Goodbye To (Almost) All That

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From top: Donald Trump and Nigel Farage; Dan Boyle

The resounding message of 2016?

It’s time for liberals to get down and dirty.

Dan Boyle writes:

It’s been a crappy year. A crappy, crappy year. A year where the favoured, successful, political tools were those of fear, hate and ignorance. Those who have used these tools have become triumphant not by changing the rules of the game, but by working them through to their logical conclusion.

Lying, lack of disclosure and deceit have sadly long been part of our political discourse. All that those who have succeeded, now, have managed to do has been to ignore truth in any form whatsoever, to create a more sellable narrative.

Those of us who have lost, and we have lost badly, should waste no time crying into our lattes. We must adopt similar tactics to restore obvious truths into the greater public consciousness.
In doing so we need to be aware of who we are trying to repersuade.

A number of stupid political choices may have been made in 2016, but to characterise those who have made such decisions as stupid, or deplorable or ignorant, will make it impossible to change such minds again.

We need to acknowledge the liberal/progressive conceit not to have engaged with those who had opted out of the political system.

Those now politically dominant should be acknowledged for bringing the long neglected into the political fold. Involved consent is good. Informed consent is better.We should also remind ourselves that this new vanguard of the right is not a majority, but it has become a dangerous plurality.

How we persuade is also important. It won’t be through tedious debate or sanctimonious finger pointing. Getting down and dirty is where liberals/progressives need to be. Messages need to simplified, made into soundbites then repeated ad nauseum. That oxymoron, liberal disdain, should never again be given any oxygen.

What particularly needs to be challenged is the narrative that this elite that pretends it is not an elite, is best placed to meet the needs of the dispossessed and long neglected. Making them believe that in helping the ultra rich become richer we all will somehow benefit.

Like fuck we will.

This is not my usual turn of phrase. I would, and should, apologise. However I have become convinced, that those of us of a progressive bent, need to construct a metaphorical mirror to reflect back, to those currently controlling the political agenda, the ugliness they have helped to create.

The new dispensation feeds upon liberal niceness. It’s also likely that these heroes will fold if effectively challenged.

The coming era will be confrontational. It needs to be. The danger for progressive forces, is to ensure the clarity needed as to who the real opposition is. Progressives need to feed, not feed off, each other. It’s going to be a bumpy ride. There may further more depressing defeats ahead. But we’ve got to start somewhere.

Happy New Year by the way.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. His column appears here every Thursdyay. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

Cartoon: Steve Greenberg

74 thoughts on “Goodbye To (Almost) All That

      1. Kenny Plank

        It’s all relative. Y’know a bit like trying to write a clamping app and then hoping nobody remembers that failure instead of your witticisms on a free website…

  1. Charger Salmons

    Brexit was a brilliant result for liberals.You know,the kind of liberals who believe in democracy and the right of ordinary people to vote for what they think.
    In much the same way as they slung you out on your ear old cock.
    The Establishment’s Project Fear has proved to be just that – the UK is prospering after the Brexit vote and is going to be the fastest growing economy in the G7.
    Now I can see why the ” intellectual ” liberals are aghast at populism because the plebs are obviously not sticking to the Irish Times/Guardian/RTE/BBC script.
    So yeah,I get why you think 2016 has been a crappy year.
    Crappy ? I can’t think of a better year for democracy in my lifetime.
    And Dan,please get Broadsheet to change that picture of you.It still makes you look like rubbish Geography teacher who has just come in from a night on the sauce.

    1. Dan Boyle

      I worry about people who think the word intellectual is an insult. As if thinking deeply on any decision and its likely consequences is dangerous. When populism become a vapid, instinctive exercise about ‘sticking it to the man’, we all lose.

      1. Charger Salmons

        So 17.4 million Brits with genuine concerns about immigration and loss of sovereignty were ” sticking it to the man. ” ?
        No wonder you’re an ex-politician.

        1. De Kloot

          “So 17.4 million Brits with genuine concerns about immigration and loss of sovereignty were ” sticking it to the man. ” ?”

          Nope, they’re thick as poo…..

          1. scottser

            the eu, as an institution is difficult to defend. it’s not accountable or democratic in any true sense of the word, it has ridden royally small countries such as ourselves and greece while it’s senior members makes a nice tidy profit out of syria, iraq etc.
            the eu has to change and it needed a good shake up – hopefully this is it.

            and sure, isn’t the uk 16bn better off. according to the daily express? :P

        2. Ivor

          Most Brits vastly overestimate the number of immigrants/muslims in their country. Up to 40 per cent also don’t even know that MEPs are elected. They’ve spent decades where at least once a week when they go to the shop, they’ve seen some sort of Xenophobic headline about immigrants etc.

          The voters concerns may have been genuine but those concerns – to a significant extent – reflect ignorance and the campaign of misinformation they’ve been subjected to by the likes of the Sun, the Mail and the Express.

        3. Dan Boyle

          Ooh insult as argument. That’s clever. No vote total is made 100% of rational votes. I’m the UK and the US enough votes were irrational.

        1. Dan Boyle

          I enjoy intelligent conversation. I despair at knee-jerk reaction. I don’t like labels neither do I like lazy thinkers whose only instinct is to be pejorative. I don’t consider myself to be anything other than me. And I like being me.

    2. ironcorona

      While the UK might be (as you say) prosperous since the Brexit vote we don’t have any idea what the economy will look like after Brexit actually happens. If they end up triggering article 50 in March then we’re at least 27 months from knowing what a post Brexit economy will look like. Not to mention the amount of time after that until the economy stabilises at its new level so we can get the right perspective on if the Brexit vote was a good decision from an economic prosperity point of view.

      I don’t see how the democracy demonstrated in the 2016 Brexit vote is any better or worse than the democracy demonstrated every time there’s a general or local election. In previous elections the voting population has always got what they voted for. Democracy is acting as usual for a place like Britain.

      1. Charger Salmons

        I tell you why the democracy is different this time – the losing side refuses to accept defeat and is trying every tactic,including using the Irish courts,to overturn the result and thwart the will of the people in the largest democratic mandate in British political history.

        Or as Dan the failed politician calls it,vapid.

          1. Arcol

            And +14 million votes say it isn’t. The mandate is not the number that votes for one side, it’s the difference between the two. And that’s slim. Very slim. You talk of democracy but have total disregard for the voices that didn’t agree, even if there were fewer. That’s not how real democracy works. You talk about people being vapid and then trout out arguments that could have been written in headline on a tabloid rag. Despite this, most of the sane world hopes this doesn’t come back to bite even you. But you just probably just think they’re losers.

        1. Junkface

          A lot of Brexit voters who voted to leave wanted to change their vote only a couple of days afterwards to stay in the EU because they felt like they were duped by Boris and UKIP who spouted lies and false savings in the millions to the British tax payer. So many of them did not even read about what it actually meant for their country with regards to trade, because most people don’t read anymore as they are too lazy.

          1. Charger Salmons

            Post-Brexit opinion polls show there has been little buyer’s regret and a referendum today would bring pretty much the same result.
            Unlike the second Lisbon Treaty vote when Ireland allowed itself to be bullied by a strutting martinet from France the Uk won’t change its mind.
            Soz and all that.

        2. ironcorona

          Surely that means this is a worst year for democracy, given that the losers refuse to accept the winning vote.

          1. Ivor

            What’s interesting is that the longer Brexit takes, the less likely it will represent the views of voters. The Leavers are losing support to the grave while the Remainers are getting a far larger share of the incoming 18 year olds.

            Would Remain have won if 16 year olds could vote?

        3. Nigel

          This would be almost convincing if every time a potential problem with Brexit is pointed out it’s treated as an anti-democratic assault on the will of the people. Stupidity compounding stupidity may well be the democratic will of the people, but democracy means people who disagree get to say so. Then again I’d be shocked if you actually thought there was anything genuinely positive about Brexit other than as an attack vector to use on Liberals.

        4. Dan Boyle

          Like the losing side never accepted a 1975 referendum. Like many in the US never accepted their President was black. Democracy has never meant shutting down those who don’t agree with you.

        1. Dan Boyle

          Ireland and Wales have symbiotic ties. I’m lost to know why you think this has anything to do with Wales Green Party?

  2. Biguy

    How we persuade is also important. It won’t be through tedious debate or sanctimonious finger pointing.

    Take your own advice.

      1. Biguy

        I give advice on what I know about, to people who care. As you’re a career politician that’s going to be a difficult combination for you so I can understand the frustration.

        1. Dan Boyle

          It hasn’t been my career for several years. I’m seldom frustrated and then only by sad posts like this.

  3. francis

    A message to Dan Boyle, leftists and other liberals. The revolution has already started but it’s not the revolution you want.
    Go back to bed

        1. Nigel

          He meant the cyber-barricades where keyboard warriors gather to make rape threats against women and complain about the female Ghostbusters and celebrate Brexit and Trump. Truly this is their revolution.

          1. Nigel

            You see they remade the film Ghostbusters with a female cast. People got very upset about it. Conversely they remade The Magnificent Seven but this time, subversively, with a male cast and nobody batted an eye. Goes to show really.

  4. Junkface

    Centrists and the Left need to get on the dumbing down train if they want to succeed in persuading the masses of devolving idiots that they have their best intentions at heart, that they want society to progress. The modern age and Billionaire manipulations (Murdoch, Koch brothers, Trump) has made people dumber, less inclined to read books, more inclined to distrust verifiable, factual news sources . The masses seem to be very confused as well as severly let down by the politics and wealth gap increases of the last 30 years, the middle class have been squeezed too much towards poverty, so the future language of politics has to adopt a similar simplistic language to Trumps I’m afraid.

  5. ollie

    Dan and his ilk want to maintain the status quo, they hate change and love to lecture us. If you don’t go with the status quo (FG, FF, Lab, GP, ) which has failed us miserably, you must be some sort of moronic idiot who needs the message “simplified, made into soundbites then repeated ad nauseum. ” because you lot are obviously too thick to understand the good work that the traditional parties have done and continue to do.

    “A year where the favoured, successful, political tools were those of fear, hate and ignorance.”

    So Dan, who in the Irish Dail used fear hate and ignorance as political tools? Seriously, who?

    Green Party on climate change?
    Fine Gael on bank debt?

  6. Ivor

    Dan, full points for effort but your problem remains that you are talking about “them”.

    Giving “liberal disdain” a voice is not a problem. These liberals are only saying what they think. They don’t relate to working class people and don’t really care enough to try. Middle-class, urban, socially liberal, IT readers live in a bubble and the rest of the world is an unreal curiosity to them.

    The problem isn’t what liberals are saying, it’s what they’re thinking and indeed the way they think. If, at a time of record levels of homelessness, you’re more concerned with corncrakes, transgender bathrooms, and gender quotas (not that these are not important issues) , then you’re part of a different world to working class people. Just try to imagine not having enough money to put petrol into your car to go to work so you can pay your bills when some ejit pops up and asks you to sign a petition about increasing non-religious education options in Foxrock. You’d tell them where to shove the clipboard.

  7. jimmy russell

    we liberals need to double down and really harangue if we are to re-educate the ignorant majorites, calling people who voted brexit racist bigots and trump voters racists, homophobes, misogynists etc. almost worked, we just have to push harder than ever, repeating this in 2017 will surely work this time.

    1. Louis Lefronde

      Panem et Circensis…. Bread and Circuses. It’s the oldest trick in the political book if you want to keep the mob happy promise them the 21st century equivalent. It’s exactly what Trump did, so why anyone is surprised beats me?

    1. Kenny Plank

      Give him a chance. He has to look up those big words…

      … to be fair though, the fact that he has to use BS as a platform for his views probably disqualifies Dan as a candidate for “intellectual”…

    2. bisted

      …I suppose your answer above shows you’ve managed to master parliamentary obfuscation with your short time as an elected TD…you also demonstrate that you’ve mastered the unparliamentary language that the green party have become famous for…

        1. Dan Boyle

          Only to a silly question. You ask fatuous I’ll answer fatuous . I look forward to seeing either of you elected as a TD for any length of time.

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