Sinn Fein’s ticking timebombs

I’ll be blogging occasionally here and cross posting, mainly on politics, from O’Conall Street.

Yesterday I wrote about Sinn Fein’s ticking time-bombs which will undermine its chances of significantly growing support across the island.

Having listened to Gerry Adams on the radio this morning the party’s challenges are obvious. He excels at peace process politics but stumbles clumsily through the issues and appears to ignore the opportunity for regional government in the North. Yet it is the party’s performance in government North of the Border which is likely to most influence its electability in the Republic. When asked to identify his big priorities for the autumn he mentioned an Irish Language Act but said nothing about the economy or education.

It is not just Sinn Fein which is examining it’s future. Nationalism in general is reflecting on the future, something I also blogged about recently.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    “it is the party’s performance in government North of the Border which is likely to most influence its electability in the Republic. ”

    We have had numerous threads on here suggesting exactly the opposite – ie the plain people of the South could not care less about Norn Iron.

    In my own opinion if they feck up in Norn Iron it will damage them badly in the South and equally they may benefit from British or Unionists mistakes in Norn Iron, but otherwise, with the financial crisis in the South, Norn Iron has probably slipped from mid table into the relegation zone in terms of importance.

  • Scaramoosh

    “party’s performance in government North of the Border which is likely to most influence its electability in the Republic.”

    This viewpoint is as misguided as the notion that the Provos were going to drive the Brits out into the sea and deliver a United Ireland. Sinn Fein’s performace in the North is meaningless in the context of day to day Southern politics.

  • Dewi

    “I’ll be blogging occasionally” – Twice already….

  • DC

    No mention either of public sector cuts, 28billion savings needed across the UK, or identifying the money for civil service back pay for junior grades???

  • Sorry about the initial double posting. Still getting used to the Slugger system. Fixed now.

  • DC

    And Conall I’m on record for saying the SDLP and UUP truly missed the boat last year to leave the executive during stasis, when the UUP were pushing the idea, to form a new coalition and an agreed agenda. Sf and DUP are poor partners of course but the failure of the “shared future” parties to get it together shows a shared culpability, in my view. So the problems aren’t just with SF-DUP.

    I believe that none of these parties including Alliance can get on either in terms of policy or personalities to form an alternative coalition, otherwise a response and a way forward would have been put on the table. I think the parties get too precious over themselves to draw on useful ideas belonging to the other “centre” parties. In doing so voters pick up the sense of failure across the board and stick with the more aggressive parties to fight the unwinnable deadlock.

    The failure to offer a new electoral package because of arrogance and longstanding electoral opposition is as bad as this ongoing political disagreement from SF. So don’t stop at just analysing SF for weaknesses!

    I feel that’s the only way to break this cycle of deadlock is to break off and form another coalition with other parties including viable alternatives and solutions to education and improving the economy. The mandatory coalition is an obstacle but if the UUP,SDLP and Alliance could host shared press confs and leave the executive to offer the possibility of a new working together then it might swing votes away from SF DUP.

    The heuristics of cross party working could cultivate the voters’ mindsets that should make them think about changing their voting preferences nest time around.

    As across britain and ireland people go broke, why aren’t the political parties going for broke themselves and taking risks to challenge and change the political (non)consensus?

  • Nordie Northsider

    ‘Sinn Fein’s performance in the North is meaningless in the context of day to day Southern politics.’

    I have to agree with Scaramoosh on that. I remember seeing Mitchell McLaughlin on Questions and Answers beaming with delight at the re-establishment of the Northern Executive just in time for the last Southern general election. The timing was ‘a clincher’ he announced with a grin. Somehow he imagined that anyone in the South gave a shit. The Shinners went on to lose a seat and fail in every dáilcheantar they had marked out as a gain.

  • My point is not that Southerners look to the details of what SF is doing North of the border with interest but that the party’s perceived inability to run an efficient and succesful government in the North undermines their credibility as a potential party of government in the south.

    My own view is that people in the Republic vote for alterntaive governments not permanent oppositions – unless your ambition is to spend the next thirty years in pitched battle with Joe Higgins.

    FF became very popular in NI in recent years not because of its nationalism but because it was perceived to have buolt the celtic tiger.

    In order for SF to break out of the protest politics camp its needs to be credible as a player in government. In this regard, its performance north of the border on real issues is relevant.

  • Different Drummer

    “My point is not that Southerners look to the details of what SF is doing North of the border with interest but that the party’s perceived inability to run an efficient and succesful government in the North undermines their credibility as a potential party of government in the south.

    My own view is that people in the Republic vote for alterntaive governments not permanent oppositions – unless your ambition is to spend the next thirty years in pitched battle with Joe Higgins.”

    If you can’t beat em join them or at least consider that the socialist argument about Ireland as advance by Higgins and McCann turned out to be right and *not* something to be ‘fought’ Joe’s victory is good start for a debate on what type of politics the oppressed and dispossessed need North and South.

  • Dublin Exile

    The problem for SF is that they are seen as a ‘one issue’ party – and its an issue that doesn’t impinge on the everyday lives of most people in the south.

    The Greens have the same problem, i.e. seen as a ‘one issue’ party , but most people can relate to the logic of re-cycling, buying energy efficient lightbulbs etc.

    As there are already two large catch all parties, FF and FG, and a European Social Democratic party, Labour, SF have to stake out some ground for themselves economically if they want to compete. And tis hard to sell yourself as a real socialist in opposition to Joe Higgins when you are led by a former bank manager and a big business man.

    While SF trys to sell itself as a left alternative in Dublin, many of its voters who I meet in the north west have no interest in socialist economics and would for the most part support Dana and the SPUC brigade on social issues.

    So, the problem is that SF is too broad a church and it should decide which element of its support to cut loose and which to cultivate if its going to compete with other clearly branded parties.

  • In order for SF to break out of the protest politics camp its needs to be credible as a player in government. In this regard, its performance north of the border on real issues is relevant.

    Posted by Conall McDevitt

    Conail

    You are so far off the mark here you are almost over the edge. For a start few people in the south regard the Stormont administration as a real government. I see it as being more like an English county council with a permanent Tory majority. (Incidentally am I the only one to feel that whether shinners or DUP, the west brits have morphed into those ghastly people who govern the English shire counties?)

    DC

    I fail to understand why you are so obsessed with the UK deficit, these things have a way of working themselves out, as history proves, only a fool or someone who has devious motives would start cutting public services and benefits at this time, admittedly there are plenty of them about. In government I’m with Konrad Adenauer, need comes first, find a way to pay later.

    Funny how those who now go on about the UK deficit were the same people who were cheering on the bankers etc when they had unmanageable debts.

    I will help you out here as I do not think all this worrying is good for you. Renewing Trident will cost between £15 and £78 billion, depending on whose figures you believe. For the sake of argument lets set the cost at £35 billion, not bother to renew Trident as it is a colossal waste, and your worries are over and you have a spare £7 billion in the pot.

    If the British government also ends these pointless and unwinable military adventures in Afghanistan etc, you are quids in.

    ” Always look on the bright side of life, de dum, de de.” (tap toe and smile)

  • I am of course talking about the 28 billion DC mentioned in post 4

  • harry

    “Yet it is the party’s performance in government North of the Border which is likely to most influence its electability in the Republic..”

    As measured by the electorate at the last election in the north, when Sinn Fein topped the poll, their performance seems to be holding up!! Or are you using the SDLP “begrudgery” (copyright: declan o’loan) performance meter?

  • Big Bird

    Why is anyone taking this thread seriously.
    This is nothing more that an SDLP press release by another method.

    The SDLP and conall, who is fully active within the sdlp, have an obsessive need to predict the demise of Sinn Fein, as it takes them away from thier own partys demise. Despite the success of SF in the recent euro elections in the north, the doom meister looks for ways to gloom it dowm. On a recent blog, he called for a new ireland coalition between the sdlp, FF, FG, and Labour. The same FF that has been complicit in widening the gap between the monetary elite and the working classes in Ireland. And a coalition with right wing FG! Although they are probably more in line with senior SDLP memebers ideology than the labour party, which has absorbed the politics of the workers party and democratic left, and chewed them up for mass consumption and watered down centre left politics.

    “Many within the SDLP believe this new coalition will provide an all island dimension to its politics as well as a common platform FF, FG, Labour and the SDLP on the big issues facing this island allowing a New Nationalism to emerge.” – o’conallstreet.com – August 3rd, 2009

    It seems the new SDLP policy is “Anyone But SF (ABSF)”

  • Big Bird I am entitled to an opinion as are all members of the SDLP. It is also quite ok for Irish people not to support SF. In fact 85% of Irish people vote for parties other then them.

    Over on O’Conall St I have gone to some length to outine the issues facing Sinn Fein. In summary they are:

    1 – Unity above everything. Sinn Fein go on and on about a United Ireland. North of the border this has the positive effect of winding up unionists but in the south it is a major turn off. As the north continues to stabilise it will become increasing difficult for the party to grow support simply on the basis of its position on unity – there are no votes for SF in agreeing witrh the SDLP. People can and will see through one trick ponies.

    2- Sectarianism. Sinn Fein’s inability to agree a community relations policy with the DUP also illustrates a major ideological weakness. SF oppose community relations because they believe it underminesequality. They argue that sectarianism is the result of the British Occupation of Ireland and therefore not an inter-community issue in the North. SF resist any policy which is regional to NI and as a result have a problem maximising the opportunity for regional government, irrespective of which jurisdiction it happens to be in. Sectarianism is good for SF in the North but their apparent sectarian image costs them votes in the south.

    3- The Economy. It is well documented that the party is in the dark ages in economic terms. It needs to first develop regional economic policies for NI and then take an all island view. Today it has neither. No surprise then that southern voters do not see them as a credible alternative.

    4- Education. the environment, etc. As with the economy the lack of serious achievments in NI government are costing them votes in the South. Southerners like partnership government – that’s why every government over the past twenty years has been a coalition. They also like their coalitions to work. The politics of standoff is another big turnoff for southern voters yet it has defined SF’s approach to government in the North.

    5- Talent. Like the other three big parties in the North, SF is lacking in new talent. Most of their better quality second rowers are in the South and seem keen to move the party into the political mainstream. But North of the border it is all about getting onerup on the DUP and short term tactical gain. The tail is beginning to wag the dog and that can only ever lead to trouble.

  • fin

    Conall, I think them is hoax devices, strange for a Irish unity party to bang on about unity all the time, but then again the SDLPs demise was hastened during its brief ‘post-nationalist’ period

    Their was a good thread on here re community relations a while ago, all about mixed social housing, SF put up a fight for a real solution – they’re not a party to be happy with a box of chocolates

    I don’t see any northern party showing SF up on the economy, so a lack of talent everywhere, GB and the South are hardly prospering either

    “They also like their coalitions to work” guess this is why the Green Party in the South no longer exists. I don’t think the fact that SF got the DUP into government and kept them there was lost on the Irish people, did anyone (apart from the SDLP) really believe Ian Ogs little stunt on the DUPs preferred partner

    Show me a party on these islands with decent talent, the Tories and Labour struggle to find any talent let alone groom new talent, how many times has Mandelson been back, does Davey have anyone in his cabinet he didn’t go to school with. The SDLPs lack of talent was exposed when Hume and Mallon left, the voters left too

  • DC

    Mick, I don’t bang on about the deficit spending, personally the markets needing confidence in order to service uk gov borrowing makes me laugh.

    As no one ever pulled up and queried the market-backed 125% mortgages till the crash not to mention the bloody multiple bail outs that saved the value of many market backed assets, across the board!

    However, in politics stances are made and if those moving into, or are in power make claims about 28bil cuts then propositions like that need answered on by whomever it may affect.

  • J Kelly

    Conall your views are welcome as anyones but i’m sure sf will take them with a large pinch of salt, of course sinn fein like any party, organisation, business or sports team for that matter alway have to assess their performance against public reaction or perception. Sinn Fein in my opinion are developing a a rate in the south that is manageable except for dublin were there seems to be personnel difficlties. In the north my opinion is that in government they are delivering, up against a dup who don’t really want to be their and an sdlp who believe that they have the devine right to govern and cant understand why people won’t listen to the smartest person Mark Durkan knows, himself. If Sinn Fein can define a message in the south that resonates with punters then their work in the north will pay dividends.

    Now Conall a question for you what does the sdlp stand for in a new emerging Ireland in 2009 and is Mark Durkan the person to lead them forward after 8 years of failure?

  • John O’Connell

    cant understand why people won’t listen to the smartest person Mark Durkan knows, himself

    Therein lies the crux of Sinn Fein’s problem, as Conall has alluded to, the lack of talent.

    Gerry Adams is perceived as a tribal chieftain like leader, and so is his party – tribal chiefs -and when the crisis is over and people have firmly stated who they are, there is a tendency for the tribal chiefs to become redundant.

    What use do they serve now? It’s all downhill for Gerry Adams and for Sinn Fein.

    They’re becoming irrelevant in ther South, and in the North they have increasing irrelevance.

  • hes mad

    They’re becoming irrelevant in ther South, and in the North they have increasing irrelevance.

    Posted by John O’Connell on Aug 11, 2009 @ 05:10 PM

    How can topping the euro vote in the north, be seen as an “increasing irrelevance”.
    What does that make the SDLP then?

    Keep taking the tablets!

  • The Original Sam Maguire

    “Therein lies the crux of Sinn Fein’s problem, as Conall has alluded to, the lack of talent.”
    p

  • The Original Sam Maguire

    “Therein lies the crux of Sinn Fein’s problem, as Conall has alluded to, the lack of talent.”

    And to try again…

    Isn’t that a pot and kettle type situation? The SDLP are hardly overflowing with talent either.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Jeez,

    since when did talent become a pre-requisite for political well being in the South? FF have been flying high until recently with the only visible talent that most of them have is a sharp nose for the trough.

  • DC

    I just found out I won ten pound on the lottery, so I was feeling a bit light headed, I was not having a go at you personally 😉

    Having said that I cannot see any other reason for all this talk about government deficits and the need for cuts, than an attempt by the Cameron right, etc and their media gofers to acclimatize peoples minds into believing there is no alternative to government cuts which will impact most on those who are least able to afford them.

    The UK has a green paper entitled, ‘Shaping the Future of Care Together’ which suggests abolishing disability benefits like Attendance Allowance and a master plan to turn all UK disability payments over to local authorities and the charity sector, a la the poor laws of the 19th century. As most English local and county authorities are Tory run, one does not have to be a rocket scientist to know who they will hit hard.

  • DC

    Thanks for that as I am on record as saying that 14% of GDP in Gov debt is nothing given what has happened to the banking and financial industry,

    Isn’t it funny how the Tories mocked Labour as being too managerial, too controlling and too target driven, now Gideon Osborne was on TV today at Demos saying they can get more for less.

    How? If you don’t like targets, if you don’t like the managerial aspects and management speak and lose the will for central command and control, just how then?

    And I think it might be done as you suggest it Mick. That is via cuts to those benefits and public sector bodies that the tories are against ideologically. That’s how. And it will be on an estimation that suits them politically in each sector.

  • J Kelly

    “Now Conall a question for you what does the sdlp stand for in a new emerging Ireland in 2009 and is Mark Durkan the person to lead them forward after 8 years of failure?”

    I did link to a second post on O’Conall St about the future of nationalism, inclding that of the SDLP.
    http://oconallstreet.com/2009/07/31/new-nationalism-now-needed/

    Would appreciate your views.

  • fin

    Conall, you’re getting a bit ahead of things by saying there is a lack of agreement on what a united Ireland would look like, the conversation hasn’t even started and SF at the moment appear to be the only party trying to start that conversation, it could well be a vote winner for the SDLP to pitch in and join with SF in that debate

  • Fin

    That’s not quite true. The SDLP were the first party on this island to publish a position paper on unity.

    http://www.sdlp.ie/assets/uploads/unity126.pdf

    In fact despite all SF’s talking on the issue they are yet to put anything down on paper about what a United Ireland might look like.