What’s left?


I had some additional revelations about my own self worth this evening but I could not resist penning a little about the result of the most recent general election again. That old reflection work can wait until after my couch time this week.

I was called up last week by a woman who is in a left wing party here in Ireland. I know her for a couple of years and we occasionally meet up for mutual slagging of who is the least bourgeois. She asked if I could sign the nomination papers for a colleague who was interested in running for the Seanad – the Irish Senate – because it was all about profile and there was lots more work to be done. I am an NUI graduate and her colleague was intending to run for the NUI panel of the Seanad. So far so good.

She needed ten signatures on the nomination papers and was having some difficulty getting ten who

1. would support the colleague,
2. is an NUI graduate, and
3. an NUI graduate who is on the ancient scrolls known as the register.

This whittles down from a potential population of many tens of thousands to possibly 12 in the whole of the Republic…and all of this before noon the next day. At least there was some realism here.

I signed because I wanted to nominate him and I know I am on the register of NUI electors. In their wisdom this party met on the same night to divine if this comrade should run for the Seanad at all. I did not attend, not being a member and of course did not mind making the effort to get to the place where the papers could be signed in person. The next morning, my long time friend let me know by text that she and her comrades had decided that this party colleague should not run for the Seanad. The reason why not? The Seanad is an undemocratic institution. That’s right, undemocratic.

The rules of election for the Seanad are available here but basically, it is a vocational upper house of the Irish parliament and as such is not subject to the will of the general franchise. You know – the ones who returned FF and the PDs to government – TWICE! Not that I don’t believe they want more of the same of the last ten years but the Seanad is an undemocratic institution.

At the risk of rahashing old arguments you can read on that great oracle of all things vaguely left, indymedia.ie, what is wrong with the Irish left parties and factions is this: we all misperceive the targets of our efforts and then stand by and accuse the others of not being left ‘enough’. That’s like American evangelical churches: I’m closer to the truth, no no, I’m closer to the truth, no no no, I’M CLOSER to THE truth.

Result: bored working and middle classes who are presented with nothing more than the same old same old. Where’s the unity, the solidarity, the fraternity? The very values that the left was formed in the first place? People Before Profit Alliance makes an attempt to coalesce strands of interest around particular local issues but I’m not going to tell them how to do their business. At least not for now.

UPDATE: Tony Kinsella has an analysis in this morning’s Irish Times worth having a look at.

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