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Sunday Business Post cancels revolution

category national | politics / elections | other press author Sunday June 28, 2009 07:05author by Turlough Kellyauthor email turloughkelly at gmail dot com Report this post to the editors

It may no longer be hot off the presses, but the analysis of the recent European and local elections which appeared in the June 21st edition of the Sunday Business Post has something of the flavour of workhouse gruel about it. Unpalatable when hot, positively stomach-churning when allowed to cool and fester for seven days.

That the political and economic compass of the publication is steadfastly oriented towards (and even beyond) the policies of the mainstream right-wing parties is hardly a secret. This, after all, is a newspaper which poses the following tendentious question on its website:

"Now that Ireland has received the guarantees it had been seeking, the way is paved for a second Lisbon treaty. How will you be voting?"

Despite the implicit invitation, support for the treaty stands at just 48 per cent at time of writing. Indeed, specious self-reassurance appears to be something of a stock-in-trade at the SBP, if its electoral analysis is any guide. Beneath the heading "FF subjected to a good thrashing, but not a revolution", the paper acknowledges that "it [Fianna Fáil's electoral meltdown] was seismic, unprecedented, historic and devastating" but goes on to assuage readers' alarm by assuring them that "you certainly couldn't call it revolutionary" and that "our [Ireland's] results are a model of centrist continuity."

The rationale for this assertion? That no significant support for borderline fascists (such as was evident in the UK, France and Italy) emerged in Ireland. This is indeed comforting, but the fact that such a party would need to exist in order to attract votes appears to have eluded the writer's otherwise omniscient scrutiny. However, he or she is simply warming up at this juncture and might be excused the occasional solecism.

Further succour is drawn from the characterisation of the resurgent Fine Gael as an organisation which "hasn’t had an ideology since it stopped trying to be more Catholic than the hierarchy 30 years ago" and which is "a comfortable, middle-class and farming party." Labour is censured for deploying the "magic formula of 'the rich should pay more'" with "increasing abandon", but as these measures are ultimately interpreted as an attempt to forestall any flanking manoeuvre on its left, a pat on the head is administered to its "very effective leader" Eamon Gilmore.

Labour's far-sightedness in this regard is perceived to have had a particularly detrimental effect upon Sinn Féin, a party which "five years ago, was seen by many as an almost unstoppable machine." Alas, whether that "many" refers to Sunday Business Post staff or Sinn Féin activists remains unspecified, to the consternation of the very many more who recognised that the Terminator was an unstoppable machine, whereas Sinn Féin was at best a particularly adaptable Transformer.

With Sinn Féin safely emasculated, the SBP fastens its pith helmet and sets its sights upon the elephant in the room.

"Some would say that Joe Higgins’ election to the European Parliament was radical but, in reality, it reflects more on the standing of [Sinn Féin's deposed MEP Mary Lou] McDonald than a rush of support to the Socialist Party, which had a disappointing local election."

Here, the paper ploughs straight through denial and departs from reality entirely. Higgins's simultaneous unseating of Fianna Fáil incumbent Eoin Ryan goes unmentioned, as does the irrefutable evidence that it resulted from additional left-based support for McDonald transferring to the Socialist candidate. Across all elections, seven of the Socialist Party's twelve candidatures were successful. It's hard to imagine this outcome "disappointing" anyone, save, perhaps, for a journalist engaged in some private quest to produce the most wildly erroneous electoral analysis of all time, who felt that Mick Murphy's marginal failure to hold his seat in Tallaght Central might detract somewhat from its impact.

And still the exceptions to this infinitely pliable rule of centrist continuity keep coming. And still the SBP, knee-deep in the carnage, keeps insisting that there's nothing to see here. The election of four People Before Profit Alliance councillors is no cause for alarm, because "local issues always form the core of its campaigns." This presumably contrasts with the record of Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil candidates, who win county council seats on the basis of their support for traffic relief measures in Kathmandu.

The logical contortions grow ever more sinuous, as the paper proclaims that
"A close look at our ‘political earthquake’ doesn’t show a radicalised public and seething revolutionary sentiment. If there’s one thing you can be sure of, it is that if this sentiment existed, then a party would have rapidly offered itself as the vehicle for expressing it."

Incorrigible cynics, contrarians and naifs might hold that those parties which did offer themselves as vehicles of expression for precisely that sentiment almost invariably profited as a result.

The spuriousness of this analysis is probably less significant than the fact that the Sunday Business Post felt compelled to proffer it at all. Presumably they feared mass subscription cancellations amongst their key demographic, as they packed up their belongings, sold their SUVs and decamped to their second homes in Turkey before the forced collectivisations could begin.

The Socialist Party is known to hold the view that the requisite conditions for the development of a mass party of the left do not yet exist in Ireland. It's a view supported by an objective analysis of the situation, and endorsed by many others on the left. However, if the Sunday Business Post feels it necessary to protest this much, perhaps those conditions are more ripe than they appear?

Related Link: http://www.sbpost.ie/post/pages/p/story.aspx-qqqt=BACKROOM-qqqs=commentandanalysis-qqqid=42628-qqqx=1.asp
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