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Building the narrative around the election… February 25, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Jennifer Bray on the IT podcast had a good point about the current dynamics in play politically. She said that the manner in which FF and FG are saying to SF ‘go make a government now’ is potentially counterproductive in that all three parties came in at near enough the same seat numbers. And that therefore Fine Gael stepping back from the process, and Fianna Fáil too, is not a good look for them with voters.

And she has a point – certainly Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael could, if they so wished make a greater effort. But she noted that part of this is in a way to attack SF (natch!) and leave them hanging there, unable to cobble together, at least at this point or so it appears, a government and therefore allow the other two parties to swoop in a little further down the line with either a renewed ‘arrangement’ or perhaps even grand or national coalition.

And of course the time that SF is involved in trying to build some sort of administration is one where, the parties believe, a more negative focus can be brought to bear upon them and their policies. As noted in the previous post today.

It really is that cynical.


1. 1729torus - February 25, 2020

SF are picking up loads of new members from being in the spotlight. Even if this whole plan worked and SF lost all their floating votes, they’d consolidate their core vote at around 18% to 20% and be much stronger in the long run.


WorldbyStorm - February 25, 2020



2. Daire O'Criodain - February 25, 2020

Well, nature abhors a vacuum and “commentators” are paid to fill space even when we are in a political vacuum in which nothing much is really happening (that is visible at any rate). I am not an SF supporter but they hold the high ground, not just because of the highest vote, but as the only one of the three large parties to see their vote increase and also because they are at least willing to talk to anybody who will talk to them. Its hard to see any constituency beyond their own supporters that think FF and FG not talking to SF is positively a good thing and there must be some misgivings among some FF supporters, though maybe none among FG’s.

I am not sure if either FG or FF have any strategy beyond the Micawber one of hoping for something to turn up that will show them a road map to doing something that might look positive.

Right now, they have no good options. Not talking to SF looks like something they have at best an excuse for, not a justification and even if later the weather becomes sunnier towards their coming together in some way, they will know that at least one, if not both can expect retreat further as a consequence of that arrangement. And, in ways, that makes their coming together harder because its a bit of a Molotov – Ribbentrop pact.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - February 25, 2020

I think that’s it largely – the hope something will turn up. That said I also think some are pushing hard for an FF/FG government leavened slightly by either GP or IND participation.

And you raise a very interesting point, how does this play more widely.


3. Dermot M O Connor - February 25, 2020

Read some typical sophistry from Alan Shatter, who seems to be infected with Blair Syndrome (the inability to realise that he’s yesterday’s man and that nobody gives a f*** what he thinks or says). Anyway, his comment was that SF ‘only’ won 25% of the vote so they don’t have the right to form a government. I guess that remains the privilege of the parties that won 21% and 20%. Planet Kookoo.

Also – and here’s the sophistric element – his willful ignoring of second preferences! If I vote FF1 and LAB2, I clearly have SOME intention of Labour being in government, even if my FP is FF. AS ignores second prefs, as of course that puts SF well ahead of 24% of voters who would want to see them in government in some capacity.

The level of gobshitery in the Irish media is massive right now, even by their pre-election standards. For all the good it may do them.

Liked by 2 people

oliverbohs - February 25, 2020

Friend of this blog Stephen Collins was coming out with similar last week, the same fella who they seem to defer to in the IT as a political “expert”. The similarity of this train of thought with the right wing Democrats across the Atlantic is obvious

Liked by 1 person

Stan - February 25, 2020

” his comment was that SF ‘only’ won 25% of the vote so they don’t have the right to form a government.”

Unlike FG in 2016 with, er, 25% of the vote?

Liked by 1 person

Daire O'Criodain - February 26, 2020

You cheeky upstart! Go down to the back of the class.


4. Jolly Red Giant - February 25, 2020

The Cork meeting probably had closer to 600 than 1000 in attendance – not really that relevant as it was a substantial meeting. It is worth noting that at the meeting Mick Barry challenged the SF leadership to rule out coalition with FFG – they refused to do so.

The rush of new members is not a surprise – but this can actually cause problems for the SF leadership as these new members will not be used to the internal political life in SF and they will have expectations of action by SF to implement ‘change’.


WorldbyStorm - February 25, 2020

I don’t think anyone said it was a surprise.


james mcbarron - February 25, 2020

Went along last night, there were 500 chairs layed out all filled then about 100 more all filled and a couple of 100 standing, so don’t know where the 600 figure comes from. Talked to a good few people I know in SF and it’s support base and then a good few lefties who attended.

My impression was very much a ground swell of working class confidence and that being channeled into SF as the vehicle to deliver a viable left project, albeit a social democratic one.

In terms of the speakers and the floor, apart from the very obvious stuff spoken from the heart by many women and men about their personal experiences in the housing crisis, health crisis etc. I got no impression that this was a rallying to nationalism. Indeed the question on a united Ireland drew imho the most interesting response from MLM. Effective rather than doubling down on the referendum now stuff she talked about the fact that the unionist majority up north was gone, that people particularly the young were talking and acting to create a new society both north and south , and that the need was for a open process of preparing for constitutional change north and south, and what sort of society we want. Sounded a lot better than we’ll fly the tricolour off Belfast city hall to me.

There is clearly a generational change within SF, in terms of the emerging leaders and membership. It is also becoming a mass party 3000 joined in last 2 weeks and 4000 more applications are being processed (Pearse Doherty) These newer members are being recruited on the basis of SFs latest left turn and will ultimately be a more significant factor in the parties development and orientation than those layers who joined on a more nationalist basis post GFA.

Sinn Fein has a choice go the direction of a mass left democratic party or attempt to imposed an authoritarian structure on these new layers of members. I think the instinct of the thinkers at the core of SF in terms of the project they set themselves is to go the mass democratic route. The reason for this is that that is the direction of the recent successful social movements in Ireland and those who have participated in them are that way inclined and not likely to last long in organisations that prefer authoritarian ways of operating.

The lefties I spoke too all talked of variations of a historic moment and the united front. The question for the left is how you orientated your self in the context of this new mass working class party. I use the term new, because it is essentially a new party in terms of strategy, tactics and too a large and growing extent membership.

Liked by 5 people

WorldbyStorm - February 25, 2020

Great overview James. Many thanks.


Jolly Red Giant - February 25, 2020

Sinn Fein is not a new mass working class party – any cursory glance at its actions in the North should make that perfectly clear.


5. CL - February 25, 2020

“This hysteria has several roots. Some evidently dislike the idea of a “northern” party holding power “down here”. Others, usually sotto voce, echo the view of the political correspondent John Drennan who once suggested that Sinn Féin supporters existed on a diet of “chips, Dutch Gold and batter burgers” – a nod to the party’s supporters being mainly working class.
The negative coverage of Sinn Féin’s breakthrough also reflects annoyance at the disruption of the two-party system, which has served as a comfort blanket for commentators who like to portray Irish politics as “non-ideological”. The result was seismic: the two major parties, which once commanded over 80% of the electorate, and defined themselves in opposition to one another, are now faced with the prospect of either coalescing or sharing power with Sinn Féin.
Despite crude efforts to paint it as part of the rise of the populist right, Sinn Féin’s success is a leftwing phenomenon. …
Early in the election a government proposal to commemorate policemen who fought against the IRA during the revolutionary period also backfired spectacularly.”-Brian Hanley


Fergal - February 25, 2020

What’s becoming clearer each day is Ff and Fg’s utter commitment to the status quo… there is only one way to do politics in the state…and it’s middle class and middle of Riad business as usual…breathtaking arrogance!


6. CL - February 25, 2020

‘the two major parties… defined themselves in opposition to one another’ B. Hanley.
For FF and FG to coalesce would involve losing, or at least lessening, their separate identity, thus exposing that the ‘alternative’ they provide is a phony one.
So their foot-dragging in forming a coalition is not because of difference in policies, or ideology, but because they are so similar to one another.

Liked by 2 people

7. irishelectionliterature - February 25, 2020

O’Cuiv was on Radio na Gaeltachta again this evening
“Before the peace process, Sinn Féin were told ‘give up the violence, get on with politics, and you’ll be accepted’ but the opposite is happening now.”
Adds “there is no IRA in charge of Sinn Féin.”

Liked by 1 person

8. CL - February 26, 2020

“A shellshocked Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are still incapable of reading the runes…
There is a long history of public meetings in Irish politics. As claimants to Daniel O’Connell’s legacy, Fine Gael should remember that…
Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are bereft because they have lost their sense of political theatre and they have lost control of the public space. …
failure to bring Sinn Féin into government now will outstrip in stupidity Eamon Gilmore’s decision to bring Labour into government in 2011.”

“Michael Marsh, a veteran analyst and emeritus professor of Trinity College Dublin, said any deal between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil would have “great significance” historically. “These were the twin poles of the party system, and people who liked one didn’t like the other. The primary difference is each one is not the other,” he said.
The policy differences between the parties were slight, Mr Marsh added. “I don’t think there are policy differences that discussions couldn’t resolve.”

FF and FG are no longer the ‘twin poles of the party system’, but they are having some difficulty adjusting to the new reality.


“Officials in Taskforce Europe, run by Johnson’s EU negotiator David Frost, are working in secret on proposals to ensure that there do not need to be checks on goods passing from Britain to Northern Ireland….
Sinn Fein, said the UK “must not be allowed to sidestep their responsibilities to protect the Good Friday Agreement and the all Ireland economy”, with its South Down MP Chris Hazzard describing the reports as “deeply concerning”…
Mr Hazzard, fearing the plans could mean a return to customs checks on the Irish border, said the UK government must not be allowed to “sidestep their responsibilities”.

That upcoming Sinn Fein rally in Newry should be interesting.


9. Gearóid Clár - February 26, 2020

In the wake of the election, I went and bought myself a copy of Rumpf and Hepburn’s Nationalism and Socialism in Twentieth-Century Ireland

I used to read it in the library when I was in university, but wanted to own a copy for myself. It’s a rare ‘un, but I would count it as one of the most informative books on Ireland ever published.

Looking at the political and social scene in Ireland during the past few weeks, one does dare to hope that we are entering a seminal period in our history, the likes of which you would ordinarily only read about in a book like Rumpf and Hepburn’s. I am talking here about a seeming coming together of progressive left-wing parties and people, not about just the rise of Sinn Féin in isolation!



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