Left – tactic or principle for Sinn Féin in Europe?

Via politics.ie a blog by Adam Price (Plaid Cymru MP) reveals Sean Oliver, Sinn Féin’s Director of European Affairs, confirmed at the Compass Conference they have received an approach by the European Free Alliance to join their European political group:

‘confirmed that an approach has already been made by EFA and that Sinn Fein are considering their options.’

The EFA is in an arrangement with the Green grouping in Europe as the Greens/EFA. As noted on the politics.ie thread rumours exist that in 2004 SF tried to join this group and were rebuffed and one could speculate that may have been through historical antagonism particularly with the SNP, a situation much changed post-IRA disarmament and their essential disbandment.

This would entail SF leaving the GUE/NGL group that stood shoulder to shoulder with them as they faced very difficult times in Europe over allegations of IRA involvement in the murder of Robert McCartney and the Northern Bank robbery. Joining may also be interpreted as a snub to Batasuna as the constitutional Basque Nationalist Party would become a sister party of sorts.

Now that SF’s most articulate advocate of a left wing position, Eoin O’Broin, is long gone as the party’s Director in Europe maybe a space is opening to review their current arrangements and take a pretty significant step towards the political centre in Europe?

This is all solely based on the recounting of one Welsh elected rep and may come to nothing but is worth watching.

  • Mark McGregor

    On a personal note: as a Left Republican one area I’ve not had any disagreement with Sinn Féin on at any level is their focus, voting, policy and direction in the European Parliament. Their Socialist credentials by their actions in Europe are impeccable. I hope to see them remain in GUE/NGL and hope they encourage Higgins to join them.

  • oneill

    “Their Socialist credentials by their actions in Europe are impeccable.”

    Interesting dichotomy though between how those “socialist credentials” reveal themselves on the European stage and back home in Northern Ireland. Take their stance on women’s sexual and reproductive rights for example.

    The EUL/NGL support “safe abortion and the abolition of restrictive clauses on reproductive rights in the legislations of all EU member states.” That doesn’t really tie in with SF’s policy back in NI does it?

  • Mark McGregor

    oneill,

    The blog isn’t on Irish politics though and reproductive rights is one of several areas I disagree with SF over locally.

    I stand over what I wrote, on a European level a big S socialist would find nothing to criticise SF over on their European record.

  • Mark,

    Have they not missed votes that were important to the GUE/NGL? I was told they voted on things like the Basques and possibly Palestine/Cuba, but sat out a lot of the rest.

  • oneill

    “The blog isn’t on Irish politics though and reproductive rights is one of several areas I disagree with SF over locally”

    Yes and I know it’s a bit off topic, but I think it reveals an inherent hypocrisy in the membership of the GUE-NGL grouping.

  • Mark McGregor

    Gari,

    As far as I know they never missed a vote on an issue that was close and when they missed votes it was in all but one case (National Ploughing Championships) due to important issues like maternity, Lisbon, multiple-elections particularly in the north, major policy debates on things like policing and Ard Fheisanna.

    If there was an open and shut case against them in Europe I assure you I’d be aware of it and supporting it. As I think you know.

  • Indeed. Although not all important votes are close. I wasn’t suggesting there was an open and shut case (clearly them being in the group is a good thing) just that some of us who see ourselves as socialist with a big ‘S’ might find a little more to criticise than you suggest 🙂

  • I was at the Compass session, and I can confirm Adam Price’s account.

    Personally, I think that there would be clear advantages for Sinn Féin in linking up with Plaid and the SNP, and if that meant overcoming historical antagonisms with the latter, so much the better.

    As for the left/centre issue, I think both Plaid and the SNP would see themselves as parties of the left, albeit the centre-left, especially in the case of the latter.

    For my money where you label SF on a one dimensional left-right spectrum is less important than whether it is offering a coherent and innovative set of radical ideas.

    In that respect, the Compass conference was very interesting.

    There was an afternoon session on democratic republicanism that reflected a growing interest in republican thought internationally.
    http://www.nextleft.org/2009/06/open-politics-network-democratic.html

    Eoin Ó Broin wrote in his book that “the weakness of Sinn Fein’s socialism is shared by much of the European left, many of whom continue to trade on outdated Leninist dogmas or equally outdated Keynesian welfareism.”

    The interesting thing about the current debate about democratic republicanism, is that is looking to fill up precisely that gap, and it is deriving some fairly detailed economic proposals from distinctively republican first principles.

    I don’t know the detailed history of SF’s relationship with the GUE/NGL or the various Basque parties, So I have an open mind about whether the European Free Alliance is the right vehicle, but I have no doubt that SF is right to be cultivating these relationships and I was particularly glad to see Sean Oliver there.

    The British state is going through something of a constitutional crisis at the moment, and its arguably in the interests of Irish republicans to build alliances with those on the left in Britain who are beginning to look in a republican direction.

  • Tom,

    Are there that many in Britain looking in a republican direction?

  • Mark McGregor

    oneill,

    While on that issue alone SF would differ from most, if not all, other members of GUE/NGL it is a confederal group with no whip that afaik only demands broad agreement with the founding principles:

    http://www.guengl.org/showPage.jsp?ID=640

  • Mark McGregor

    Tom,

    Thanks for that. It is an interesting discussion and as yet not joined by any members/supporters of SF on Slugger. Seems a bit strange to discuss the future allignment of that party as outsiders without input from our SF regulars.

    Guys? Tom has given you a very positive teaser for why the idea might be worth pursuing…any thoughts?

  • Mark McGregor

    Tom,

    Maybe we should clarify for the unitiated what those historical anatogonisms between SF and the SNP mainly centre on?

    You fancy giving it a go?

  • Can’t see anjy loink up making the weslh and scottish more radical, but you never know. Have to head out now. Will check back later this evening to see where this goes. Could be interesting.

  • pith

    Well done to those men and women of the GUE/NGL for standing shoulder to shoulder with Sinn Fein when the European Parliament and the rest of the world was condemning them over the murder of Robert McCartney. Bravery indeed.

  • drumlins rock

    would it be that IRA/Sinn Fein murdered thousands and wrecked the country? the SNP havnt to my knowledge.

  • Garibaldy,

    I have tried to collate some of the debate here:
    http://tinyurl.com/kpufku

    There’s a fair amount of think-tank wonkery involved, and there are some versions of it that are definitely to the right of where Sinn Féin needs to be. Even I wouldn’t defend this from Richard Reeves:

    It is striking that it overwhelmingly non-metropolitan, working class MPs and ministers who understand the role of Labour as being about giving people power, rather than hoarding it to a paternlist, centralising state: Blears, Blunkett, Milburn, Reid, Cruddas. Labour’s crisis is not just one of leadership, but of animating philosophy. Her departure is a further sign of how far Labour has drifted away from its radical, republican roots.
    http://www.demos.co.uk/blog/tears-for-blears

    Stuart White’s stuff is probably more representative. There’s no explicit reference to the Irish republican tradition, but there’s an underlying commonality in the historical reference points (Paine etc) and in the emphasis on citizen empowerment and a strong civil society.

    One one level, its partly an attempt to synthesise a coherent philosophy out of a fairly diverse set of trends on the left, that look beyond a traditional Westminster focus.

    The Open Politics network is one forthcoming attempt to create a more grassroots network out of this debate:
    http://manchester.modernliberty.net/

    Hence Stuart White’s remark in the link above about “an opportunity for ‘democratic republicanism’ to come out of the seminar room and the blog post and to become a political reality.”

  • Mark McGregor

    Tom,

    That’s a great set of links but I don’t see how any form of traditional Irish republicanism, socialist or otherwise, can really feed into and add to a debate that revoles around reforming the British ‘constitution’ from the inside out. For SF to become a real part of this discussion it would involve them joining the system at Westminster and abandoning any semblance of Irish republicanism for full-blown constituitional nationalism. Admitttedly the ideological steps now aren’t that big given the current incarnation of SF but the symbolic nature of those final moves may be a long way off.

    But… while I love a decent sidetrack…wtf has this got to do with Europe?

  • Gael gan Náire

    “National Ploughing Championships”

    This is a very important event.

    I my earlier post today, I advocated that Sinn Féin move to the centre!

  • Mark McGregor

    ggn,

    I don’t have Irish so missed it. Any chance you could give us a synopsis here as the blog is very much on the possibility of a demonstrable (further) move by SF from the left to the centre.

  • Gael gan Náire

    1. Non-Socialists can also believe in National independance.

    2. Why exclude any religon, class or political view, if they believe in independence for Ireland, fine. The SNP are centre-left, and more successful than Sinn Féin.

    3. Every noticed how people who leave Sinn Féin as they cant sick being in a political party, on some some part of party policy, etc. etc. are always on the left.

    I have never heard anyone saying, feck this Sinn Féin are too far to the left, I am off to join Seasaigí!

    The left is splintered, it always is.

    Safer working in the centre for independance and then having elections about the ‘isms’ politicans are meant to have.

    Surely we can fall out with each other over who killed Trotsky after political freedom?

    4. I have read alot of Orwell.

  • Mark McGregor

    ggn,

    On your No.3 as an exception (that maybe proves the rule) I’ll mention Cllr Liam Browne who left SF over them being too wedded to the left.

  • Gael gan Náire

    Mark,

    Would love to know more about that one, any links?

  • Gael gan Náire

    Googled meself, not sure, but thanks for the hint.

  • Belfast Greyhound

    God I love it when people get fanciful and start to believe what they are saying as some sort of truth.
    As unpleasant as Alex Salmond is as a politician with the rest of the SNP chancers, (they haven’t done a thing wrong y’know, but that is because they haven’t actually done anything at all)he and they would be writing political obituaries if they were to stand in any proximity to SF.
    No one in Scotland wants to get too close to anything Irish, or Nor’n Irish.
    Salmond made a fool of himself with his Arc of Prosperity notions of small states, Ireland, Iceland, Lativa being joined by Scotland to drift seamlessly into a future of economic bliss – before the banks crashed. It then became the Arc of Insolvency and suddenly Scotland and Salmond and the SNP are running from notions of being close to Ireland.
    Insolvency could be a thing you catch like a Flu.
    But so far as Nor’n Ireland is concerned the general belief is that SF are a bunch of murdering bigoted bastards, and that’s starting with the SNP outlook.
    Salmond is very supportive of Veterans and their needs in Scotland, a man who recognises a populist idea that he can use is not going to throw that advantage away cosying up to SF who can offer nothing but vote haemorrhage at the Polls.

  • Gael gan Náire

    BG,

    Sure you are on the right thread?

  • Mark,

    The last post was in reply to Garibaldy. I wasn’t suggesting that SF should take their seats at Westminster or that they should get involved in organisations working on a domestic UK basis.

    But I do think there are things that SF can do on the basis of international solidarity. For example, raising the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in the Dail, thereby supporting the SNP’s campaign to get Trident out of the North Channel.

    FWIW Sean Oliver was crystal clear that he didn’t see Sinn Féin’s position as parallel to the SNP’s or Plaid’s for precisely the reasons you describe.

    But I do think there is a case for getting involved in the debate about democratic republicanism, which is taking place in America and Europe as well as Britain.

    As regards Britain though, I think it’s pretty clear that the institution of the union is bound up with the nature of the British constitution. The United Irishmen and the IRB were allied to constitutional radicals in Britain for that very reason.

    This may suggest one answer to the debate that SF has started about what the Irish diaspora can do to advance Irish unity.

    As regards Europe, perhaps this is to suggest that an alliance with the EFA would be something more interesting and complex than just a swing to the right.

  • fin

    “The British state is going through something of a constitutional crisis at the moment, and its arguably in the interests of Irish republicans to build alliances with those on the left in Britain who are beginning to look in a republican direction.”

    Ricky Tomlinson (he of the Royle family) a committed socialist, I had the pleasure of hearing him speak at a union function some time ago, he spent 2 years in prison in the early 70’s due to union activities, he said he associated with the republican prisoners, I was actually surprised at how warmly he spoke of volunteers, but than again he was also a political prisoner I guess. I’d suggest SF communicate with him as he’s involved with both socialist parties in England.

  • pith

    The amount of money a group gets in the EP is based largely on a combination of members, nationalities and languages. In the outgoing parliament SF had two members to give to the GUE/NGL. More importantly it also gave two nationalities. Now SF only has one member and one nationality for sale. It is an open secret that relations between the group and SF were always difficult. Could it be that the GUE/NGL might prefer to have Joe Higgins and as such may be suggesting to SF that it looks elsewhere? With the door of the Socialist group firmly closed, EFA might be the only option outside the non-attached members.

  • Maybe we should clarify for the unitiated what those historical antagonisms between SF and the SNP mainly centre on?

    Not sure if this is what you are getting at, but I believe some strands of the SNP emerged out of Presbyterian nativist opposition to Irish Catholic immigration in the 1930s.

    I have talked to some Irish republicans in Scotland who have very negative memories of some right-wing SNP figures of the 1970s. Conversely, there have been people in the Scottish Labour Party very sympathetic to Irish nationalism.

    More recently, Alex Salmond has been trying to build bridges with Scottish Catholics, and even this history might actually be a reason why a good working relationship with the SNP might pay dividends in the North.

    Having said all of that, we don’t know where the SNP stand, and they may well not share Adam Price’s enthusiasm for Sinn Féin joining the EFA.

    There was an SNP speaker at the Compass session, Richard Thomson, but I don’t recall him intervening on this point.

  • Mark McGregor

    ggn,

    Belfast Greyhound, is very much on the right thread. The real and long-standing antagonism between the SNP and SF is based on much more than left/right politics as alluded to earlier.

    The SNP is a deeply sectarian anti-catholic party that would find real problems convincing its base that any relationship with SF (or any party seemingly linked with Catholicism) is acceptable.

  • Mark McGregor

    pith,

    It is an open secret that relations between the group and SF were always difficult.

    Given my three years working in the group and current distance from SF I’ll suggest, no state directly, that your claims are absolute horse-shit. SF’s relations and position in GUE/NGL have been and always were sound from everything I ever saw.

  • Gael gan Náire

    Mark,

    I didnt suggest any link of any kind with the SNP.

    I simply pointed out that they were more successful than Sinn Féin.

  • Hi Tom,

    Thanks for the links. Didn’t get the chance to read them all properly, but glanced through them all at least. Firstly, that piece by Reeves about Blears causes me to want to write him off completely. She proved she was nothing but a big mouth with no principles not only with her shameful practices over the flats (which may have been within the letter of the rules but hardly an example of virtuous citizenship of the type she was talking about and on which the republicanism being talked about in these links is based) but with the nature of her departure. I hope she gets hung out to dry by her local party as seemed possible last week.

    I also found the Hassan and Barnett thing skipping over the Irish Union completely hilarious, and not a little disingenuous. I’m not really sure that J.S. Mill belongs in a democratic republic tradition either, but that’s another argument.

    As for Skinner’s stuff. It’s very interesting, but I don’t believe that the academics talking this type of language have the first clue as to how to set about putting it into practice in the modern era. It’s telling that Skinner cannot deal with the era of mass politics in his own work.

    In general the association of these think-tanks with Blairism makes me take them with a great pinch of salt. I think a lot of their hearts are in the right place, but they have no strategy, and their concentration on morals and values to the exclusion of economics makes them at best progressive liberals, not democratic republicans in the sense they seek to paint themselves. Machiavelli, Paine, even Mill all understood the power of social institutions and laws to shape society, as well as values. These lessons have been forgotten.

    As for Dave Cameron and liberal republicanism. I see Reeves talking about his use of redistributive power. How does that look in light of the Tory pledge to cut spending?

  • Hi Garibaldi,

    The idea of Blears or Cameron as democratic republicans is laughable obviously. I agree with your criticisms of Reeves, which are very similar to the ones that have been made by Stuart White, whose work represents rather more of a departure from neo-liberal economics.

  • Tom,

    I happen to have read the piece by Stuart White in the What Next for Labour? pamphlet on the Demos website, called an end to labourism http://www.demos.co.uk/files/What_next_for_Labour_.pdf?1244746884

    It seems to me to be just as guilty as the rest on the question of ignoring economics, if not more so. Like one sentence on economics.

  • Danny O’Connor

    GGN
    Are you suggesting that thet do a new Labour to try and divest themselves of the past.
    New SF .

  • Some of White’s thoughts on the economic implications of democratic republicanism are here. Admittedly its fairly broad-brush stuff:
    http://www.nextleft.org/2009/03/democratic-republicanism-and-economic.html

  • A bit more elaborate all right Tom but like you say, broad brush strokes. And I am not sure that putting union representatives on the board of pension funds is likely to lead to radical change in the dispersion of wealth, or change the fact that a kid from say Mosside enjoys much worse life chances than a kid whose parents pull in £1m per year and send them to Eton, then Oxbridge etc etc. Any democratic republicanism that doesn’t seek to use the power of government to redress inequality of the conditions that influence inequality of opportunity doesn’t deserve the name in my view.

  • páid

    The most interesting thread in years imo.
    The shinners, in the face of no traction, defections, failure of violence, and failure of wishful thinking, are facing up.

    The irish people have been for centuries, are, and will be:
    1. Conservative.
    2. Nationalistic.
    3. Egalitarian.

    That’s why SF succeeded and their bastard child FF succeeded.

    When they both ditch republicanism, EUism, socialism, liberalism, and speculatorism, Ireland will again be theirs.

  • <1>Any democratic republicanism that doesn’t seek to use the power of government to redress inequality of the conditions that influence inequality of opportunity doesn’t deserve the name in my view.

    There are a couple of chapters in White’s book, Building a Citizen Society, that are relevant to this. One by Rajiv Prabhakar took the experience of Labour’s Child Trust Fund as the starting point for a discussion of how assets-spreading policies can underpin citizenship. Another by Simon Birnbaum and David Casassas looks at the case for a basic income.

  • Harry Flashman

    “Ricky Tomlinson (he of the Royle family) a committed socialist, I had the pleasure of hearing him speak at a union function some time ago, he spent 2 years in prison in the early 70’s due to union activities”

    Beating the shite of people is called “union activities” now is it?

    Funny old world.

  • Harry Flashman

    I posted an idea in an earlier thread, which was originally tongue in cheek but on thinking about it further it could actually happen.

    There is a genuine niche in Irish politics that right now is not being catered for, it is one into which SF could fit very easily and one which is undergoing the biggest increase in votes across Europe and which is leaving traditional political parties sitting in their collective consensual ruts.

    I refer of course to what is disingenuously called the “Far Right” but which should more accurately be called “nationalism”.

    I accept that under the current SF leadership this would never happen but despite the ideological sympathies, Sinn Fein is not Cuba. They cannot expect to have the same leadership for the next fifty years, eventually the Adams/McGuinness clan will have to relinquish control. Then what? Do SF condemn themselves to another couple of decades trailing along behind Labour in the polls or does a sharp eyed, let’s say Southerner, see an opening and an untapped market?

    In the past many of the old communists had no difficulty reinventing themselves as new nationalists when they saw what way the tide was drifting. It wouldn’t take much to tweak the policies of SF, I have no idea what SF’s policies on immigration are, no doubt the usual liberal bromides, but on the economy, social issues, health etc you couldn’t get a cigarette paper between them and the BNP.

    Imagine a young populist politician in inner city Dublin, he must hear lots of gripes about “them bloody immigrants coming over here, blah, blah”. He could spout the usual consensus on tolerance and multiculturalism and see the voter shrug or he could start making “Ireland for the Irish!” speeches (that’s what Sinn Fein used to be about wasn’t it?) and see his support suddenly rise among voters who never bothered before.

    Impossible? Well yes, under the current, Northern, leadership like I said, but don’t rule it out if some Young Turk in Dublin decides he’s fed up flatlining in the polls and looks to Holland, the UK or many other states in Europe to see where the votes are to be had.

  • HF is a twat

    “There is a genuine niche in Irish politics that right now is not being catered for, it is one into which SF could fit very easily and one which is undergoing the biggest increase in votes across Europe and which is leaving traditional political parties sitting in their collective consensual ruts.

    I refer of course to what is disingenuously called the “Far Right””

    I think you’ll find that the DUP, TUV & UUP/Cons have that niche covered. There simply isn’t room for another.

  • Harry Flashman

    I wasn’t aware that those parties ran for election in Dublin.

    Twat!

  • HF is a twat

    “There is a genuine niche in Irish politics that right now is not being catered for”

    No, but they do run in Ireland. They would be laughed out of Dublin.

  • dewi

    “The SNP is a deeply sectarian anti-catholic party”

    Absolute total utter nonsense.

  • fin

    “but on the economy, social issues, health etc you couldn’t get a cigarette paper between them and the BNP.”

    and could you give a few examples Harry.

  • Plaid

    As an EFA employee, I can categorically state that this rumour has no truth to it.
    There are fundamental, insurmountable differences of values between Sinn Féin and EFA.

  • Rockridge

    Hi guys,
    To the best of my knowledge the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV: Partido Nationalista Vasca) is not a member of the EFA. Eusko Alkartasuna, a social democratic offshoot of the PNV is a member.

  • pith

    Good to have confirmation from someone who works there that the EFA does not want SF. If the GUE/NGL wants SF out then it really gives them little or no option on what to do. Could they really end up in the non-attached members some of whom were elected despite not making the quota.

  • Thanks for that Tom. I’ll try to get a look at it.

    Pith,

    I doubt the GUE/NGL wants PSF out. Why weaken their group unnecessarily?

  • pith

    Garibaldy,

    It may not be a weakening. If Joe Higgins joins the group he will give them a language and a nationality. Bairbre de Brún can add a nationality to that so it is really up to the group whether they want a nationality top up. The real question would be whether Higgins is willing to have SF in the group. Of course it could work the other way around but one can’t help feeling in an either/or situation, Higgins might come out on top.

  • Not really sure what language Higgins brings that de Brún doesn’t pith. Can you elaborate?

    Higgins has not given any indication as to which group he might want to join, and it is far from a foregone conclusion the GUE/NGL would want him. I can’t see them swapping one for the other, especially as De Brún is a known quantity.

  • Babeuf

    Think you miss the political orietntation of GUE/NGL, they do not originate from Trotskyism, and their politics are far from Higgin’s, which are rather mickeymouse, particularly on the national question. They have more in common with the realpolitik of Sinn Fein than they would ever have with the Socialist Party. I can’t see Higgin’s joining GUE/NGL on political/sectarian grounds.

  • Babeuf,

    I suspect that the Socialist Party is in a dilemma here. You can see some of them say the GUE/NGL would be the closest thing to home, but others reluctant to say that. I doubt he’ll end up in the group.

    Your comment that Higgins’ politics are far from theirs is accurate, although I’m not sure if your remark about the national question is a suggestion that the GUE/NGL supports the PSF position because of its membership. That’s not the case, but I don’t think you’re suggesting that.

  • gauche republicaine

    My guess is that Danny Cohn-Bendit will have sent signals to the Nordic Green Left (the sub-group to which SF is attached within the GUE.NGL group) that they should join the Greens/EFA.
    My guess is that the EFA will have sent signals (or approaches if you like) to SF about joining EFA.
    (This would all fit in very well with the Cohn-Bendit political empire building project in the European Parliament).

    My guess is that neither would be actual proposals (possibly for fear of rejection).
    My guess is that in the absence of any actual proposals neither will be considered in any way seriously ‘or at all) by either SF or the Nordic Green Left.
    My guess is that in the eventuality of actual proposals they would be politely and respectfully rejected.

    My guess is that SF will be consulted about whether or not Joe Higgins would be acceptable as a member of the GUE/NGL group.
    My guess is that SF will say yes, and that they would welcome his membership.

    My guess is that Joe Higgins/Socialist Party will be approached to join the GUE.NGL group.
    My guess is that he/they will say yes.

    My guess is that many GUE/NGL members will be puzzled about why (with 11.2% of the vote in the 26 counties) there is no SF MEP from that jurisdiction.

    My guess is that SF will continue to have good relations with EFA members.

    My guess is that EFA members will continue to attend the SF Ard Fheis and will continue to be welcomed there.

    My guess is that GUE.NGL members will continue to attend the SF Ard Fheis and will continue to be welcomed there.

    My guess that this will not be of the slightest concern to Batasuna one way or t’other, and that they will continue to attend the SF Ard Fheis while also having friends in both GUE/NGL and Greens/EFA.

    But I am almost certain that there will continue to be an amount of ill-informed speculation and mischievous comment about such issues on sites such as sluggers 🙂

  • RG Cuan

    The SNP is a deeply sectarian anti-catholic party that would find real problems convincing its base that any relationship with SF (or any party seemingly linked with Catholicism) is acceptable.

    This seems to be a view held among certain Republicans but it’s totally incorrect. The SNP can hardly be said to discriminate against any member of society and indeed the party’s Eileanan Siar/Western Isles MP, Angus Mac Neill, is from the Catholic isle of Barra.

    Sinn Féin joining the EFA would be a positive move for the party.

    ROCKRIDGE

    Spot on about PNV not being part of the EFA in the EU. As you say, their old break away group, Eusko Alkartasuna, who now have little support, are.

  • pith

    Garibaldy,

    You are right of course in that they both bring English to the group just as they would each bring one nationality. I would be curious to know whether Irish would count as another language in this context. What I am really interested to know though is whether it is Higgins (a safe bet for GUE apparently) and SF or just one of them.

  • There are other countries with more than one member organisation. It wouldn’t be a problem. The roots of this group are in the old Communist bloc (where De Rossa sat before 1992) but there is no level of ideological coherence in it at this point and time. Membership is about guaranteeing a left voice and the individual parties a voice as well.

  • babeuf

    Garibaldy,

    I really can’t comprehend why they are saying that, without examing the substance of the GUE/NGL and their own organisation and ideology. I think I give away my lack of warmth for the Socialist Party! No, I wouldn’t suggest the national question is high on the GUE/NGL agenda, but I wouldn’t suggest they don’t take a republican line, it was a bad example. I would obviously welcome Higgin’s in the GUE/NGL grouping, in the hope it might broaden the politics of the Socialist Party and encourage understanding and exchange between ex-cp and cps and that of SF – but unfortunately I can’t see it. I actually despair at Higgin’s in Europe, while admit that he as an admirable TD. Hopefully he will prove me wrong.

    With regard SF in GUE/NGL, I know their are rumblings from the less reformist organisations in the GUE/NGL of ‘disappointment’ with SF. And, I would think there is probably quite a lot in common between EFA and the more reformist wing of the GUE/NGL anyway?

    Anyway, I would be very disappointed if SF were to leave the grouping, and I think now would be a most inopportune moment for them. I would, however, naturally welcome greater co-operation with SF and the other Nationalist parties, I see no contradiction there, I doubt most of us on the left would.

  • gauche republicaine

    Oh, and another thing…
    My guess is that GUE/NGL will continue to support Irish reunification.

    babeuf
    “With regard SF in GUE/NGL, I know their are rumblings from the less reformist organisations in the GUE/NGL of ‘disappointment’ with SF”

    Which “less reformist organisations”?
    And “disappointment” in what way?

    Or is this just ill-informed speculation and/or mischievous comment?

  • Babeuf,

    Their sister organisation in Germany is in Die Linke (I’m not sure if their Greek equivalent is involved in the other Greek group) so there are some links there already. I see the grouping as very much a pragmatic alliance, and I think that is how most of the organisations involved see it as well. Higgins was part of a technical group in the Dáil, so I suspect he might ultimately like to join this, but while making clear he has no truck with stalinism etc. It will certainly be harder for him to make anything like the impression he did in the Dáil.

    There is a lot of common ground as far as I know between the GUE/NGL and others who are broadly progressive, but I am open to correction. Certainly groups like the Left Party in Sweden have more in common with them now than they do with their former Communist alllies.

    I’m sure that Bairbre de Brún will continue to be nice to everybody and form links with as many people as posssible.

    On whether people are disappointed with how her party has behaved, Mark has given an insider’s view. I would have some sense of how some of the CPs view them, and that is as people they can certainly work with, but never mistaking them for sharing their politics.

  • Belfast Greyhound

    I have been watching the development of this thread as it has moved along with a great deal of interest.
    The way the initials of the various, (and to the majority of the public totally unknown fractional and marginal political groupings), were being used suggests that there are some subscribers who live in a world divorced from the reality of most of us share.
    A sort of political Pharisee class that gets its rocks off on initials.
    But the problem with one of the initial groupings is that few on the other side of the water from Scotland realise how a VERY large amount of SNP support is grounded on the basis that it is not the Labour Party.
    The anti-Tory vote in Scotland as it has migrated from the massive blocks of unionised heavy industry and working class supporters of the Labour party has had few options as to where it might settle.
    The SNP provided a very active area for the vote to move into.
    It had all the benefit of being a prty that was not going to deliver on what it said on its tin m- there was not going to be Scottish independence and the public knew, and still knows exactly that, so a patriotic vote for something different was going to be OK especially if the result was that the chauvinistic Scots could shout ‘Look World we’re not English’ and settle back down to being complaining but complient UK citizens
    Just look at the successive SNP slogans about when they would deliver Freedom tacked on to a specific year and ask what has happened to the cry for a referendum to settle the constitutional future in 2010.
    Few could predict a better time to raise the electoral Saltaire and summon the vote when the Labour Government is on its knees and waiting for an election to do away with its enduring pain of office.
    And where is the impatient demands from the SNP Government in Edinburgh being shouted loudest?
    Yeah, we can’t hear it in Scotland either, because the SNP has no notion what it would do if it got it’s wish and actually won the referendum so is not pushing the open door to get one.
    Salmond and crew may be the political pirate ship and crew but they are not stupid pirates and will join no grouping or associate with no ideas that could put the calm progress of the good ship SNP in Scottish Parliament at risk.

  • Greyhound,

    I think it’s fair to say that most people who post here take an above average interest in political technicalities than does the average person. That that is as true of you as it is of us is clear from the fact you are posting here in the first place. Not a lot of people could tell you the name of the minister for health. But it’s an important job, and people with an interest in politics outght to know it. Why chide them for doing so? Especially when then derailing the thread with a discussion of the SNP’s support base.

  • Mick Fealty

    My guess is that Gauche Republicaine is on the money (thanks for coming, btw!). My understanding is that there is sympathy towards SF in the EFA amongst its Spanish members, the European Greens would almost certainly veto it.

  • RG Cuan

    in the EFA amongst its Spanish members

    I don’t think our Basque, Galician or Catalan friends in the EFA will be too happy with that description Mick!

  • GGN

    “The SNP is a deeply sectarian anti-catholic party that would find real problems convincing its base that any relationship with SF (or any party seemingly linked with Catholicism) is acceptable”

    I agree with RG.

    That view is horseshit. My experience with Scotland is the opposite.

  • Eorna

    There are many that join SF and find it too left, especially in the south. There is a large grouping in SF that is dogmatically socialist and anyone that is not likewise is viewed with distrust. There are many voters in the South that vote for SF but espouse views that are at opposites to SF policies. Do party members every wonder why there is such difficulties getting members from working class areas. The party is turning in to a grouping of college kid radicals, and that does not make me confident of success in the future.

    Gael gan Nire

    That is a truism about the left being splintered, esp. in the Republican movement from the Republican Congress to the Sticks, and to a lesser degree Éirigi. For some people Socialism has replaced religion,and as we know there can be no deviation from the truth in religion.