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Thread: Fianna Fáil no longer a national movement

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    Default Fianna Fáil no longer a national movement - Diarmaid Ferriter

    Great piece by Diarmaid Ferriter in today's Times:

    FF has lost its self-proclaimed status as national movement - The Irish Times - Sat, Jun 13, 2009

    Here are some notable passages:

    Their devotion to building up the organisation was exceptional and there was no let-up in between general elections, as the challenges of local elections kept the machine oiled. Cumann na nGaedheal, on the other hand, had a degree of indifference towards local elections in the early years and by the time it recognised the advantage of contesting them, Fianna Fáil had established control over a majority of the councils. This was something Lemass saw as a turning point, as in his words it “cemented Fianna Fáil into the political structures of the country”.
    As unimportant as local government has become, you cannot neglect and understate the effect of local elections on political party power. Councillors are like a glue that hold the party organisation together on the ground. They provide a vital link between the national and local, the central command and ordinary grassroots.

    Many FFers continue to write off the local election results of 2004 and 2009 as mere midterm blues (inevitable expressions of protest against the government of the day). However, it is simply not sustainable for a party to take these sorts of hits on the ground and hope to maintain national dominance. Eventually a point will come where the bottom will fall out causing the whole edifice to collapse.

    The party that thrived on marshalling discontent, and promised, in the words of de Valera in 1926, to promote “a programme for the common good, not a class programme” and which crushed the Labour Party in the process, is now depicted after the recent election as an unrepresentative minority who contributed to the economic collapse by indulging the men of property.
    This is an interesting passage. For the first time in 80years, the Labour party is looking more and more like what it should look like. It's pinching FF's "anti-establishment" clothing and successfully portraying itself as the champion of the ordinary common man. A perception has taken hold that FF is a party of developers and bankers and elites and Labour is mercilessly capitalising.

    Any thoughts?
    Last edited by Fr. Hank Tree; 13th June 2009 at 12:40 PM.

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    Politics.ie Member FutureTaoiseach's Avatar
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    I agree with the above except on the Labour party. They failed to make the much vaunted breakthrough in the 1st pref vote. They won 3 MEPs, but one of them was because of her name while the other was a fluke dependent on transfers. If FF is no longer a national movement, then neither is the Labour party (on 15%). 4.8% in NW does not a national-movement make. I think FG are more likely to claim the mantle of "national movement" if the 37% in the exit poll on GE voting-intentions proves true. Indeed on the basis of that poll, a FG-led govt without Labour would be plausible, and I would prefer that to one including the PC-brigade in the Labour party. The much-heralded rush of the public-sector vote to Labour did not materialise to anything like the extent predicted. Labour and FF are the cancer of Irish politics, being as they are subservient to the public-sector unions, and firm believers in sacrificing the private-sector on the altar of defending the formers' privileges. It is imperative for national recovery that they remain in Opposition with FF after the next GE, where they can mate with FF and produce a new, leftwing party. And thus, the realignment of Irish politics along Left-Right lines will have come to pass - as I predicted.
    Last edited by FutureTaoiseach; 13th June 2009 at 12:37 PM.

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    Politics.ie Member TradCat's Avatar
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    I think it's an accurate assessment of what happened to Fianna Fail. I would add that they abandoned real democracy in the party by turning the Ard Fheis into a TV event and letting TDs dominate local organisations.

    The first Haughey government was at least as bad as this one but their vote never sank so low.

    I think the party that brings back real grassroots democracy will be the long term winners in Irish politics.

    FF and FG are media driven parties. Labour is dominated by the Unions. SF is centralist. The Socialist Party has a Leninist structure as has the SWP who are so clandestine they won't even run under their own name.

    I'm surprised there isn't more comment about the lack of democracy in the party system.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TradCat View Post
    I think it's an accurate assessment of what happened to Fianna Fail. I would add that they abandoned real democracy in the party by turning the Ard Fheis into a TV event and letting TDs dominate local organisations.

    The first Haughey government was at least as bad as this one but their vote never sank so low.

    I think the party that brings back real grassroots democracy will be the long term winners in Irish politics.

    FF and FG are media driven parties. Labour is dominated by the Unions. SF is centralist. The Socialist Party has a Leninist structure as has the SWP who are so clandestine they won't even run under their own name.

    I'm surprised there isn't more comment about the lack of democracy in the party system.
    Then, by your logic, the Green Party will be the long term winners in Irish politics which is extremely difficult to imagine.

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    truly it is just for them to be as such

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    Quote Originally Posted by TradCat View Post
    ...
    I think the party that brings back real grassroots democracy will be the long term winners in Irish politics.
    ...
    Too much internal democracy can prolong a party's time in the wilderness by dragging it further from the centre-ground (eg. the Tories post-Major and the current U.S. Republican Party).

    I think Ferriter's article is quite significant, not least because his biography of Dev was the one Hanafin pushed on schools 2 years ago.
    It can't be claimed he's biased against FF or doesn't know what he's talking about.

    But, I'm not so sure about the long-term significance of these elections.
    Once FF get into opposition their spokesmen will blame FG/Lab for what's happening.
    It worked 25 years ago and could again.

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    Politics.ie Member An Gilladaker's Avatar
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    Their will be a few interesting battles with TDs and some of the FF councilors who were not
    the ones the TDs wanted elected any councilor who got a strong personal vote and did not transfer back to FF are seen as a threat by the TDs

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    There are a number of factors that have contributed to bad Local/bye/and European elections for FF, and they where National. These elections were a referendum on the Government Parties and a lot of FF candidates and sitting Councillors suffered in the locals because of this.

    I think Mount Street need to listen and I do agreed that the party needs to engage with the grassroots but the grassroots also needs to engage with the party.

    Take the selection process, by convention or interview, both have had problems, Conventions engage the grassroots, but there must be better policing , the sleeping cumann must be done away with, delegates that vote at conventions should only be allowed to vote if they have attended at least 80% of CDC meetings in a year.
    ONLY ACTIVE MEMBERS SHOULD BE ALLOWED VOTE AT CONVENTIONS.

    I'm sure many of you have different views on this but I feel we need to bang heads and move forward.......

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    The consistent theme seems to be the complacency of being in power and its consequences. Cumann na nGaedheal were complacent about their power base, having been in power nationally since the foundation of the state and they paid the long-term price for it. FF were energised by their period in opposition from 1926-32, as FG have now finally been. Now FF suffer the consequences of their assumptions of their own unassailable strength, in the same manner as Cumann na nGaedheal. And before that, the Home Rule Party suffered the same fate, with the growth of SF. Funny how history continues to repeat itself.

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    Politics.ie Member Destiny's Soldier's Avatar
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    Haven't read the assessment by D Ferriter, but in short, FF is but a franchise issued to election candidates to FF HQs liking.

    The is no debate. No democracy. No new ideas or even members tolerated. You'll get invited if we like you ... or the local TD likes you.
    Cumainn and Comhairles have degenerated into tribal factions mastered by competing FF TDs.
    Cowardice asks the question - is it safe? Expediency asks the question - is it politic?
    Vanity asks the question - is it popular? But Conscience asks the question - is it right?
    And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular;but one must take it simply because it is right. -MLK

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