Celebrate the moments of your life

higginsjbig2.jpg

God, Electric Enda just doesn’t know when he’s beat, does he? Okay, he’s notched up a good result for his party and avoided joining Dukes and Noonan in that corner of Blueshirt hell reserved for failed leaders. You’d think that would be enough, but he still holds out hopes of becoming Taoiseach. Either he’s forgotten his basic maths, or the poor sap really thinks the Provos, Bev Flynn and/or Jackie Healy Rae would vote for him to take over the reins of state.

Right, so how do we explain the Provos’ result? Actually, it wasn’t all that bad. Their vote held up, actually rising in most constituencies (except, notably, for their shocker in Tallaght) but just not enough to garner extra seats. Plus, their continuing problem in attracting transfers makes it much more difficult to translate votes into seats. Beyond that… well, the established anti-Nornie sentiment in 26-county political culture may have entered into things. And then again, PSF voters who were still of the FF gene pool may have swung behind Bertie to keep the Blueshirts out.

But there were a few problems of their own making. Dermot Ahern has alleged that people won’t vote for radical socialist policies, but it couldn’t have hurt the Provos to be a little more radical. The fact that they could summarily drop their keynote policy for a 5% rise in corporation tax under media pressure went down badly with their base – party activists were openly wondering what was the point of Ard Fheiseanna if the leadership could pull that off – without appeasing the chattering classes. Then there was Grizzly’s disastrous performance on Prime Time, whereby he waffled, tried to bring everything back to the peace process and generally showed no understanding of southern politics.

Tony Gregory further alleges, and he’s been saying for about two years that the PSF vote in northside Dublin was plateauing, that following their big successes in the 2004 locals the Provos had got complacent and lazy, and were in no condition to take on the Bertie machine. Further, you had the selection cock-up in Dublin Central, where, despite huge amounts of money and energy being spent, Headmistress Mary Lou still failed to charm the inner-city macho men. Food for thought for those young PSF activists who’ve never experienced an electoral setback, and who have got used to the idea of being part of an inexorably rising national movement.

A bad result for the vaguely leftish independents. Catherine Murphy and Séamus Healy have gone, Finian McGrath just about clinging on and Tony Gregory returned as expected. This will doubtless have some effect on the left unity manoeuvrings around Dublin – Gregory for one has shown very little interest in jerry-built lash-ups like the CIL.

A bad result too for the Socialist Party, with Joe Higgins’ reputation as one of the best performers in the Dáil not saving him, and Clare Daly again failing to make the cut. It’s interesting that Joe’s result in Dublin West is very similar to Seán Crowe’s in Dublin South-West, and their electoral base is sociologically very similar. There is obviously something going on in those suburbs, probably a mix of boundary changes and demographic changes, something of the general political conditions, and possibly the SP being stretched by trying to run two big campaigns simultaneously.

If there is a silver lining – and I’m not rejoicing in Joe’s defeat by any means, he was a very effective Dáil performer and no doubt Clare would have been too – it is that it may provoke some fruitful discussion in the SP, which is likely to face some kind of mini-crisis after its perspective has run aground. The more boorish sectarian elements in the SP, the yobboes, braggarts and spoofers, will have got a knock – now it’s up to the more thoughtful elements to see what they can do. In any case the SP’s go-it-alone culture will come under some pressure.

The other candidates of the further left, with the exception of Richard Boyd Barrett, got a vote just big enough to encourage them but not nearly big enough to validate an electoral perspective. People like John O’Neill of the ISN, Joan Collins of the Communities and Workers Action Group and even an ineffable balloon like Cieran Perry of Red Action maintaining and even slightly expanding their bin tax vote from the locals. [Update: My stats have failed me – as Wednesday points out, they were down, albeit that they didn’t collapse as they might have done.] All the same – in the locals Bríd Smith could poll 1700 votes in Ballyfermot as an SWP candidate. This time out, on a wishy-washy People Before Profit platform, in a much bigger constituency with a much higher turnout, she manages 2000 odd. Not really evidence of a rising far left.

Five thousand people in Dún Laoghaire voted for Richard Boyd Barrett. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.

Let’s try that again. Five thousand people in Dún Laoghaire voted for Richard Boyd Barrett. How in the name of the deity is that possible? Don’t get me wrong, I like Richie. He’s a pleasant bloke with some organising ability and bags of energy. On the other hand, he’s a lacklustre speaker and a bit of a lightweight. The left’s answer to Enda Kenny, then. So how did he do so well? Is it likely that 5000 Dún Laoghaire residents have suddenly become convinced of the case for socialist revolution? Or is it more likely that the 800-odd he polled last time represents the hard left vote in that constituency? The healthy number of transfers he got from Fine Gael suggests the latter. Isn’t it more plausible that this is a bit of a left vote, a big whack of a Save Our Seafront vote, and something of the celebrity factor? The acres of press coverage of Richie’s parentage will have done him no harm at all; in fact, having his mum, the divine Sinéad Cusack, and stepdad Jeremy Irons turn out in support will have done him the world of good. Never underestimate the power of celebrity in Irish politics – that’s how Máiréad McGuinness got to Strasbourg, after all. And it seems our lovable, doe-eyed Richie has gone down a storm with the Hello!-reading ladies of Kingstown.

What will the Yo brigade make of this? Well, I confidently predict that the Socialist Worker will proclaim it the “performance of the election”, overshadowing even Willie O’Dea. And, being familiar with his thinking from way back, I can read Swiss Kieran like a book. He will be aware that a dozen years ago, Militant was at the point of collapse, but managed to rebuild itself around Joe’s electoral success. (Albeit that the SP today is still about a third the size of Militant in its prime.) For an SWP with a paid-up membership in the double figures, and having severe difficulty selling the paper, a strategy of Socialism in One Constituency will be tempting in the extreme. It’s likely that the party’s resources will now be massively concentrated on getting Richie onto Dún Laoghaire council in two years’ time. And this will benefit the working class how exactly?

16 Comments

  1. Wednesday said,

    May 29, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    People like John O’Neill of the ISN, Joan Collins of the Communities and Workers Action Group and even an ineffable balloon like Cieran Perry of Red Action maintaining and even slightly expanding their bin tax vote from the locals.

    None of them did, they were all down.

  2. splinteredsunrise said,

    May 29, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    Argh! I’ve just looked at the stats and you’re right. It’s the SWP who were up a little. But still, they weren’t down badly enough to make them think again.

  3. splinteredsunrise said,

    May 29, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    Yes, Collins down from 2777 to 2203, Perry from 1753 to 952 and O’Neill from 845 to 505. Holy fuck, I must have taken my notes upside down.

    Mind you, Kevin McLoughlin is saying the SP’s defeat didn’t count, so what are the odds of anyone on the left admitting they did badly?

  4. Mbari Hogun said,

    May 29, 2007 at 6:57 pm

    Splintered Sunrise, what’s your problem with Cieran Perry?

    (To be honest, I didn’t know Red Action were still around, but then again, I haven’t been following their doings closely…)

  5. WorldbyStorm said,

    May 29, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    Well, I don’t know what splintered sunrise’s problem with Perry is, but…

    I’ve heard him described as a socialist, but, although one or two around him are, albeit Maoists, republican socialists of one stripe or another, etc, etc, and I’d have known many of them very well from the bin tax campaign, I think his campaign was populist lite, a sort of precursor to Fianna Fáil style ‘localism’. No hint of a broad left approach, not even much in the way of serious community activism and an arguably solipsistic and disingenuous taking credit for things which others had been centrally involved in.

    Red Action is largely defunct, as was Perry’s previous alma mater, Working Class Action, the membership of same split over his decision to contest an election in the same constituency as a sitting left TD in the shape of Gregory, split to the point where a considerable portion went over to the Gregory camp.

    But apart from that, what’s the problem?

  6. splinteredsunrise said,

    May 30, 2007 at 7:50 am

    What WBS said… and the few occasions my path has crossed with Perry, he has rubbed me up spectacularly the wrong way.

    It’s really a Red Action thing, those guys having descended from the football hooligan wing of the SWP. The old joke goes that the SWP would have meetings on “Do we need violence to get socialism?” and RA on “Do we need socialism to get violence?”

  7. Eugene said,

    May 30, 2007 at 10:43 am

    Slight correction wrt to Brid’s vote, in 2004 she got 1094 votes which basically doubled to 2086 this time around where she canvassed only in her Ballyfermot ward. Pretty ok would you think?

    http://www.electionsireland.org/candidate.cfm?id=4293

  8. splinteredsunrise said,

    May 30, 2007 at 11:41 am

    Dear God, either my memory or eyesight must be failing me. I could have sworn it was around 1700 – probably a sign I shouldn’t rely too much on notation in my own handwriting.

    I’m still sceptical about electoral strategies for the left, but yeah, in its own terms a perfectly decent result.

  9. Ed Hayes said,

    May 30, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    With respect to both Splintered Sunrise and WBS, I got a few of the Perry leadlets through the door over the last 6 months, one of which dealt in some detail with Palestine, not exactly the most populist issue to run with in Cabra. I think Perry’s Red Action past has given him that group’s tendencey not to bother with small talk on the far left which is why he has been known to rub people up the wrong way. Groups like the ISN and even WSM have all worked with his lot fairly well in the past. As for needing socialism to achieve violence, I’m familar with the joke and also remember many of those who gloried in telling it at Marxism in London every year were also very happy if Red Action turned up at anti-nazi events where things looked like getting out of hand.

  10. WorldbyStorm said,

    May 30, 2007 at 11:22 pm

    Ah, well now Ed. There was talk at one time that WCA and ISN would coalesce. Perhaps best to ask why that never came about.

    But my point still stands, and in reference to another issue my understanding was that a commitment was given not to run against TG, particularly since he had give both CP and JM support in the local elections. This wasn’t kept – fine if one thinks it’s wise to gamble with the one independent community/socialist seat in the country. Otherwise not. And FYI, Tony Gregory was in Palestine and publicised same about 18 months ago. Indeed he and other TDs were stymied by the IDF…

  11. Ed Hayes said,

    May 31, 2007 at 8:16 am

    Don’t know about any commitments, especially as TG did not exactly support Joe Mooney in 2004. As for gambling with the only Independent/socialist seat in the country, so people shouldn’t stand against TG then? I honestly think you will find that ISN people do not share your hostility to CP, or at least not the same level of it. Is this all about law n’order? My ire, such as it was, was raised mainly because while I enjoy our host’s site very much, he is given to lashing as ‘balloons’ a number of people inlcuding Anthiny McIntyre and Eamonn McCann (and now the much lesser known Perry). Fair Enough. But in many cases they are out there to be lashed whereas Splintered is not and if you can hand it out, you should be able to take it.

  12. splinteredsunrise said,

    May 31, 2007 at 11:28 am

    If you don’t like my choice of words, Ed, that’s fair enough. Sometimes on reflection I don’t like my own choice of words. But I don’t think a single post months ago referring to Eamonn and Tony in those terms constitutes a pattern. If I set my mind to being rude about public figures, you’d notice pretty quickly.

    As for putting myself out there, I’m perfectly happy to take robust criticism. I write anonymously for professional reasons, but if I used an alias, would that enhance my credibility? I think not. Anyway, I’ll probably get lashed in the Blanket by and by.

  13. Ed Hayes said,

    May 31, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    No problem and again an excellent site. Maybe I’m too sensitive on other’s behalf.

  14. WorldbyStorm said,

    May 31, 2007 at 6:50 pm

    Actually Ed, JM was supported by TG. If you look at his leaflets from 2004 you will find on both his and CPs a very nice photograph of a certain Tony Gregory TD with each candidate prominently displayed. Gregory was in a bit of a bind in that he had Mick Rafferty as well, who was the only one from his organisation willing to contest the locals. Prior to that he had, as I understand it, asked Joe if he wanted to run under his banner and Joe and WCA declined. He had to run someone to keep his people on board. They didn’t want to support CP/JM because they hadn’t merged as it were with TGs outfit and had no track record of supporting them, so MR it was. WCA, cleaving to their ‘independent’ role ran their two candidates.

    That too is fair enough (and as it happens I have no problem with people running against TG – he’s far from beyond criticism (!), but my fundamental problem is that it just seems like bad strategy to do so under these circumstances, not merely alienating his support base, but theirs as well. I’d also add I offered a couple of years back to help out Joes campaign in the next locals, something I would gladly have done until the recent events. Even now I wouldn’t consider it a personal disagreement but a political one).

    To be honest I thought that Gregory regarded Joe as his potential successor over the last two years. I think it’s a terrible pity the way it’s worked out, and, entirely unnecessary. Moreover, the election and current situation has – if anything – cemented Gregory’s authority in the constituency even more, seeing off MLM, in the running – at least nominally – for some sort of deal.That’s going to present CP and JM with significant problems when next they go before the people at the LEs, assuming they do in light of the grim vote they were able to get. I don’t know if MR will go forward again, but I can think of a couple of younger people in TGs crowd who would be good for it.

    As for the ISN, I very much respect them, having known quite a few back in the DL and WP days. But… once I heard about the mooted ISN/WCA merger I was very surprised. Two different cultures and approaches.

    And it’s not just law’n’order – although that’s part of it. It’s also a sort of populist but strangely depoliticised tone that runs through the recent election leaflets issued by CP. That, though, is I’ll agree a matter of opinion.

  15. Paulie said,

    August 24, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    Is this thread still alive? I only just found it. I’ve never been surprised at the amount of sectarianism between the Left but the vicious attack on Ciaran Perry does actually surprise me. I’m sure a nice middle class boy like Mr. Sunrise wouldn’t feel comfortable in the company of the macho working class Red Action girls and boys but the comments do seem a little over the top. Maybe the history between the SWP and RA are behind the abuse. While I wouldn’t support RA’s extreme views on drugs and sex offenders, at least Perry has the guts to put himself into the public eye unlike the anonymous Mr. Sunrise. Mr. Allen would be proud of you!

  16. splinteredsunrise said,

    August 24, 2007 at 6:50 pm

    Nice to hear from you, Paulie. In fact, Mr Allen dispensed with my services many years ago. As for the RA boys and girls… compared with some of the people I’ve had dealings with, I never found them terribly macho. Then again, which group ran “Fuck the Huns” as its front-page headline?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: