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Thread: Why has there never been a strong left wing cause in Ireland?

  1. #1
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    Default Why has there never been a strong left wing cause in Ireland?

    Ireland is unique in Europe and the World for not having a left-right political divide. Civil war politics being a reason but also because the left have never been a strong cause or have had a strong base here. Historically the strongest left leaning party has been the Labour Party yet they only average 10% of the vote in most elections. On average left leaning parties manage together 20% of the vote in elections while the rest is carved up by centre right parties Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and independents.

    So why has there never been a strong left wing cause in Ireland?

    -Civil war politics as already mentioned
    -Irish society having an overall conservative outlook?
    -The influence of the Catholic Church on society? Related to part 2
    -The top left leaning party Labour constantly going into government with right leaning Fine Gael?

    I think the left have had their chances to displace civil war politics in favour of a left right divide but circumstances dictated that it didn't happen. Like 1948 when a Fine Gael party on it's knees was saved by the split in the Labour Party and Clann na Poblachta being forced into a snap election when their relatively new organisation wasn't ready. Maybe Labour could have overtaken Fine Gael in 1969 but the red scare played up by Fianna Fáil(an example of Irish society being conservative) killed the Labour vote in rural Ireland and perhaps 1992 was a chance as well to overtake Fine Gael had Labour ran more candidates.

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    Default Re: Why has there never been a strong left wing cause in Ireland?

    Conditions wise

    Predominately rural country or rather lacking the urban/industrial base seen elsewhere
    Ultra tribal electorate
    Influence of Church cannot be overstated
    How things fell after 1922 or rather who they fell for
    Crippling effects nationalism & localism

    The Left themselves

    Niamh Puirseil's book the Labour Party and Hanley & Millar's Lost Revolution are a good place to start.
    Historically as now they tend to do themselves little favours when already up against it.

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    Default Re: Why has there never been a strong left wing cause in Ireland?

    Ireland has had a left, but it has been blurred and masked by overlap with nationalist/anti imperialist politics.

    The real Left in Ireland had to operate in quasi illegal conditions in the 1930s and the influence of the Church (tied up with identity and nation) has driven it almost underground. Much of the Left in Ireland is still cowed by the Church and religion.

    Emigration is also a problem - it is striking how many people in the lead in British Left parties have been Irish.
    Last edited by C. Flower; 07-03-2013 at 08:45 PM.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
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    Default Re: Why has there never been a strong left wing cause in Ireland?

    Quote Originally Posted by RahenyFG II View Post
    Ireland is unique in Europe and the World for not having a left-right political divide. Civil war politics being a reason but also because the left have never been a strong cause or have had a strong base here. Historically the strongest left leaning party has been the Labour Party yet they only average 10% of the vote in most elections. On average left leaning parties manage together 20% of the vote in elections while the rest is carved up by centre right parties Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and independents.

    So why has there never been a strong left wing cause in Ireland?

    -Civil war politics as already mentioned
    -Irish society having an overall conservative outlook?
    -The influence of the Catholic Church on society? Related to part 2
    -The top left leaning party Labour constantly going into government with right leaning Fine Gael?

    I think the left have had their chances to displace civil war politics in favour of a left right divide but circumstances dictated that it didn't happen. Like 1948 when a Fine Gael party on it's knees was saved by the split in the Labour Party and Clann na Poblachta being forced into a snap election when their relatively new organisation wasn't ready. Maybe Labour could have overtaken Fine Gael in 1969 but the red scare played up by Fianna Fáil(an example of Irish society being conservative) killed the Labour vote in rural Ireland and perhaps 1992 was a chance as well to overtake Fine Gael had Labour ran more candidates.
    1) FF have at times, had stong left (social democratic) leaning wings, resulting in the creation of our welfare state, which to be fair, isn't the worst in europe.

    2)And maybe the crux of the argument. We, unlike the european neighbours you have in mind, are a country colonised and have had one hell of a post-colonial hangover ever since. This has such enormous repercussions on the national character and thus mindset that it makes us very different to the brits, france, germany, belgium, holland, spain, portugal, italy austria and the nordic countries (all of western europe basically).

    3) following from number 1, labour, leftist parties plus FF leftist vote would have accounted for about 40 to 50% of the electorate. Giving us a kindof, but divisive left right system.

    4) The system you are analysing is gone. We are currently in a state of flux, in no small part due to he GFA, globalisation and its effects and counter effects, and of course the bailout daylight robbery by the banks.

    Who knows where this new alignment will fall out? We may have left/right politics but in an era where that distinction has been partially been made irrelevant in other european countries, by way of the left part turning right, we may get something completely different, and it may not be democratic as we currently understand it. The appointed technocratic governments around europe at the moment are a hint at a dystopic future that may await.

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    Default Re: Why has there never been a strong left wing cause in Ireland?

    Quote Originally Posted by RahenyFG II View Post
    Ireland is unique in Europe and the World for not having a left-right political divide. Civil war politics being a reason but also because the left have never been a strong cause or have had a strong base here. Historically the strongest left leaning party has been the Labour Party yet they only average 10% of the vote in most elections. On average left leaning parties manage together 20% of the vote in elections while the rest is carved up by centre right parties Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and independents.

    So why has there never been a strong left wing cause in Ireland?

    -Civil war politics as already mentioned
    -Irish society having an overall conservative outlook?
    -The influence of the Catholic Church on society? Related to part 2
    -The top left leaning party Labour constantly going into government with right leaning Fine Gael?

    I think the left have had their chances to displace civil war politics in favour of a left right divide but circumstances dictated that it didn't happen. Like 1948 when a Fine Gael party on it's knees was saved by the split in the Labour Party and Clann na Poblachta being forced into a snap election when their relatively new organisation wasn't ready. Maybe Labour could have overtaken Fine Gael in 1969 but the red scare played up by Fianna Fáil(an example of Irish society being conservative) killed the Labour vote in rural Ireland and perhaps 1992 was a chance as well to overtake Fine Gael had Labour ran more candidates.
    Interesting post.

    I think its opening question is wrongly formulated, but I don't think this is intentional and I reckon it still sets out to make a valid point.

    There have always been strong left-wing causes in Ireland. Indeed, urban guerilla warfare was all but invented and developed in Ireland to combat imperialist and other illegitimate forms of power.

    The point the OP is going for is not that the causes didn't exist but that the political parties never amounted to but a fart in a hurricane.

    I like a fair few of the members of some of these particular farts/parties, but there's no getting away from the idea that they would present a much more powerful opposition if they'd never existed in the first place.

    Methinks we're fair quick to point out that the Democratic party in the USA is not left, despite what the pundits and proclaimers propagandise. However, we're very slow to recognise the very same confidence game being played here. When, in god's allegedly holy name, has Labour ever enacted leftist legislation, in the few times that humanity, generally, was unlucky enough to have this shower of amadán eunuchs in power?

    I should point out that I do not include all of the left parties in my "fart" cloud. I've a lot of respect for Éirígí, for example. They're a group of "money where your mouth is" folks and do both the walk and the talk. The Irish "left" should take note of this approach. And therein lies the issue. The State has been achieved and set up by a shower of ultra-rightwing scumbags with no motive but their own gain and power for their larvae. It's no wonder that the only successful "left party" that's allowed to ascend (to a degree, a small one) is one that does not smell of roses. To see a party, like Éirígí, survive and grow, is to say the least - encouraging. And it's evidence that all that manure/fertiliser is not as much of an abomination as one might first conclude.

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    Default Re: Why has there never been a strong left wing cause in Ireland?

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Flower View Post
    Emigration is also a problem - it is striking how many people in the lead in British Left parties have been Irish.
    Good point. I never considered that.

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    Default Re: Why has there never been a strong left wing cause in Ireland?

    It would be interesting to see what left wing politics would be like today if Workers Party didn't split up in the early 1990s or if Democratic Left never merged into the Labour Party in 1999.

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    Default Re: Why has there never been a strong left wing cause in Ireland?

    Only a small few ever had the ball$ to stand up for their beliefs, that has been proved time and time again. The country is full to the brim, of cap lifters, yes men,and touts. That has been proven throughout our history. We deserve what we have, for when good men and women stuck their heads above the parapet, their heads were called for by the pleb's.
    "I have never killed a man but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure". Clarence Darrow

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    Default Re: Why has there never been a strong left wing cause in Ireland?

    Quote Originally Posted by RahenyFG II View Post
    It would be interesting to see what left wing politics would be like today if Workers Party didn't split up in the early 1990s or if Democratic Left never merged into the Labour Party in 1999.
    Get a life, the workers party, were in name only, likewise DL.
    "I have never killed a man but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure". Clarence Darrow

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    Default Re: Why has there never been a strong left wing cause in Ireland?

    Being the next door neighbour of what was for hundreds of years the biggest imperial power in the world probably had something to do with it, too.

    It is/was a very big economic, propoganda, military, diplomatic and intel machine.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
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    Default Re: Why has there never been a strong left wing cause in Ireland?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mick Tully View Post
    Only a small few ever had the ball$ to stand up for their beliefs, that has been proved time and time again. The country is full to the brim, of cap lifters, yes men,and touts. That has been proven throughout our history. We deserve what we have, for when good men and women stuck their heads above the parapet, their heads were called for by the pleb's.
    Succinct. Excellent. Spot on.

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    Default Re: Why has there never been a strong left wing cause in Ireland?

    Quote Originally Posted by Seán Ryan View Post
    Succinct. Excellent. Spot on.
    There has been a lot of courage and resistance in Ireland. But much of it was drawn into the organisations fighting the British.

    The Irish working class work place organisations have been adversely influenced by the conservatism, bureaucracy and complacency of British Trade Unionism, and by the introduction of non-union US Foreign Direct Investment factories, which paid higher wages than the Irish norm for which the right to organise was traded off. Lack of a unionised factory mass workforce left the unions to the establishment-linked public sector work force.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

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    Default Re: Why has there never been a strong left wing cause in Ireland?

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Flower View Post
    There has been a lot of courage and resistance in Ireland. But much of it was drawn into the organisations fighting the British.

    The Irish working class work place organisations have been adversely influenced by the conservatism, bureaucracy and complacency of British Trade Unionism, and by the introduction of non-union US Foreign Direct Investment factories, which paid higher wages than the Irish norm for which the right to organise was traded off. Lack of a unionised factory mass workforce left the unions to the establishment-linked public sector work force.
    I take the point. But I disagree with the bulk of it. Technological developments, that are stunning in their breadth, have made basic survivability, a matter of moments, in effort. Nonethess, the "working man" has ever been a slave. Trade unions have not changed this and neither has the metamorphism, of these trade unions, changed this. Trade unions, despite the heroism needed to win many battles, could never and would never, change the system. To do so, they would need to have changed into collectives rather than what they did change into.

    All in all, Irish working class folks and all their organisations have been adversely influenced and damaged by all aspects of the enslavement process, which consists of enslavement followed by a never-ending re-definition of basic thoughts, words and ideas, like the joke-side of post-modernism. But the basic picture remains very basic all the same.

    There has been lots of courage on this tiny rock. But for all of that, it's not something I should claim for myself, like a prize, in lieu of having any myself. There's lots of pseudocourage in Ireland and I reckon it's been that way for some while.

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    Default Re: Why has there never been a strong left wing cause in Ireland?

    Quote Originally Posted by RahenyFG II View Post
    Ireland is unique in Europe and the World for not having a left-right political divide. Civil war politics being a reason but also because the left have never been a strong cause or have had a strong base here. Historically the strongest left leaning party has been the Labour Party yet they only average 10% of the vote in most elections. On average left leaning parties manage together 20% of the vote in elections while the rest is carved up by centre right parties Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and independents.

    So why has there never been a strong left wing cause in Ireland?

    -Civil war politics as already mentioned
    -Irish society having an overall conservative outlook?
    -The influence of the Catholic Church on society? Related to part 2
    -The top left leaning party Labour constantly going into government with right leaning Fine Gael?

    I think the left have had their chances to displace civil war politics in favour of a left right divide but circumstances dictated that it didn't happen. Like 1948 when a Fine Gael party on it's knees was saved by the split in the Labour Party and Clann na Poblachta being forced into a snap election when their relatively new organisation wasn't ready. Maybe Labour could have overtaken Fine Gael in 1969 but the red scare played up by Fianna Fáil(an example of Irish society being conservative) killed the Labour vote in rural Ireland and perhaps 1992 was a chance as well to overtake Fine Gael had Labour ran more candidates.
    There has been a strong soft left vote on economics in Ireland going back through the decades, but the socially conservative nature of Irish society prevented the development of a left alternative as did Labour's messing up of the Spring Tide breakthrough and their subsequent drift to Liberalism and away from any pretense to socialism.. It's been growing steadily to the point where it's now 45%+ of the vote in the opinion polls. Part of FF was always soft-left leaning economically and the part that deserted to the soft-left in 2011 was 13 to 14% that went to the soft-left combination of Lab and SF boosting them from 17% in 2007 to 29.3% in 2011, a figure they've retained as a block and may be expanding. So you could say that the soft-left in FF were the missing link in the growth of Ireland's Left vote. If anything Ireland is swinging increasingly to the soft-left as FG collapse to their core vote.

    2011. LAB 19.4%, SF 9.9%, SP 1.2%, PBP 1%, WUAG .4% Greens 1.8% plus a fair few left leaning TDs Ming, Wallace, Halligan, Murphy, McGrath, O'sullivan, Pringle etc. That's easily the the guts of 40% and spread right through the country.

    2007. Labour 10.13%, SF, 6.9%, Greens 4.7%, Inds Gregory, McGrath. And FF were spending like a left-wing party, and the two uber-right in Irish terms parties, the PDs had a disastrous election, and FG only recovered on their historic low because of Bertie's exposure as a wrong un and not on their own policies. 25% when you take into account all the unsuccessful left-leaning Inds.

    2002. Labour 10.8%, SF 6.5%, Greens 3.8%, SP .8%, left leaning Inds, Healey, McGrath, Gregory and those unelected good for 3 to 4%. = 25%.

    1997. Labour 10.4%, DL 2.5%, Greens 2.8%, SF 2.5%, SP .7%, WP .4% with just the lone Ind left leaning Gregory and other failed Inds probably accounting for 1%. A total of 17.*%

    1992. Labour 19.3%, DL 2.8%, Greens 1.4%, SF 1.6%, WP .7%, and Gregory the lone left leaning ind TD once again. 26%.

    1989 18% combined.

    1987 13% combined.

    1982 November 13.2% combined.

    1982 February 13% combined.

    1981 15% combined.

    1977 14% combined.

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    Default Re: Why has there never been a strong left wing cause in Ireland?

    James Connolly did avoid conflict with the RC Church - he even went as far as proposing that the members of his party (ISRP) attend Mass and not to discuss theological matters or matters of a sexual relationships ...
    Give me a misty day, pearly gray, silver, silky faced, wide-awake crescent-shaped smile

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