Saturday, January 22, 2011

Coalition Killing

Definitively ruling a given party out of coalition is a tactic.  It is a tactic designed to undermine credibility and to dissuade support.

In spite of the designed ambiguity of Sinn Féin' approach during the 2007 election on the matter of potential coalition with Fianna Fail, the latter used every opportunity to rule out such an arrangement.  Fianna Fail's approach was designed to undermine SF and arguably it was a successful tactic in limiting the growth of a party that had been making inroads.

I believe that it was also true that regardless of the outcome, that FF - still heavily influenced, if not populated, with the PD's and fellow travellers, would not have accommodated SF in any event.  The antipathy to SF among the political establishment of all hues should never be underestimated..

Of course, what isn't always given a fair hearing by the progressive left is that there wasn't an appetite among the SF grass roots for any coalition with FF.  SF's postion was placed before the membership as tactical - that ruling out the option to participate in government in the south, while in 'government' in the 6 counties, would have been foolish.  It would have flown in the face of realpolitik.  I would have disagreed with that approach, but having had a fair argument, I would have been on the losing side in the debate.  Fair enough.

Labour ruled out coalition with FF at that time.  It probably served them well to do that, as they grew in the polls and could present themselves as principled.  Where Labour completely fall down is in their willingness to coalesce with FG - a mirror image of FF and who advocate policies that would have led to exactly the same inequality and cronyism as we have seen.

Many people are watching Labour and Sinn Féin in terms of what both parties will say about Coalition with conservative and reactionary parties.  Both parties can and should use the tactics employed by FF and FG in terms of ruling out coalition with right wingers.  The credibility of a FG government would take a real hit if Labour looked to its progressive soul and sought alternative options.  The prospect of wiping FF from the map would be given a huge boost by SF making it crystal clear that coalition with them is off the agenda.

There is enough fluidity out there for anything to happen.


  1. Vincent,

    you don't really believe that SF would not go into government with FF?

    Anonymous T

  2. @Anon
    I've been around a long time- anything is possible.

    Im suggesting they don't and I give my reasons. FF's demise would be hastened by SF using the same tactic that has been used on SF - rule them out.

  3. I have argued before that SF should take the time to consider coalition with FG not because I want to see FG in power but because I thought its good that we be open to all options and having discussed and challenged ourselves even on known truths like that would help us communicate better to the electorate.

    So I am fairly open to be persuaded to the political benefits of any coalition if that were argued for, while still having my own reservations.

    However there are no political benefits to a coalition with FF. There will be no coalition with FF.

    Rather than boosting FF Sinn Fein must help destroy it. If we dont destroy FF then they will try to destroy us.

  4. An Giorra,

    so basically, you would go into government with Fianna Fail or Fine Gael. That is as straight an answer as we shall get. There are some foolishly going about their daily lives thinking it is off the radar.

    Anonymous T

  5. Vincent,

    I realise you have outlined your reasons why SF should not go into government with FF. I happen to agree. I just can't see the party refusing the chance if offered. Promises to the contrary don't mean a lot. So many have gone by the wayside.

    Anonymous T

  6. T,

    No thats not what I said, not now or in my earlier post on coalition options.

    I will consider any coalition options because anybody who supports the party should be open to considering all options. Huge difference between considering things and deciding to go for them. Go for them if the benefits from it will advance republicanism. Reject them if they will weaken republicanism. But dont reject things without a debate.

    I am against a coalition with Fianna Fail and I am against a coalition with Fine Gael. I believe that, as far as we can tell from what we know now, that neither option will advance republicanism or improve Irish society.

  7. @anonomous

    Ok. I can no more forsee a negative than a positive. For what its worth I happen to believe that the SF leadership are open to persuasion. Its all about strength of argument and being able to convince people that building political strength is better aided by the approach I outlined. Its also more ideologically sound, but its better to try to make a calculated strategic argument. Its as cold as that.

  8. Vincent,

    the SF leadership is not open to persuasion as such. It knows what it wants to do.


  9. An Giorra,

    this is what you said: 'I have argued before that SF should take the time to consider coalition with FG.' Why take time to consider something if you are not going to consider going for it? It seems you are willing to go into coalition with FG after considering it. You know as do I that FG and FF will be as right wing the other side of the election. I am not trying to trip you up here. Maybe I missed something or you could have expressed it differently. I am not persuaded by your response but that's the nature of debate.