Joan V Gerry: Who is the true leader of the left?

Labour party leader, Joan Burton with go up against Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams on Claire Byrne Live tonight on RTE 1 at 10:35pm.

This will be a chance for both leaders to either cement their position or gain ground within the Irish left.

What does Adams need to do?

  1. Demonstrate that Sinn Fein has not just the critique but also the solution to austerity in Ireland. What new taxes is he proposing? Job creation programmes?
  2. Real change v more of the same-Adams new voters have in the last four years felt spurned by the political class, he needs to ensure that Sinn Fein’s message resonates with those who are disillusioned and create a belief that he is different from what has gone before.
  3. A new narrative-It has always been my view that people vote for a narrative, rather than a policy. If Sinn Fein can come out of this debate setting the agenda on the left wing spectrum of Irish politics then it has had a good night.
  4. In the past Adams has fallen down in debates on the detail of policies, if he can show that he can go toe to toe with a government minister on an issue like property tax and social welfare then he will begin to develop that new narrative about his leadership.
  5. Consolidate- Sinn Fein are averaging a solid 10-12% lead over Labour in the polls, locking in those disillusioned with Labour will solidify his base.

What does Burton need to do?

  1. It’s all up hill. Labour is facing a defeat of huge proportions at the next election, she needs to realise this going in to this debate and cannot let the fact that she is in g0vernment make her complacent. Debates may not be Adams strong suit, but you underestimate him at your peril.
  2. “Go to the mattresses” as they said in the Godfather. Burton is literally fighting for the position of her party in Irish politics, she needs to show passion, energy and commitment.
  3. Put the finger away- Labour politician have a terrible habit in debates of lecturing their opponents. This may appease core supporters, but to the rest of the public it comes across as arrogant. Burton needs to put that finger away before she hurts herself.
  4. Labour are not just a different shade of the establishment-Burton needs to show that Labour in government have made a real difference and are not just a different part of the establishment.
  5. Northern Ireland- Politicians in the South have this annoying habit of saying to Sinn Fein representatives “Sure you’re cutting in the North” and provide zero evidence to back up their claim. It doesn’t work, so if Burton is not up to speed on the budget in Stormont, don’t mention it.


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  • Cue Bono

    I would expect that Adams will have plenty of fantasy guff based on the Greek elections. Ducking out on paying back the debt etc. All very well until Greece descends into financial chaos. It is probably best that he doesn’t mention his other dream government in Venezuala.

    Oh and he will probably say “With respect” a lot.

  • George Jenkins

    And…… Let me make this clear!

  • Cue Bono

    “The reality is.”

  • mickfealty

    A friend on Twitter compared it to Farage v Clegg…

  • Dan

    She made mince meat of him.

  • Malus Ultor

    When Gerry was permitted to speak he made sense, Joan just howled like a drunk banshee that was rejected for the umpteenth time by the guy in the far end of the woods with the large hump on his back.

    I wasjust surprised that she didn’t flip between German and English language seeing that she is doing the bidding of Herr (sic) Merkle.

    Deutchland Uber Allez

    The only comfort is knowing that Labour as a party in Ireland are finished. They should pack up now and leave before having to endure the ignominy of a severe trouncing at the polls.

  • Sukh

    I would give the win to Adams, but it was very close. Burton better at discussing economics, but she really needs to learn to listen. Other members of the Labour party too should learn. They all seem to fall into the habit of arrogantly pushing their point without letting the other side speak. The same thing happened at the by-election debates last year.

  • Robin Keogh

    I didnt see it mick, did u? Any thoughts on who shone?

  • Niall Noígíallach

    Aye, she did aye

  • Barneyt

    Does anyone have a link to a vid (or audio) of the debate? It would be disappointing to see two different assessments of the respective performances on this site, informed by ones likedislike of the participants and what they represent. There is evidence of this below which is disappointing.

  • Barneyt

    Clegg = Burton? if you can turn your hand to providing an independent assessment for those that missed it, it would be appreciated. I await the calls of…”Fealty?…SF?…independent assessment?” 🙂

  • mickfealty

    It’s an intangible and subjective judgement whichever way you go: I didn’t think they played off each other much…

    She did get her revenge in early on the Stormont job cuts, pointing out that Gerry spent less time at the talks than Labour…

    I’d expect that become more of a feature as we get closer to the election…

  • kalista63

    Here ya go You’ll need to download the player, if you don’t have it.

    Got to give it to Joan for her fantastic impression of an English Tory.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Just how bad was Gerry on that bais/

  • Kevin Breslin

    Sinn Féin have a tendency to do that in the North. Maybe that’s a being in power thing.

  • mickfealty

    I left it till this morning to watch it Robin. I think Joanie gets points not just for showing up but for showing up with some passion and grit.

    She was snippy and aggressive, but she did that thing I always think Alex Maskey does best in NI, which is getting in the gaps of the opponent’s speech and narrating them out of the game.

    Gerry’s Gerry. He’s just not his party’s strongest link in southern politics, so my guess is he did okay for the base. But overall, no real gain. They need Mary Lou for that.

    Labour’s on 9% now, which is only three per cent off their traditional base. They’ll be happy to get back in with 20 TDs and mend bridges with 12%, so I’d say that’s the gameplan, foreshorten the election and go sooner rather than leaving it to the last minute…

    SF will do okay even in that scenario, because they’ll bounce seriously against 2011, even if they do lose (purely notional) ground to Labour and bring some new talent in, whilst getting ready to pivot ‘right’ against FF.

    All in all, I’d give it to Joan, but add I don’t think Gerry lost in any serious or significant way…

  • Cue Bono

    One you got past his (new?) false teeth Adams did indeed make sense. Does anyone the veracity of the figures that he quoted? It’s just that his estimates were about eight hundred million Euro short of what Burton quoted. I know that Gerrynomics are considered to be a bit of a joke, but was he genuinely that far out?

  • willieric

    Bullying or not, she faced him down.

  • willieric

    Economics is the key, Joan was strident, whilst Gerry was economical with the facts.

  • aber1991

    Middle class socialists tend to be arrogant.