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Personality differences? April 7, 2021

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
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Reading this from the Examiner, an overview of the situation of the Labour Party, becalmed at a 4% of the vote, there was one paragraph which really stood out:

Should no significant improvement materialise in the short run for Labour, the calls for a merger with the Social Democrats are only sure to intensify.

With virtually nothing to distinguish the parties in terms of policy, the clear impediment to any sort of merger is personality, particularly that of Róisín Shortall, who left Labour in acrimonious circumstances.

It is never possible to limit the reasons why people do or do not decide to vote a certain way.

Is that correct, that the differences and distinctions between the party can be boiled down to one personality in the SDs? I’d have thought that the SDs were if not markedly different, then sufficiently different to have an identity of their own. But what do people think?

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1. Sarah - April 7, 2021

How different?

The SDs European Parliament candidate said he would sit in the same group that labour would sit in. There are some personality difficulties – Shortall and Murphy and many others dont like labour. Many in the SDs dont like Kelly. Are there major policy differences? Their attitude to SF would be different, Water charges maybe. Anything else?

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WorldbyStorm - April 7, 2021

Agree, the North is a clear point of divergence. I think though from talking to people in both the LPers think there’s little or no difference but the SDs beg to differ. In some ways I wonder is that a dynamic that could persist, after all, look at SF absent a UI and in some ways it too is on much the same ground, albeit up to now a bit further to the left. No meeting of minds between SF and the LP so perhaps a similar if not the same dynamic will exist between SD/LP.

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2. Fergal - April 7, 2021

SDs have never propped up a right-wing government… and look open to some anybody but Ff/fg in the future…
Labour have
And have ruled out any anti fg/ff bloc in the future…??
Indeed, Pronsias De Rossa was egging Labour on to join the govt. last year… how many parties can one old stick destroy in a lifetime?

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3. Paul Culloty - April 7, 2021

Interestingly, Irish Election Projections wrote a post on Vote Left, Transfer Left this week, and the Soc Dems emerged as the party who most followed through on the message, with over 70% of their transfers staying on the left, with Labour on roughly 50%:

https://irishelectionprojections.com/2021/04/05/the-impact-of-vote-left-transfer-left-in-ge2020/

Also, with the membership age profile somewhat younger than Labour’s, resistance to a coalition with either FG or FF would be more significant among the SDs.

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Colm B - April 7, 2021

The SD have never ruled out going into coalition with right wing parties. Stating that your preference is to go into gov with other centre left parties is not the same as ruling out coalition with right wing ones.

There isn’t a whit of difference policy wise. The only difference I can perceive is that the SDs are Labour without the baggage, a good deal better with image/ PR and a good deal more popular with the NGO liberal left types.

Like Labour, they are a social liberal party, with no aspirations towards radical transformation of society or even a left reformist agenda of gradual but deep reforms aimed at long term transformation. It is only a matter of time before the the two parties merge. SDLP anyone?

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4. banjoagbeanjoe - April 7, 2021

What would be in it for the SDs though?
A young, vibrant growing plant grafted on to a dying, rotten, cankered oul thing. The rot spreads to the young bit and the whole thing dies.

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WorldbyStorm - April 7, 2021

I think that is a key question for the SDs – what would they benefit from a merger? It’s interesting too, one could make an argument that the fact they’re two separate organisations keeps the SDs somewhat further to the left than the LP.

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5. roddy - April 7, 2021

SD members online seem OK to me. Can’t say that about their leadership,especially Murphy.She joins in the SF bashing whole heartedly when she gets the chance.

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6. NFB - April 7, 2021

There is still no benefit to a merger for the SD’s, and little possibility of one in the short to medium term. The party is full of people burned by Labour to varying degrees, and I’m sure they will be hoping to hoover up Green votes in the next election and supplant Labour even more.

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WorldbyStorm - April 7, 2021

Yeah, that’s a great point. Look at a number of their councillors who had themselves departed the LP during the 2010s. I’ve no sense they’ve an appetite to rejoin.

It really is one of those cases where on paper a merger seems logical but dig into the histories and even the trajectories of the parties and suddenly it all looks a bit shakier.

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Colm B - April 7, 2021

I don’t think it would be a case of the SDs joining Labour a la DL. I think it would be much more likely that they merge to form a new party or alliance.

The differences are real but they are not policy or ideological differences. The other factors such as personalities, former membership of Labour etc. fade with time. Another bad election for Labour with the SDs gaining ground would definitely bring merger closer.

The SDs strike me as DL mark2. Slicker, larger, but still that same middle class, liberal left vibe.

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Colm B - April 7, 2021

Just check out their public reps profiles on their website – it’s all NGO, business types. Hardly any frontline staff, nurses, service workers etc.
I’m not saying that an individual should be defined politically by their job, I am saying that if there’s a social pattern in who’s in a party then it will influence the politics of that party.

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WorldbyStorm - April 7, 2021

Completely agree, social patterns will inflect a party and further down the line an alliance might indeed be the way they’d do it. But my sense from those inside it is that they do see themselves as distinct from and – I don’t know if this is the word they’d use – more radical, certainly more leftwing (and while I get your point re them not being transformational and in that sense close to the LP I wonder if within the world of non-transformational left politics if the distance between parties, perceived difference, can be greater than might be expected for a whole range of reasons- for example the GP left isn’t that far adrift the SDs isn’t that far adrift parts of the LP, isn’t that far adrift some in SF and yet all those different cohorts have been and will continue to be in different political parties. Or to look at it from the right, the PDs, FF and FG all had significant cohorts within them who would have slotted neatly into any of those three parties and yet, again, they managed to remain distinct – the PDs being closest to the LP/SD form/size, and that would of course support your contention that smaller parties that are more similar will likely draw together). I think that might delay a merger for a while. And depending what happens to the LP for perhaps a long time.

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Colm B - April 7, 2021

Though the numbers were small, the exit poll for the IT after the last general election showed a clear skew towards the AB “class” in the SD vote. I know that defintion of class is crude but it does indicate a clear difference from the class base of SF or the radical left parties. More like the Green Party in terms of personnel and support but, to be fair to the SDs, without that unique mixture of opportunism and naiveté that charatcerise the Irish Greens.

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WorldbyStorm - April 7, 2021

Surely, not arguing against their likely class base being all over the shop. Then again, I’m always minded of the fact that FF was by some measures the most representative party of the southern working class at its peak. One hopes that class and representatives/party are in alignment but it’s not always so (DL is interesting in that way, it seemed to draw away sharply from the working class base that it had even in the short time of its existence – but I could never see a plausible argument that it had any sense of who would replace that base).

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WorldbyStorm - April 7, 2021

By the way I’m not trying to make the case the SDs are a radical party. More that they seem to have some aspects distinct from the LP, which isn’t exactly a difficult feat.

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7. crocodileshoes - April 7, 2021

Teachers, nurses, other frontline staff casting about for a party to represent their interests. The SDs should put public service pay and conditions at the forefront of their next election manifesto. With the right candidates they can pick up votes from Labour, the Greens and centre/left independents. Maybe FF too if their spiral continues. Also people who voted SF last time out of distaste for parties who’d coalesce with FG and/or FF. Tactically, they should put Shortall and Murphy forward less often and let us hear more of Gannon, Cairns, Whitmore. They should thank their stars that Donnelly left. With 15 seats they’d be an interesting force in opposition.

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WorldbyStorm - April 7, 2021

That’d be an interesting niche for them to occupy. Definitely, Donnelly leaving was a real fillip for them.

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Colm B - April 7, 2021
banjoagbeanjoe - April 7, 2021

“Teachers, nurses, other frontline staff casting about for a party to represent their interests. The SDs should put public service pay and conditions at the forefront of their next election manifesto.”

Thing is though… is there not a bit of, not an anti-union vibe, but an arms-length away from the unions vibe about the SDs? Related to that aforementioned preponderance of small business liberal entrepreneur and NGO types among their membership and cllrs etc? So the SDs mightn’t be inclined to put public service pay to the forefront.
Labour would of course. But they’re shagged. Which leaves SF to sweep up the public sector vote.

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sonofstan - April 7, 2021

“Which leaves SF to sweep up the public sector vote”

Do you think they do?

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pettyburgess - April 7, 2021

I think they will do in the near future

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WorldbyStorm - April 7, 2021

I wonder if they’re beginning to – anecdata here but hearing a lot of people working in the PS I know who were soft left FF or LP voters who hated SF because of the conflict turn towards them in last year or two. I was surprised but if they go that way then why not others?

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6to5against - April 7, 2021

That’s my read, as well wbs.

There are two prongs to this.

The older cohort were really badly hurt by the pay-cuts/austerity era assaults on the public service with all of the vilification that went with it. People who had been solid FF voters in particular deserted them at that stage, and I think have gravitated towards SF to a large extent.

And the younger cohort are much less likely to have a problem with Sf to begin with, and see them as being the obvious alternative to the establishment parties.

All very anecdotal, I know.

And SF have been very good at taking political lines that are respectful to PS workers – without looking like they’re union mouthpieces.

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WorldbyStorm - April 7, 2021

6to5against, your point re the younger cohort is spot on, at least in what I hear. People’s kids, now in their 20s, are very pro-SF, and that’s been – as it were, a means of softening their parents attitudes. And of course the simple march of time. The GFA is what, almost a quarter of a century old? There’s good and bad reasons to critique and criticise SF, but the IRA aspect is receding into the distance, at least functionally in the south.

+1 re the respectful attitude to PS workers. And Cullinane, O’Reilly et al in particular are good.

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8. Roger Cole - April 7, 2021

I was on the Labour Party National Executive years ago and Róisín and I were the only two to vote against the merger with Democratic Left. It went ahead, but it did not result in a major long term growth of the Labour Party. So what would be the evidence that a merger between the SD’s and the Labour Party be any different?

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9. oliverbohs - April 7, 2021

We’ve had at least 90 years of the vanity of small differences dictating the ‘differences’ between the two major parties, so really WGAF about two small bourgeois centre-left parties

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WorldbyStorm - April 7, 2021

It passes the time during lockdown 😉

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Colm B - April 7, 2021

I think it worth going a F, because fake radical parties like the SDs and Greens have a negative impact on the struggle for socialism: by attracting young naive voters, by pulling single issue campaigns and campaigners to the right, by sowing illusions in reformism etc etc.
The liberal media love these types of parties, which they will contrast with the “unrealistic” radical left.

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Colm B - April 7, 2021

“giving” not “going’

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10. pettyburgess - April 7, 2021

There is absolutely no meaningful difference between the two parties politically or strategically. The two memberships see themselves quite differently however, with Labour people convinced of their deep pragmatism and good sense and rank and file SocDems convinced of their own saintly good intentions.

There won’t be a merger before the SocDems have the chance to destroy themselves in a right wing coalition. The whole point of the party is to offer liberals a voting outlet unsullied by the consequences of their own politics. They gain absolutely nothing by adopting Labour’s taint.

At the moment they prosper by offering liberals an image of what they would like to be, without the reminder of what they actually are. A merger with Labour, or the Greens, would rub those voters noses in stinky reality. Why would they do it?

The SocDems will have nothing to do with a merger. They will hoover up the most naive former Labour and former Green voters and their members will continue to slowly displace those of Lab and the Greens from NGOs and the more timid sort of campaign groups. Then at some point they will go into a business as usual coalition, their voters will turn on them and we will again spin the giant wheel of useless Irish liberalism. What colour will come up next? Red? Green? Purple? Maybe it will be time for a new, unsullied, fourth shade?

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crocodileshoes - April 7, 2021

A couple of elections ago I told my SD candidate – a good person and a worthy politician – that I’d give the SDs a preference on one condition: that she could convince me they’d never go into coalition with FF or FG. It was like that bit in the bible where the rich man can’t give up his riches. She couldn’t make that promise and went off in a huff.

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11. irishelectionliterature - April 7, 2021

From my own experience they are very different parties membership wise. The Labour membership is an awful lot older than the SD membership. As said already the SDs are untainted by involvement in Government. Whilst there are some ex Labour folk in the SDs, a large number of the membership were people who got involved with the Marriage Equality and Repeal campaigns and subsequently decided to join a Party and the SDs suited them.
I really can’t see a merger in the next ten years at least.

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Colm B - April 7, 2021

Merger within two elections max, I’d guess.

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