For The First Time Far Left Outpoll Irish Labour

Mick Hall @ Organized Rage argues that:

Result of Irish General Election: For the first time far left outpoll Irish Labour, Sinn Féin continue on an upward trajectory gaining more seats.

The Final Seat Numbers For The 32nd Dáil

Given the gains made by Left progressive Irish parties, groupings and independents in last Friday's general election, on the surface it looks like a successful outcome for the left. Sinn Féin went from 14 seat in the outgoing Dáil to 23 in the new. Left winger Eoin Ó Broin was amongst the new SF TDs elected in Dublin Mid-West. Gerry Adams topped the poll in Louth, his high vote helped to bring home running mate Imelda Munster, the first ever woman to be elected a TD in the constituency.

Maurice Quinlivan took a seat in Limerick city, his brother a former Provisional IRA volunteer who once escaped from Brixton prison with his cellmate Pearse McAuley, was used by his opponents to smear him without success. Dessie Ellis a veteran republican topped the poll in Dublin Northwest, where the LP lost over 34% of its vote. During the election campaign there was much talk on sections of the Left that Sinn Féin would join FF in a coalition. But Eoin Ó Broin, a party strategist was having none it when he told the Irish Times at his election count he: "believes Sinn Féin is on a steady upwards trajectory and coalescing with a larger party would upset its long-term momentum."

The Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit grouping (AAA/PBP) gained 6 seats, up from 4 in last parliament. Its charismatic spokesperson Paul Murphy was re-elected to Dáil Éireann for Dublin SouthWest and Richard Boyd-Barrett gained Dún Laoghaire. The Green Party who lost all their seats in 2011 took 2 seats on Friday. It looks like some of it's mainly middle class electorate have forgiven their sins of 2011, when the entered a coalition with Fianna Fáil which led to Ireland's economic meltdown.

What the media terms the far left, whether AAA/PBP, ICP, and independent lefties, out polled the Irish Labour Party for the first time ever. This election has proven disastrous for Labour, although when in 2011 they entered into a coalition with neoliberal Fine Gael, it's not as if they shouldn't have seen this defeat coming. At that time they had the example of the demise of the Green Party electorally staring them in the face, after they had been junior partners in a right-wing Fianna Fáil led coalition.

The Labour Party finally scraped home with 7seats. Just enough seats to claim a party grouping which secures full speaking rights in the next Dáil. In the 2011 general election Labour gained 37 of the 166 seats in Dáil Éireann. In 2016 they were lucky win 7 after a number of recounts. Founded in 1912 by working class legends like James Connolly, James Larkin and William O'Brien as the political wing of the Irish Trade Unions, in recent years it's leadership co-habited with the neoliberal far right.

The LP has clearly lost the confidence of the working class who have either turned to Sinn Féin, who now have the largest working class electorate in Ireland, and to a lesser extend the groupings and individuals on the far left like AAA/PBP.

Below Vincent Browne analysis the outcome of Irish General election and asks did opportunism of Left over past five years ensure it was unable to make the gains it should have?

Result after 156 out of 158 seats announced:
Fine Gael 50 down 16
Fianna Fáil 44 up 24

Sinn Féin 23 up 8
Labour Party 7 down 26
AAA/PBP 6 up 2
Green 2 up 2
Social Democrats 3 no change.
The Independent Alliance 6
Independent candidates 17

The full election result and independent elected here

Eoin Ó Broin of Sinn Féin celebrates his victory in 2016 election

Fine Gael and Labour got what they thoroughly deserved. Almost every strand of their claims for re-election was bogus: The country was not broke when they came to office, it was one of the richest in the world.

Yes, there was a fiscal crisis because of an ideological hang-up about funding the State adequately through taxation

Even within that ideological hang-up, Brian Lenihan had negotiated a way of out of that fiscal crisis, with funding from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union and a plan that the Fine Gael-Labour government followed in almost all crucial respects.

The government did not have to take the “tough” decisions it did take to correct the fiscal problem – instead of inflicting the burden of the pain on those best able to bear it (the well-off), they needlessly inflicted it on those least able to bear it.

The “recovery” was not primarily of their doing, it was largely because of fortuitous exchange rate changes, the fall in oil prices and the persistence of low interest rates. They promised to seek burden-sharing of the guaranteed bank debt but according to themselves they didn’t bother. Instead they paid out even on unguaranteed debt.

Billions of euro worth of assets owned by the Irish people were sold off in fire sales by the National Asset Management Agency and the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation at least in part because of pressure from Michael Noonan, massively to the detriment of this society.

Also, they stuck with the facilitation of Middle East slaughter and mayhem by continuing to allow the US military use Shannon airport.

For all this they wanted credit. And, incidentally, these bogus claims went unchallenged by the media on all this during the election campaign, a media obsessed with triviality: cronyism,
Sinn Féin and managerialism (the “real” problem is wastage).

The “big beasts” of Fine Gael and Labour have gone or will soon go into ignominious, super-affluent retirement, puffed up with a conviction that they “saved” Ireland.

Of all the likely outcomes to this election, by far the best has materialised or rather could materialise: a minority government. One that would be accountable to the Dáil, where all the policy decisions would be taken openly and justified publicly. And where, for once, the national parliament would debate policy and take decisions. This could be frustrated by a Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil coalition but I suspect Fianna Fáil is not yet psychologically adjusted to self-immolation and Micheál Martin has indicated he too sees the possibilities of the Dáil becoming relevant and wants to opt for that.
A Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil coalition government would be almost as bad as the outgoing one and also as regressive, although it is hard to see even the prospective Fianna Fáil ministers assuming quite the same scale of self-importance as the Labour “big beasts” managed.

Opportunist impulse

A minority government could last a full term but is unlikely to do so, because the opportunist impulse and the prospect of “office” (which many confuse with power) is likely to prevail. So we will probably have another outing in six months or a year, followed by a Fianna Fail-led government including a barely chastened Fine Gael or vice versa, then followed by a Sinn Féin-led (
Mary Lou McDonald) government with Fianna Fail or Fine Gael “propping” it up and that will be no different.
It could hardly have been a more propitious opportunity for Left parties in Ireland (ie groupings to the left of the Labour Party and Sinn Féin), with the meltdown of the fake Left represented by the Labour Party, the collapse of the vote share of the two traditional establishment parties and the very evident of voter anger by a large proportion of the electorate. And yet the Left fared dismally.

Yes better, much better, than previously, but dismally given the opportunity afforded to it. And hardly surprisingly so. Instead of using the period during which most regressive government since 1932 was in office to persuade the electorate that a radically different and more equally society was both desirable and possible, they behaved opportunistically and recklessly.

Radically different would involve radically higher taxes for the well-off and the slightly well off (ie the readers of The Irish Times) – everyone being paid €70,000 and more – an end to the tax havens, a higher corporation tax rate and an end to the tax shelters, notably the tax credits on mortgages, on private health insurance and on pensions. This to pay for all the social housing we need; free education right through third level; free health for all; properly funded community schemes, proper supports for lone parents; free childcare facilities; huge funding into disadvantages areas; and funding for Traveller programmes.

Essentially a radically more equal society with all the children and adults of the nation being respected and treated equally.

Popular support for a radical transfer of wealth and income cannot be gained opportunistically, it has to be argued for over a long time and that is what the Left is supposed to be about, not stunts.

Source Irish Times

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

1 comment to ''For The First Time Far Left Outpoll Irish Labour"

  1. If ever a party deserved to be relegated to “ the dustbin of history” it is the Irish Labour Party unfortunately that is not the case this time. You only have to look at the current housing crisis which developed under Joan Burton’s watch yet they stood by and did nothing.

    Bank of Ireland, which was bailed out by Irish tax payers money; have just announced last week that their total profits were €1.3 billion, an increase of almost 30%. Yet we have the daily repossessions by the Bank of Ireland of houses that have mortgage arrears. Whole families have been evicted onto the street and then have to found temporary accommodation in hotels. All this was happening while the Labour Party stood with their hands in their pockets.

    During the election campaign Joan Burton, Labour Party leader, was boasting how it was the Labour Party that pressurised Fine Gael to introduce a mandatory 2 year rent freeze. However, what they also should have done was to link any rent increases during that period to the rate of inflation. Instead of letting landlords decide that. I dare say James Connolly would be turning in his grave at the state of the current Labour Party.


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