New political party due in South

OK, so it’s single sourced and unattributed… but I know who the guy is and I never said forth was a newspaper anyway.

New Irish political party seeks to make impact before 2012
Socially and economically liberal political group to launch before election hopes to avoid making the PDs’ errors all over again

Here’s the interesting question, though: is there room for such a party? Clearly there are large sections of social and economic thought that are unserved in Ireland, North and South, including the territory this crew plan on staking out. However, the stubborn refusal of Irish politics to move away from the ideology-free blancmange that is the Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael party is no accident. It happens for a reason.

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  • RG Cuan

    It’s not entirely clear from the article what type of party ‘Forth’ will be… what are its policies? Not sure about the name either…

    Beidh le feiceáil!

  • Jason Walsh

    You what now? forth is a publication that has nothing to do with the putative party.

    Click the link and you can read the article in forth all about them.

    The claim to be basically liberals, in both senses of the word.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    One of the other papers had a story the other day about a possible McDowell comeback. Is this the same story?

  • Jason Walsh

    No, it’s not the same one.

    I can exclusively reveal that my source is not Mr McAngry.

  • Jason Walsh

    Anyway, who cares? This party may appear or it may sink without trace like the Liberals and Amhrán Nua. However, I am interested in whether anyone thinks there is room for such an outfit.

  • Jason,

    it’s not more political parties that are needed in most countries but less, as long of course as there is proper transparency and accountabilty. In fact with a few improvements in internet security we can all listen in to the debates, put forward by experts and not politicans, and then vote on them. The foreign office civil servants can then represent us abroad and the civil service implement our selected policies.

    If the politicans wish to be heard they can wander around the streets with billboards.

  • Jason Walsh

    MU,

    That’s as may be and I have no specific interest in this project (liberal economics are not my bag) but I’m just wondering if anyone thinks there is room for a challenger to the duopoly.

    Likewise, in the North the decay of the SDLP and UUP was not at the hands of any new ideas (nor will that of the DUP if TUV bites) so although the Northern parties are more fluid the situation is pretty similar.

  • Jason, is this being led by Michael McDowell?

  • Also what is forth? I see it linked everywhere these days. Is it just a blog or a magazine? I’ve never seen it on sale.

  • slug

    In the Republic, certainly the Labour party and Green parties are coherent.

    But the other two parties make no sense. Has anyone looked on FF’s website to see what their policies are? There is no section that explains their policy position. Is it to the left of FG on economic policy? Who knows.

  • RG Cuan

    Ah ha, misread your first sentence too quickly after a few bottles of beer. Thought it was strange.

    Thanks for the head’s up – new parties are always good for a bit of craic.

  • Jason Walsh

    shane,

    It’s an online magazine. I’m the editor and publisher. It is most assuredly not a blog.

    No connection to McDowell that I’m aware of. I asked.

    Obviously I was told about this new venture for a reason, though I don’t entirely buy the person in question’s answer to my question “Why not go to a newspaper?” I would have taken it to a paper myself but without a second source or at least a name they’d not be interested. I can bend the rules because I’m actually only interested in the context of a wider debate about politics.

    slug,

    On paper FF is to the left of FG. In practice… hard to say. FF’s left wing, if such a thing still exists, exercises no power whatsoever. FG is also a bit more law-n’-order oriented.

  • Mrazik

    Has anyone looked on FF’s website to see what their policies are? There is no section that explains their policy position. Is it to the left of FG on economic policy? Who knows.

    Posted by slug on Jan 27, 2010 @ 08:43 PM

    Their former leader didn’t have a bank account so why do you think they would have any policies, apart from being Republican, which, er, was achieved along time ago…

  • Jimmy_Sands

    There’s really no ideological difference between FF and FG. FG is for people who went to the priests and FF is for people who went to the brothers.

  • who is behind this? We all know who is behind the big three Irish parties as they stand.

    The Irish Labour Party in its present form, venerating the memory of James Connolly but sharing almost none of his objectives, is heavily funded by trade unions that exist throughout these islands and are headquartered over here. And that’s just official funding.

    Fine Gael and, if anything even more so, Fianna Fáil are not even takeovers early on, as in the Labour case. We can all see who was behind a merger in 1933 of the Blueshirts, Cumann na nGaedheal and the National Centre Party, complete with a commitment to Commonwealth membership (which in those days necessitated retention of the monarchy, and a very high degree of integration in foreign policy and defence), albeit for a United Ireland as the ultimate aim. Never mind a 1926 secession from Sinn Féin itself, which went on to hang the IRA. You see, there is always a price.

    So, who is behind this new, neoliberal, neoconservative secession from, at least, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, and possibly Labour as well? Three guesses. And they would all be right. In which case, what is their price?

  • Chuck Loyola

    Jason

    “It’s an online magazine. … It is most assuredly not a blog.”

    Could you briefly explain the difference?

  • LabourNIman

    I’m shocked we have went this long without a nationalist insisting they organise in NI as well..

  • Jason Walsh

    “Could you briefly explain the difference?”|

    – Editorial control
    – An editorial process
    – A legal entity
    – Entirely different editorial objectives

    You are aware of the concept of a magazine, I trust? It’s an old armaments terms but it has been known to be used in publishing, too.

  • Jason Walsh

    And I managed to write all that without using the word journalism. Amazing, eh? Sorry but I’m not a true believer in, cough, “new” media and don’t think that random witterings equal participatory democracy.

  • Jason Walsh

    “who is behind this?”

    I’m not in a position to say at this stage.

  • Oh, I don’t mean “Who is the be the Leader?” I don’t know that one, and I’d be interested to find out. I meant the question rhetorically: who goes about the earth setting up parties like this? And they say that neoconservatism is dead…

  • JD

    “Anyway, who cares? This party may appear or it may sink without trace like the Liberals and Amhrán Nua. However, I am interested in whether anyone thinks there is room for such an outfit. ”

    The only reason the PDs lasted as long as they did was the former Fianna Fail reps they inherited from 1985 when they were established. They were good at constituency work, clientelism etc. Not surprisingly they folded when these reps came near retirement.

    The genuine ideologues in the PDs were hopeless at constituency work and after the initial surge in 1987, the party bumped along at 4% perilously close to the margin of error.

    In 1985/6 social liberalism was about to finally burst out on the political scene in the South. In 2010 much of 1980s “liberal agenda” is mainstream. Just look at the civil partnership debate in the Dail this week.

    When the PDs folded Fianna Fail joined the European Liberal party (alongside the Alliance & Lib Dems). If the pressures of the economic crisis do cause pieces to drop off FF & FG in the coming years, it won’t be social liberalism any new economic liberal party will be championing, it will be populist anti-immigrant poltics like a far right party in Netherlands or Scandinavia.

    As regards north of the border, the main development in the “Liberal” camp will be a re-aligned and re-named SDLP joining Fianna Fail in alliance in the European liberals. Expect a joint pro Europe Euroliberal candidate from FF/SDLP in 2014.

    There is a potential economic liberal v statist divie that might emerge in NI. Fianna Fail & Tories v a few Labourites, Shinners and Loyalists. The opposition to the public sector might well become a a rallying point for middle class economic liberls on both sides of the communal divide in the North.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Can we not just scrap all the parties North and south and have a Conservative Party, a Labour Party and a Liberal Party, with fancy Irish names of course, have links between them north and south but also with the mainland parties and eorupean parties and well I guess you still need a loony fringe of rabid nationalist (of both sorts) and die hard commies but keep them small.

  • Rory Carr

    Ahh, social and economic liberalism, the political doctrine that advocates that the rich can do whatever they like just so long as the poor pay for it. Should find a few takers, however I fear that I am unlikely to be susceptible to their charms. Shame really.

  • Mack

    Rory

    economic liberalism, the political doctrine that advocates that the rich can do whatever they like just so long as the poor pay for it.

    Not really, it’s more a like the doctrine that says that businesses should be run by businessmen, not corrupt politicians, and should be allowed to fail – with the investors and not the tax payer bearing the cost.

  • Rory Carr

    …businesses … should be allowed to fail – with the investors and not the tax payer bearing the cost.

    Yeah, right, Mack. Pull the other one. I can read the papers as well as the next fellow. This is all very well and good until failure actually occurs and then either the taxpayer steps in as recent events have all too painfully demonstrated and as was demonstrated even more disgracefully in the case of the Lloyd’s names who, when their hitherto winning wagers lost, went crying to HMG insisting that they act as bookmaker and refund their stakes.
    Besides which it is always the workers whose effort had gone under-rewarded while they ensured that the business was in profit who are, upon the failure of management, then tossed to the dogs.

  • Social and economic liberalism

    The doctrine that government should stay out of both the bedroom and the boardroom. 😉

  • Mack

    Rory –

    We have a bizarre mix of socialism and capitalism with the system where ideology is corrupted only to favour the rich. That’s why a party that espouses genuine economic liberalism is a good idea – as long as it also maintains a social safety net.

  • consul

    I think the body politic went largely under the radar during the boom. Society went through remarkable change since the eighties. The current 30 and 40 somethings came through and brushed aside the old regime and brought this country into the 21st. The country was freewheeling and no one was really watching the politicians. Until the wheels came off. And then people started watching tight. And it’s only in the last couple of years that we’re coming to understand that our politicians are 30 years out of date. I would like to see a more conventional two party system. Centre right vs Centre left. I also hope to see strong local government, getting the parish pump stuff dealt with on the councils instead of dominating the Dáil as it does currently.

  • georgieleigh

    Forth is a bit ambitious.

    Fifth or maybe Sixth would be more realistic.

  • JD

    “I would like to see a more conventional two party system. Centre right vs Centre left. I also hope to see strong local government, getting the parish pump stuff dealt with on the councils instead of dominating the Dáil as it does currently. ”

    Unfortunately you would need a different electorate. they persist in electing county councillors to the national legislature. The Dual mandate is abolished the best part of a decade and the voters still won’t break their habits.

    A new electoral system without multi-seat constituencies and a large list element to the system would be essential. If FG & Labour have sense they should propose to change the electoral system in tandem with abolishing the senate. It is the only way to fool the voters into scrapping their parish pump TD.

    The present electoral system has served Fianna Fail particualrly well – they excel at it. Ideological parties have foundered on it and the legislature is the poorer for it. FG & Labour might well find a continental electoral system more congenial that might allow better alternation of governments and facilitate a more national policy debate rather than 40 odd individual local contests.

  • consul

    Unfortunately you would need a different electorate. they persist in electing county councillors to the national legislature. The Dual mandate is abolished the best part of a decade and the voters still won’t break their habits.

    I think your prognosis is correct but I’m more optimistic about the potential for change. The good news is the electorate is changing and the conversation is also changing from the treaty to how to run the country. After 90 years you might say not before time. The rabid, frothing at the mouth civil war dopes have at least stopped reproducing and while they’ll be with us a while yet, the conversation is moving to the economy, services and that.

    I agree that we’d be better with 100 by-elections. 100 seats is enough in the House, the rest should be on the councils where they belong. The TD’s brief should be national issues and national legislation. They should not get bogged down with constituency work permanently campaigning. When you look at Dáil proceedings there should be more than three people there. I think this would make for better decision making and more long-term policy formulation would not be considered as risky. We need to curtail the tendency to make policies on the strength of how it plays in a potential election because that sort of thing has really done us harm.

  • JD

    “The good news is the electorate is changing and the conversation is also changing from the treaty to how to run the country. After 90 years you might say not before time. The rabid, frothing at the mouth civil war dopes have at least stopped reproducing and while they’ll be with us a while yet, the conversation is moving to the economy, services and that.”

    I think on balance the power the “Civil War politics” broke about 20 years ago – when Robinson became President. However the power of “Parish pump politics” remains as strong as ever.

    The PR-STV electoral system incentivises electors to play there various local TDs in a competition to be seen as “hardest working on the ground”. The voters don’t give a damn about TDs who do legislative work. They want ones that spend every moment of the day, 7 days a week all year around holding their hand or at least being available to do so.

    Having TDs that are not connected to specific geographic constituencies would make for better decision making and more long-term policy formulation would not be considered as risky. The list system has its draw backs, but it does force the voter to vote for a block of ideas, rather than the bloke who lives around the block.

    The disproportionate amount of parish pump TDs undoubtly played a huge role in the failure of the political system in the bubble years. Civil war politics is dead, but I don’t believe voters can see the wrong of their TDs having to spend far too much time devoted to constituency matters.

  • consul

    Yeah nail on the head JD. Mediocrity will reign supreme for a while yet. I guess the insatiable need to be ahead of the neighbours even if it means everyone has less is still firmly rooted. The idea if everyone worked in unision then everyone would do better doesn’t interest many. The irony is that the small minded hurt themselves as much as anyone else.