A Progressive Oppostion


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It looks likely that there will be 14 Sinn Féin and up to 10 progressive left deputies in the incoming Dáil.

These 24 progressive left representatives need to eclipse Fianna Fail as the opposition to the incoming conservative administration and ensure that victory could be grasped from the jaws of defeat, so to speak.

This is a platform that we could barely imagine a few short weeks ago, The election campaign was dominated by the specific budgetary issues and the immediacy of the crisis facing the people.  Ideology struggled to feature. It can now be a central feature of debate from the first day of the incoming Dáil. The people can hear how and why we are in this crisis and just how similar FG and FF are.  It will also continue to force the members of the Labour Party to examine how best to use their political strength.

I would make a particular appeal to the members of the ULA to resist the temptation to take an elitist view of what it means to be on the progressive left. The days of political sectarianism on the left need to be left behind. The British Labour politician Tony Benn described British Labour something like this. Labour is not a socialist party, but it has many Socialist within it. SF could be described that way, certainly, the ULA should reach out to the membership of SF. It would be good for both groups.  All activism is educational and it works both ways.

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2 Responses

  1. William Wall

    February 28, 2011 10:13 am

    Vincent, I agree completely with your views here. I’d also like to add a hopeful statistic. It’s not mine (one of my sons did the calculations). That is that 38.27% of first preferences went to candidates of the Left in this election. That’s a remarkable fact. It indicates a new alignment in this country. It’s up to our Left representatives to conserve and expand that vote. We’ll do our best as citizens, but only they can make sure it doesn’t evaporate. What you propose – constructive engagement – is the only way it can happen.
    In addition, 9 of the 11 independents elected so far are either left-wing or making left noises. Hopefully Catherine Connolly will be a tenth. That too is a remarkable turn-around, and hope for the future. Now a substantial left bloc is a real possibility.
    My preference would be for Labour to stay out of power and lead that Bloc. a FG coalition without the ILP would self-destruct pretty quickly.

  2. Féilim Ó hAdhmaill

    February 28, 2011 2:08 pm

    I agree totally with both Vincent Wood and William Wall. The Left needs to develop a working relationship, one that will challenge the current ‘consensus’ about neo-liberalism – rather than wasting energy slagging each other off. There is a real need and opportunity now for a real united Left alternative. Let’s hope it’s not squandered.