Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics
 

Should Fianna Fail openly consult the public about its future?

Posted by Jason O on Feb 28, 2012 in Irish Politics |

It's our party and we'll cry if we want to.

It's our party and we'll cry if we want to.

Talking to Fianna Fail people, it’s clear that there is a lot of internal discussion going on within that party as to its future. Within that context, I reckon one of Fianna Fail’s greatest obstacles is its in-built nervousness about openly discussing options, which is an historical hangover from when it was once the most powerful party in the country. I write quite a lot about Fianna Fail, because I find it the most interesting non-left party in the country at the moment, but I’m always surprised at the reaction to comments I make about the party, on this blog or Facebook/Twitter. Many FFers engage, a little nervously, and usually through private channels, but some almost get a twitch at the idea of an outsider like me passing comment. I can even recall one pretty much telling me to mind my own business, whilst then waxing lyrically about how the party was a National Movement!

It has to be said, however, that Fianna Fail needs to talk to non-Fianna Failers (perhaps through an app that the public has to pay a nominal amount for? It would stop a whole load of anti-FF baiters from downloading if they thought they were giving FF money!) if it wishes to recover, because in its current state, there is a danger that it could just spend its time looking into itself, and that would not be a good thing. A TD recently told me that what surprised him most about Fianna Fail in its current climate is how rural it is becoming in its thinking. This is not a bad thing in itself, as rural voters are entitled to representation like everyone else, but if Fianna Fail is happy to primarily become a party of rural interests, it should get used to being a small party.

I mentioned this point to someone recently, and contrasted it with Fianna Fail’s liberal bill on gay rights, and my surprise that a predominantly rural party didn’t kick up about it. His answer was very telling: “It’s worse than that. They’re not just rural conservatives. They actually don’t care about the gay rights bill because they don’t care about all that legislation stuff!”

2 Comments

William
Feb 28, 2012 at 10:06 am

Of course Fianna Fáil for their own sake need to communicate with the more than half their 2007 they lost last year. But they can’t pretend for a minute that the public at large care how they do, just because they were a national movement once. People tend to view all parties quite cynically, and just because many now have an issue with the government parties, I doubt it means they want Fianna Fáil of all parties to be the one to come up with ideas. If you’re talking of online or mobile apps, people might engage with an independent forum or body, if it was genuinely seen to be so, but would presume that even its depleted schizophrenic state, party insiders would be the ones to dominate any shift in direction within Fianna Fáil. So any attempt by Fianna Fáil to engage and be seen to be open to popular change would have to be much more active than simply announcing that they’re open to ideas.

I think Micheál Martin has been travelling a bit over the past year, but they seem to still stuck at around their 2011 support, which would leave them in a poor state for 2014. They lost massive support to Fine Gael, Labour and Independents last year because they were seen to be utterly incompetent. Voters will need a very good reason to move back to them, even given the change in personality. If Fianna Fáil announced at the weekend that it was going to disband, and have the Ó Cuív–led Republican and Septic Tanks Party and the Martin/McGrath-led Efficient Management of the IMF/ECB Programme Party, who outside the party would lament the brand? (And you could have said the same of Fine Gael or Labour at different times)


 
david morris
Feb 28, 2012 at 10:36 am

FF – a busted flush shurely ? It would be hard to imagine a more putrid collection of wannabe sharpies running a developed nation than the last FF local guvmint. (Local that is, subsumed to Brussels). Involved in one corruption scandal after another, they
were persuaded late at night in a locked room over more than a couple of drinks (Yes, that’s you, Cowen) to guarantee not only the deposits but the investments of the bondholders of their putative financial donors the Irish Banks. In one unsteady stroke of the pen, the Irish taxpayer (current & future) was put on the hook for billions of euros of bad investments.

And someone still wants to vote for FF ? Tribal loyalty – doncha love it ?

Kind regards


 

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