwards.
Therefore the election was even more seismic than believed earlier!

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - February 10, 2020

INDS do seem to have made more of it than expected. Btw, just to say to you, very sorry to see Seamus Healy not make it back. A real loss to the Dáil and the left.

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Dermot M O Connor - February 10, 2020

Paddy, see my post below. I wonder what FF seats they think are left for FF parity with SF. I can’t see them – unless there’s some local / regional thing that’s beyond my ken.

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40. Dermot M O Connor - February 10, 2020

OK, I’m not as sharp on this as you lads, but unless I’ve had a brain bleed, this is what’s left, with my best guess/estimate on possible winners:

DONEGAL
FG
IND
FF

SLIGO LEITRIM
IND
FF
FG

CAVAN MONAGHAN
FF
FG

LONGFORD WESTMEATH
FF (POSS 2)
IND
FG

LAOIS OFFALY
FF
FG
IND

WICKLOW
SD
FG (simon harris)
GP
FF or FG

DUB FINGAL
LB

DUB BAY NORTH
LB
SD
GP or FF

DUB SW
FG
GP
FF or IND

KERRY
FF

This leaves the following upper / lower seat ranges:

FG 29 + 5-6 = (34 to 35)
FF 27 + 5-8 = (32 to 35)
LB 4 + 2 = (6)
GP 10 + 2-3 = (12-13)

Even if I’m wrong (well of course I’m wrong) surely it’s not by much – a seat here or there. It would be a very unlikely hill to climb for FF or FG to beat SF’s 37 on what’s left.

Astonishing stuff. Even more astonishing is that you won’t find anyone on RTE apparently willing to admit it.

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Dermot M O Connor - February 10, 2020

Gahhh; blast! So the last few seats see FF taking 2 seats in each – really didn’t look like that a couple of counts back (looks like 38 if all the last seats go their way). Too bad, was really hoping to see SF squeak out a seat advantage. So close!

No chance Donnelly will lose in Wicklow now I think, so a Green or FG for last seat, probably a Green.

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Tomboktu - February 10, 2020

Am I reading the numbers right?
Final results will be:
SF 37
FF 37 or 38
FG 38 or 37

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Dermot M O Connor - February 10, 2020

Yes, looks like 37 or 38 is the FF, so a tie with SF or a 1 seat lead (aaaarrrghghghghghg).

FG more like 36, I don’t think they’ll beat the Greens for the last seat in Wicklow (for a possible 37). Ideal would be FG and Greens beating FF (Donnelly) out entirely which would get us close to 37 37 37!!!

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Dermot M O Connor - February 10, 2020

https://www.rte.ie/news/election-2020/results/#/national/wicklow

For Donnelly to lose, There’d need to be a very tight transfer from the SocDem’s surplus from Behan, and Behan’s 2 would have to break to FG and GP both. Can see GP picking up enough to overtake FG perhaps, but not enough for both to leapfrog Donnelly.

Sis says Behan is decent, anti-corruption type candidate, so who knows? Asking too much for one last present from the election gods?

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Dermot M O Connor - February 10, 2020

OK, count 14 in, distro of Behan:

https://www.rte.ie/news/election-2020/results/#/national/wicklow

SF BRADY 17,297
SD WHITEMORE 13,405 (1000+ surplus here now)
FG HARRIS 11,752
FF DONNELLY 10,882
GP MATTHEWS 9,108
FG DOYLE 8,788

Whitmore has a surplus which I assume they’ll have to shell out, but hard to see that 1000+ ish number from and SD putting FG into 5th ahead of Greens.

So looks like 38 FF assuming the other two constituencies keep to pattern.

STILL, bright side, FF in the 30s, can’t complain too much about that!!!!!

Best hope now is that their 3 candidate strategy in Cavan/Monaghan blows up in their faces, or some local transfer pattern helps FG:

https://www.rte.ie/news/election-2020/results/#/national/cavan-monaghan

If something funky happens there, it’s 37/37 FF/SF

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WorldbyStorm - February 10, 2020

Every aspect of this election is bizarre isn’t it?

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Dermot M O Connor - February 10, 2020

“Every aspect of this election is bizarre isn’t it?”

bizarre indeed. I wonder what my former self in the 80s or 90s would have thought if he could have seen the results from 2020. 1992 Dermot would have been gobsmacked. PSF biggest party in the state come on get real…

FG should shit themselves about the SDs and the Greens now (as should Labour). It’s going to be very hard for them to recover that vote if they’re in opposition with FG and Labour. Greens perfectly capable of getting into high tweens low 20s in the not too distant future (as long as they don’t FFuck up).

State funding also for those parties, more airtime, etc.

And whatever we think of the politics of the SDs being not left enough or whatever, absolutely fantastic achievement surely to bring in 6 TDs when for so long they looked like a vanity project or a failed to launch party. Best thing to happen to them was ‘losing’ Stephen Donnelly.
SD’s must have been working like hell to earn those seats. OK, FFG collapse opened a window of opportunity, but nevertheless no small feat – has to be particularly satisfying to Shortall.

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41. Jolly Red Giant - February 10, 2020

Just want to point out to all those who were decrying Solidarity for ‘splitting’ the vote by running candidates – especially in DSW – well youse were wrong.

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Fergal - February 10, 2020

Yes Jolly! You were right!

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WorldbyStorm - February 10, 2020

This time! 😉

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GearóidGaillimh - February 10, 2020

I was glad Conor Burke ran in Galway West anyway. It gave Sol-PBP inclined people a person to vote for after the Joe Loughnane mess.

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pettyburgess - February 10, 2020

The SP didn’t cost the left a seat on this occasion as it turned out. That does not change the irresponsible nature of their sectarian adventure. If you take a stupid risk and you get away with it, that doesn’t mean you didn’t take a stupid risk. The unexpectedly massive Crowe vote and SF’s failure to add a second SF candidate just before the deadline meant that even the left’s best efforts at self destruction didn’t result in disaster. It also greatly limited the transfer leakage because there was no SF candidate to leak to. If SF had run a second candidate, as they certainly will at the next election, Murphy would have been in a very difficult battle for the last seat.

Liked by 3 people

stillradical - February 10, 2020

The fact remains that in a constituency with a left TD, Solidarity stood a candidate that had absolutely no chance of winning, if the left are to progress and build a substantial bloc of TDs this type of nonsense has to cease IMO.

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pettyburgess - February 10, 2020

It is perhaps the most SP behaviour imaginable to confidently argue that because they didn’t blow their own fingers off juggling fireworks on one occasion the people who told them that juggling with fireworks is a bad idea were totally wrong.

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Jolly Red Giant - February 10, 2020

Paul Murphy was elected in transfers from Sandra Fay – just like in 2016 – the Socialist Party know far more about DSW than any of the commentators on here. This is the result of nearly 40 years of political activity in this area. There were people in the constituency who voted for Sandra Fay and transferred to Murphy because we asked them to – who would not have voted for him if he were the only candidate. He has suffered political damage in DSW by splitting from the Socialist Party and Solidarity and if he had lost the seat that would have been one of the reasons – not because Sandra Fay was a candidate.

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WorldbyStorm - February 10, 2020

” Socialist Party know far more about DSW than any of the commentators on here”

Wow. The other day we had someone commenting that the WP was ‘the truth’ and now this.

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pettyburgess - February 10, 2020

A little preview of what you’d be arguing with equal certainty if your stunt had cost the left a seat there, JRG. As he won, you claim your stunt actually helped. If the seat had been lost, you’d be lecturing us about how the SP had a responsibility to stand and the loss was really due to Murphy breaking with the ever popular SP and probably also that it proved he was too soft on Sinn Fein and the Greens. Whatever happens, the SP always remain eternally correct. All that changes is the precise circumstances under which you have to explain that eternal correctness.

I don’t claim to know every street in Tallaght, by the way, but I did notice Solidarity posters up in Dublin South West. They didn’t mention Murphy.

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tafkaGW - February 10, 2020

Now now comrades: it may just be that yez are within distance of being part of a left/progressive government, if not now, then after the next election.

If that is what you desire.

So perhaps a little practice in biting the tongue may come in handy later.

Fact is, SF asked people to vote for them and transfer left, and people did just that.

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tafkaGW - February 10, 2020

Now now comrades: it may just be that yez are within distance of being part of a left/progressive government, if not now, then after the next election.

If that is what you desire.

So perhaps a little practice in biting the tongue may come in handy later.

Fact is, SF asked people to vote for them and transfer left, and people did just that.

Liked by 1 person

Colm B - February 10, 2020

I was not one of those people who condemned the SP for standing against Paul even though I thought it was a mistake to do so. Just because he won doesn’t mean it was sensible to run against him. In fact as it turns out the biggest mistake was for three far-left candidates to run in Dublin Bay North – otherwise John Lyons would have been in with a shout of winning a seat.

Having said that, JRG, don’t you think, with all due respect, that your intervention is a bit childish? It’s that sort of comment that makes it easy for others to attack the SP.

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WorldbyStorm - February 10, 2020

Yes, Dublin Bay North was a clear error for the further left. Lyons had had an excellent 2016, did remarkably well but as he said himself having two others in the contest with a very similar approach didn’t help.

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Jolly Red Giant - February 11, 2020

Lyons was 4,000 votes off being elected – it didn’t make a blind bit of difference that Solidarity and PBP ran against him. The one big mistake was Ciaran Perry not standing in DC – he would have walked in on MLMD’s transfers.

But it is worth noting here again – while the Socialist Party (and PBP) is being criticised – both Paul Murphy and John Lyons were responsible for splitting from left organisations and both individually set up tiny grouplets with a handful of people. Maybe some questions should be pointed in their direction about what they are up to in splitting from these organisations and why others should stand aside for them simply because they have a higher profile – a profile that results from many years of activism from the organisations they split from.

But no – let’s point the finger at the Socialist Party – all in the interests of parliamentarianism – despite the fact that the Socialist Party contributed to, rather than impacted on the left votes in these constituencies.

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Jolly Red Giant - February 11, 2020

People don’t need my remarks to launch attacks on the Socialist Party – it is a constant feature on the left. I outlined that the SP have 40 years of activism and 25 years of elections in DSW – we had every right to stand in the election. Paul Murphy was elected yesterday as a result of that 40 years of work of the SP in the area – and he was elected with the votes of Sandra Fay.

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Colm B - February 11, 2020

JRG, I suspect that what sticks in the craw of non-partisan people (as opposed to those who just hate the SP), is not the arguments you make but the tone which you adopt: denigrating other people’s knowledge and the extremely defensive tone which gives the impression, whether fair or not, that you believe that you are always correct.

I always worked well with the SP in the past, in the antibin tax campaign etc, despite clear disagreements (mainly to do with internal organisational questions) so I have no particular gripe with the party. The problem is that your overly hostile, and sometimes just downright Millwall attitude, makes it difficult to have comradely discussions. No one would dispute your right to defend your party but you sometimes seem more interested in point-scoring rather than wanting to convince. .

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Jolly Red Giant - February 11, 2020

What sticks in my craw is the assumption that it is the Socialist Party and its members who are the ones who are always at fault and expected to adapt to whatever the concerns are from the wider left. While it is regularly being stated that the SP should do this or should do that in the ‘interests’ of left unity and left cooperation – the same questions or assertions are never made when it comes to people who actually split the left – people like Paul Murphy and John Lyons. We had the same thing a number of years ago when Clare Daly split from the Socialist Party. She is now in Europe and built nothing in Fingal over the last number of years. Daly got almost 16% of the vote in 2016 – Mulligan got 4% on Saturday – that is why he didn’t win a seat – not because Solidarity and PBP each ran a candidate.

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pettyburgess - February 11, 2020

There’s that distinctive mix of self regard, self pity and self righteousness that reliably manages to aggravate even the most sympathetic outside observer of the SP.

People blame the SP not out of some universal bias against your party but because the SP is engaged in irresponsible sectarian behaviour. When the SP has been on the receiving end of such behavior, as for instance when PBP stood against their MEP, the same people mostly took the SP’s side. Here the SP put at risk an important asset for the socialist movement as a whole, a Dail seat, because it was in its narrow sect interests to do so. Everyone here can read your outraged words back when the SP were on the receiving end of the same behaviour. Nobody is going to see you arguing the opposite now that it suits your sect and take you seriously. You aren’t at an SP meeting. Nobody else starts from the premise that whatever suits the SP is the greatest of all moral goods.

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Jolly Red Giant - February 11, 2020

petty – as I have outlined previously – there is no comparison between the two situations you outline. As for people operating on the basis of ‘narrow sect interests’ – maybe you could address that to Paul Murphy (and maybe John Lyons as well) and his grouplet who split from the Socialist Party and Solidarity a few months ago and set up another small left-wing group with a handful of members in the run up to a general election.

I am not surprised by the approach of others on the left – many who make such comments focus exclusively on parliamentarianism – as if that is how a mass party of the working class can be built. That is the incorrect orientation and part of the reason for the fragmentation of the left.

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WorldbyStorm - February 11, 2020

But that’s not the argument you made back then JRG. Then it was about an established left TD – nothing about the party affiliation, which after all could change, you yourself have been through different groups, etc. Would you be arguing so strenuously say in favour of the LP’s right that those who split away shouldn’t contest elections against it as was the case with Militant Labour, later the SP? But that was different you will say. But it always is different and always it is to the benefit of the SP that it is different.

Liked by 1 person

pettyburgess - February 11, 2020

I love the idea that it’s impermissible “parliamentarism” to think it’s a bad thing to risk throwing away some of the few national platforms held by socialists and as if the SP doesn’t guard its own seats with all the dedication and zealousness it can muster. And as if it wouldn’t react with extreme (and justified!) hostility to some other socialist group jeopardising them in the pursuit of their own narrow interests.

You keep bringing up that Lyons and Murphy left existing parties as if you expect others to think that not being in the SP or PBP is some grave flaw. In Murphy’s case at least one of his stated reasons for leaving was his view that the SP was prone to taking a sectarian position towards other forces. And what do the SP respond by doing? They go out of their way to prove his point.

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Jolly Red Giant - February 11, 2020

WbS – your comment makes no sense – and for the record, I have been a member of the same political group for the past 38 years. The argument has been made that DSW was the same situation as the Euros – it was not. I have have attempted to outline the reason on several occasions over the past month – but any post longer than a couple of sentences is being blocked from being posted.

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Jolly Red Giant - February 11, 2020

petty – others on the left have stood against the Socialist Party and Solidarity in the past. It happens regularly in local elections. We do not have a problem with it. There was a particular problem with the approach of the SWP in the 2014 Euros.

In the election last week we had two diametrically opposed situations. In DSW both Rise and Solidarity called for no.2s for the other candidate. In DBN Solidarity-PBP approached John Lyons for a similar approach and Lyons refused. I have also heard that Joan Collins also refused a similar approach from PBP in DSC. In DW we actually had some SD people canvassing for No.2s for Ruth Coppinger.

As for Paul Murphy splitting from the Socialist Party – all the documents are online – go and read them and see the approach of his grouplet – his group even boycotted a series of branch meetings and a special conference of the SP that had been arranged to specifically discuss the issues at stake, before walking out with a handful of members. Similar nonsense came out from Clare Daly in 2012 – claiming we didn’t want to build the ULA when the reality was that she was the main individual in the SP who argued against doing just that. We bent over backwards to try and accommodate Paul Murphy within the Socialist Party. He is the one that chose to split and, in reality, increased the likelihood of putting the Dail seat at risk.

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WorldbyStorm - February 11, 2020

A group that has been inside a party, outside a party, become a party, left its international, etc, etc.

re comments being blocked, I found three, you should have said.

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Jolly Red Giant - February 12, 2020

WbS – you comment is disingenuous – I have been a member of the same political group and the same international organisation since I joined in 1982. Yes – the Militant did entry work in the LP in the 1970s and 1980s – it left the LP after the collapse of the broader left during the collapse of Stalinism (the WP went trough a similar process). Since then the Militant / Socialist Party has operated as an open Marxist group organised independently. The SP is affiliated to Solidarity but continues to carry out independent political activity under its own banner.

As for the CWI – we did not leave it – the small rump around Taaffe effectively stole the resources of the CWI, including the name. The majority – 80%-90% of the membership and most of the sections – renamed the international grouping to International Socialist Alternative. The people that left were the Taaffeites (and they only took a majority of the membership in 6 of the sections of the old CWI). In most cases the entire membership of the sections remained with the CWI majority – and in most of the rest (like Ireland) the vast majority of the membership did.

As for the comments being blocked – it has been going on for months – I have flagged it on here several times when I have managed to post a comment and I also emailed you.

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WorldbyStorm - February 13, 2020

It’s not that it is impossible to draw a line from Militant, and before it through to today’s SP, but to argue that a group that has undergone such remarkable shifts is simply the ‘same’ doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s not that there’s not continuity of some people and some approaches, indeed in broad brush strokes one could argue the goal has been the same and much of the philosophy likewise, but then one could say that about other groups too.

But when a group has oriented in rather strikingly different ways in so many different contexts then it’s not simply a linguistic issue of what ‘same’ means, it is about frankly contradictory or at the least dissimilar aspects. So, the party/group works within the Labour Party, then goes and becomes a party in its own right. Those are two very different states to be in.

And it’s not as if these are uncontested – look at the situation in the UK with Militant where the open turn saw Ted Grant et al leave, in whatever way one wants to say it, the organisation. An open turn is completely different to being within another organisation. It’s not a minor or relatively minor thing like a name change, this is hugely different – even if broad brush stroke goals remain more or less the same. Yet these were fundamental precepts of the group at different points which they tenaciously defended and fought for and were a core of their identity. It’s a bit like the issue of abstentionism in republicanism – it’s not a nothing, it is kind of key. And many of those involved who held closest to the position remained with it and established their own org, a bit like Grant and later other individuals.

In other words this was an fundamental positional change. Sure, the organisation remained largely intact, but so after all did OSF when it shifted to SFWP and then on to WP. But I would argue that in fundamental ways OSF was very different to WP, and I think most people would too. And likewise with SF and the jettisoning of abstention in the mid 1980s. Of course SF has a continuity with the SF of then. Of course much is similar but it is clearly not ‘the same’. And like you members of both those orgs could quite genuinely claim they were members of the same political group – even while that group changed.

The change in the CWI is also obvious. And by the way I’m not arguing right or wrong here, frankly I’d tend to your view that though contested the lineal connection remains strong, given the majority have gone with the new CWI. But… it’s not as if the reasons are due to no state change between what the CWI believed a decade ago and what it now believes – btw also to add that I think people are entirely sincere on all sides in this equation. But I suspect you’d argue had you remained onside with the Taafe group that it was the others who had stolen the CWI. Indeed you yourself refer to the ‘old CWI’ as if that is a separate entity. Which of course it is!

No idea why your comments are being blocked. I thought the problem was resolved.

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Jolly Red Giant - February 12, 2020

My comment has been blocked again – and I’m not bloody re-typing it.

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WorldbyStorm - February 12, 2020

In work so don’t have full access to interface on my phone – will see if I can get someone to unblock it! Bloody WordPress.

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Ciaran Moore - February 11, 2020

Terry Kelleher running probably cost Dean Mulligan the seat in Fingal.

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Jolly Red Giant - February 11, 2020

More bullshit

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Ciaran Moore - February 11, 2020

well argued. there was me thinking taking 1800 left votes including transfers and only transferring 700 to a candidate that lost by 180 votes had an impact. I bow to your received knowledge.

Liked by 1 person

Jolly Red Giant - February 11, 2020

Mulligan lost 80% of the I4C vote from 2016 and more than 60% of the vote he had in the by-election a couple of months ago – yet it is the fault of the Socialist Party that he didn’t get elected – right.

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Colm B - February 11, 2020

Oh well, it was worth a try

Liked by 3 people

Jolly Red Giant - February 11, 2020

Colm – maybe you should address that to the members of rise who have been taking pops off of the Socialist Party since yesterday.

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42. Paddy Healy - February 10, 2020

RTE panelist now claiming that the increase in Green seats is greater than would be expected on the basis of the increase in the first preference vote for the Greens. Transfers from Sinn Féin surplusses to Green candidates are a factor in causing this.

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43. GearóidGaillimh - February 10, 2020

I feel sorry for Louis O’Hara in Galway East who came short of winning a seat. No one gave him any hope so it’s remarkable that such a relatively unknown candidate – a 21 year old NUIG undergrad added late in the day- came so close to beating FF there. Btw neither FF or FG have a seat now in Roscommon-Galway.

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44. Dermot M O Connor - February 10, 2020

End in sight in Wicklow (what is their problem with counting? Always slow as hell). Count 12 pushes the execrable Stephen Donnelly into 4th place – hopefully the next counts drag him down. Fingers crossed transfers take him out.

https://www.rte.ie/news/election-2020/results/#/national/wicklow

BRADY SF 17,279
WHITMORE SD 11,405
HARRIS FG 9774
DONNELLY FF 9363
MATTHEWS GP 7838
DOYLE FG 6503
BEHAN IND 5941

The former junior minister for Turnips, Billy TImmins, has been eliminated, his 5813 is being distributed. Whitmore should have some surplus, hopefully that and Behan’s upcoming transfers will put GP and FG ahead of FF.

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45. GearóidGaillimh - February 10, 2020

Thomas Pringle just beat Pat the Cope in Donegal.

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oliverbohs - February 10, 2020

🤣🤣🤣🤣

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WorldbyStorm - February 10, 2020

Fantastic news! Really pleased about this. Today is turning into a very good day with a lot of people saving seats that looked, well, not so great yesterday.

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Dermot M O Connor - February 10, 2020

I loved day 1. Went to bed thinking day 2 would be a mop up, stupidly believed RTE/IT/INDO groupthink about final seat numbers (FF will be mid 40s slight gains blah blah SF low 30s blah blah blah). They really are married to normalcy bias, aren’t they? I guess that’s how they get and keep those cushy jobs though. Anyway I woke up (remember I’m 8 hours away, PST) to find the count on day 2 a few hours in with the final seats falling away from FFG. Oh god, like it couldn’t get any better than day 1, and it has!!!!!!

I said we were due some fun after the UK GE, that UK exit poll was such a gut punch, and yahoo, the Irish GE has been dynamite. Also had my wish for FF and FG to come back on the same number of TDs as close to come true as I could have hoped.

Expect the aftermath to be as enjoyable. Eoghan Harris to stroke out, the INDO’s staff to experience mass-hysterical caniption fits, it’ll be the equivalent of that young woman in the wool hat screaming after Trump won.
Expect full blown SF derangement syndrome at RTE/INDO/IT, about to be dialed up to white heat! Because what we did didn’t work, so the solution will be to DO EVEN MORE OF IT!

😀

Funny to read the ‘thinkers’ pontificate about SF’s junior role in a future coalition. Still haven’t grokked the fact that SF will be the SENIOR party in any coalition deal. Who wants to be their mudguard? MM or Leo as Tanaiste? I bet you’ll hear FFG bleating about the virtues of rotating Taoisigh soon enough.

Such believers in democracy, as they keep telling us, they shouldn’t have a problem with dealing with their new reduced status at all at all at all. “The people have spoken, damn them”.

OR:

Minority SF govt. with MLM as Taoiseach, what were the odds of that a few weeks back? Shorter today I bet. And the SECOND MLM/SF get in that door, the ‘spell’ is broken forever.

Punishment beatings for the first hack to write “All is changed”.

FFG play this wrong and we have a second GE in a few weeks or months, and this time SF won’t be running 42 candidates.

Regarding the inability to deal with reality, I’m reminded of Albert Reynolds and the old FF attitude about coalition with PDs etc being “a temporary little arrangement”, the way they treated Labour in 92, etc. – “ah sure this mad little episode will be over soon at we’ll be back to one party government”. Whatever happens, the old game rules are gone, and failure to realise the new game rules – and the potential for even stranger election results in the future, and FFG will be bumfucked. I expect both those party remnants to be very slow learners. As Pres. Ahmadinejad of Iran said in the 00s:

“Praise God, our enemies are stupid”.

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irishelectionliterature - February 10, 2020

Watched Michael McGrath on the news earlier and he was all “It’s up to Sinn Féin to form a government”
If FF and FG continue this type of talk it will lead us to another election……

Liked by 1 person

Dermot M O Connor - February 10, 2020

Fingers crossed! FFG won’t be thanked. And SF will know precisely where to put second (and THIRD) candidates.

If SF manage to get 55+ votes together in the Dail and put a minority together, it will, as I said, break the spell – the spell that if SF is in power the sky will fall. Once people see Doherty, O Broin, MLM and co. in office the scare stories will seem very silly. Get a few months out of it, put forward a popular budget, have said budget likely voted down by FFG killjoys and bob’s yer uncle in GE2020 2.0

And if we go from this election into a second without an intervening Dail, same – nobody will thank FFG, and again, more seats than 42 next time! They’d be playing with fire. I think a lot of shapes will be thrown by them now.

FFG will be Reynolds-like in the delusion that “things will return to normal”. I never fail to be amazed by the echo chamber that the comfortable people in Ireland inhabit. Ruder awakenings than this are in store.

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Paddy Healy - February 10, 2020

Delighted to see Thomas re-elected
Donegal Seats SF2 FF 1 FG 1 Ind.4 Change 1

In the past it was common to have 5 of the 6 seats in two Donegal 3-seat constituencies supporting FF

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tafkaGW - February 10, 2020

An arch-clientelist unseated!

As far as I can read it Scanlon may miss out in Sligo-Leitrim as well.

Happy days!

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Dermot M O Connor - February 10, 2020

Tafka, if Scanlon is squezed out, if my numbers are right, FF and SF will both be on 37, assuming two FF in cavan/mon. If only ONE in cav/mon as well as Scanlon out, then SF leads FF 37/36 in seats.

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46. Harris Eoghan - February 10, 2020

Reads like it was written by an eight year old –

https://www.rte.ie/news/2020/0210/1114432-six-one-mcdonald/

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oliverbohs - February 10, 2020

“She also says that when she gets home later she is going to have egg and chips for tea as that his her favourite meal and then she will get her daughters to sing A Nation Once Again because she likes that song”.
Still though. It’s nice RTÉ found a job for Ross O’Carroll Kelly

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47. Tomboktu - February 10, 2020

I count four TDs who have lost their seat a second time:

Joan Burton
John Curran
Michael D’Arcy
Seamus Healy

Liked by 1 person

48. irishelectionliterature - February 10, 2020

I was watching the results yesterday for a period at a family do. As the SF results came in there was horror among some of them.
This evening at the GAA club, I was talking to one “Horrified from South Dublin” who was disgusted at Cullinane shouting “Up the Ra” . “That class of person has no business being in the Dail”.
Anyway the best take I’ve heard yet as to why Sinn Féin did so well…. “It’s all those bloody Gaelscoils”

Liked by 2 people

WorldbyStorm - February 10, 2020

Hahah brilliant!

Liked by 1 person

An Sionnach Fionn - February 10, 2020

Ok, well that is a coincidence. My workplace top-of-the-voice know-it-all, rugger-bugger Blueshirt made much the same point today, blaming Gaelscoileanna parents for SF getting votes in “good areas”.

I think I mentioned something on ASF or CLR about David McWilliams representing a type of low-key Gaelscoil cultural nationalism. Is there a perception out there of Gaelscoileanna as a sort of gateway drug to contemporary very small “r” republicanism?

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Dermot M O Connor - February 10, 2020

I blame Steve Coogan. 😛

Liked by 1 person

rockroots - February 11, 2020

Everyone blames Steve Coogan…

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49. Stan - February 10, 2020

FFG 17 out of 45 in Dublin; slightly more than 37%, well below the national average, and all the rest sorta kinda leftish.

Liked by 1 person

50. Tomboktu - February 10, 2020

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51. Tomboktu - February 10, 2020

Gavan Reilly has pointed out that since FF had one TD returned without election, SF and FF would have won the same number of seats.

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52. An Sionnach Fionn - February 11, 2020

Stand by for the wannabe alt-right and assorted loopers to go into conspiracy theory overdrive on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. They’ll replace tales of moving statues with moving ballot boxes!

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/election-2020-far-right-candidates-put-in-dismal-showing-1.4169078

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53. ThalmannBrigadier - February 11, 2020

Cathal Berry, the Independent TD from Kildare South, has said he would be open to supporting an SF led government.

Berry is a former second in command of the Army Rangers Wing, who campaigned on the issue of pay for enlisted ranks in the defense forces. Fears of some sort of counter coup against SF appear to be greatly exaggerated.

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54. Tomboktu - February 11, 2020

Back from the dead: How Sinn Féin surpluses helped bring left-wing candidates over the line

https://www.thejournal.ie/sinn-fein-left-surplus-5001343-Feb2020/

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55. CL - February 11, 2020

““I have never distanced myself from the IRA, or from Bobby Sands and the people who died on hunger strike, or for those who, over 100 years, were involved in the armed struggle.”-David Cullinane, TD.

“Irish shares took a hammering this morning as markets absorbed the news of the Sinn Fein surge and that a long period of horsetrading is expected before a Government is formed.
The drop was led by financials and building stocks on the Irish Stock Exchange.
While the bond markets were calmer, Shares in Bank of Ireland fell as much as 7.8pc while AIB dropped 6pc”
https://www.independent.ie/business/irish/irish-shares-take-a-hammering-as-markets-absorb-election-results-38942139.html

Liked by 1 person

CL - February 11, 2020

“Anxiety that party will freeze rents and start public housebuilding programme”-I.T. subheadline.

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Stan - February 11, 2020

Anxiety for who now?
The great majority of people would presumably love those.

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56. An Sionnach Fionn - February 11, 2020

Some calm, measured and insightful analysis of the Irish general election from the British journalist Kevin Toolis:

“Overnight, the politics of consensus, compromise, and accommodation with British rule in Northern Ireland that has dominated Irish politics for the last 90 years has, to all intent and purposes, been abandoned.

As a result, the very existence of the Northern Irish state is now more in peril since the aftermath of the 1916 Easter Rebellion.

And terrifyingly, the result has brought the IRA’s secretive Army Council close to power in Dublin.

…behind the slick image of change, Sinn Fein today remains very much the party of the paramilitary past. The ‘democratic party’ of Sinn Fein is still ruled by a reconstituted IRA Army Council based in Belfast known as the Ard Chomairle, and the shadowy IRA figures who control every aspect of policy and rigorously bully and expel anyone, even in their own ranks, who dissents from the leadership line.

This IRA politburo never meets in public, holds press conferences, or even admits to its true identity as the political executive of the IRA. Democratic debate or the usual personal rivalry of a real political party remain utterly foreign to Sinn Fein’s own internal politics. Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill might be poster girls for Sinn Fein, but they were appointed by edict to their position and then slavishly endorsed in North Korean-style votes by the party membership.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-7988827/Sinn-Fein-controlled-sinister-shadowy-figures-terrorist-past-writes-Kevin-Toolis.html

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WorldbyStorm - February 11, 2020

‘Never meets in public, holds press conferences’ the horror, the horror. Do other parties internal representative organs send out press releases etc? Honestly.

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57. CL - February 11, 2020

“Documents released by the Department of Justice under FOI also show just how closely involved Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan was in helping organise the commemoration….
The event ended up being deferred early in January and caused a major headache for Fine Gael in the run-up to the general election.

He even helped suggest music for the day, suggesting ‘Danny Boy’ and “some Thomas Moore pieces”, according to internal emails.”
https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/the-gardai-are-concerned-justice-department-had-anticipated-ric-event-sensitivities-980987.html

And instead of ‘Danny Boy’ he gets ‘Come Out Ye Black and Tans’.

“The campaign was called against the backdrop of huge controversy over plans to commemorate the RIC at Dublin Castle – something that some 80% of voters thought was the wrong decision, including 96% of 25 to 34 year olds, according to research by the Ireland Thinks polling company.”
https://www.rte.ie/news/campaign-daily/2020/0206/1113667-analysis-final/

Final Result;

FF- 38, SF- 37, FG- 35

With SF winning the popular vote.

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CL - February 11, 2020

“Mary Lou’s time has come…

The RIC fiasco gave Sinn Féin that hint of daylight and the sunny uplands beyond it. The Black and Tans angle was quickly tagged on and suddenly Sinn Féin had the all that was needed hint of what might be.

As the Black and Tans rumpus gained arms and legs, one of Leo Varadkar’s senior ministers, not normally prone to sending him text messages, dispatched an alarm bell. It said “the genie is out of the bottle”….

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil made much of Sinn Féin’s ‘backroom team’ tradition during the General Election campaign. Sometimes north of the border the likes of Ted Howell, Padraic Wilson, Tom Hartley, Aidan McAteer, Bobby Storey, Richard McAuley and others are called ‘The Felons Club members’ or the ‘Boys From the Old Brigade’.

The disparagers miss the point. Sinn Féin has a long tradition of planning, strategising, preparing the support base, exploring how to stretch and mould….

Sinn Féin’s election campaign was an extraordinary example of dogged incrementalism. The RIC Black and Tans Affair gave them the start….

Mary Lou McDonald took the lead role. She was very much the brand…..
We live in such fascinating times. There is no script, no precedent for what is happening.

Is it any wonder Gerry Adams has no time to get a haircut.”
Tommie Gorman.
https://www.rte.ie/news/election-2020/2020/0210/1114427-from-stormont-to-the-dail-mary-lous-time-has-come/

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WorldbyStorm - February 11, 2020

Well well well. That’s telling re the RIC thing.

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CL - February 11, 2020

It could be just ‘”Post Hoc Propter Hoc;”; one thing following on another and therefore allegedly caused by it.

Unlikely.

The sudden upward surge for Sinn Fein suggests a deep, unconscious chord within the Irish psyche was touched, and precipitated a release of energy hitherto repressed.
Unknown candidates, who a few months back could only muster a few hundred votes in a local election, now topping the poll in the general with 18,000 votes or more.
There is no reason to believe that the Phoenix-like resurgence has abated, as the many are energized and the parasitical, predatory few continue to tremble.
This may have been a Philip K. Dick-type election; the consensus reality, the power-structured status quo has been shattered, and the ruling class discombobulated. May the reverberations continue….

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Dermot M O Connor - February 11, 2020

Agreed. Hope this is just the start.

Not suggesting that they’re similar politically, but there is overlap of sorts with Trump in the US and Brexit in the UK. Thankfully SF occupies a more benign slice of the Irish left/right spectrum, for now anyway. Ireland is lucky to have a sink for protest that isn’t on the far right, so let’s hope SF succeeds.

Given the derangement induced by Trump and Brexit in their opponents, expect the same attacks against such to be hurled at SF. Their opponents in FFG won’t be able to accept the new reality, they’ll huff and puff and do everything they can to restore the old order – by screaming and crying. Slander, lies, and so on, more of the same. It’ll be as effective as a FG’er in 1984 screaming at people not to vote for FF because of the Civil war in 1923.

The good news is that the attacks on Trump and Brexit had no effect or if anything were counterproductive. If I’m right, the attacks on SF will be about as effective, meaning they won’t harm them at all and might actually help. Witness the nonsense about SF being fascists, the harpie FG MEP talking about Auschwitz, the continuing descent of E. Harris into paranoid dementia, and wotzhername in the Indo having a full on mental breakdown (christ, don’t they have editors to protect these dopes from themselves?).

Speaking of time and the passing of: about 7 or 8 years ago I was in a coffee shop in Burbank (a hangout for actors and writers). Overheard people (my age or older, 40s then) at the next table talking about ‘Back to the Future’. One of them said

“We are now further away from Marty McFly in the 1980s than he was from the 1950s”.

All the guys at the table shuddered. Makes you realise how quickly time passes, and how little you have left. Point being, the same dynamic is now on Sinn Fein’s side whether FFG like it or not. The 1950s to me in the 80s were a strange period in the past that I saw on a flat screen, might as well have been the 20s. And with each year that passes, attempts to make the 70s and 80s relevant with resurrected horror stories will make as much sense to the younger cohorts (even the older ones in 30s and 40s now) as atrocity stories from 1923 would have been to me.

So keep at it, FFG! Doing the same thing again and again, and expecting different results. No wonder ye couldn’t fix the housing and health crisis…

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CL - February 11, 2020

The more appropriate analogy would be with Bernie Sanders’ campaign for a social democratic America.

“Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”-Jacob Riis.

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dermot - February 11, 2020

CL, or Corbyn in the UK. Anyone outside the Overton window, left or right, gets the same treatment. Those on the right can be assimilated by BAU, but those on the left really get it hard. The treatment of JC was staggering.

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58. CL - February 11, 2020
sonofstan - February 11, 2020

11 out of 45 in Dublin. Not fantastic.

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59. Tomboktu - February 11, 2020

Telling.
Mary Lou McDonald has been contacting other leaders about forming a government.
Micheál Martin, leader of the largest Dáil party, has been contacting, ummm?

Liked by 1 person

60. Stan - February 11, 2020

There’s a government formation in FF/FG plus 8 Inds, the Lowry’s, Healy-Raes, Grealish’s etc.
My bet is that’s what we’ll end up with ‘in the national interest’ heavily promoted by the MSM. The real slaughter of ancien regime will come next time, I hope, when the people realise how much they’re being ignored and who exactly constitutes the national interest.

Liked by 2 people

61. An Sionnach Fionn - February 11, 2020

Was watching a rather poor interview on Sky News with Mick Fealty of Slugger O’Toole who was partly blaming anti-British or “patriotic” sentiment among the Irish electorate, stirred up by Brexit, the Fine Gael-backed RIC celebrations, etc, for SF’s electoral successes.

SO’T was always editorially pro-union lite if not explicitly unionist but did try to act in a more or less politically nonpartisan way, and under much criticism from all sides. I’ve noticed since the Brexit vote that it seems to have lost whatever sense it had and has gone full Sunday Independent – and then some. Very rarely read it now unless someone directs me to some post on it.

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62. roddy - February 11, 2020

ASF, with reference to Kevin Toolis rant above, is it a coincidence that “tool” is a common factor in Toolis,Slugger O’Toole and Fintan O’Tool.?!!!

Liked by 1 person

63. Tomboktu - February 12, 2020

Has anybody seen a summary of the political views, leanings and any party backgrounds of the 19 independent?

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64. Paddy Healy - February 12, 2020

Strike now when the iron is hot!!
Sinn Féin should call a major national demonstration to take place in parallel with talks!
The demonstration should be mainly concentrated on housing. The Demonstration should back the formal statutory declaration of a national housing emergency and a rent freeze. Such a declaration would allow interference with private property rights for the common good.
Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and other conservative deputies will defeat any such measure if not coerced by a huge mass movement,

Liked by 1 person

65. Jolly Red Giant - February 13, 2020

5. The recent split in the CWI is actually a rerun of the split in 1991/1992. The economic collapse in 2008 had a ‘stunning’ effect on the working class globally. It has led to a prolonged period of bureaucratic consolidation in the trade union movement and a lack of industrial struggles. The workers movement still has not recovered. Despite this the working class have moved onto the stage in struggle, largely outside the trade union movement – like the struggle against water charges in Ireland. This has also seen an expression in struggle against other forms of oppression, largely fought by working class people – against gender violence, against women’s oppression, a host of other issues and more recently against the climate crisis. It has been manifested in movements like the yellow vests in France, the democracy protests in Hong Kong, the crisis in Catalonia etc. The focus of the recent CWI dispute was the decision, initially by the Socialist Party in Ireland, and later other sections of the CWI, to intervene in these movements. For example, we recognised as early as 2010 that there was a growing desire to challenge the lack of abortion rights in this country and that this was developing as a class issue as those most directly affected were working class women. The unfortunate death of Savita Halappanavar catapulted the issue onto the political agenda and the Socialist Party played a crucial role in driving the issue forward culminating in Repeal and the introduction of a quite liberal abortion regime in Ireland. Through ROSA, the Socialist Party was able to mobilise significant numbers of young people around the issue of abortion and the wider issue of women’s rights and this then extended in the areas of violence against women, gender identity and violence against members of the LGBTQ community etc. It was these interventions that ultimately led to claims by the leadership of the CWI that the Socialist Party had capitulated to identity politics. This is a false claim – because in all circumstance the orientation of the Socialist Party was to the working class, to working class women and working-class members of the LGBTQ community.

6. The issue that was at the heart of the split actually had nothing to do with this at all – and wasn’t even the result of any actions or activity of the Irish section of the CWI. The root of the crisis was in Greece and disagreements between the Greek section of the CWI and the CWI leadership over our approach to Syriza over the period since 2008. Ultimately, like with Grant, the split in the CWI was about an inability to adapt to changing circumstances. The key turning point – like the collapse of Stalinism in 1991 – was the collapse of Syriza to the diktats of the EU and the impact of that defeat on the working class in Europe. The Taaffeites, disorientated by their incorrect analysis, retreated back into a mantra of ‘raising the banner of socialism’, picked on the Socialist Party in Ireland, accusing it of abandoning the trade unions, of capitulating to identity politics and of Mandelism in an effort to re-establish its influence throughout the CWI. They are incapable of recognising that class struggle takes on many forms and that working class people will take the fight along whatever avenue is available to them. When the factional dispute broke out in the CWI in 2018 (and the drive for a split became evident) the vast majority of the CWI membership held the view that the split was unnecessary, unwarranted and damaging for the entire CWI. As the dispute developed it became clear to most of the membership that a split was inevitable and, ultimately, necessary.

Since the split the atmosphere in the CWI has changed remarkably. The international solidarity between sections has become much more pronounced (we had members of more than a dozen sections of the CWI participating in the recent election campaign). The removal of the anglo-centric nature of the international leadership has been a breath of fresh air. Members of different sections are now talking to one another on an ongoing basis, discussing politics and approach – members of different sections are engaging at branch level in different parts of the world, providing valuable insights into developments that previously didn’t exist. Since the split in Britain, Socialist Alternative have grown rapidly, more than doubling their membership in 8 months and the members there openly declare that they can now react to developing local issues without having to refer everything back to the ‘centre’.

7. The Socialist Party and Solidarity is currently engaged in highlighting the mental health crisis in Ireland – and growing and very worrying development that is infecting working class communities. Hundreds of people from the most deprived working class areas are becoming involved – mostly women and very, very angry. The Taaffeites would have us turn our back on these people and put motions through trade union conferences – we will do this, but we refuse to abandon these working class people who have shown a willingness to fight simply because they are organising outside of the ‘traditional organisations of the working class’. A demonstration of their approach from the recent election – they condemned the Socialist Party for producing a poster that said ‘for women – vote Ruth Coppinger’ saying that it promoted ‘identity politics’ – what they ignored was this this was one of a series of posters – the others said ‘for workers’, ‘for young people’, ‘for public services’, ‘for the planet’. Since the election Ruth Coppinger has been invited onto more than a dozen national media programmes to discuss the number of women who lost their seats in the election – she has refused all of these invitations – she will not sit with the likes of Joan Burton, Lisa Chambers and Kate O’Connell promoting ‘identity politics’.

I would argue that the Socialist Party is the only revolutionary Marxist party in Ireland at this point in time. It has existed for 45 years with a continuity of approach and application of revolutionary politics. It has adapted to changing circumstances, but it has steadfastly remained focused in its orientation to the working class. There are no doubts that we have made many mistakes over that time – but we have constantly strived to correct these mistakes and learn from that process. It is quite remarkable that we have been able to maintain our organisation with this orientation. We have punched far above our political weight throughout the entire period and despite setbacks, including losing elected public representatives, we have maintained our revolutionary orientation and approach. We have and will continue to work with others on the left, we will continue to fight for reforms for working class people, but we will not bend on the Marxist principles at the heart of our organisation – and if that means on occasions ruffling a few feathers on the wider left, then so be it. We do not engage in elections for the purposes of parliamentarianism – and we are the only left group to adopt this approach. All of the left independents, PBP and rise – all are not orientated to parliamentary politics. We recognise that it is necessary to use the electoral process to highlight socialist politics and we will use the platform to assist working class people organising to resist the policies of the establishment. But parliamentary work requires the commitment of huge resources by the Socialist Party – financial, time and human resources. It is a huge commitment in time and energy and it takes resources away from other tasks we want to engage in. Every election is a struggle for the left – and if we were to lose our parliamentary and council representation tomorrow (and if there is an election in the next few months the entire left representation in the Dail could be completely wiped out) we would re-orientate our work and continue to raise revolutionary politics among the working class.

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66. Jolly Red Giant - February 13, 2020

I attempted to post a two part response to a comment by WbS above – the first part appears to have been blocked – the second part was posted.

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67. Jolly Red Giant - February 13, 2020

WbS – your comments about the evolution of the CWI is a topic that merits a discussion and one I am willing to actively engage with. It is a topic that left activists can learn from in terms of building revolutionary formations.

1. All revolutionary formations evolve – those that remain static are doomed to conservatism, stagnation and decline.

2. You catagorise the Militant/Socialist Party as ‘a group has oriented in rather strikingly different ways’, citing entry work in the LP and then open activity at a later stage as an example. However, the orientation of the Socialist Party has always been towards the working class – during the period when entryism was used as a tactic and later when engaging in open work. This orientation towards the working class continues to this day. You argue that entryism and open work ‘are two very different states to be in’ – actually they weren’t and are not. When in the LP the Militant pretty much engaged in the same political activity as the Socialist Party today – we organised public meetings under the Militant name, carried out street stalls, engaged with striking workers as Militant supporters, sold our paper etc. Effectively all that was different was that we used the Labour Youth banner on occasions instead of Militant depending on the issue or circumstances. The reason for carrying out entry work in the LP was because in the 1970s and early 1980s there was a significant layer of trade union and left activists within the party and opportunities existed to push the party significantly to the left – which almost happened at the 1985 LP conference, a development that prompted the beginning of the witch hunt against the Militant. Ultimately, the left in the LP collapsed as the evolving collapse of Stalinism emerged in the late 1980s. I was the last member of the Militant to remain in the LP (in part because I was in discussions with three LP members about potentially joining the Militant – I was one of only four delegates at the special conference in 1992 to vote against coalition with FF – a conference where both Jim Kemmy and Declan Bree were cheerleaders for the coalition. I attended the annual conference a couple of months later and when LP candidate in Cavan-Monaghan, Ann Gallagher, stood up and said to rousing cheers ‘when I joined the LP it was full of trade unionists and workers, but now we have real people like accountants and solicitors’ – I got up and left and never attended another LP meeting. Incidentally, with the election of Corbyn as LP in Britain, members of the Socialist Party of England and Wales (including some who are now in Socialist Alternative), carried, and continue to carry out entry work in the LP. Unfortunately, it has largely been disorganised and haphazard and was one of the issues of dispute within the CWI last year and part of the reason why a section of SPEW split and remained with the CWI Majority.

On a side note – discussions took place within the Militant in the early-mid 1980s about conducting entry work in the Workers Party. As part of the process a couple of Militant members joined the WP but the conclusion that was drawn was that the internal life of the WP would not allow us to raise our politics in a concrete way (and there was also a question about personal safety) and a decision was made to abandon the idea.

3. The real issue in the dispute with Grant, Woods and what became the IMT was not actually the ‘open turn’ – the ‘open turn’ became the sharp focus of the debate because of decision to stand Lesley Mahmood as ‘Walton Real Labour’ in the 1991 Walton by-election after the death of Eric Heffer. Mahmood should have been selected as the LP candidate, but the LP hierarchy shafted her nomination and stood witch hunter general Peter Kilfoyle instead.

The real issue in the dispute with Grant was the collapse of Stalinism. As events unfolded Grant could not accept the fact that capitalism could be re-established in Russia. He was convinced that capitalism in the late 1980s was on the verge of a global meltdown and that this would undermine any attempt at capitalist restoration in Russia. When the coup attempt against Gorbachev failed in 1991 Grant was convinced that it had succeeded and that the failure was manufactured by Western media, including screaming at the tv in the Militant offices that it was what we would call today ‘fake news’. The events in 1991 were a culmination of an inability of Grant and his supporters to recognise the changing factors and changing situation and this was demonstrated by an event right before the split (or effectively the expulsion of Grant’s group). In the run up to the first Gulf War a couple of hundred mostly young people attended a public meeting in London. During WW2 the approach of the WIL was that Marxists should join the British army and agitate for socialism from within (a form of an entry tactic into the army) – Grant himself had tried to join up but was rejected on medical grounds. At this anti-war meeting Grant argued that if the British government attempted to introduce conscription in Britain then young people should not resist and should join the army and agitate from within – this cause absolute uproar with young members of the Militant screaming at Grant for his approach. Grant had become so disorientated that he had lapsed back into what he knew best – the arguments that had worked in the past – but demonstrating that he was incapable of adapting to a new situation. The events at the meeting rapidly accelerated the departure of Grant’s group and this was necessary because otherwise it could have caused the collapse of the Militant. As an aside – of the national sections that left with Grant and Woods – Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Denmark, Pakistan, did not carry out entry work.

4. You argue that the ‘open turn’ was a ‘fundamental positional change’ – it wasn’t – it was a change in tactics, an adaptation of our tactical approach in the light of changing political developments. You talk about the shift from OSF to the WP as a demonstration of how a party can remain largely intact – I would counter by arguing that the WP did not remain largely intact with the split to New Agenda/Democratic Left. The WP underwent a similar process in the period of the collapse of Stalinism – the difference was that while 90% of the CWI successfully re-orientated its approach to reflect changing circumstances, most of the WP collapsed into left reformism and then rapidly into the right reformism of the neo-liberal LP of the 1990s.

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WorldbyStorm - February 13, 2020

The obvious response, and I genuinely appreciate your thought in putting this together, is that ‘However, the orientation of the Socialist Party has always been towards the working class’ is true of other formations – not least the WP, SWM/P/PBP/SWN etc, etc. In other word a broad based goal, incontestable, but with specific approaches along the way that would have been inconceivable during the time in which they were part and parcel of the orientation of the group(s).

I just don’t think it is possible to argue this was simply a change of tactics – when the tactic was elevated to the level of a functional principle which was used to distinguish the org from other rival orgs on the left. And then was jettisoned for a completely different approach with the open turn where likewise it was the party model that was reified and used as a point of clear distinction with relation to other groups on the left.

The WP remained intact from the adoption of its name as WP from SFWP until 1991/2. That’s a decade. So it’s perhaps telescoping the historical record to point to the split later as indicative of how a party can splinter. If we look at a fairly coherent body we’re talking about 1969 to 1992. That’s a good long time in anyone’s book and a significantly larger body of people than those associated with Militant in Ireland.

And your own account above makes it clear that you were a member of the Labour Party. Perhaps to you you were a member of Militant first and foremost but in functional terms you as a member fo the LP (and this is not precisely a criticism) went out and canvassed for that party and its candidates and as we all know many Militant members canvassed by dint of location for figures who would have been antithetical to Militant. I’m not saying this to dismiss, or criticise, your own experience as such, the changes have been understandable, as you say adaptive and so on. But they are very significant changes nonetheless and more than just tactics.

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Daniel Rayner O'Connor - February 14, 2020

Correction Wbs, OSF did splinter in 1974-5 when Costello formed the IRSP. I am unsure how the relative numbers involved compare to the Militant-Granite split or indeed to the WP-DL split, but it was certainly more traumatic than either.

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WorldbyStorm - February 14, 2020

Well that’s a very fair point, yes it did splinter- I think the majority went with OSf but I’m open to correction

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68. Jolly Red Giant - February 13, 2020

Worked this time

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69. Jolly Red Giant - February 14, 2020

Blocked again – attempt 2

WbS – you argue on entryism – ‘the tactic was elevated to the level of a functional principle’ – in the context of entryism into the social democracies that is fundamentally false and it is a very anglo-centric view of the CWI. From its foundation, most of the sections of the CWI never conducted entry work in the social democracies. Of the four founding sections, only two – Britain and Ireland – conducted entry work. As the CWI grew most of the new sections did not do any entry work in the social democracies – the Greek section spent a very short time in PASOK, but apart from that in Europe I do not recall any of the other sections doing any entry work. In Pakistan for a significant period we conducted entry work in the PPP, a mass populist (rather than workers) party. In South Africa the Marxist Workers Tendency conducted entry work in the ANC and grew rapidly to the point where the SACP considered it the main threat to its objective of doing a deal with the SA regime. But in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, USA, Canada, Sri Lanka, India, Australia and numerous other countries we never conducted any entry work. At the moment in Brazil our section is in PSOL, but we are organised openly as an affiliate member. In the USA we are participating in the Sanders election campaign, but again are doing so openly as an organisation. People’s perception of entryism is largely determined by the anglo-centric nature of the use of the tactic and because it was part of the factional dispute in 1991/92. As I said above – entryism only became a principle at the tail end of the dispute with Grant/Woods and was not really a factor in that split.

You talk about canvassing for LP candidates – and I canvassed for some reactionary individuals. But we did so while raising out politics, selling the Militant newspaper on the doors, actively attempting to recruit young people to Labour Youth and publicising Militant activities that we always organised during election campaigns. It drove the right-wingers nuts – sometimes we were kicked off the canvass – but mostly they needed boots on the ground. Again – compared with the past month, our approach to canvassing was not a lot different with the exception that we were promoting our own candidate rather than a LP hack.

There is a further point on this – in reality all left parties conduct some sort of ‘entry’ work. I am sure the WP in its heyday had caucuses of trade union members to organise its approach within individual trade unions. I am sure when the WP participated in a campaign their members would discuss the nature of their intervention. The only real difference with the CWI was that we extended that work into the political field.

You talk about the WP remaining intact from the adopting of the WP name until 1992 – a decade according to you. Well the CWI remained intact from 1974 until 1992 – almost two decades. And in post cases the crisis in the WP and the CWI were precipitated by the collapse of Stalinism and the necessity to re-orientate political outlook in the aftermath of these developments. I would also argue that the Socialist Party weathered that storm far better than the WP. Similarly, the CWI remained intact, apart from a small number of minor disputes in individual sections, from 1992-2019 – a period of 27 years. Again, as in 1991/92 the crisis was precipitated by changing conditions – the fallout from the economic collapse in 2008 – and the emergence of new arenas of struggle against oppression. In both disputes it was necessary to separate from a conservative, inward looking approach – re-orientate our forces and look outwards – and the International Socialist Alternative is already reaping the benefits of this. The rump CWI has two or possibly three sections with more than 50 members, it is overwhelmingly anglo-centric and dominated by SPEW and the bulk of its membership are elderly with many in the leadership into their late 60s or 70s. It is worth noting that during the entire dispute the Taaffeite group were constantly referring to the socialist council in Liverpool in the 1980s and the poll tax movement – a demonstration of the fact that they couldn’t recognise that the political landscape had altered, and that the forces of Marxism had to adapt to new and changing political developments. The ISA have all of, or a vast majority of the membership of most of the CWI sections, a majority of the two sections where there were serious splits, Germany and South Africa, took a significant number of the activist layer in the SPEW and probably has more than 90% of the active membership of the CWI from last year. The heritage of the ISA and the line of development of the ISA back to 1974 has nothing to do with size – it has everything to do with how the international group has used the method of Marxism to position itself to impact political developments.

As I stated in the previous post, the Socialist Party has had many ups and downs, it has suffered the loss of public representatives that decades of activism help get elect (Joan Collins, Clare Daly, Paul Murphy), it has regularly defied the odds, it has had a significant impact on the political landscape in Ireland and it has punched significantly above its political weight for a long time. It will continue to do so. The hostility of many on the left in Ireland towards the Socialist Party is based on false assumptions – one of the most striking of which is this notion of left unity (or in the context of the recent election – some sort of broad electoral strategy). The Socialist Party has consistently stated that a new mass party of the working class will not and cannot be built simply by a regroupment of the existing left forces. It must come from mass struggle and the beginning of the development of a political consciousness among the Irish working class. This does not mean that we will not work with other left groups and individuals, we have done so repeatedly in campaigns and in groups like the ULA and now Solidarity-PBP. It is inevitable that such formations will break up because different groupings will ultimately have different objectives. A new mass party will draw in enough people that the differences between the existing left groups will be swamped by the membership.

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WorldbyStorm - February 14, 2020

It was most certainly a functional principle in parties like the BLP and the ILP. Just because not every section used it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a functional principle – indeed you then list a whole raft of CWI affiliates that did use entryism. The reasons for not using it could be myriad, for example, larger parties that wouldn’t allow such approaches, etc, etc. I don’t think it’s anglocentric to point to the largest and/or relatively most successful components who used it using it. And you’re kind of having your cake and eating it saying it’s a tactic and only becomes a principle at a certain point.

The point I make about canvassing for LPers is not about canvassing for right wingers per se, it is that you were a member of the Irish Labour Party, then you were a member of Militant Labour, then you became a member of the Socialist Party. One is distinct from the others (ML and the SP effectively being more or less the same, though the name change isn’t unimportant).

And there is a distinct different between members of a union who are also members of a party/group working together and members of a group/party entering another party. They’re not ‘some sort of entryism’ they’re fundamentally different. To say the only real difference is that you extend your work into the political field is to admit that there is a real difference.

Re the WP, my point is not the longevity or otherwise – after all the WP still exists today and arguably in a reduced form has remained rather similar since 1992-2020, but that it underwent changes from SF to OSF to SFWP to WP which indicated quite distinct shifts in its analysis, approach and indeed arguably principles as well as tactics. There was a change from one orientation in the CWI to another.

What you’re trying to argue is that there’s been no change, or you brush aside the changes, as if they’re nothing. Fair enough I’m not going to persuade you to the contrary, but from my perspective these are remarkable changes.

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70. Jolly Red Giant - February 14, 2020

2nd attempt

WbS – a ‘fundamental principle’ is applied everywhere – in all sections of the international. A tactic is applied where appropriate – and that is what happened across the CWI.

In relation to my political affiliation – I joined the Militant in 1982 – I am still a member of the same organisation today. My international affiliation has not changed over the same period. For 10 years I was also a member of the LP and over the past number of years I have also been a member of AAA/Solidarity. The fact that I was/am a member of two other political groups does not negate my membership of the CWI – and now International Socialist Alternative. You really are attempting to jump through hoops here.

I am a political activist – I take my activism into every sphere of my political activity – my membership of the Socialist Party and International Socialist Alternative – my membership of Solidarity (and previously LP) – my membership of my trade union – my community and campaigning activity. They are not separate and distinct – they are part of the one whole – that is what it means to be a Marxist.

The shift from SF to OSF to SFWP to WP were shifts that could well have involved changing ‘principle’, I have no knowledge of the internal discussions within that organisation over that period – but with all due respect – some of them also involved vicious paramilitary feuds where many people were killed and maimed. The CWI did not undergo any such ‘change’ of that character. And while the WP may still remain unchanged since 1992 – I would argue that this is not a good sign – society has shifted significantly in Ireland and globally over the past almost 30 years. To me it indicates that the WP are in a rut they cannot get out of because they have an incorrect analysis.

And may I also point out – I never argued that the CWI did not undergo change – of course it has – it is continually evolving – that is and should always be the nature of an international revolutionary Marxist organisation. I argued that there is a common thread of analysis, orientation and method from the foundation of the CWI in 1974 to International Socialist Alternative today – and in countering the arguments that you have put forward to dispute this – I would argue that I have produced evidence to demonstrate that this is the case.

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WorldbyStorm - February 14, 2020

Except that there might be contextual issues in relation to entryism where it wasn’t feasible – for example, an SD party of insufficient size, alternatively an SD party that was wise to entryism etc. Simply because you want to do something doesnt’ mean that it is actually possible. After all, you say yourself that some people thought about entryism into the WP but decided it wasn’t possible. Does that negate the organising principle or not, or reduce it to a tactic? Hardly. It merely points up the limits that material reality places on an organising principle.

I’m really not attempting to jump through hoops. Someone could say hand on heart they joined OSF in 1970 and were in WP today and that they were a member of he same organisation. But that would be to deny the reality of the multiple changes in outlook that that organisation went through. And surely you’re a member of the Socialist Party as distinct from Militant – or does Militant have some structural organisational existence sort of like the Army Council of PIRA?

Whether there was a paramilitary feud at one all or none fo the changes in the OSF SFWP etc is irrelevant to the discussion (in fact there was no such issue in relation to SFWP to WP). And I can’t see the point in trying to bring that into the frame.

Okay, we’re going around in circles. I can’t say it clearly than this. We organise as a group – albeit as a party in real terms, inside another left party of a different and hostile ideological orientation (social democrat as against Marxist-Leninist). We then organise as a Marxist-Leninist party distinct from all other parties and entirely separate from the previous left party. I guess I could thrown in AAA-Solidarity where ‘we organise within an umbrella grouping that we have created’. Or a further twist, we have TDs elected to the Dáil under different banners, albeit they are all essentially of the same underlying party. All of those (bar arguably the last one) are fairly distinct functional approaches to a political environment. At the time each approach has been argued for vociferously as the only approach in the given context and that all other approaches are incorrect. Difficult not to see those as more than just tactics. But again, you can believe absolutely what you want to believe.

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Jolly Red Giant - February 15, 2020

Second attempt –

WbS, I agree – we are going around in circles because you are attempting to put a square peg into a round hole.

In relation to entryism – you say – ‘Simply because you want to do something doesnt’ mean that it is actually possible’. You appear to completely misunderstand the tactic of entryism. The orientation of the CWI /ISA has been and is to the working class. National sections first analyse where/how the working class is exercising a class consciousness, where it is organising and what avenues the working class is using as it moves into struggle. On occasions in the past this was through the social democracies (and on rarer occasions through the Stalinist organisations). In most circumstances it was not through either of these types of formations. As I said – the view of entryism by the Militant is skewed by the anglo-centric nature of this view. It must be noted that the Irish section adopted two different approaches – entryism in the LP in the South for a period – open work in the North. The primary reason for the use of entryism in the South and in Britain related to the fact that most trade unions were affiliated to the LPs, most unions had a significant layer of shop stewards and left activists in the 1970s and 1980s and some trade unions in Britain had a left leaning leadership. This carried into the LPs during this period. The situation has changed dramatically over the past 30 years. The tactic of entryism doesn’t make sense in an Irish context. Some limited entry work did take place in Britain after Corbyn was elected leader – precisely because of the large numbers joining the LP at the time. You continue to claim that entryism was an ‘organising principle’ – it never was – indeed during the Grantite dispute even the IMT didn’t declare it a principle. In fact, in their two main factional documents they didn’t even raise the issue of entryism. And when the Grantites did begin to raise the issue, they themselves repeatedly described it as ‘entry tactic’ (‘Marxists and the British Labour Party’, Minority Document, August 1991). The same document emphasised the fact that the majority of the work of the British section at the time ‘at this stage has to be outside the Labour Party, in the unions, in the factories and on the estates’. After the split in 1992, the CWI didn’t abandon entryism, again – it was used depending on the circumstances. For example – in 1998 the Nigerian section engaged in entry work National Conscience Party and discussions took place in Brazil about conducting entry work in the PT (Resolution Three, Seventh World Congress of the Committee for a Workers’ International, October 1998). You can bang on about entryism being a ‘fundamental principle’ – the evidence demonstrates that it was/is not. One last example to demonstrate a point – James Connolly proposed the motion to establish the LP – yet at the same time maintained the Socialist Party of Ireland as a distinct Marxist organisation. Before the founding of the LP the SPI operated as a revolutionary organisation. After the LP was established all of the SPI members were active in the LP, but they also maintained their own political grouping. Our approach was the same.

Next, we have another square peg in a round hole. You keep banging on about the Militant and the Socialist Party as if they are two different organisations – there were/are not. You argue – ‘And surely you’re a member of the Socialist Party as distinct from Militant’. No, I am not a member of the Socialist Party as distinct from Militant – there are one and the same organisation. Let me ask this question – and I would be interesting to hear your view, as I do not know the internal history of the WP – but let’s take MacGiolla, he was a member of SF in 1969, then OSF, the SFWP, the WP – was his membership of each evolution of this group separate and distinct from the previous one? Did the structures of the organisation change? Were new leadership bodies elected in each instance? And, particularly, in the context of the change from SFWP to WP, what was the fundamental change that occurred to make the WP separate and distinct from SFWP?

From the perspective of the Socialist Party, the only difference is the name – and that is something that was a regular debate within the Militant in particular. Dermot Connolly, for example, hated the name ‘Militant’ and spent over twenty years banging on about it until we adopted ‘Socialist Party’ in 1996. The discussions on the name were never held in isolation – they were always part of discussions on perspectives and were always based on those discussions. Since its formation the Militant, Militant Labour and the Socialist Party have effectively had the same structures. The terminology has changed at different times, the method for electing leading bodies has changed at different times etc. – but the continuity of the organisation has remained. We didn’t shut down the Militant in 1989, abandon everything we had done – and then establish Militant Labour. We didn’t shut down Militant Labour in 1996 and abandon everything it had done before using Socialist Party as our name. The same leadership bodies, the same branches, the same branch committees, the same caucuses continued with the work they had always been engaged in.

Entryism was not by any stretch of the imagination the sole or even dominant approach of the Militant in the 1970s and 1980s – in fact the vast majority of the members we recruited during this period came from outside the LP. Moving from a party that used the tactic of entryism to organising as an open party is a change in strategy – nothing more and nothing less. Marxist organisations must constantly adapt to changing circumstances, must constantly evolve, must adopt and adapt strategies and tactics depending on circumstances and perspectives. I can demonstrate what a fundamental change in principle would be – a change that would fundamentally alter the nature of the Socialist Party. If tomorrow morning the Socialist Party decided to abandon democratic centralism (a term I hate because it has been stained by Stalinism) – then that would be the abandonment of a fundamental principle, it would fundamentally alter the nature of the Socialist Party and it would alter the political character of the Socialist Party from revolutionary Marxism.

Over the past period the SWP in Ireland (and in their ‘international’) has effectively abandoned their political approach and it has fundamentally altered the political character of the SWP and its sister parties. However, the Socialist Party and International Socialist Alternative have maintained the fundamental approach of revolutionary Marxism since the foundation of the Socialist Party in 1972 and of the CWI in 1974. There is a common political approach that can be traced from 1974 right up to International Socialist Alternative today. Both the IMT and the Refounded CWI can also claim a common thread – although I would argue that the link is tenuous at best given the political retreats made by both organisations, the staid, conservative nature of the leadership and their inability to adapt to changing social developments. As an example – both organisations have shown an inability to understand the class nature of the oppression of the LGBTQ community and the class nature of the current struggle of LGBTQ people for equality. Their perspective outlook has been unable to recognise changing economic, political and social developments (e.g. the IMT’s approach to the Venezuelan regime – the RCWI’s attitude to Syriza) – and as a result they flounder, resulting in a retreat into past approaches and referencing events that happened 30, 40, even 50 years ago (indeed the IMT sometimes hark back to the 1940s), their material becomes abstract because they cannot analyse current developments in a concrete fashion and they ultimately the struggle to attract youth, particularly at a time when young people are moving into political struggle and developing a political consciousness.

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WorldbyStorm - February 16, 2020

Apologies a tiny bit tied up with stuff here and will reply in full, but just on this… “Next, we have another square peg in a round hole. You keep banging on about the Militant and the Socialist Party as if they are two different organisations – there were/are not. You argue – ‘And surely you’re a member of the Socialist Party as distinct from Militant’. No, I am not a member of the Socialist Party as distinct from Militant – there are one and the same organisation. Let me ask this question – and I would be interesting to hear your view, as I do not know the internal history of the WP – but let’s take MacGiolla, he was a member of SF in 1969, then OSF, the SFWP, the WP – was his membership of each evolution of this group separate and distinct from the previous one? Did the structures of the organisation change? Were new leadership bodies elected in each instance? And, particularly, in the context of the change from SFWP to WP, what was the fundamental change that occurred to make the WP separate and distinct from SFWP?”

In the context of the latter it was a decision to effectively separate the party from the SF name – due in part to the fact that PSF used it as well, in part because the party view on republicanism had shifted too from what it – in my view mistakenly – saw as Irish republicanism as distinct from republicanism. But there were key changes across this – for example my understanding is that Marxist-Leninism was adopted as a directional principle in the 1970s which was a significant change, and that democratic centralism was likewise adopted during that period. I have little doubt that TMcG would have regarded the SFWP, or WP, as distinctly different from OSF and from pre-split SF, albeit having a lineal continuity. And notable about this is that this is quite separate from the issue of abstentionism.

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WorldbyStorm - February 16, 2020

I don’t think one needs to concern oneself with the points you make re the SWP – who arguably have had a much less radical shift in their political approach than MT/ML/SP. Nor is the continued pointing at the exceptions to the entryist rule that convincing a counter-argument given the primary elements of Militant adopted that approach and where it was not adopted appears to have been in contexts of low feasibility of entryist tactics working. Even the point about internal structures doesn’t mean as much as you appear to believe since arguably PSF has retained much of that (and I’d suggest the WP did too) across their various incarnations.

BTW just to be clear, I use the term functional principle, not fundamental principle. There’s a distinction between the two since my analysis is that the former encompasses the actual political practice of an org as distinct from the latter. I think it reasonable to argue that functionally the approach of Militant and precursor bodies from the 1950s through to the Open Turn was one that reified entryism, and moreover a very specific form of entryism at that. That that was regarded as a core spect of its actual political practice and defended as such (where a defence had to be made, as distinct from avoiding mention of it!). Once the Open Turn occurred there was a predictable shift towards defending that (and also keeping in mind the different forms of entryism practice subsequent to the 1980s where concealing the reality of post-Militant parties in different states being linked to one anther was an impossibility). A group of CWI affiliated folk could enter parties that allowed factions, but difficult to quite conceal that the CWI affiliates were in many instances free standing parties who had previously been, shall we say, less than loquacious about their nature when in the BLP etc.

And that’s the key I think in all this discussion, stripping away irrelevant aspects one need only look, and this is in no way a critique of the merits or otherwise of entryism or indeed an open turn, at the fact that Militant concealed aspects of entryism or members denied being members of Militant and broadly denied that it was a party like entity within the BLP or indeed the ILP.

In other words the approach you describe simply as a tactic was projected to the world as exactly the opposite, that the Militant was merely a group of likeminded individuals within a larger organisation. The organised approach, self-generated literature, cohesive political identity and so forth were strenuously denied to be what they were, a party within a party. Despite this contradiction eventually, and predictably, being revealed, or more clearly revealed, ironically, MT sought to stay within the BLP, and later the ILP, professing all the time to be something other than it was.

And when ejected it finally decided to jettison the entryism and assume an entirely new political approach as an open political organisation – albeit in Ireland retaining for some time the name of its former home.

That’s a pretty huge turnaround to move from that orientation to one that was entirely different. I think it fair to argue that the usual political practice of Militant from its formation was to enter larger SDs parties – except in a number of circumstances where that was not feasible. For the larger sections it was certainly the general modus operandi.

One could argue that entryism in the BLP and ILP was raised to to a position of a near absolute. Despite the evidence of it working being incredibly thin on the ground – indeed many rivals and opponents of Militant have pointed, not unreasonably, to the reality of the contradictions between an M-L operation attempting to function within a broader SD party and in doing so having to acquiesce, as noted earlier in this discussion, to the prevailing (as they would see it) conservatism of the overall context, accepting policies that would be antithetical to their own principles, etc.

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Daniel Rayner O'Connor - February 16, 2020

Correction, Giant. When the Irish Labour Party was founded, it was as an extra function of the Irish TUC, and remind so formally until 1930. All trade unionists, socialist or otherwise. could claim to be represented in Congress. On the other hand, non-trade unionists, socialist or not (the Sheehy-Skeffingtons were an obvious example), or members of a union unaffiliated to Congress (Walter Carpenter, from 1913 to 1918) could not claim representation therein, tho’ they could be and were members of the Socialist Party of Ireland. that party had been an aspiring revolutionary organisation, but was downgraded practically, and after connolly’s return from America, theoretically into a propaganda sect until the revolutionaries got a majority and made it the Communist party of irealnd in 1921.Though Connolly and others were members of unions affiliated to Congress and the Socialist Party, Connolly did not see the SPI as the driving force in the struggle for an irish Workers’ Republic; such a role he was inclined to give the Transport Union.
To sum up;the Socialist party of Ireland was not a revolutionary party doing entry work, tactically or other wise in the labour Party; the two bodies were separate carrying out separate function in the struggle for socialism.

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71. Jolly Red Giant - February 16, 2020

Attempt 2
WbS – it is worth noting that you yourself indicate a ‘directional principle’ in the decision of OSF to adopt ‘Marxism-Leninism’ and democratic centralism. I would absolutely agree that this ‘significant change’ is a fundamental change in the nature and character of the party.

However – you then go on to argue that the SWP ‘have had a much less radical shift in their political approach than MT/ML/SP’. This is absolutely gobsmacking, given the fact that the SWP have effectively liquidated their entire organisation into PBP – and to quote themselves, it was ‘a decision to focus on building People Before Profit’.

Now – you are going on again about entryism – claiming that pointing out exceptions is not a ‘convincing counter-argument’. Yet you then continue to point out ‘where it was not adopted appears to have been in contexts of low feasibility of entryist tactics working’. Finally, you agree with my contention, even though you believe you have presented an opposing argument. Entryism was a tactic that was used when and where the circumstances dictated that it could prove to be useful to raise revolutionary socialist politics and win activists to revolutionary socialism. Entryism was not a point of principle – it was a tactic.

You then go off and attempt to give me a history lesson on the Militant. To start with if you want to go down this route then the continuity of the CWI goes back to the Workers International League in the pre-WW2 period through to the Revolutionary Communist Party during the war and after. The RCP eventually split on the issue of entryism –Ted Grant and Jock Haston opposed the use of entryism while Gerry Healy and what became the Socialist Labour League (later the WRP) argued in support of entryism. The RCP collapsed in 1949 when the leaders of the Fourth International demanded that they liquidate their organisation into the SLL. Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, even after the establishment of Militant, an independent open organisation was maintained. Work was conducted in the Young Socialists because it was an open organisation (all be it controlled by Healy’s SLL). The decision to conduct entry work occurred in the late 1960s when the SLL declined, and opportunities opened up within the Young Socialists. A key factor in all of this was the apprentice strike of 1964, during which the Militant recruited key leaders of the strike, particularly on Merseyside. This opened significant opportunities to work with a large number of important activists who were in the LP. The difficulty posed was the need to drop work as an open party because of very strict rules imposed by the right-wing on the Young Socialists after the SLL demise. Indeed, it wasn’t until the mid-1970s that the Militant in Britain carried out entry work across the entire organisation, and even then often engaged in open work under an independent banner. A similar situation evolved in Ireland, with the substantial Young Socialists becoming an important arena for activity among the initial members of the Militant in Ireland – and again – it was several years before the Militant in Ireland adopted entryism as a tactic.

You continue to repeat that entryism ‘was regarded as a core spect of its actual political practice’ – no it wasn’t – it was a tactic that was used where and when it was appropriate – nothing more or less. And may I add – affiliation to the CWI was openly acknowledged. Did members of the Militant deny being members of the organisation? Only in the media and on the leading bodies of the LP. This was done in order to prevent bureaucratic attacks on the Militant and was only done officially. I never once in ten years membership denied being a member of Militant, despite of being a question thrown at me at every LP meeting I attended. Whenever we were talking to anyone we openly declared the existence of a revolutionary organisation. Everybody knew that the Militant existed as an independent political organisation with its own structure, its own membership and its own finance. Indeed, it was regularly commented on in the British media that the Militant in Britain had more full-timers than the LP (which it did – and it was also the case in Ireland). The expulsion of the Militant from the LP (in Britain and in Ireland) really had nothing to do with the fact that we were an organisation, and everything to do with the influence we were exerting in the LP. It should also be noted that this was the case only in Britain and Ireland (and to a degree in South Africa where it was the SCAP that launched attacks on the CWI, not the ANC leadership), in every other section this was not a factor, although in a handful of areas bureaucratic expulsions were attempted despite our small numbers.

You state – ‘The organised approach, self-generated literature, cohesive political identity and so forth were strenuously denied to be what they were, a party within a party’ – again only in the media or on bodies like the LP Administrative Council. On our leaflets, and we regularly had recruitment leaflets, we would call on people to join the Marxists, publicise Militant meetings and activities, including our regular branch meetings (which for obvious reasons were called Militant readers meetings).

But once again – you are adopting a very anglo-centric view of all of this. Britain and Ireland were the two countries where entryism into the social democracies was used in a comprehensive fashion – in the majority of sections (and we had large sections in places like Sri Lanka and Spain) entryism was not used and in other areas it was used depending on the perspectives and circumstances. If it was a ‘functional’ principle then it would have been applied in all situations, no matter the circumstances – yet you yourself attempt to jump through hoops to give excuses about why it was not used by most of the national sections of the CWI in the late 1970s and 1980s.

You go on about it being a ‘huge turnaround’ – it wasn’t – they only real difference is that we didn’t attend LP meetings anymore. The rest of the work was carried on in exactly the same fashion as before. You talk about ‘the evidence of it working being incredibly thin on the ground’ – again – not the case. Entryism in Britain and Ireland (and in South Africa) afforded massive opportunities for the CWI to significantly influence major industrial and political developments – and I will point to two – the socialist council in Liverpool would never have happened without the use of entryism and the MWT in South Africa had a major input into the founding of COSATU in 1985 as a result of entry work in the ANC. In contrast – the movement against the poll tax, led by the Militant, was conducted almost exclusively outside the LP – as was the anti-water charges campaign in Dublin in 1994-1995. I will add one further point on this – there is no doubt that the CWI did make many mistakes during this period, mistakes that were analysed and very largely corrected. We are currently undergoing the same process at the moment since the split by the Taaffeites – and I think we will learn these lessons a lot faster this time – because this recent dispute has been more about approach and the distinctions are stark when we see how both groups have rapidly diverged in the past few months.

Now – the discussion has been useful – but it has definitely got bogged down on the issue of entryism (I would argue because of you lack of knowledge about the use of entryism by the CWI and you adopting an anglo-centric view of the issue). I had hoped that the debate could have evolved into a discussion about the political situation today and the perspectives for a mass workers party (in Ireland and internationally), using the experiences of the past as a learning process. It doesn’t look like that this will happen and it doesn’t look like you are able to take on board the evidence of the nature of the tactic of entryism as implemented by the CWI over the past 50 odd years.

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WorldbyStorm - February 17, 2020

I would strongly argue that the SWP partly subsuming itself into an organisation that it largely controls is a lesser change than a group entering a larger essentially hostile political party and the subsequently leaving said party to establish itself as a full party in its own right.

There’s no contradiction in saying that in some circumstances entryism simply wasn’t an option therefore wasn’t adopted, any more than for orthodox CPs outside the Soviet bloc in the 1950s and 1960s the usual approach was open politics, but in places like Franco era Spain covert activity was the only option. The functional principle there was open politics, the exceptions only serve to prove the rule. And again, in Britain and Ireland entryism was reified to the only means of pursuing socialist action (you can keep calling it a ‘tactic’ if you will but that’s a functional principle in my eyes given the enormity of the challenge that it implies) – as compared to other groups on the left. I heard it myself from Militant members at the time often and vociferously directed at myself and members of other left formations outside the LP. Again I think it’s important to keep in mind the relative weight of different affiliates to the then CWI (or indeed the success of otherwise of those other affiliates in gaining any elected representatives).

I have no intention of giving you a history lesson Militant – merely I’m pointing out that there is so much that underscores the centrality of entryism to Militant political practice. It wasn’t a side bar, it was the whole kitchen sink. It was what being in Militant involved in most cases.

By the way, the tic tacking between open organisations and non open organisations is not something I suspect that fills everyone on the left with enthusiasm and confidence as regards the clarity and transparency of activity of that era of Militant. I mean entryism at the level Militant operated was, let’s be frank, secretive and given many involved appear not to have owned up to being members of Militant one that might leave trust issues on the part of others. As to your line ‘Did members of the Militant deny being members of the organisation? Only in the media and on the leading bodies of the LP. This was done in order to prevent bureaucratic attacks on the Militant and was only done officially.’ How reassuring.

And you know as well as I do that it was the nature of Militant that was the question, whether it was indeed a party in a party, as distinct from wether one was associated with it. Of course you could answer you were a member of Militant. That wasn’t a problem as such until the LP and similar parties began to expel members or those associated with it.

“You go on about it being a ‘huge turnaround’ – it wasn’t – they only real difference is that we didn’t attend LP meetings anymore. “

That’s a substantive difference in basic political practice. You’re not a part of the LP, you’re not feeding into its deliberations, attempting to shift its trajectory, etc. It’s like saying if I was a member of a group within SF having been expelled that the only difference was that I wasn’t in SF! But that is the difference!

Anyhow, it’s been fun!

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72. Jolly Red Giant - February 17, 2020

2nd attempt

Seriously WbS – you think that a revolutionary organisation liquidating itself into a broader formation is a lesser change than a revolutionary organisation engaging in entry work and then subsequently operating as an open party, while during the entire time operating with the same political outlook and orientation. That raises serious questions about your understanding of a revolutionary organisation in contrast to an electoralist one.

You talk about ‘elected representatives’ – entry work facilitated the short term election of 3 MPs in Britain and about 15 councillors – all of whom had been lost/removed by the time of the ‘open turn’. Most of the elected representatives of the CWI were successful while operating within an open party – Scotland, Ireland, USA, Greece, Australia – and in the case of Ireland and the USA have been the most sustainable electoral gains.

If you want to see a ‘functional principle’ of entryism then you need to look no further than the Grant/Woods IMT. After they split they buried themselves in the British LP – they stopped selling papers, stopped publicising activities, stopped proposing resolutions – all to prevent expulsion. Apparently they also had a councillor who was a member, but you wouldn’t know it because their councillor was indistinguishable for every other councillor in the Blairite LP.

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WorldbyStorm - February 17, 2020

Yes I do think it’s a lesser change. It’s obviously a lesser change if, as I noted, the conditions are that the organisation actually to all intents and purposes inflects and influences the broader formation. And the SWP hasn’t exactly gone away, y’know. Indeed if we’re playing that kind of a game I’d have similar questions about your understanding of differences between different forms of organisations and political positioning in the context of same.

But again you’re not comparing like with like, the other non-UK reps came a significant time later – years later in fact after there was time for the open parties to bed down in their new situation. And clearly those later reps were not answerable even vestigially to the ‘broader formation’ they were a part of in the way that the BLP MPs were.

As to the sad history of Grant/Woods IMT, well, perhaps so. Though I suspect that in a UK context whether in or out of a larger SD formation getting elected reps at national level (and even local level) is no picnic.

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Jolly Red Giant - February 17, 2020

To the best of my knowledge the SWN no longer has a functioning internal life – while the leadership of PBP might all be SWN members, PBP is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a revolutionary organisation. Internationally the IST has followed a similar path – even tagging themselves as ‘anti-capitalist’ in many countries. The SWN have gone down the electoralist path, focusing almost exclusively on elections – and that is a clear and fundamental change in political outlook.

Am I wrong in interpreting – ‘I think it’s important to keep in mind the relative weight of different affiliates to the then CWI (or indeed the success of otherwise of those other affiliates in gaining any elected representatives)’ – as a suggestion that entryism was a key factor in getting elected representatives? Because your response suggests that you are now trying to square the circle when I demonstrated that most of the electoral success took place outside the social democracies.

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WorldbyStorm - February 17, 2020

How can you tell whether the SWN has or has not an internal life, given that you are a member of a rival organisation? But you’re missing the point here. It’s irrelevant whether PBP is a ‘revolutionary’ organisation. What we are talking about here is something much simpler. I think one has to look at this from a logical and materialist perspective as distinct from one inflected by partisanship.

Logically if an organisation effectively controls a larger, broader but more diffuse organisation, particularly when most elected reps for that larger organisation share a common home in the smaller organisation then maintaining a degree of consistency and control through unspoken hierarchies, prominent members, etc, etc is going to be feasible, partucarly if the smaller org retains some organisational coherence as the SWP does now as the SWN. It doesn’t even need an internal life as such, since those within it are probably in a strong enough position to now inflect the larger organisation (after all, I would presume PBP isn’t many many scales larger than the SWP as was).

This seems to me to be profoundly less difficult than the reorientation of a small org from being within a larger one to becoming an open organisation entirely autonomous and free-standing with all the concomitant requirements financially, in terms of human hours canvassing and campaigning, publicising and so forth necessary in the latter state. To take a mundane example – everyone in 1990 knew the name Labour, how many people knew the name Militant Labour? And what of the resources and economies of scale operating inside a larger organisation already long extant as against having to go out on ones own?

By the way, just for the record I think the Open Turn was both necessary and justified (even if also a tad expedient). And it doesn’t surprise me that once committed to it had certain positive upsides compared to the constraints of attempting to function inside a larger party that was ideologically and politically at odds with it.

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73. Jolly Red Giant - February 18, 2020

attempt 2

You state – ‘It’s irrelevant whether PBP is a ‘revolutionary’ organisation’ – in the context of this discussion it is far from irrelevant. There is no bigger change in the fundamental basis of a revolutionary organisation than effectively liquidating itself into a much broader formation. Maintaining ‘some organisational coherence’ is not the same as having a revolutionary organisation based on the method of the Bolsheviks. And to suggest that a revolutionary organisation ‘doesn’t even need an internal life as such’ – is absolutely dumbfounding.

Yet you believe that such a situation is ‘profoundly less difficult’ than an organised, disciplined, revolutionary organisation moving from using the tactic of entryism to operating as an open, organised, disciplined, revolutionary organisation – a practice of dropping one tactic in favour of another. The open turn was necessary in so much as the left within the social democracies collapsed with the advent of the collapse of Stalinism.

As I have already stated – which you appear to ignore – you talk about – ‘all the concomitant requirements financially, in terms of human hours canvassing and campaigning, publicising and so forth necessary in the latter state’ – when I have clearly demonstrated that these activities did not change when it came to our activity. The purpose of carrying out entry work in the LP was to attempt to push it to the left. When there was a decent left-wing within the party it was worthwhile carrying out that activity. When the LP became devoid of that same left-wing layer there was little point in remaining – as I pointed out – most of our recruitment, most of our political activity etc existed outside the LP. You say – ‘everyone in 1990 knew the name Labour, how many people knew the name Militant Labour?’ – again – what is the relevance of this to the discussion?

For some unknown you seem to believe that the Militant/CWI had to turn the world on its head to engage in the ‘open turn’ – it didn’t – in fact, in terms of the political work we were engaging in there was relatively little difference outside of the fact that we had a little more time to work with. Similarly – you appear completely lacking in understanding of the nature of a Bolshevik party and how it operates and somehow have the belief that there is little change when a Bolshevik party effectively liquidates itself into a much broader formation. I am really quite surprised by your approach – gobsmacked even.

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WorldbyStorm - February 18, 2020

I know, it’s shocking JRG, I surprise even myself.

But to take it from the top – if we are talking about power and control, which is what we are, of course, in the first instance – then the ideological content is irrelevant because the SWP/SWN clearly believes that it has sufficient control to exercise to remain compatible with its own perceived needs. And I imagine if a point is reached where it feels that the situation has beomce otherwise it will then change yet again (not unlike others), By the way you keep trying to make judgements as to what is good or bad as you see it, I’m not really interested in that aspect of this at all. Whether it is a good or a bad idea for the SWP to become the SWN is not relevant. This is about power and control and the exercise of power and control. Will this work for the SWP/SWN? I’ve no idea. Frankly I’d share your concerns – but again whether I do share them or do not is also irrelevant. We cannot know what the SWN’s approach is – or whether its structures persist, or whatever. I have my suspicions, but then I’m a sceptical kind of person. I somehow don’t think that those dedicated Marxists I’ve known in the SWP have suddenly decided that’s all over now.

Yeah, well, that’s one perception of why the Open Turn was adopted – another one is that as was inevitably going to happen, national SD and socialist parties cottoned on to what was going on, and/or decided it was impossible to have a cuckoo in the nest, consequently deciding to eject the Militant and Militant affiliated orgs from within. You’ve mentioned the aeons that Militant was in the BLP, (though on a slight tangent lets keep in mind the CWI was only founded in 1974 or so), some might think that given said inevitability of a push back that was too long. BTW, FYI Militant did actually practice entryism in the North, with the NILP, but when that failed there was no other vehicle for it that was in the slightest bit feasible, hence different approaches taken subsequently.

Speaking of which, and speaking of the resources of larger organisations within which Militant was organised, you’ll no doubt be aware that LPYS delegates who were Militant members went hither and yon on the BLPs coin across Europe to conferences and meetings and so on in the 1970s and 1980s. A small but far from unimportant example of the utility of being within a larger group and leveraging the resources of the larger group. More fools the BLP is my view.

BTW you offer two contradictory reasons for entryism in the LP. One that you can push the party to the left – secondly quoting me that you are carrying out canvassing campaigning publicising and so on. But the real problem is you were doing the latter for the LP(s), whose programme was utterly different and could no way satisfy the ‘left’ that you or Militant believe in (or indeed the left that I believe in either come to think of it!), would not indeed come close to doing so in programmatic terms at any point either during the 1970s or after. And of course there’s a further contradiction – because for all the work you say that was being done the left wing layer actually vanished (though I don’t think that’s entirely true – more accurate would be that the left wing layer changed its orientation or later went into retreat or internal exile). So what particular value was that ‘work’ if the outcomes were so minimal? After all it was decades that Mt was in the BLP. And what happens? We wind up with a thoroughly Blair inflected party.

The point about who knew the names of the different orgs is a basic one. In Labour, the Militant tendency was part of a bigger better known entity. Outside as Militant Labour it had to start from scratch in terms of building knowledge and familiarity amongst voters. Which by the way is another change you don’t actually appear to appreciate even though your own words point to it. If the primary task of Militant was to shift the LP leftwards, as you claim it was, that is a distinctly different task to engaging directly with voters on your programme. They’re simply two different things completely. And this completely undercuts your later point that the open turn didn’t turn the world on its head. Of course it had to, – in the Irish example if you were canvassing on behalf of the ILP you were canvassing not on Militant’s programme but on the ILPs programme – you were having to preach its centrist wishy washy approach, whatever your own beliefs. As part of Militant Labour and later the Socialist Party you were out on your own having to go directly to the people with your own programme. Now me, I consider that not just a huge change, but also a vast improvement.

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74. Jolly Red Giant - February 19, 2020

Second attempt –

Okay – let’s take this step by step – and I will leave the SWP/PBP stuff to last.

1. You repeatedly attempt to view the issue of the ‘open turn’ in isolation of the political developments taking place internationally – namely the collapse of Stalinism which was evident from the mid-1980s. The collapse of Stalinism had a profound effect on every organisation that proclaimed to be Marxist and on every single social democratic organisation globally – including having a significant impact on the CWI as the key factor that led to the split with Grant/Woods. This collapse saw the effective collapse of groups like the WP, the demise of several Trotskyist groups in Ireland (e.g. LWR, IWG), the virtual collapse of CPs around the globe – and importantly, the collapse of the left within the social democracies, including the LP in Ireland. The Labour Left grouping in Ireland, organised around Stagg, Higgins, Taylor, was driven by former CP/TU elements like Sam Nolan (and it even included Joan Burton) – all of whom expressed opposition to coalition and an intent on building the LP as a left-wing party. Almost overnight this entire cohort went over to the side of neo-liberalism – they all adopted the view, Stalinism is death, capitalism has won, we need to switch sides. It became so pronounced that it was the left in the LP that led the campaign of expulsion against Militant members.

2. Exactly the same thing happened in the BLP – with a handful of honourable exceptions. But the reality was that by the late 1980s the left in the BLP had either collapsed or had become neutered (like Corbyn and Skinner). You claim that the Militant was in the BLP for ‘aeons’ – not the case – at its full extent it was 25 years – and it began because of the base we gained during the apprentice strike in the early 1960s, activists who were in the LP, and was quite haphazard in the first few years. Indeed, initially the focus of entryism was the LPYS rather than the LP. The only reason the right in the LP were able to push against the Militant was because of the collapse of the left. Now, if after the expulsion of the Militant the LPs still had a significant left-wing and the potential existed for the LPs to be moved to the left, we would have continued to orientate towards those parties – but they didn’t and that is what necessitated the ‘open turn’.

3. The Militant did not conduct organised entry work in the NILP. By 1970 the NILP had adopted a unionist position and by 1972 had all but collapsed. The Militant did maintain a limited presence within the NILP for a period because there were a handful of worker militants within the party that we wanted to maintain links with, but once we convinced them (and it took some time) to abandon the NILP the dye was cast. The work we conducted in the NILP was nothing like the work we conducted in the Irish LP – and was conducted for very different reasons (there was no prospect of shifting the political position of the NILP from unionism to the left).

4. You are correct – and I have stated this – there were benefits of conducting entry work in the social democracies where we carried out such work. And you are also correct that the LPYS was the main area of our activity. One of the biggest mistakes the BLP actually made was appointing then Militant member, Andy Bevin, as the LP’s Youth Officer. Particularly the influence of the Militant in the LPYS facilitated making contact with people in Sweden and later in Greece who are now part of International Socialist Alternative. Like all political entry work – it had its advantages and its disadvantages and the benefits or not are fluid depending on the situation at any given time.

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Jolly Red Giant - February 19, 2020

5. I did not give two ‘contradictory reasons’ for entry work in the LP. The reason was to work with existing left activists and push the LP to the left. The canvassing for LP candidates was a by-product of membership. It really didn’t make any difference who the candidate was in terms of how we approached the work – except in the rare circumstances where the candidate was a member of the Militant (in such a situation we could openly promote and recruit to the Militant). When canvassing we sold the ‘Militant’, publicised Militant and Labour Youth activities and, when possible attempted to recruit people to the Militant.

6. You are incorrect about the LP programme. Particularly from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s the LP in Ireland had a very left-wing programme adopted at conference – a programme systematically ignored by the LP leadership. During those years the LP conference regularly passed motions proposed by Militant delegates on nationalisation, workers democracy, the CWI’s position on the national question etc. In 1974 I seconded a motion at the LP conference demanding the sacking of Liam Kavanagh as Minister for the Environment for imposing water charges and bin charges – a motion that was supported by about 90% of the delegates. At LP conference we organised Militant and TU fringe meetings, openly sold the ‘Militant’ etc. When canvassing the right-wing could say diddly-squat to us because were could simply point to policy as decided by the LP conference.

7. Although I suspect you mean it as a criticism – you are correct – the left-wing layer did vanished, and the social democracies swung dramatically towards neo-liberalism. It happened very quickly and it was directly as a result of the collapse of Stalinism – the disillusionment across an entire layer of left activists was palpable – and, like I said, it happened not only within the social democracies, but within the trade union movement, within Stalinist organisations and even within Trotskyist organisations. If anything, those on the far-left underestimated and continue to underestimate the impact of the collapse of Stalinism and the propaganda benefit to the capitalist class that resulted from it.

8. After the open turn we didn’t have to start from scratch. In the areas where we had consistently conducted political work knew who we were – we were continuing to sell the ‘Militant’ – use the term in ‘Militant Labour’ and we were able to slowly build on it. Joe Higgins was elected to the council in 1991 (as an independent because we weren’t registered) with all his material carrying the term ‘Militant Labour’. The same thing happened during the 1992 general election and again in the 1996 DW by-election. Once more – you are trying to square the circle to justify your narrative.

9. Lastly – on the SWP – this discussion started from your assertion that entryism was a ‘principle’ – or as you term it, a ‘functional principle’. You continue to assert that the decision of the SWP to abandon their revolutionary party to build the broader PBP is a lesser change than the Militant dropping the tactic of entryism in Britain and Ireland in the early 1990s. You now compound this by stating that the ‘ideological content’ is irrelevant. Spending decades as a self-described revolutionary Marxist party and then declaring that you are going to effectively dissolve this revolutionary party into a broad electoralist formation, with the intent of building the broader electoralist formation – is a clear and fundamental change in the outlook of the party (particularly from a group who condemned the Militant and Socialist Party for even standing in elections). You are either a revolutionary Marxist party or you are not – the SWN themselves do not describe PBP as a revolutionary Marxist party – nor do they describe the SWN itself in such a fashion. One of the founding principles of any revolutionary Marxist party is that it will maintain its own separate and distinct revolutionary organisation when working in broader formations.

Of relevance here is the evolution of Scottish Militant Labour into the Scottish Socialist Party. Scottish Militant Labour grew rapidly during and after the anti-poll tax campaign in Scotland – including scoring significant electoral advances. As a result, SML came under significant electoralist pressures (including from left activists who were not members of SML). The leadership of SML proposed effectively dissolving SML into a new broad formation that would be built out of the Scottish Socialist Alliance. SML branches would become SSP branches, the SML fulltime apparatus and infrastructure would transfer over to the SSP etc. Crucially the SSP would not affiliate to the CWI. In response, the CWI suggested other options – that SML should re-launch as the Scottish Socialist Party and maintain its revolutionary organisation and outlook and affiliate to the CWI – or – launch the SSP as a broad formation with SML (under a new name) affiliated to it, while maintaining its revolutionary organisation and outlook. The leadership of SML rejected both these options – and dissolved SML into the SSP. A small group of members of SML decided to maintain a revolutionary Marxist group and affiliated to the SSP, while maintaining affiliation to the CWI. We argued at the time that the SSP would inevitable succumb to electoralism and move politically to the right (and eventually accommodating itself to Scottish nationalism) – what we couldn’t foresee was the collapse of the SSP under personality conflicts and the destruction of a left party with significant electoral support.

Now – how is this relevant – well the SWP have effectively gone down the same route as Scottish Militant Labour did over 20 years ago. The same electoralist pressures have influenced this approach. Since the devolution of the SWP into SWN, PBP have slowly drifted to the right in a more opportunist and electoralist manner. It is not a big stretch of the imagination to suggest that PBP will adopt a more nationalist approach to its politics and will continue to water down aspects of its programme. You argue that in certain circumstance the SWN could ‘change again’ – by which I assume they could decide to re-establish a revolutionary Marxist organisation. If this did happen, it would be a second fundamental change of political principle. It could not be ruled out – but history has shown us that this would be extremely difficult. Once you abandon revolutionary Marxism it is very hard to row back on it – there are far too many political pressures at play – and once you start focussing exclusively on electoral politics you are likely to get sucked right in. If anything was to happen in reversal, it would be more likely that a small section of the SWN would split away and form a new group, than any reversal of approach from the SWN as a whole.

It is important to recognise that the Irish working class need a new mass party. This party will not be built out of the existing left parties and/or left independents – it will be built in the course of class struggle. Opportunities will emerge – like with the campaign against water charges – that could lead to the building of this mass party, but it will not happen automatically and the forces of the left have to be conscious not to try and pre-empt this movement or to bend too much in electoral terms in trying to achieve it. But also crucial in terms of the class struggle is the need to build a revolutionary Marxist organisation – history has shown the necessity of such an organisation to assist the working class in achieving economic, social and political emancipation. I don’t give a fiddlers which revolutionary organisation is successful in achieving this objective – I am a member of the Socialist Party and International Socialist Alternative because I believe that, at this juncture, it is the revolutionary organisation most likely to play that role.

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WorldbyStorm - February 19, 2020

1 Don’t agree with that at all. There was no collapse of Stalinism evident from the mid-1980s – though the regimes were ossified. In truth there’s an historical consensus that the withdrawal from Eastern Europe and demise of the USSR came as a complete surprise both to orthodox regimes in those states and to the CPSU – and I’ve spent by the way the last year tracing the trajectory of the events of 1988/89 on this very site and reading into the topic. You’re mistaking a ‘collapse’ with significant changes within the system, ‘perestroika’ and ‘glasnost’. Those are two completely different things.

And you’re collapsing the time line as well. The split in Militant occurred in April 1991, the end of the USSR was in December 1991 and even two to three months out from that end the shape and indeed name of the successor state was not clear – there was a chance that the USSR would continue to exist (albeit in name only). The US until mid to late 1991 was still supporting Gorbachev over Yeltsin. It was only in the Autumn of that year that there was a decisive shift to Yeltsin. Without question there was a democratisation within the USSR during the 1989 – 1991 period, but it was partial and it was limited and it wasn’t clear what the limits in the short to medium term might be.

There’s a huge body of historical work on this which is well worth reading.

As to the impacts on the left – the WP during the period of perestroika and glasnost saw its best showing in 1989. It did fall back somewhat at the subsequent local election, but it was internal pressures between different power centres within the party that caused its split, and indeed the inability of ‘reformists’ to carry the day at the end. Furthermore CPs did not simply collapse but many/most transformed into fairly run of the mill SD parties. Certainly there were impacts, that transformation was driven by same, but they occurred a bit further down the line than you suggest – and conversely while there was demoralisation, it wasn’t universal, new formations emerged attempting to stake out territory between Leninism and social democracy and so on.

So I think it is fairer to say that the actual shifts in the left occurred towards the early to the middle of the 1990s, in part because of the need to gain power (in say the UK etc) after rightwing governments, etc with an approach that unfortunately seemed to try to offer a softer gentler right of centre politics (with in fairness some redistribution fairly well hidden). I’d think the effects of the late 1980s took that long to work through.

2. I use the word ‘aeons’ facetiously. By the way that’s almost a distinction without meaning, entryism into the LPYS rather than the LP. Frankly I’d disagree that ‘the only reason the right etc’ was because of the collapse of the left. Large sections of the left clearly disagree with Militant being in the LP. And rightly so. But what necessitated the open turn was the fact Mt had been expelled. What else could it do? If its one vehicle to enter had barred the doors it had no other home to go to.

3. What precisely is the difference between entryism and ‘organised’ entryism? And even if the work was different in the two instances so what? We’re talking about very different organisations – the NILP clearly being a lot more fragile and organisation than the ILP.

4. Glad to agree.

5. I don’t see how ‘canvassing ’for LP candidates can be seen simply as a ‘by-product’. It’s fundamental if one is in a larger group that one will have to adopt to the ways of the larger group to a greater or lesser extent. In this instance Mt was by all accounts I’ve read a group that adapted in respect of day to day activity to a greater extent, while in terms of losing its identity to a lesser extent.

6. It was still a reformist programme, as Mt would see it. Quite inadequate to a genuinely M-L project. And that’s before we get to the usual gap between, as you rightly say, a programme and the manner in which it is actually applied (which is to say sparingly, to put it at its kindest). So in basic terms Mt was a party within a party that had a programme that was limited, but that in practice was effectively never applied.

7. Actually I agree with you completely re the gift the end of the USSR and actually existing socialism was to the right, and I say that as someone who wouldn’t be much of a fan of the USSR or ‘aes’.

8. I’ve seen at close hand the establishment of six or seven new political parties or groupings. I think you massively understate the challenges of doing this and what it entails. I fear we’ll just have to differ on that.

9. I’m not disputing that the SWP/SWN shift is not a significant change or even fundamental. I’m saying that it is a lesser order of a change than that undertaken by Mt. But reread this ‘One of the founding principles of any revolutionary Marxist party is that it will maintain its own separate and distinct revolutionary organisation when working in broader formations.’

Hmmm… perhaps SWN to itself considers itself still a revolutionary Marxist organisation albeit one now working within PBP. You and I cannot tell if that is the case any more than many people involved in the BLP or LP could be certain what the story was with Militant back in the day. Just because they’re not telling us doesn’t mean they’ve abandoned their form.

BTW, again, I’m not making a value judgement about the SWN’s own turn. You could well be right re your outline of the SSP’s trajectory. I’m simply saying that to take on face value any of this – particularly in your instance given you’ve been an entryist and then an open turner, is perhaps a mistake.

I will agree with you that once an org abandons either a concealed or open attachment to M-L politics it is likely that organisation will ‘soften’. But I don’t think we can be sure what the story is with SWN.

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75. Paddy Healy - February 19, 2020

The outcome of the election is indeed remarkable. There is a crisis of rule of the Free State capitalists. Tweedledum followed by Tweedledee + Labour is no longer available. But is it a sign of a bigger and more powerful process at work in society, which could generate even bigger events??
Marxists masters have taught us that major working class revolts rarely occur in the depths of a capitalist recession. There is no point in taking strike action after the company has closed down. Major revolts usually take place during the capitalist recovery which brings relative scarcity of labour and stronger bargaining power for workers.
Nobody, including SF, expected the extent of the surge. Whole communities, grabbed hold of Sinn Féin as a weapon to strike FG and Fianna Fáil. The savage inequality of the recovery provoked a widespread response and not only among the poorest workers. Commuters, renters, those in need of health care, etc etc revolted against neglect while the super-rich coined it and were facilitated in doing so by Government.
Sinn Féin became the vehicle of the rebels because the Labour Party and the capitulatory trade union leaderships were not available.
Could current electoral events be the forerunner of a wave of unnoficial strikes? The chances of the demands of those in revolt being met through parliament are zero.

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