Mary Lou signals her intent to move SF to the centre.

TruthInTheNews

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Mary Lou McDonald and her senior advisors have conducted a general election postmortem. The general consensus is that the SF strategy of encouraging tactical voting in order to maximise Nationalist seats was a win win. The result, nine to eight in favour of Nationalists is historic and puts a United Ireland front and centre on the political stage. The election of two SDLP candidate gives political cover to Sinn Fein. The assumption is that Eastwood and Hanna will toddle off to Westminster only to ignored and humiliated time and time again just like their predecessors.

Mary Lou was primarily responsible for the decision to stand down SF candidates in favour of the SDLP and Alliance. She pushed through the controversial policy in the face of stiff opposition from some in the Party. It was a high risk strategy that could have easily gone wrong and resulted in a leadership challenge. Its success has bolstered her position in the party and given her a new found confidence to pursue her ambition of moving Sinn Fein to the economic centre ground.

McDonald has told senior figures in Sinn Fein that hard left parties struggle to get more than 15% of the popular vote and that SF will always be a marginal party in the South unless it drops marxist economic policies. She believes that the nationalisation of critical industries and massive tax hikes on the middle classes to pay for a “free everything” approach to government services will simply alienate the public. She intends to use the implosion of the British Labour Party as evidence that a skeptical electorate will reject a party with unrealistic spending plans and a high taxes policy. She reckons that most SF TDs would rather compromise on policy and exercise power in a coalition government than remain in permanent principled opposition for ideological reasons. The question is whether she can bring TD’s like Eoin O’Broin with her. There may be a few casualties along the way.
 


Lumpy Talbot

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Sinn Fein may lose their USP altogether in moving to the middle ground. It would be questionable as a risk to move so far and alienate much of their core support simply to gain a position as minority partner in a coalition which would within three to four years destroy their credibility with the centre vote as happened with the Greens and latterly the Labour Party.

I suppose there is a wild freedom in throwing off the political clothes as you race down the beach to the sea on a stormy day, and there'd be the exhilaration of the plunge into government but that could be all spoiled by an inability to swim much thereafter.

The eternal mathematics for the smaller party in Ireland. Do you move to the centre and leave certain votes in your wake with your compromises, only to fail to expand and spiral into a downward slope having failed to gain new votes and alienated old votes. Dangerous decision for Sinn Fein.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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Maybe it is a good thing that MLM is proposing there be a conversation about direction within the party, sparked off by her open-ness in giving what she sees as context to the debate.

It is a fairly courageous move by a party leader and she is putting a lot of energy into having conversations about future strategy which you can't knock. Some would try to influence direction from the shadows and via delegation but if she is being this open with the membership and secretariat within Sinn Fein it does stand a good chance of whatever strategy is endorsed having wider support than if she had gone any other way with her thoughts.
 

Sync

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What they’re doing now is failing. They need to try something else. There’s a market for a centre left party since Lab turned into an OAP home.

The problem with being far left in a PR system, and Ireland in particular is that there’s always a new lunatic party starting up to drag you further left.

I agree it’s good she’s thinking about it. I do wonder just how much she’s in charge of the party.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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Curious thing about Sinn Fein is that arguably that party has thrown up the best political leaders in Irish politics in the contemporary era. Controversial I know but when you think of Adams in the North and the considerable personal risks he took in the possibility of becoming trapped between a suspicious SF behind him and the possibility of being left stranded by the British Government's negotiators at any time in the maneouverings necessary within Republicanism to gain enough support for the GFA process, you have to say Adams was fairly adept at managing interests through to a strategic conclusion.

O'Bradaigh was no slouch either.
 

TruthInTheNews

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Sinn Fein may lose their USP altogether in moving to the middle ground. It would be questionable as a risk to move so far and alienate much of their core support simply to gain a position as minority partner in a coalition which would within three to four years destroy their credibility with the centre vote as happened with the Greens and latterly the Labour Party.

I suppose there is a wild freedom in throwing off the political clothes as you race down the beach to the sea on a stormy day, and there'd be the exhilaration of the plunge into government but that could be all spoiled by an inability to swim much thereafter.

The eternal mathematics for the smaller party in Ireland. Do you move to the centre and leave certain votes in your wake with your compromises, only to fail to expand and spiral into a downward slope having failed to gain new votes and alienated old votes. Dangerous decision for Sinn Fein.
The points being put forward by Mary Lou and her allies in meetings are:
  • There is little point being in politics unless you have a reasonable chance of participating in government. Otherwise you may as well just be a journalist for all the influence you might have.
  • Small parties in permanent opposition do not attract good quality candidates.
  • The Sinn Fein vote in the North will fall off a cliff after unification because the reasons underpinning tactical voting along ethnic lines will evaporate. The majority of Nationalists in the North who vote Sinn Fein are not Marxist.
  • Most elections are dominated by economic issues and parties with extreme economic policies never do well except in unusual circumstances.
  • Sinn Fein in the South are pretty much where Labour was in their heyday under Dick Spring and are unlikely to increase the vote unless they can appeal to people who vote for FF and independents.
So basically, SF are at a crossroads. Do they go for mass appeal or stick to the margins. Some party insiders have described Mary Lou as Sinn Fein's Tony Blair, a person who wants to reform the party to make it more electable.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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I had not given thought to what might happen to Sinn Fein post reunification so that is an interesting point. It seems to me looking at that list that MLM and Sinn Fein are thinking well ahead which is a good sign for them no matter what does occur.

Looks like a very open, honest and transparent agenda. Remarkably so. But then Sinn Fein have demonstrated the capability for useful and productive introspection so maybe they are less afraid of it than the other parties.
 

McTell

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It's not original, but a good sign that wealth and power is moving them to where the rest of us have always been.

"History for slow learners" is coming to pass, but post-unity they will not have anything like a majority.
 

balisong

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So basically, SF are at a crossroads. Do they go for mass appeal or stick to the margins. Some party insiders have described Mary Lou as Sinn Fein's Tony Blair, a person who wants to reform the party to make it more electable.
McDonald won't drop SF's Social Justice nonsense, and they'll pay for it. They've spent the last 10 years courting and parachuting candidates who are far more interested in that guff than unity. History will repeat itself just like it did with the Workers Party.
 

McTell

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Now that the EU / ECB is approving our budget before it gets approved by the Dail, the function of a Social justice party is to get more money for the areas that voted for it.

Meaning that other areas of the highly-valued "nation" must get less.
 

ruserious

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Excellent. I’m a SF voter who would be very centrist. SF needs to become a broad church. Had it been a little more accommodating they wouldn’t have lost Tóibín.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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Now that the EU / ECB is approving our budget before it gets approved by the Dail, the function of a Social justice party is to get more money for the areas that voted for it.

Meaning that other areas of the highly-valued "nation" must get less.
On the question of EU infrastructure funding and civil support would Sinn Fein be in a better position to negotiate that with the EU, should NI remain within that trading bloc?
 

McTell

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On the question of EU infrastructure funding and civil support would Sinn Fein be in a better position to negotiate that with the EU, should NI remain within that trading bloc?

No it will still come thru dublin after unity. Ask the catalans how the EU manages this kind of thing.

So a post-unity SJ party must rob peter to pay paul, and yet somehow persuade us all that it is for the good of the nation. Being a "nationalist" party and all that.

It could work for a time in some undeveloped areas. But they are coming late to this game that has been played for decades by FG FF and Labour.
 

TruthInTheNews

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What they’re doing now is failing. They need to try something else. There’s a market for a centre left party since Lab turned into an OAP home.

The problem with being far left in a PR system, and Ireland in particular is that there’s always a new lunatic party starting up to drag you further left.

I agree it’s good she’s thinking about it. I do wonder just how much she’s in charge of the party.
She is in charge as long as she keeps the military wing happy. That won't be a problem for McDonald because she has always been a true believer. The Brits still have her under surveillance. Her home, phone, car and offices including her Dail office are bugged. Her email and electronic messaging is subject to interception. The Brits provide reports to the Gardai who pass the information on to the Irish Government.

All Sinn Fein activists are subject to varying degrees of surveillance depending on their importance.
 

Glenshane4

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McDonald won't drop SF's Social Justice nonsense, and they'll pay for it. They've spent the last 10 years courting and parachuting candidates who are far more interested in that guff than unity. History will repeat itself just like it did with the Workers Party.
I do not know about the situation in Eire. Here in Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein are more and more behaving like the Stickies. They are already paying the price in falling votes. Their votes received slumped more than that of the DUP.

Much attention has been given to the hammering Sinn Fein received in the Foyle constituency. Their close call in Fermanagh-South Tyrone might be more significant. In a constituency about 60% Catholic, Sinn Fein were nearly beaten by an Ulster Unionist who is well past his best and with a history of anti-GAA behaviour.
 

LISTOWEL MAN

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Mary Lou wants a free Ireland then she punishes people who don't agree with her

repeal 8th Carol Nolan for example
 

Talk Back

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It's not original, but a good sign that wealth and power is moving them to where the rest of us have always been.

"History for slow learners" is coming to pass, but post-unity they will not have anything like a majority.
A Unionist sock posing as an Irish person to create confusion.

Sinn Fein are already one of the biggest parties throughout Ireland.

When partition ends, it will be the partitionist parties like Fianna Fail and Fine Gael who will suffer, and they know it - that is why they have been dragging their heels on reunification.
 

Mercurial

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If I wanted an officially republican party with centre/centre-right policies I'd vote for Fianna Fáil. There's no need to re-invent the wheel here.
 

Mercurial

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Excellent. I’m a SF voter who would be very centrist. SF needs to become a broad church. Had it been a little more accommodating they wouldn’t have lost Tóibín.
They obviously dodged a bullet there, so to speak.
 

redneck

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If I wanted an officially republican party with centre/centre-right policies I'd vote for Fianna Fáil. There's no need to re-invent the wheel here.
Fianna Fáil are not Republican. There is none in their current set up, maybe Eamon O Cuív. It is a cold house for Republicans and Nationalists. For example all current FF front bench urged N.I nationalists to take the oath of Allegiance to the Royals. Also FF seem more like the DUP in this.
 


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