A big march alone is not democratic.

Given the weather, Jack O’Connor, David Begg and Fintan O’Toole must be delighted with the impressive turnout at the SIPTU protest today, and the well-stewarded peaceful outcome. However, they surely have to recognise that they speak for no one but themselves unless they are willing to take their actions to the next logical conclusion, that is, to seek an electoral mandate from the people.

There are many who say that running for election is not their job. I disagree.

Whether you agree with them or not, you have to accept that all three men, and others, are attempting to shape the direction of their society. They have espoused their platform. Surely the next step, short of openly endorsing (and possibly running for. I can think of worse phrases than the phrase Fintan O’Toole TD) an existing party that adopts the lion’s share of their agenda, is to go to the people directly seeking a mandate to implement that agenda. 

How can you espouse radical change in a free society, and yet be unwilling to give that society an opportunity to cast its judgement upon that platform? We shape our society by free election, not by 50,000 people walking along the same route.

It’s time for them to step up.

4 thoughts on “A big march alone is not democratic.

  1. If Jack O’Connor and Fintan and both saying to vote Labour to get what they have been calling for, then fair enough. My point is that SIPTU in particular has the ability to, in advocating a policy platform not currently on offer to the voters, to provide it. If not them, who? After all, SIPTU support the Croke Park Agreement. The political party most in support of the CPA is Fianna Fail. So, is Jack O’Connor going to advocate a vote for FF? Fintan O’Toole calls (rightly) for widescale political reform. Who does he suggest people should vote for to get it? Labour? Who propose that two thirds of a constitutional convention be given to professional politicians (those great advocates of political change) and non elected vested interest NGOs like the Vintners Association? You can’t lead people up a hill and then just abandon them, especially not if you insist that your views have wide popular support.

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  3. Labour?

    Jack O’Connor’s active in the party, and used to be on their national executive. Both he and David Begg are heads of groups which are formally tied to the Labour Party, give donations/resources to the party and its candidates, and they call for a vote for Labour at election time.

    Even that aside, I think it’s pretty reasonable that someone can articulate an agenda or idea for certain political decisions to be made, and not to seek election on that fact. Journalists like Fintan O’Toole, or bloggers like yourself do it all the time. People have their reasons for seeking or not seeking election, but those reasons shouldn’t dictate the views they have on politics or the expression of those views. Being a TD isn’t for everyone, and a reasonably democratic society has to have journalists and civil society to function properly. I may not agree with them, but I think that they’re fulfilling that role.

  4. I went along to one of the big public service marches last year before the Euro elections purely to be a spectator and not alone was it wholly pro-Labour (no other TDs or public reps were on the platform or got to speak, neither SF nor FG, not local left leaning independents) but no one thought to tell the masses gathered to march that at least some of them (a minimum of 1 in 3) were to blame for voting the policies that they now claimed to despise. Nope, it was all the fault of a government that fell out of the sky.

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