The Republican Party, The Conservative Party, Sinn Fein…

The fund raising power of the Conservative party and the American Republican party in past decades is stuff of legend…. and yet infamous. The accessibility of massive financial reserves allowed both parties to develop what at one stage were un-paralleled P.R. machines, whilst simultaneously creating and reinforcing un-paralleled levels of corruption and influence peddling.

The recent release of N.I. party incomes by the Electoral Commission slipped almost totally under the media radar, however they make for very interesting reading. The 2010 accounts saw the DUP the lowest earners at £268,456, the SDLP at £346,946 and the UUP at £440,949. Sinn Fein however trounced the lot, with a declared income of £1,289,335! In the spending stakes the difference is as equally disproportionate, with Sinn Fein spending over three times their nearest rivals at a whopping £1,212,375!

There is no-one who would suggest for one minute that Sinn Fein have committed any crime in either real terms, or by way of ‘natural’ justice, by raising massive amounts of funding, indeed it’s common knowledge that elected representatives draw a set salary with the rest going to the party (one of the few aspects of Sinn Fein that gains a kind of universal kudos- albeit the figure of this ‘average’ wage does not appear to be in the public domain). Note: It’s not apparent if these salary donations are included in these figures.

Given the astounding figures involved however, should Northern Ireland – Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter alike- be concerned? There is one almost universal constant in human history… when one grouping or body has access to finance vastly exceeding their rivals and enemies, it rarely breeds integrity, sincerity or bodes well for their enemies. Or come to that, even their friends in the long run…

  • SethS

    Theoretically yes, a massive funding imbalance can lead to problems. But none of the parties seem to be so wealthy that that is likely to be an issue just yet.

    Of more concern would be the large numbers of sinecures, paid out of public funds, handed to party flunkies – and control of those depends on seats.

    One might also argue that it shows the efficiency of the DUP – getting more seats than SF on a fifth of the budget –

    Will be interesting if the picture is similar in 2011 following the assembly and council elections.

  • michael-mcivor

    Seths- Sinn Fein as more elected people than the d.u.p-
    look at the facts- not just what you want to see-

  • BloodThunder

    All Sinn Fein’s grubbing for capital isn’t very socialist is it? Then again, are they even a socialist party any more or are the dissos flogging that dead horse?

  • lamhdearg

    is there anywhere we can look to find out what the money was spent on, audit?.

  • grandimarkey

    SethS:

    “One might also argue that it shows the efficiency of the DUP – getting more seats than SF on a fifth of the budget –”

    Sinn Fein, of course, have more elected representatives then the DUP. A simple scan of their respective wikipedia pages provides the following figures –

    Sinn Fein – 317 elected representatives
    DUP – 222 elected representatives

    I’d risk also stating that Sinn Fein most likely stood in more constituencies than the DUP in the last batch of elections, however not having the figures I won’t make such a bold statement just yet.

    This is all, of course, because Sinn Fein stand in elections across Ireland. A fact that perhaps should have been acknowledged in the original post, Quincey.

    A more accurate viewpoint may be to compare the political incomes of all the political parties in Ireland, or at least the top 5. This may give a more representative and comparative figure for Sinn Fein’s income.

    Anything else is like comparing apples and oranges…

  • Munsterview

    Sour Grapes Quincy !

  • Neil

    should Northern Ireland – Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter alike- be concerned?

    As a SF voter I’d say I’m comfortable with the situation.

  • grandimarkey

    Lamhdearg:
    “is there anywhere we can look to find out what the money was spent on, audit?.”

    Here you go my friend. A google search of ‘Sinn Fein Accounts’ brought this up. Doesn’t seem to be up to date with 2010 yet however I’d imagine that an election year may take longer to audit, considering the expenditure.

  • Munsterview

    Neil : Comfortable is good……. if it go over 1.5 million I dare say that there are more than a few SF members and supporters prepared to try on smugness for size also !

  • SethS

    Fair enough hadn’t checked the eact figures.

    That said, Iwasn’t trying to do down SF electoral suceess, and I’m no DUP supporter. More pointing out that they seem to have been quite successful on what appears to be a much smaller budget than the other parties, and wondering are there any particular reasons for this.

  • keano10

    The assumption that electoral success is exclusively linked to party income is a very tenuous one. Sinn Fein are fortunate to have hundreds of party members up and down the island who voluntarily give their time free of charge to party. This is particularly evident during canvassing at election times. Thrre is more than a hint of jealousy in the initial post. In All Ireland terms Sinn Fein are now a very large party with a connsiderable number of elected representatives on both sides of the border. How they use their income is entirely their own business.

  • grandimarkey

    SethS

    Trying to extrapolate what Sinn Fein’s income would be if they were purely a northern based party might be worth a bash for a more localised comparison however it would be a pretty difficult task, especially speculatively, however…

    If we assume that income is correlative to election spending

    I’d imagine in the last batch of elections SF threw quite a bit of money at certain key target areas in the south and generally a fair bit in the north. In the South I’d imagine they didn’t concentrate many funds in Connaught (with the exception of a few constituencies) with perhaps more spent in Munster, and more again in Leinster & Ulster. Therefore simply dividing their income by 4 probably isn’t going to wield any marvelously accurate results.

    However doing so would put Sinn Fein on £322,333.75 leaving them trailing the SDLP and the UUP. While potentially wildly inaccurate it does arrive at the the possibility that both of the largest parties in the north arrived at said position on a smaller budget.

    The reasoning for this, as some would argue, is the tribal arrangement at Stormont which invites voters to support ‘their own’ to keep ‘the other side’ from winning. Therefore voting for the largest party of a certain socio-political designation is the preferred option…

  • pippakin

    I don’t think of SF as a socialist party. To me they are more like the ‘talks cheap’ party which when you think about it explains the wealth…

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Bloodthunder / Pip

    Where is the contradiction in a socialist party being well-funded?

    Do you even understand what socialism is? Or are you one of those people who think that socialism means everyone should be poor?

    What’s striking about these figures is not how much SF have raised, but how little the others survive on. It’s a good and democratic thing that there is such a relatively low financial threshold to entry into politics here.

    The only worry is how easy it would be for some millionaire to ‘buy’ a major political party here.

    If only any of them were worth owning…

  • pippakin

    Billy Pilgrim

    “Do you even understand what socialism is? Or are you one of those people who think that socialism means everyone should be poor?”

    Do you understand what socialism is?

    No I’m not one who believes everyone should be poor, but nor am I one who believes the leaders of a party should say one thing and do another. I don’t believe their leaders are socialist I think they are opportunists.

  • grandimarkey

    Pippakin:
    “but nor am I one who believes the leaders of a party should say one thing and do another”

    What are they saying and doing differently?

  • Toastedpuffin

    “Socialism is………. cutting corporation tax to attract multinationals”

    – Martin McGuiness

    (or words to that effect)

  • SethS

    @ grandimarkey

    I agree that trying to extrapolate what SF Spent up North is probably a pointles exercise at this stage (unless of course there are seperate accounts for each jurisdiction), but I think you’re getting to the nub of my question which is how come the DUP are successful (and possibly SF) on what appears to be a much smaller budget – are there other factors at work? Obviously SF do have a grass roots organanisation which provides a lot of labour for free. Do the DUP have something similar or do they have other ways of making their budget go further.

    If they have suceeded despite a small budget it weakens the argument that funding diferences are actually having a major impact.

    I don’t know the answer, just interested, as my first reation would be that the party that spends the most is more likely to suceed.

  • SethS

    Damm my poor eyesight and not being able to edit…

  • Neil

    I don’t know the answer, just interested, as my first reation would be that the party that spends the most is more likely to suceed.

    There’s probably a certain amount that needs to be spent for a party to have a reasonable chance, but it swiftly gets to the point that another glossy brochure or election poster makes damn all difference. Couple that to the DUP and SF’s core support which is a significant group of people who’s votes can be banked well before the election.

    I would imagine that if the amount spent is divided by the number of votes to get a cash per vote ratio, the DUP would need buttons for North Antrim, and SF would need less again in West Belfast.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Pip

    “Do you understand what socialism is?”

    I believe I do. It’s the principle that the means of production and distribution of life’s necessities should be owned by the society collectively, and not privately. It’s really not complicated.

    Let me ask again: where is the contradiction in a socialist party being well-funded?

    Why, in your opinion, isn’t SF a socialist party? Their policy on nationalising the banking system down south would seem to be a classically socialist position, and one that would have rather a transformative effect on the society as a whole. No?

    (Note: nationalising the whole banking system, not just the debts of private banks.)

  • Toastedpuffin

    BP: “It’s the principle that the means of production and distribution of life’s necessities should be owned by the society collectively, and not privately”

    Martin McGuinness: “It is crucial that we strengthen the private sector”

    Gerry Adams: “Sinn Féin has no intention of supporting increases to the corporation tax levels in this state”

    Marxism? McMarxism more like.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Toastedpuffin

    Fair points. Those statements are indeed difficult to square with socialism.

    But what do you mean by the term ‘McMarxism’?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    As to SF’s socialist credentials, I would say that one can certainly point to SF policies that are most definitely not socialist, but one can also point to SF policies that most definitely ARE socialist.

    So whether or not SF pass the purity test that all self-declared socialists seem to be subjected to, I think they have a reasonable claim to being MORE socialist than any other party on this island that has any realistic hope of exercising real power.

  • Toastedpuffin

    BP: Think Karl Marx in a clown suit. Something brandable the kids’ll understand, and gorge on.

    One could, of course, point to policies in any political party and say they’re socialist. SF most definitely aren’t a socialist party, but they are most definitely a party that likes POSING as a socialist party.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    TP

    Ah, I get the McMarxism thing now. Apologies for my slowness, and thanks.

    I have pointed to the banking policy as classically socialist, and deeply meaningful to society as a whole.

    Can you expand on your second paragraph, with reference to actual policies?

  • Scáth Shéamais

    As I understand it, the figures in the OP only refer to the Six Counties and not to the finances that SF raise in the 26. Even so, a lot of that money should be fairly easily accounted for – for example around £540,000 would have come from the party’s then 27 MLAs.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Toastedpuffin.

    Or indeed anyone.

    How about SF’s health policy down south? They advocate a British-style NHS system. Now, of course, this prompts predictable chortles from entrenched elites (‘Imagine Sinn Fein, of all people, promoting a British-style system in an Irish Republic!) but it’s surely a classically socialist solution to the problems of healthcare in the Republic? A health service wholly owned by the public, in which private profit-making is rendered extremely bloody difficult.

    This strikes me not only as being a socialist policy, but a clear example of socialism trumping nationalism in SF policy-making. As in, yes it’s a British system, but it works, so let’s have it.

    Or their proposals to: introduce a wealth tax on the rich; to repudiate private banking debts; to reclaim fiscal sovereignty by introducing An Punt Nua; to abolish academic selection; to reintroduce the grant for third level students; on an economic stimulus package including public works schemes, to provide jobs; and so on.

    Regardless of whether one regards these as sensible policies, they are all recognisably socialist. No?

    Say SF get into government next time round, and say they get to implement even two of these policies – say, they nationalise the private finance system, and create an Irish National Health Service. Won’t that be enough to make them the most consequential socialist force seen in Irish politics since the Citizen Army?

  • Toastedpuffin

    BP, the NHS was dreamt up by Conservative Party Minister of Health Sir Henry Willink. I’d agree he was at least as socialist as Sinn Fein, perhaps even moreso. He was undoubtedly less pretentious.

  • carl marks

    SF certainly has some policies that are socialist wither it is a socialist party or not remains to be seen.
    They certainly seen to have less links with moneyed pressure (property developers) groups than say the DUP or the UUP , in the south FF and FG also are linked to big money, but is this just less opportunity or a point of principal time will tell.
    Alas Billy pilgrim is right at the moment they are best placed to make the needed changes in the future (electorate willing) but will they or will it be a case of when the time comes they don’t live up to the promise, only time will tell.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Toastedpuffin

    Dreadfully weak argument, I’m sorry to say.

    Firstly, it’s ridiculous to ascribe the existence of the NHS to the accredited author of a wartime white paper, as if that’s the sum total of the history of the NHS. Certainly, Willink played a part, as did many, many others – not least the millions who handed Labour a landslide in 1945.

    Secondly, regardless of which politicians were on hand to found the NHS, the institution itself meets every definition of socialism one can dream up. It wouldn’t matter if it was the legacy of a red-basher, say even Churchill himself, it’d still be a great big red socialist institution.

    (But of course it wasn’t Churchill or the Tories that did it. It was the post-war Labour government, which Attlee famously described as “socialist, and proud of it!”)

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Carl

    “SF certainly has some policies that are socialist wither it is a socialist party or not remains to be seen.”

    I would have thought that the definition of a socialist party is a party that has (at least mainly) socialist policies. No?

    I think the question here is of credibility rather than ideology: as in, they are a socialist party, but would they be a socialist government? Or at least a recognisably socialist component of a government?

    Which is a fair question, to which I’m afraid I have no answer.

  • lamhdearg

    do s.f. still have different rules applied to them, than the rest of the uk partys on disclosing where their funding comes from?

  • carl marks

    Billy Pilgrim says
    I think the question here is of credibility rather than ideology: as in, they are a socialist party, but would they be a socialist government? Or at least a recognisably socialist component of a government?

    Which is a fair question, to which I’m afraid I have no answer.

    fair point, sometime,s they appear to be more of a populist party.
    in which imean while i would agree with them on some of thier policys i get the feeling that it,s what they think it is what they should be doing rather than what they really want to be doing.

  • Harry Flashman

    In fairness Carl has there ever been a genuinely “socialist” government?

    By that I mean a government composed equally from all classes and backgrounds, where genuine equality and fairness was created and where all citizens were treated equally before the law?

    I’m not knocking socialism, it’s a nice idea but an impossible dream to actually implement (without mass murder and famine that is and that kinda defeats the purpose).

    In just the same way that a genuinely capitalist, free market economy has also never existed. Human nature and special interests not to mention good old fashioned corruption always succeed in wrecking the finest ideas.

  • west-east

    We have been told sein fein members who earn a wage in politics think this might include some of those non elected people who advise ministers give up a portion they earn to the party

    how is this public money used by sein fein

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Harry

    ” … has there ever been a genuinely “socialist” government By that I mean a government composed equally from all classes and backgrounds, where genuine equality and fairness was created and where all citizens were treated equally before the law?”

    I think you’re setting the bar impossibly high. I would define a socialist government as a government that implements recognizably socialist policies. By that definition, there have been plenty of socialist governments in countries all around the world.

    Labour 1945-51 was composed of members from all classes, but far more significantly, it drew support from all classes – most pertinently, from an organised working class. It did not create what you call “genuine” equality and fairness, but it did move British society dramatically away from the extreme inequality and unfairness which had been its hallmarks, and which are its hallmarks again now, thirty years into Thatcher’s counter-revolution.

    The equal treatment of all citizens before the law is not a principle that is uniquely socialist. Any conservative or classical liberal would concur with it.

    “…socialism … (is) an impossible dream to actually implement (without mass murder and famine…”

    Did the introduction of the NHS involve mass murder and famine? Did the introduction of maternity leave, or paid annual leave, or the 9-5 working day, or sick pay, or security of tenure, or the minimum wage, or safety in the workplace, or school meals, or free secondary education, or student grants, or capital controls, or inheritance tax, or high taxes on the super-rich, or banning of child labour, etc etc etc, involve mass murder and famine?

    You’re referring to Stalin and Mao, neither of whom were socialists, whatever they actually said. It’s an easy thing to test. In a socialist society, those who work in,say, a factory, own it and control it. Did that ever happen in Soviet Russia? Has that ever happened in China? Of course not.

    Stalin and Mao claimed to be socialists because they wished to be associated with the moral high ground that socialism enjoys among the working people of the world. Western propaganda systems agreed with them, for the opposite reason: they wished to defame socialism.

  • Harry Flashman

    I agree that 1945 to 1950 did see the nearest thing to the implementation of socialist principles in UK history, it also led to almost total national bankruptcy, something that seems to follow British Labour governments like night follows day.

    But still and all was it really socialism or simply a reordering of a fundamentally capitalist system to provide benefits for workers? Something that Germany, Japan and Scandinavia also managed to achieve without becoming socialist and without the resultant national bankruptcy.

    Maggie didn’t just emerge out of nowhere you know, the country really was utterly banjaxed by 1979.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Harry

    You are surely aware that Britain WAS bankrupt in 1945. Hardly surprising, given the circumstances. That is to say: a Great Depression, followed by bare survival in an existential, total war; causing the total destruction of most of the country’s industrial base, loss of the empire and relegation to second-class economic power, after centuries of pre-eminence.

    It’s an extraordinary feat of ideological discipline on your part, that you nevertheless ascribe Britain’s financial peril in the period to the Labour government that inherited the bankruptcy.

    Labour 1945-51 gave the lie to the classic conservative argument against society collectively looking after itself: that it’s unaffordable. As you rightly (almost) point out, Britain’s most socialist government occurred when Britain was least able to afford it: yet, even at this lowest ebb, it actually was affordable.

    The only social downside was that domestic service pretty much disappeared as a profession and the landed gentry had to find jobs.

    “But still and all was it really socialism or simply a reordering of a fundamentally capitalist system to provide benefits for workers?”

    It’s not a binary choice. As you correctly point out, “pure” socialism and “pure” capitalism have never existed. What Labour 1945-51 did was shift the British economy, which had been very capitalist indeed, quite dramatically towards socialism. But of course there were still large swathes of the economy that remained privately-owned.

    “Something that Germany, Japan and Scandinavia also managed to achieve without becoming socialist and without the resultant national bankruptcy.”

    What do you mean by “becoming socialist”? Surely you don’t just mean, aligning themselves with the USSR? (Even Tito’s Yugoslavia didn’t do that.)

    The worker protection you describe didn’t happen by accident in Germany and Japan. It was won by the struggle of the vibrant trade union movements in those countries.

    As for Scandinavia: Denmark, Sweden and Finland have each been dominated since the war by governments that would be regarded as hard left in Britain or Ireland. As a consequence, they are now each regarded as among the best places on earth to live. They are all surviving the global economic tsunami better than the more ideologically capitalist countries. They’re rich countries, and quite egalitarian societies, despite being small, peripheral and possessing little by way of natural resources.

    Scandinavia “went socialist” in a big way. The Scandinavian countries are poster children for socialism.

    “Maggie didn’t just emerge out of nowhere you know, the country really was utterly banjaxed by 1979.”

    I know. It had suffered a right-wing coup in 1976.

    But thank God everything is all right now. With its advanced industrial base, highly educated work force, energy independence, efficient infrastructure and public services, Britain is well-placed to emerge from the unfolding collapse of the neoliberal order.

    Oh dear….

  • lamhdearg

    “Each year Sinn Féin publishes the party’s annual financial statements for both the north and south. In the north political parties are required under law to provide a full income and expenditure annual financial statement to the electoral commission. Sinn Féin commends this requirement and believes a similar practice should be in place in the south”.
    the brits are teaching, the shiners are learning.

    Thanks grandimarkey, bit of a read though.

  • Dewi

    Elected members contributions are in the figures I think :
    http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/party-finance/database-of-registers/statements-of-accounts/soa/pdfs/soa_27-07-11_10-12-29.pdf
    In the £573k of donations I’d imagine.

  • pauluk

    Obama is on course to spend $1 billion on his 2012 election campaign, so any suggestion that the Republican Party is the only party with big money is something of an anachronism.

  • Comrade Stalin

    How Sinn Féin raise or spend their money is no problem provided it is all lawful, and there isn’t anything remotely unlawful going on here. It may be an issue for some people when considering what way to cast their vote, but I really can’t imagine people opposing a party on the basis that they established for themselves a well-funded election fighting warchest.

    The large amount of money here is almost certainly significantly boosted by SF’s policy of having elected reps pay a significant proportion of their salaries into the party. Government ministers have a salary almost double that of a regular MLA, and an MP salary is higher as well (although there is a reduction for double jobbing), so it is not hard to see how this could build up substantially.

    The original post was a little weird. I’d no idea that the Republican Party or the Conservative Party were especially renowned for fundraising any more than their immediate contemporaries.

  • carl marks

    Harry, you say that true socialist society has never existed, true if you define socialism as Marxist /Leninism. However I would define Norway and Sweden as pretty close what I would define as socialist states.
    As for SF we can argue over with they are socialist or not but to use the Marxist label in any sense is inaccurate, As far I can see they do not user dialectic’s either historical or materialist in their debates or seemingly in forming policy’s .as far as i am aware these are basic to any Marxist analysis.

  • Comrade Stalin

    SF are definitely not Marxist in practice; they are plainly populist nationalists. That their message is different on either side of the border should be a clue to how the policies are not based on principle but on whatever is likely to resonate best with the electorate.

  • slmccni

    Having skimmed over the posts in this thread I see more of the same from SF members/supporters – we can say/do what we want and no matter what the consequences are of that we will tell you and you will believe us, that it was for the best. Sinn Fein seem to think that everyone else is daft. There are several comments here where people reiterate the same point over and over about the success of Sinn Fein and its socialist principles. I am definitely not going to deny nor discredit the success of the party – there are a lot of people both North and south who are ripe for the taking by a party like Sinn Fein but when someone criticises or questions the party it should not be the attitude of its voters/supporters to pat people on the head and make condescending comments. It hasn’t helped anyone that they’ve been rewarded so much for “bad behaviour”, whether that be by the british gov or the electorate, but they should always remember – although all the signs are pointing to them being almost infallible they are not. Bear in mind that success in NI is part of a phase of transition that will end and success in the south is down to people being pissed off with FF.

    Again, i’ll stress – not knocking nor deriding their success but don’t cop the attitude of being untouchable. I can remember not too long ago, someone on here saying that “the dogs on the street know unionists will be on our side eventually”. From that the “dogs on the street” would read the prods are too daft to know whats good for them… we know, because we’re Sinn Fein! Sums up my point.

  • carl marks

    slmccni (profile) says:
    6 August 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Having skimmed over the posts in this thread I see more of the same from SF members/supporters – we can say/do what we want and no matter what the consequences are of that we will tell you and you will believe us, that it was for the best. Sinn Fein seem to think that everyone else is daft.

    Where did you see that, I just read (not skimmed) and can find very little of what you claim is there?
    Feel free to off on a SF bashing rant but you add nothing to the debate, Politics here should be trying to get away from the level of polemic were we stand like primary school kids and slag each other,
    Have you got any analyses to offer, what policies (apart from the united Ireland thing) do you object to from SF, do you believe they are a socialist, populist, democratic party, what is your reasoning. That’s have a bit more than “them one, s are bad boys look what they done” for both sides can do that and it goes nowhere.

  • Toastedpuffin

    BP: “It wouldn’t matter if it was the legacy of a red-basher, say even Churchill himself, it’d still be a great big red socialist institution”

    Which is exactly the point I was making. If (by your own suggestion) a socialist party is one which you’ve calculated has more than 50% “socialist” policies, then I’d suggest you’d struggle to find a non-socialist party, with the BNP being the reddest of the lot. Arguing SF’s socialist credentials (in the face of the evidence to the contrary in both their public and private activities) seems to involve ignoring a lot of domestic elephants.

  • tacapall

    Sinn Fein a socialist party ! Lol

    “They certainly seen to have less links with moneyed pressure (property developers) groups than say the DUP or the UUP”

    Thats because they are the property devolopers, ever wonder who the biggest landlords in west belfast are. Im sure the assets recovery agency would roll their eyes reading that one, do you know if theve been active in west belfast recently ?. Then theres those among them who scrape by on 2 or 3 salaries, the unemployment levels in west belfast must not be as bad as everyone makes out as some of them have 2 or 3 paid jobs and buisnesses on top. Democratic socialist republic now thats a phrase I haven’t heard from them in a long time, maybe it frightens those millionares among them who want everything to stay just the way it is, the haves and the have nots, and it will always be that way with a party whos ideology is flexible with the company it keeps.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Toastedpuffin

    “If (by your own suggestion) a socialist party is one which you’ve calculated has more than 50% “socialist” policies…”

    That was not my suggestion. I didn’t say anything of the sort.

    I said that a socialist party is a party that’s policies are, in the main, recognizably socialist.

    I added the “in the main” caveat, since undoubtedly there will always be details in any manifesto, or indeed in any party’s performance, in or out of government, which arguably deviates from doctrinal purity. But I believe one should take a rounded view, and one should not make the perfect the enemy of the good, as the old saying goes.

    Your idea about quantifying policies and calculating 50% of a policy programme is absurd.

    “…then I’d suggest you’d struggle to find a non-socialist party…”

    Even allowing for the ridiculousness of the 50% idea, I would suggest that the Tories, the US Republican Party, the US Democratic Party, UKIP, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, UUP, PDs (RIP) and many others, are all ideologically committed to maximal private ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange. Their policies across the spectrum reflect this.

    Their commitment to capitalism is generally false – their willingness to use state resources to back the rich reflect this – but their passionate hatred of socialism, and indeed democracy, is very real.

    I could go on. Others are easily arguable. (The DUP, for example. Irish and British Labour could both get a touch, too…) But the ones listed above are unarguable, and it took all of five seconds to think of them.

    “Arguing SF’s socialist credentials (in the face of the evidence to the contrary in both their public and private activities) seems to involve ignoring a lot of domestic elephants.”

    Please, present me with some of this evidence to the contrary, of which you speak. I have been sufficiently courteous and respectful to present you with evidence of SF policies which, I believe, support my arguments. I asked you, some time ago, for evidence related to actual policies.

    Any chance?

  • Toastedpuffin

    BP,

    So, just to thresh this thing out, what majority of a party’s policies should be “recognizably” socialist before you decide they are a socialist party? And in what way is that not also “ridiculous”?

    I’ve already provided you with two quotes from the SF leader and Martin McG, both of which you acknowledged were “difficult to square with socialism” (actually they’re impossible).

    So…. we’ve got the party leader who is in favour of a low corporation tax that allows private businesses to maximise their profits in the RoI, and wee Marty who’s involved in negotiating a similar tax reduction for private enterprise in Northern Ireland. I.e. they’ve demonstrated their commitment to “maximal private ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange”.

    We’ve has SF oppose the Private Finance Initiative of NI Water – until they got the DRD portfolio and suddenly it was so good they not only didn’t oppose it any more, they administered it.

    We’ve had a SF Education minister that abolished selection whilst choosing to have her child educated at grammar school in NI.

    We’ve had SF ministers refusing to use public sector workers as ministerial drivers and required the Executive to pay for their own SF-approved drivers because it was more “cost effective”. David Cameron would be proud of them.

    And that’s just off the top of my head. Perhaps you should spend less time studying the SF manifesto (which, like any party manifesto appeals to the momma’s apple pie-lover is all of us – Dave C loves the NHS, and believes in social welfare) and start paying more attention to what they actually DO.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The whole problem with this is that there isn’t really any benchmark of what “socialist” means. Is it socialist as in my good self, or socialist as in Tony Blair (who used to call himself a socialist if I recall correctly) ?

  • Toastedpuffin

    CS: Socialism’s a bit like what the man said about Christianity; it’s not been tried and found wanting, it’s been found difficult and left untried. What irks me is SF’s pretence of old-school socialism (aided & abetted by some detractors who label them “Marxist” as an attempted slur) when they’re demonstrably nothing of the sort.

  • Toastedpuffin

    *The man = GK Chesterton