It’s often claimed that the UK leader Harold Wilson was the first one to make the observation that “a week is a long time in politics”, referring to the quick turning nature of politics. If that is true then three weeks must be a lifetime given that Sinn Féin entered the 2020 general campaign with the expectation that it was going to be delivered a bloody nose by the electorate on February 8th, only to now find itself leading the polls with just five days to go. From the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll:
- Sinn Féin 25% (+4%)
- Fianna Fáil 23% (-2%)
- Fine Gael 20% (-3%)
- Green Party 8% (NC)
- Labour Party 4% (-1%)
- Social Democrats 2% (NC)
- Solidarity-PBP 2% (NC)
- Indpendents4Change 1% (NC)
- Aontú 1% (NC)
- Independent Alliance 1% (NC)
- Other parties 3% (NC)
- Independents 10% (NC)
And if you’re thinking that the above results represent something of a “holy shit” moment in modern Irish electoral politics you’d be correct. Sinn Féin’s final tally of Dáil seats after the election will no doubt be hampered by its decision to deploy a defensive strategy, only fielding 42 candidates in 38 constituencies. An understandable game plan given recent setbacks. But that means that some of its less high profile members will have missed out on the chance of being elected off the back of transfers from their better-known colleagues in a number of constituencies*. This is of special importance in Dublin where SF support is not just holding up but increasing among certain key demographics, particularly younger voters and female voters.
So will Mary Lou McDonald’s party bust the psychologically important barrier of 30 seats in An Dáil? On these polling stats, very probably. But then again, with the election not being held until next Saturday, this week may still become a long time in politics for SF.
*In light of Sinn Féin not fielding secondary candidates in most constituencies, the party should be urging its supporters to “vote Left” or “vote Progressive” on February 8th, and doing so explicitly. That means from Mary Lou McDonald downwards, SF should be putting aside electoral rivalries in the hope of getting the numbers in An Dáil for a strong Left and Centre-Left opposition to the likely Fine Gael and/or Fianna Fáil-led government that will emerge after the election.
Ireland, the UK and the US are all undergoing a political re-alignment. A long way to go yet before it is all shaken out.
Political realignment in the three countries are very, very different animals.
Country size and the relative ages of the political parties are two usually overlooked factors. Irish political parties are younger than the US ones, which are in turn younger than the UK parties.
UK Liberal Democrats founded 1988
UK Labour founded 1900
UK Conservatives founded 1834
US Republicans founded 1854
US Democrats founded 1828
In fairness, and it is true that there are more modern iterations as you point to gendjinn, the LDs can point to being a continuation of the Whigs, just as the Tories can point to a continuation of the the pre Corn Laws rupture Tories so they certainly stretch back further than US parties. On the other hand the US parties were much more ‘voter-based’ so there is a fair distinction to be made that they were more ‘modern’ in the sense we understand the term party. Certainly can’t imagine a pre-1834 tory or Whig would feel much commonality with the LDs or Tories. Or perhaps they would!
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In fairness, wasn’t Parnell and the Oath the beginning of what we would consider political parties,rather than collections of individuals that ebbed and flowed with the tides?
Before the secret ballot 1872, was the UK even a democracy?
Before the extension of the franchise to a meaningful percentage of the population in 1918, was the UK even a democracy?
But watching the CIA steal Iowa (you should see who is behind the Shadow app that was changing the results reported) for their asset Buttigieg, one can ask, is the US even a democracy today?
I’d have much the same concerns as you and come to much the same conclusions as you tbh. particularly re the nature of democracy in the UK. Ad possibly even a bit later. I’d tend to the view that the UK wasn’t a functioning democracy until suffrage.
That’s a really interesting point re Parnell. How does the overall context work in relation to what a party is. Think that’s actually something as crucial as to how the party is organised. Like it.
Re the US – patchily so!
Parnell effectively created the whip system which is the basis of the modern political party’s effectiveness and power with the oath to the party, right? Up until then the parties were loose confederations, where MPs floated depending on the particular issue or the direction of the political winds of the day. The War of Jenkins’ Ear for example.
Do you remember what I said on CLR about North Down the day after Brexit? Or PA/MI/WI the week before US16? I have an even stronger feeling now that Iowa is being rigged and Pete is a CIA asset recruited in undergrad. I am curious if you see their hand, when you look at all the pieces. Along with how all the media is selectively covering the Iowa results.
If the CIA wanted to hurt the Democrats it would be Bernie they’d promote.
It’s obvious that all these British Parties had earlier incarnations way before their official foundings. So did the Irish and US parties, but nowhere near as long as is the case with Britain.
That whole legacy in the UK with the Corn Laws is a bizarre one. It is crazy that a countries whose Empire controlled such a large chunk of the globe has so long struggled to feed itself.
One other very, very strange thing about British politics is how ramshackle the UK institutions actually are compared to The Spanish Empire and compared to the might Napoleonic bureaucracies.
Common Law does not encourage bureaucracies.
Common Law may not encourage bureaucracies, but it also doesn’t preclude them. It also tends not to encourage, written Constitutions but that combination has been done a few times.
Trying to rule as large a percentage of humanity without a bureaucracy and in most cases partial or no representation was a predictable recipe for disaster. While the French, Spanish and Belgium Empire were cruel in their own right, perhaps the worst thing about the British Empire was its relative lawlessness.
To wit, when even England’s capitalists wanted to invest more physical and civil infrastructure in the colonies, you know that’s way off the scale.
More generally, I have a problem with your line of argument in that you vastly oversimplify the similarities and differences, as well as the relationships between certain countries here.
Your contention that most English people have been oppressed by the Norman colonialism and legacy? You aren’t the first to propose that one. However, nothing you have suggested looks like a logical conclusion of that. If Norman legacies oppress the English: Do you think The Monarchy should be replaced by a Republic? How about abolishing those bizarrely misnamed “public” schools if not necessarily all private education? (Strange name seeing how you call NHS hospitals “public”.) What of an English Parliament?
Those are the things that would logically follow solutions to any such claim about England. So far everything else you have named at best qualifies an explanation. You could say any number of things are an explanation for Stalin’s rule, extreme misogyny, high crime rates, or the Mafia-without necessarily condoning those things, or seeing them as real solutions.
“I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
I’m sure the CIA has assets everywhere, though I’d imagine it would be the FBI or internal security services that have the lions share of people domestically based – if only for convenience. As to PB, could well be. I’m sure there’s an equivalent to the MI5/6 tap on the shoulder of up and coming students at Oxford/Cambrige etc asking them would they like to help their nation.
Grace, re bureaucracy in the UK, interesting point. I think of how the British state was very thin in some ways and was in part a guise for say the East India Company and so on. Where the state ended and private/captialist interests began is difficult o determine, perhaps more so than in the states that had stronger more centralised governments, though how much they were a feature of the 19th century I’m not certain and should go and check 🙂
On the other hand England is a very Centralized country. Indeed, centralization means it only has one layer of government that matters except for very local issues.
Even looking at those crazy misnamed “public schools” and the whole sexual abuse scandal associated with them. You find that all these relatively elite British boarding schools are under a different trust now from what they were 20-30 years ago, when the crimes occurred. One such case Ashdown House was built by the same architect who designed the US Capitol Building. So you have these schools that have been funnels for places like Eton and Harrow for quite some time, and yet they are run by a totally different private company in a very, very short period of time. It’s almost like the “man behind the curtain” in The Wizard of Oz. These are supposedly these old, revered, “traditional” institutions and yet the story on who runs them………
As for the CIA. I don’t believe they have any plausible reason to promote Pete Buttigieg.Bernie Sanders is NOT what the media in Europe says he is. If you look at his record he has an embarrassingly poor record for getting things done as a Senator. I suspect he may even be deliberately trying to hurt the Democratic party for reasons that are more personal than political.
You ever come across David Talbot’s The Devil’s Chessboard? Harvard/Yale are the CIA’s recruiting ground. Take a look at Talbot’s wiki, it gives a precis of his argument and evidence. After reading it, it stands up. Shockingly so.
Thanks gendjinn I’ll check that ref out
Fair point Grace the centralised British state tho I guess at uk level one could argue they were clever enough to allow for differences ie Scottish legal systems NI to an extent (tho that didn’t work out too well). Just on centralisation in Europe I’m always amazed by a map of France and how Paris is almost ‘the’ city and all others are markedly smaller
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So is voting SF the equivalent to voting Trump / Brexit? Lashing out at the elites, heedless of the consequences?
You may not agree with the decisions voters arrive at but generally speaking voters have a very good idea where their self interest lies.
Voters who think only of self-interest are bad citizens.
Adam Smith sucked for Britain. It created a country of soot, smog, and scurvy. In the early US, his ideas were called the “monkey economy”. (The US of course, has always been a mixed economy.)
Voters in any modern Democracy ARE responsible for considering various cross sections of society, not just their own interests. There is some obligation to at least try out Rawl’s veil of ignorance once in a while and think about what you’d want for the society knowing you could be randomly born to any position within it.
Yes, Adam Smith and Ricardo upset all the right people.