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Frank Little

Some interesting points there, but two things I would disagree with.

Firstly, in the South at any rate, Sinn Féin has moved far beyond 'rhetoric' in it's social and economic position. As I argued (URL below) on Cedar Lounge, right now it is presenting the most radical set of left-wing economic proposals in the country. Granted, in comparison with very little else, but I think it is a point worth making that it's not just rhetoric, it's policies. I have my doubts, also explained in my post, about their implementation considering the party's performance in the North, but the party's policy creation is driven in Dublin, not Belfast, and this may have implications for the future.

Secondly, from my experience as a left activist in Dublin, Sinn Féin tends to work very well with other broad left campaign groups such as on Rossport or the EU Constitution. They have a strong antipathy towards Trots, but this seems to me a sensible approach and personally speaking once the SWP walk into a campaign I tend to walk out shortly after. The reality is that it is not Sinn Féin refusing to work with others, it is rather the inverse, as can be seen from the success the party has had in reaching out to the trade union movement, but the animosity towards the Shinners from Labour.


Frank is correct about Sinn Fein's approaches to the trade union movement and one can certainly empathise with their antipathy towards the ultra-left. As to the Dublin orientation of their policy development there is a legitimate suspiscion that this takes place in a context that remains secondary to the primary aim of many elements of the Sinn Fein leadership. If Frank is correct (and I hope he is) then this should go some ways towards addressing those suspiscions and underming animosity.

Gerry's piece, however, is a useful reminder to those who do want to see a coming together of progressive-minded people in whatever party they support, that it will be a difficult endeavour and that we should not tailor our analysis to fit our aspiration.

And Gerry is absolutely right that we must begin to think about how we give our aspirations substance - and we must do this regardless of the outcome of the next election. If we wait for history to come right for us, we'll wait a long time.


What's interesting is the way in which SF hasn't broken in the same way as WP did despite having to cover much more ground in terms of abandoning a much larger engagement with armed struggle. On reflection I wonder is it the 'glue' of nationalism which has worked it's magic yet again - a sort of Anderson 'imagined community' on a smaller scale.


I can only assume that you do not have much knowledge of Sinn Fein as they operate as a party in the North , and in Dublin you will underestimate them at your peril . I am my self a member of SDLP , AND WE AS A PARTY HAVE BEEN DECIMATED IN THE NORTH due in no small part to the connectivity of Sinn Fein with the working class, and middle class voters ,and the smugness of my own party colleagues in relation to Sinn Fein which I see reflected in political parties in the South . The common opinions of people on the doorsteps was that they did not see SDLP representatives from one election to another,[ Similar opinions are found among the electorate in the South ] unlike Sinn Fein workers who were constantly working on the behalf of their constituents and were highly visible in the community .They also made a point of developing as an all Ireland party , unlike the SDLP which decided against John Humes wish to go that route .As of yet they are untainted by the corruption and accusations of carpet bagging ,which hang over the two major partys in Southern politics .The sneers of guns and politics which are used by commentators to score points against them ,only diminish the arguments of their detractors, and are laughed off by what is now a surprisingly sophisticated electorate who are well aware of where F/FAIL, F/ Gael. and the Unionists come from.Personally I would be of the opinion that a good result for Sinn Fein in the forthcoming election would be good for the Irish nation as a whole .It would be a breath of fresh air which would shake the complacency of the larger political partys and help introduce a transfusion of vibrancy into what has become a very self serving and selfish Nation . I for one am looking forward to how the election unfolds , and will be surprised if the Sinners don't take at least 10-12 seats .There hard work and Idealism brought the once dominant Unionist party to a state of nonentity , and Bertie , Pat etc should not take anything for granted . I travel a lot around Ireland in my occupation , and I have discovered that there are a lot of very disillusioned people in all the counties that I visit.What go's around comes around the property market bubble will burst and the house of cards will fall exposing the fantasy world built upon credit with the ruination of so many peoples lives . Hopefully some reality can be injected into the situation with the changes that fresh election result can bring .


GO'Q writes "A comparison with the Workers' Party is instructive here; its democratic centralist, Leninist discipline broke down under the impact of electoral success and having to operate as a 'normal' parliamentary party."

I would suggest the WP breakdown was more complex than Gerard suggests. The retreat from class based politics to an attempt to win the 'hearts and minds' of the middle class which Gerard 'waxed lyrically' about in 'Making (no) Sense' the WP sponsored magazine didn't help. It argued with Harris'ite (the WP's Machiavelli) conviction that the Party had to become more sellable to the middle classes and in doing so mould it's message appropriately.

The decision to give blind allegence to Madam Robinson in the Presidential race brought the 'student princes' closer to their natural home and income bracket - the Labour Party.

The WP had many so factions at leadership level that it was a wonder it ever went as far as it did. It was a strange mix of political opportunists, Stalinists, Socialists, Republicans, conservitave trade unionists and meglomaniacs that coalesced. Often their only point of unity was their detestation of the Provo's.

The final breakup came when the Parliamentary Party 'sans' MacGiolla decided that they were better capable of running the Party than the Ard Comhairle and they proceeded in establishing of a de facto parliamentary kitchen cabinet leadership under De Bossa in the Dail This was more significant in the implosion of the WP than anything to do with Marxism Leninism. The WP was certainly "democratic centralist" but no more or less than the Labour Party is centralist.

Mus Magnus


interesting blog, though a few years past.

Its a question that SF is working on and you may find some of the debates here amongst the grass roots.


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What is curious about how science fiction does not not remain the same, as WP arranged without regard in order to cover more grounds in terms of rejection of several contacts with the armed struggle. On reflection I wonder, that "sticking" of nationalism that works this wonder again - a kind of imagined community of Anderson and a smaller scale.

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