And If The Band You’re In Starts Playing Different Tunes

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dan

From top: Stephen Donnelly and Dan Boyle

Stephen Donnelly was the right man in the wrong party.

Dan Boyle writes:

A project I have been looking forward to see being brought to completion, early next year, is the publication of my third book.

My first two books centred around the development of the Green Party in Ireland and on our experience of being in government. This book is examining the general impact of smaller parties in Irish politics. It’s an impact that I believe has been largely positive.

My motivation in writing the book, among other things, is to record the phenomenon of smaller parties in Ireland, at a time when they seem to have become most entrenched in our political system. A more diverse politics helps to avoid a closeted and claustrophobic system.

At least that has been the basis of my thinking until this week.

Stephen Donnelly is someone I always thought as being incongruous as a Social Democrat. Socially progressive certainly. Dedicated to achieving and applying the highest possible governance standards to the State and to agencies of the State, undoubtedly. An asset to Dáil Éireann and to Irish politics, inarguably.

He is, however, a fiscal conservative/a classic Liberal.

Which is fine in its own right. We could do with more of his ilk to honestly expound on such positions. He isn’t though a Social Democrat.

It was a mistake for him to be involved in the formation of the Social Democrats. A mistake now compounded by his decision to leave so soon afterwards. I fear he may become perceived as his generation’s Noel Browne –  talented but mercurial not being seen as being able to work with others.

I had thought the Social Democrats have had an opportunity to cleave a new niche among the left in Ireland. They have been well positioned to benefit from those unhappy with Labour and uncomfortable with Sinn Féin.

The General Election came too soon for the party. The opportunity to be better prepared did not exist.

A significant strategic mistake was also made in not contesting every constituency. A national vote for the Social Democrats should have been maximised.

By not doing so the party is now more likely to share the trajectory of the Progressive Democrats, becoming reliant on a handful of flagship constituencies, without extending or expanding its national base.

A possibility for a new party on the left in Ireland has now probably receded.

Consolidation would be a more fruitful path to follow. With the proliferation of egos that exists in the sector, and the angels on the head of a pin approach to ideological purity, this seems even less likely to occur.

We could take a more optimistic view and say that Brendan Behan’s maxim that the split is first item on agenda of every new Irish political organisation, no longer holds true.

That now takes at least eighteen months.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

Rollingnews

Yesterday: The Man Who Wasn’t There

73 thoughts on “And If The Band You’re In Starts Playing Different Tunes

  1. timble

    There is a strange attitude of calling anyone who worked in business but identifies as centre left as a closet FF/FGer/fiscal conservative etc. It is a very narrow view of the left in Ireland.

    Stephen Donnolly in GE16 advocated for no income tax cuts and that the available fiscal space should go towards improving public services.

    I’m not sure how that makes him a fiscal conservative, but it suits the prejudices of people on the Irish left to label people, and self select who can or cannot be a social democrat.

    Mick Wallace was a developer who had multiple businesses, dodged taxes, ran up millions in loans. Yet for all that no one goes around saying he is a closet FFer.

    1. @ Dan Boyle

      I don’t see fiscal conservative as a perjorative term. Being concerned on how public money is spent is a good thing I would think. Those who think tax to be an intrinsic evil are just mad.

          1. Robert

            No I think you’ll find their position, and Stephen’s too, was that the way water supply was being run was *not* fiscally prudent, and just the fact that it was being run “off books” didn’t make it okay. This guy, stood up in the dail several times and spoke on this. You’re cherry-picking.

          2. @ Dan Boyle

            I think you’ll find that Stephen Donnelly is not opposed to water being paid for directly whereas the Social Democrats are.

          3. @ @ Dan Boyle

            Two separate issues. I don’t believe Irish Water is fit for purpose. Stephen Donnelly doesn’t oppose water being paid for directly. Soc Dems do.

      1. Timble

        fiscal conservatism is generally associated with reducing the size of the state by restricting the tax take along with reduced spending. Other parts including a balanced budget, reducing debt etc are all acceptable – more appropriately called fiscally prudent which is very different.

        The reason I think Donnolly is a welcome addition to social democracy is because he has a realistic attitude to tax, budgets and fiscal planning which is often used to beat the centre left over the head with.

        I agree with your point on tax.

      1. Coppélia

        Depends. Are these Kangaroos elites, blueshirts, experts, neo-liberals, shinnerbots or are they just the real roos?

  2. louislefronde

    Dan speaks sense. I could not understand why Stephen Donnelly joined the Social Democrats for reasons other than political expediency coming up to the 2016 election. Donnelly as I see it, and Dan is correct – represents those who are socially liberal and economically conservative and in that respect he is not a million miles away from Gary Webb and the new Libertarians in America. I mentioned in a comment earlier in the week, that there is room on the political spectrum for a centre-ground Liberal Party to represent the interests of those (predominantly graduates but not exclusively) who would not vote for Fine Gael (Conservatives) Fianna Fail (left-leaning populists) or the Labour Party (public sector unions)

    1. General Waste

      ‘there is room on the political spectrum for a centre-ground Liberal Party’

      Big time, it’s the only gap in the Irish political market. I’m fiscally conservative and socially liberal with no home for my vote. There are thousands like me put off by the left’s economic illiteracy and the right’s 1950’s view of society.

      1. bisted

        ‘…there is room on the political spectrum for a centre-ground Liberal Party’…isn’t that what Anne Marie McNally calls ‘my demographic’…either way, Anne Marie (like Dan) was rejected by the electorate…

        1. Rob_G

          Anne Marie was socially liberal, but not an economic liberal (which is the same thing as a ‘fiscal conservative’) – she was stone-mad for increasing govt spending.

      2. Rob_G

        This is second time in a few days that I am lamenting the loss of the PDs…

        If only Renua didn’t scare people off with the wide-eyed anti-abortion rhetoric, they could have done a bit better for themselves.

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          Their 50% flat tax was monumentally stupid as well. They’re obviously a party with no substance.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            Nah, I said no substance. They’re typical right wingers; full of principles that don’t work in real life and no plan on how to implement them. They’re fantasists.

  3. Sido

    “Socially progressive certainly. Dedicated to achieving and applying the highest possible governance standards to the State and to agencies of the State, undoubtedly. An asset to Dáil Éireann and to Irish politics, inarguably.

    He is, however, a fiscal conservative/a classic Liberal. – Hang on a minute. I saw what you did there!

  4. Clampers Outside!

    ” Consolidation would be a more fruitful path to follow. With the proliferation of egos that exists in the sector, and the angels on the head of a pin approach to ideological purity, this seems even less likely to occur. ”

    Nicely put, and I couldn’t agree more. And I’m thankful for it. If AAA / PBP / SF got themselves together…. God couldn’t help the mess that would likely follow.

  5. Joe Small

    He won’t be known as the next Noel Browne. No one could be as difficult or as contrarian as Noel Browne. He’s on his own there.

  6. Panty Christ

    You can’t just jump ship to another party mid term. You got elected in the first place to represent a select portion of your constituency. A raving mad leftie moving to the barking mad right dos the make much sense.

    1. Question Egg

      That’s like the argument for having a whip system. Voters voted for you as a member of that party and to represent that parties ideals.

      Is that correct do you think?

    2. Rob_G

      Stephen Donnelly had been elected as an independent long before the SDs’ inception; he would have topped the poll as wither an independent of an SD.

  7. Ray O'Connor

    Dedicated to achieving and applying the highest possible governance standards to the State and to agencies of the State

    Unlike Dan and the greens then

          1. Ray O'Connor

            so seeking social justice, exposing corruption, misogynistic management, and consumer abuse by a regulator which had and still has the support of the green party is an obsession?

  8. Ray O'Connor

    So Dan if i did a program like the one on Mary Boyle regarding the Greens protecting a corrupt and abusive regulator would like to defend your actions?

    1. @ Dan Boyle

      Belt away. As I’ve never been involved in corrupt activity, no proof exists. I suspect there will very little interest. I’m really not that important.

      1. Ray O'Connor

        Never said you where involved in corruption., the proof does exist by the way, the Northern Ireland regulator exposed that irish consumers were ripped off by companies telling the irish regulator lies, it’s these acts which you and your party are deliberately covering up. Eamon Ryan as Minister was ultimately responsible for corporate governance in these organisations ad you as chairperson were ultimately responsible for the standards of the green party. The irish consumers that were ripped off by this practice have not been refunded. Ciaran Cuffe who was vice chair of the regulatory committee set up to examine regulatory failure was also made aware of this illegal activity but did nothing

          1. Ray O'Connor

            Narcissists believe themselves to be above the rules and the law. When called out on their unethical, immoral or even criminal behaviour, they react by discrediting the victim to others portraying them as unstable, unbalanced or weak.

            That’s a quote from someone. but i think it apt when it comes to the greens

  9. Truth in the News

    The “Green Party” where were they in the summer 2008 when the disaster was
    to unfold and where were they when they allowed FF and Lenihan to straddle us
    with the private debt of the Irish Bankers…..there is a large body politic waiting in
    long grass and they inflicted mortal damage last February and after the 13 Billion
    debace…..look out…..put that in your beak and tweet it.

    1. Ray O'Connor

      it’s even more sinister than that, depravities as bad as the church are accommodated to satisfy the ego of eamon ryan not that Dan will address them

    2. Nigel

      It is fairly typical all right for the Irish electorate to inflict disproportionate punishment on the junior partners who were in power and tried to do some good for the ten minutes when the tidal wave crested.

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