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:
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.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”.
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.
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.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.