While I essentially agree with Patrick Cockburn’s article in the Independent “Sinn Fein’s Election Victory is Ireland’s Brexit Moment”. I would like to make a distinction against its use of Brexit as a new verb for political upset and rebellion. Rebellion is a perfectly clear and uncontaminated verb!
As Patrick points out, Ireland’s surprise surge to Sinn Fein was not a victory for anti European rhetoric like Brexit was, but Ireland’s surprise vote swing was also differed to Brexit in that it wasn’t about tighter borders against refugees and immigrants, Sinn Fein is the opposite of anti immigrant nationalism, whenever there are protests in support of refugees and asylum seekers rights you will see Sinn Fein there. To Sinn Fein ‘Internationalism has always been a core part of Irish Republicanism’
Sinn Fein has shown a relentless commitment to social justice and international justice in all the campaigns I’m aware of in the south of Ireland for decades now. Most of the campaigns are not at first popular photo opportunities other party’s like Fine Gael would get in with when they come to be popular. Sinn Fein didn’t just suddenly ‘chose the right issues on which to campaign in the election‘. Its policies are not a shallow and sudden opportunism. They spring from their core principles. They’ve been around for ages at it and that’s why people have now given them a chance, because they trust their long campaigned integrity to understand and act on these issues that are now in big crises. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael all talked about ‘Change’ and a ‘Better Ireland’ in their saturation of posters as well, but people now don’t believe they will invest in solving the crises. Both parties are so clearly set against all tampering with the economy and status quo when its for the sakes of having enough tax from wealth to fix society’s facilities and needs. Through the failure of these parties to solve the worsening crises, people have come to look for a real alternative in the various emergent party’s of the left and the largest most comprehensive well known choice they had was the doggedly committed and reliably left wing party of Sinn Fein.
The reason I’m writing this is not in doubt of Patrick Cockburn’s understandings but because Fianna Fail and Fine Gael are now post election trying to deny and block Sinn Fein’s mandate from gaining a workable coalition and entering government. They are making out the vote for them was the actions of an emotionally infantile and misguided electorate, having a sudden tantrum, a foolish nationalist knee jerk reaction to Brexit, when in fact this surge against their policies and the failure of their blind and unjust support for the dominant interests of wealth, is a long deserved rebellion, a most necessary shift that is now more and more understood by a mature electorate, all of voting age.
This election result is about a constructive reaction against traditional large party’s that have not solved the worsening societal crises through their support for public austerity, Sinn Fein and Ireland’s other progressive left party’s have never till now won a majority together in Ireland’s elections, this is a rebellion from traditional party’s towards the left and it is an opposite result to Brexit in more ways than alike. Brexit has just succeeded in getting a leading traditional party of harsh public austerity re elected in Britain, (though its leading membership figures went through changes, its party members are even further now to the far right as Patrick Cockburn has well pointed out and documented.) People in Ireland have voted not on manipulated abstract impulses, they voted practically with their heads for constructive policy pledges that where clearly presented from Sinn Fein’s manifesto, pledges that chimed with the other left party’s for progressive social and economic change, but lead them in bold ambitions. Pledges to build social and affordable homes on a huge scale for Ireland, 100,000 in five years, to invest also, at an effective scale in more medical staff and facilities and access to health care, to reverse austerity’s degradations of cuts, also a big expansion of public transport to give people an option out of carbon dependence instead of a public carbon tax, Sinn Fein’s environmental protection plans are ambitious and real, but also set on an understanding of a ‘just transition‘, their manifesto is worth a good read, many new directions that are opposites to Johnson’s Brexit re-elected and still ongoing traditional Tory party, but are much more like Britain’s ambitious Labour manifesto formed under the integrity of the unfairly maligned Jeremy Corbyn.
I agree there is an elections harvest coming in around the world against large traditional ruling party’s who have supported public austerity and protected the profits of the wealthy and who make empty boasts of rising GDPs that do not actually measure the prosperity and health of most peoples lives. In Ireland, with its multinational corporate tax haven economy element, where dodgy corporate accounts claim residency for their huge profits, this also raises Ireland’s GDP figures falsely, so Irish people have now come more to realise that their rising GDP score is largely a rubbish boast. But, I think referencing Brexit as a prism to understand this international voting rebellion is not wholly useful, because Brexit is a notoriously corrupted example of a rebellion against austerity that got manipulated horribly into blaming the wrong culprits and has just led to the actual re-election of the governing political architects of British austerity, back again in government seemingly forever.
I believe some elements in USA, who see Europe’s rising economy as another threat to their maintenance of a declining but increasingly suffocating US hegemony, a power they relentlessly try protect by international subversions for the sakes of their addicted fixation on what in the Dr. Strangeglove movie was called the ‘Big Board’. These elements of US hegemony game-fully went and boosted from obscurity nasty little characters like Nigel Farage to sow the seeds of Brexit into the soil of a rightful disillusionment with austerity the British people had experienced. So like an ugly twisted version of Lawrence of Arabia, Nigel pressed nationalist buttons into a Great British rebellion against Europe and misdirected half the voters from what would of been a useful rebellion against Britain’s elected rulers, the Tory austerity party and the destructive pirate profits of the ‘City’s’ wealthy financial traders, the parasites of real economies whose continued profiteering the Tories care only to support.
But much of austerity’s harvests of disillusionment, are reaping their rebellions into elections of the left, masses of voters thinking with their heads and hearts to support progressive social justice policies, and are not interested into being misdirected into the scapegoat blaming of refugees and immigrants for their austerity. Spain has seen a rise in an ultra right nasty VOX party, (this is also due to many corruption scandals against the right wing Popular Party whom Vox voters used vote for and also the Vox party benefited from the polarisation against Catalan that the Popular Party deliberately inflamed, but unsuccessfully for their party’s benefit, to try stoke a nationalist support for its party and distract from its many scandals in court cases and economic failures) But, despite all this, Spain has also just elected and seen a new, fresh thinking, ambitious and hopeful left of centre coalition government form, between the traditional PSOE centre socialists and the more progressive left Podemos party who are tenacious and rooted in anti austerity. I hope they can show their electorate and Europe a constructive successful example, in the wisdom of electing a practical, socially progressive, humane and inclusive Left government coalition, as been the better way to swing, rather than towards the hopeless hatreds of the right.
It seems Brexit, perhaps due to its got a catchy sound, is determined to get in the dictionary as a word that means everything and nothing! Its a word of hype, just like slogan’s from Boris-the stand up comedian-Johnson who won for the Tories again, by saying ‘Lets Get Brexit done’ Brexit means manipulation of disillusionment using nationalist hype to vote against progressive manifestos that would actually improve the lives and outlooks of a nation’s people, and to vote back in more of the same austerity, less workers rights and collective protections while also adding a retreat into closed minds and borders. Disillusionment with austerity and its causes is leading to harvests of rebellion but Brexit’s a bad apple to define that rebellion and perhaps that was in the point of Cockburn’s article.
I do agree that Brexits unpopularity and anticipated effects outside of its main support base in England, has created in Ireland and Scotland a new dynamic towards there being a practical economic advantage in having a united Ireland and an independent Scotland still in Europe, but that is a matter for referendums and depends on a positive vote from all northern Ireland’s communities in support of it, so while Brexit sparked a new dynamic and was an element perhaps in the fresh thinkings of Southern voters in their recent election, it was not the practical lead. Cockburn’s article also understands this.
Cuchulainn Is Not Dead! by Antonio Carty
(A large life sized pencil and inks drawing, of a man named Martin,
on a rainy busy day under Pearse Station bridge, Dublin Nov.2014)
A big surge of Irish voters where and are disillusioned with self congratulating GDP boasts from their traditional ruling party’s, while their health, home and living costs, are way to high and wages to low, but Ireland’s people voted for progressive solutions with their heads and their hearts. Forget Brexit, this international Rebellion’s electoral harvest has a good brain. Where as Brexit, is associated with the mindless rule of misbegotten impulse over true solutions. The Fine Gael outgoing government, who are the Tory party’s kindred spirits in Ireland, also tried make the election about Brexit and the fear of its effects, warning voters to continue with their government for ‘economic stability’ and that their ‘Brexit Team’ was the only ones trained in the vital Brexit negotiations battle, but people saw fixing Ireland’s practical weaknesses in health and housing ect. as an instability to fix now and that a large practical investment to build it was what is realistic and necessary, and that this action would be a real and robust best defence to weather economic unpredictability. The economic Brexit fears that, declining Fine Gael and Fianna Fail (who had always been the two traditional ruling party alternatives) had tried stoke, failed to lead the election and its perspective as they expected, voters thankfully rebelled and finally rejected the fear of tampering with an economy that is never fixing their main crises or working to help them enough. They voted in a surge of support for Taxes on the wealthy and for a big public spending program needed to change and fix Ireland’s lingering and significantly degrading crises in health and homes ect.
So it is Ireland’s rebellion moment for sure, but it wasn’t an exit or a lobotomy from the common international struggle of humanity, it was an opening up of politics and voters minds through their surge of participation in a brave vote for social justice, humanity before profit, through the election of the policies and promises of the progressive left, thankfully! I hope Sinn Fein and the other Left party’s can agree and are able to form a large enough coalition with out the old traditional ruling party’s sabotage, so that their combined progressive manifesto polices, have a fair chance to work effectively together and so prove their continued merits for re election, by creating actual improvements for people’s lives.
Its a good article from a writer I always read, but, I just wanted to make this, I hope useful contribution, through a point angled against the growing use of Brexit as a new verb for a rebellion. Forget Brexit, Rebellion is the verb!