Friday, May 11, 2007

A spokesman whistling in the dark

Malcolm's bile reached critical levels when, thanks to a redirection from Slugger O'Toole, he discovered the crystalline (and outdated) logic of Spokesman for the Opposition:
A political blog highlighting the issues that politicians prefer to dodge, intellectual, humourous [sic], down-to-earth. Spokesman was over 20 years a journalist.
Aaargh! A journalist but never a sub-editor.

Spokesman predicts:
74 seats for Fianna Fail, and 9 seats for Sinn Fein, this adds up to the magic figure of 83 seats - a majority of one seat in Dail Eireann - and they will be backed up by another 8 Independents, so when all is said and done, that's your new government, a Fianna Fail-Sinn Fein coalition.
And this will result in:
the best ever [Government] in the history of Ireland in tackling poverty in Ireland - the most important onjective [sic] of all for any new government.
At this juncture Malcolm's Brooklyn-born son-in-law might well say: "Blow it out your arse!"

Let's change direction for a moment.

When Malcolm was at school, Charles II was supposed to have said “Let sleeping dogs lie”. Only later, Malcolm discovered this was another schoolman's lie: the actual royal utterance was more alliterative: “A stirred turd stinks.”

That ought to be enough to persuade Malcolm to keep stumm on this one.

However ...

1. Any alliance between FF and SF would invite all jobbing cartoonists to parody David Low’s “Rendezvous” cartoon:

2. “[T]he best ever in the history of Ireland in tackling poverty in Ireland...” Heaven help us! That possibility existed at the time of the 13th Dáil, with the coalition of Fine Gael and the progressives in the "First Inter-Party Government" of 1948-51:

The coalition government ... deserves recognition as a reforming administration and not just as the one that presided over the declaration of the Republic, the Mother and Child controversy ... and the internal squabbling of Clann na Poblachta. [Ferriter, page 482]
That government (and all its laudable aims) foundered on the clericalism of Seán MacBride and the opportunism of de Valera. Its lasting achievement amounted to what Liam O'Bríain called:

the arresting of the Führer mentality which had reached such dangerous heights in that section of the Irish people — the infallibility and superhuman quality of Dev. [Ferriter, page 483]

Any fantasist who has not read (for example) Diarmaid Ferriter still cannot be excused from noticing just how badly a decade of FF has been for the under-class. Equally, Sinn Féin has no track record of attaining social improvement. Any incoming Government will be dependent on the volatile votes of the newly-affluent bourgeoisie of the Dublin metropolis, who in turn are dependent on property values, inward investment and a frothy economy. On what grounds can we expect the tiger to change its stripes?

No. Definitely no. The next Irish social revolution is not yet. The next Dáil, whatever the complexion of the government bench, is the recipé as before.

So, Malcolm suggests:
  • See tomorrow's Irish Times poll (spoiler at This suggests little movement: FF @ 36%∧; FG @ 28%∨; Labour @ 13%∧; and SF @ 10%=.
  • 73 seats for FF? Surely, you're joking!
  • Don't expect great shifts on this until the final few days, if then (E&OE).
  • Certainly don't expect any bounce for SF from the events up North.
  • If total torpor sets in, watch the other radical vote: Labour (if only!) and even the Trots, but not SF much above 10%. Remember, too, this is a young electorate, and beards are not "cool".
  • Overall, on any basis here, the revolution is postponed.

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yourcousin said...

I believe that El Blogador already used that cartoon when refering to the DUP/SF deal up north. I would link to it but can't figure out how to do the whole link thing in a comment.

Also I am in agreement that this blogger/journalist is full of shit. Gerry Adams may be shit when it comes to leading south of the border but he is still a shrewd political tactician and going into government now would destroy any possibility they have in the future as an opposition party (ie where they get their votes).

Far better to let Labor sell out with the Greens in the rainbow or a FF led coalition and watch them flounder as SF will remain the only leftist party out of government and will be there to pick up the disillusioned leftist votes. And believe me when the tiger cools and labor and/or the greens are in government the disillusionment will be deep.

Malcolm Redfellow said...

I missed the El Blogador item. It's not just "great minds thinking alike" — those Low, Zec and (a bit later) Vicky cartoons are branded into the perceptions of mine and the previous generation. Apologies, though, for lack of originality.

Adams is, admittedly, a great manipulator and snake-oil salesman. Quite where SF can position itself in the RoI's future puzzles me. Perhaps, with Stormont up-and-running, SF may have lost its unique-selling-point. The political spectrum is both crowded and fragmented. That's why, when the tiger starts to croak, I too expect a major fall-out.

FF have most closely identified themselves with the current boom. So I totally applaud your final sentence. It would need fancy footwork not equally to get blamed for any bust (likely cause: the need for the EuroBankers to hoick interest rates?). That's not going to be this electoral cycle, as you say.

And, no: SF will not be the "only leftist party left out of government". Joe Higgins should be a shoo-in for Dublin West (over 21% of first preferences last time). Clare Daly looks an attractive prospect in Dublin North (she just missed the cut in 2002). They may be loathsome trots, but they are capable of punching above their weight.

yourcousin said...

Joe Higgins does not a party a make. I must admit that though, even from over here I like him. You're quite right that the SP TD is quite capable of punching above his weight class. I admired the work he did with the GAMA workers. I laughed alot when he rattled Bertie's cage enough to receive a rather unprofessional rebuke when he questioned Bertie on his ties to the construction industry.

My point is this though, on a good day the Socialist party result will be the same a PD meltdown so that's hardly coming into play as a left wing kingmaker.

When the times comes and you poor bastards are like me (owing thirty thousand after selling a house) things will change. I admit that it will be the dominant party in the coalition taking the biggest hit but the junior partner will definitely be tainted in the eyes of the government voter and by their very presence in government will untouchable to the oppposition voter.

Noting that it will be a cooling period (most likely) and not an all out crash I find it hard to believe that a hardcore socialist vote will develop anymore than I believe that Labor (on either side of the English channel) are genuine representatives on the left.

I think it might actually be a blessing for FF to be out of government right now if only to be able to blame FG for "killing" the tiger. Now anyone with a basic grasp of economics will know that this argument is shit, but then we're not trying to convince economists but an electorate which is an entirely different ball game.

As for SF in the ROI. They're prospects are excellent as long they know their limits (which I believe they do). You're puzzled because you want to treat them like any other party in the ROI (at least that is my take and I am open to correction). They are an NI party and play themselves in the ROI accordingly. This is not to say that the Southern membership does not have an individual identity which has a tendency (at least in Dublin) to be more ideologically left wing, but it's heart and soul is up North (hence the overwhelming approval at the special Ard Fheis).

After this election is over SF will be an umbrella party set to catch up any votes lost to labor and FF. Martin Ferris is the traditional republican, Mary Lou will be the polite middle class vote and Sean Crowe can play the softer gentler variety of socialist in Dublin South West. Also that's only talking about the one gain they should make (though I honestly preferred Nicky Kehoe). I wanted to tackle your view that Sinn Fein by going into government in the north are going to undermine their electoral campaign in the south. I think that a functioning government in the six counties would undermine the rhetoric about SF economics and how they would be the doom of us all.

Ah fuck I've flat run out of time and have to run and do shit more later, maybe...

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