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Sinn Fein’s election victory is Ireland’s ‘Brexit moment’


Source: The Independent

“People wanted to kick the government and Sinn Fein provided the shoe to do the kicking,” says Christy Parker, a journalist from the beautiful but de-industrialised town of Youghal in county Cork. He speaks of the “chasm” between the elite benefiting from Ireland’s impressive economic progress and the large part of the population that has been left behind.

Youghal never recovered from the loss of its carpet and textile factories that flourished when I grew up there in the 1950s and 1960s. Today, surveys show that many of its people still yearn for the return of the factories that once provided good jobs. One can see why: the main street is today lined with closed shops, though the cost of renting a flat is high and has doubled over the last eight or nine years.

The town is one of many places in Ireland untouched by the original Celtic Tiger or the economic recovery from the 2008 recession. “Every week people are hearing some new shocking story about the homeless trying to live off food banks somewhere in the country,” says Parker.

I have heard exactly the same phrases being used in the UK to explain why people voted for Brexit. In former coal mining and steel making towns in the Welsh Valleys, I was told that they felt betrayed by everybody in authority from the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff to Westminster and Brussels, “but it was the EU against which people decided to push back.” A man from Walsall said that people there did not care if the GDP of the UK went up or down after Brexit, because they did not consider it “to be their GDP”.

The general election on 8 February was Ireland’s “Brexit moment” when a wide variety of establishment chickens came home to roost, as many voters expressed deep dissatisfaction with the status quo. An exit poll showed that 63 per cent of voters believed that they had not benefited from recent economic improvements.

Politicians and commentators on all sides confirmed the exit poll evidence that the issues which mattered most to voters were health care, housing and homelessness. This is true but tends to obscure the fact that in Ireland, as in the UK and US, voters chose a vociferously nationalist party as the vehicle through which they expressed their rejection of the status quo. In Ireland, Sinn Fein stumbled on a winning political formula whose potency it at first underrated but raised its share of the vote from 9.5 to 24.5 per cent between disastrous local council elections last May and the triumphant general election nine months later. The change in the party’s political prospects may have been astonishing, but nobody believes them to be a flash in the pan protest vote. There is a general assumption that, if there is another general election, and Sinn Fein makes no calamitous mistakes, the party will field enough candidates, as it failed to do this time around, and will win a more complete victory.

The motives of the Irish voters may have been social and economic, but the fact that a quarter of them plumped for Sinn Fein will have a profound influence on Northern Ireland and Ireland’s relations with Britain. For the first time a single party, Sinn Fein, will be politically powerful on both sides of the border, a partner with the DUP in Belfast and potentially either a leading partner in the next Irish government in Dublin or the main opposition to it. This creates a degree of de facto Irish unity never experienced before and will be deeply resented by unionists who see the balance of power swinging against them.

Sinn Fein’s political dominance in the nationalist/Catholic community in the north, that had been showing signs of faltering, will be reinforced. But the unionist/Protestant community, which last year saw Boris Johnson renege on his promises of support, by agreeing to a customs barrier separating Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK, is feeling the ground beginning to give way under its feet.

Brian Feeney, a columnist for the Irish News in Belfast, says history shows that northern nationalists “like republican politics, but they don’t like republican violence”. Destabilisation is most likely to come from the unionist side and a sign of this may be hoax bomb threats against nationalist targets in Belfast in recent days.

A further cause of instability is the British government itself: the highly regarded Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith was summarily dismissed in the cabinet reshuffle this week, despite winning plaudits from all sides for brokering the power-sharing deal between Sinn Fein and the DUP that reopened the assembly at Stormont. Smith’s was reportedly sacked due to pledging to investigate alleged crimes committed by British soldiers during the Troubles.

Getting rid of Smith may be an early sign that, under Johnson, English nationalist sensitivities will get priority over keeping Northern Ireland stable. The arrogance and ignorance of Brexiteers when it comes to Ireland has infuriated Irish opinion over the last few years with the Home Secretary Priti Patel famously suggesting that the Irish, who have vivid memories of the Great Famine, could be starved into making concessions.

Voters say that Brexit was not a significant influence on the way they cast their vote in the election, probably because they wrongly supposed that the problem was solved. But Ireland remains the EU’s front line state, which gives it influence in Brussels but ensures constant friction with the UK.

From Sinn Fein’s point of view, it has been a successful 40 years’ march since it first started winning elections during the hunger strikes of 1980/81 as Daniel Finn describes in his important book One Man’s Terrorist: A Political History of the IRA. The initial slogan was that “Will anyone here object if, with a ballot box in this hand and an Armalite in this hand, we take power in Ireland?” These are not words that Sinn Fein’s many enemies are likely to allow it to forget, but during the election campaign just finished, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil claims that the shadow of the gunman still tainted Sinn Fein were mostly ignored. The accusation may resonate with older voters, but not with younger ones with no experience of “physical force” republicanism.

Constitutional action has worked too well for Sinn Fein to try anything else. It has also cut the ground from under dissident republicans seeking to return to violence. Northern nationalists know that demographic change is propelling them towards a voting majority. In the south, they are no longer hobbled politically by memories of The Troubles.

Sinn Fein may well congratulate itself that years of struggle have produced its present successes. But it has also been extremely lucky: after trying and failing to make Irish partition an international issue for almost a century, the Brexit vote in 2016 automatically did so by potentially turning the border into an international frontier between the UK and the EU. Sinn Fein chose the right issues on which to campaign in the general election, but it was also the almost accidental beneficiary of disillusionment with traditional parties, and that disillusionment has been leading to these parties’ shock defeat in elections across the world.

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

3 Comments

  1. avatar
    Antonio Carty February 21, 2020 9:33 pm 

    (Sorry for posting my comment already posted below, here again, but I have added to it a bit, so for the record here it is. Also its available as a blog post elsewhere on Z Net)

    Forget Brexit, Rebellion is the Verb!

    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

    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!

  2. avatar
    Antonio Carty February 21, 2020 8:10 pm 

    (Sorry for posting my comment already posted below, here again, but I have added to it a bit, so for the record here it is. Also its available as a blog elsewhere on Z Net)

    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 injust 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. Rebellion is the verb!

  3. avatar
    Antonio Carty February 19, 2020 9:28 am 

    Forget Brexit, Rebellion is the Verb!

    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’

    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, 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 in perhaps in fresh thinkings of Southern voters in their recent election, it was not the practical lead. Cockburn’s article also understands this

    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. Rebellion is the verb!

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