Sinn Fein could meet itself at the other end of the spectrum
Not even the 'veteran observers' of politics acknowledge the rise of the far right in Ireland.
Published 04/05/2014 | 02:30
THERE is one aspect of the Euro elections which is of serious public interest and which may also be interesting to the public. It is the rise of the far right in several countries, including France, England, Greece, Denmark, Austria and Ireland.
That would be Ireland, or "The 26 Counties" as it is sometimes called by supporters of the party to which I am referring here, the party called Sinn Fein. It's doing pretty well in the polls, like its nationalist brethren across the continent.
Indeed many of those nationalist, or "far right" organisations as they tend to be known outside Ireland, would probably look to Sinn Fein as the best-qualified of them all, what with its very recent history of running an actual army, its continued devotion to a horrible ideology, and a track record of such impeccable wrong-headedness on so many major issues of the last century it even offered its wholehearted support to Nazi Germany.
So accomplished is it in all aspects of the "far right" game, Sinn Fein has succeeded in persuading many political commentators that it is not far right at all, or even a little bit to the right. In fact you can hear "veteran observers" and other such authoritative voices suggesting that Sinn Fein is a sort of a party of the left.
This is due to the fact that it is taking votes from Labour, which is known as a party of the left, but which is actually a party of the Law Library, if it is anything – which, for the most part, it is not.
On the broader European scene, the ultra-nationalist credentials of Sinn Fein would probably elicit a measure of grudging admiration even from the UK Independence Party (UKIP), who are British nationalists and therefore routinely described either as a party of the right or the far right.
Personally I would be comfortable with the designation of UKIP as "far right", because it would be wrong to see it just as a "normal" party of the right. If we say that the Conservative Party is a party of the right, due to its core belief in facilitating the plunder of all the money in the world by its friends in the City, then UKIP, which is pretty relaxed about the City too, would be further to the right than that.
UKIP would also be concerned that there are too many Romanians knocking around the place. And it would want to accelerate the destruction of the environment due to its conviction that man-made climate change is a concept dreamed up by a bunch of ponces in "Europe".
Sinn Fein, some of whose members have engaged in actual paramilitary action against unsavoury foreign elements such as Brits and Protestants, would have to be given a more extreme rating than that, somewhere beyond the far right and into a realm where it may indeed be meeting itself at the other end of the spectrum – which may explain the fumbling efforts of experts who see it as a sort of left-wing, or socialist party, but which probably brings us to a somewhat more evocative denomination which would cover the nationalism and this strange "socialism". It would bring us to Sinn Fein as National Socialists.
But no bells are ringing for the "veteran observers" of the Irish political scene, for whom every election is like a trip to some grey, run-down Disneyland to which they have been going with great excitement for the last 50 years.
Every time they open their mouths to utter seven or eight political cliches in a row, you realise the level of their estrangement from the world that they have left behind them. But if I was to pick one line which demonstrates the distance between the fantasy-land of commentators and the land of Ireland as it actually is, I would pick this recent introduction to the Sean O'Rourke show item known as "The Gathering". Reflecting on the week that had just passed, O'Rourke began by saying that it was "dominated by events at the teachers' conferences".
You may recall that this was the week in which David Moyes had been sacked as manager of Manchester United, but officially, it had been "dominated by events at the teachers' conferences". Officially, and of course, wrongly.
It was a particularly striking illustration of the gap between the official version and the real version, because oddly enough, most RTE news bulletins had actually dropped the pretence that the teachers' conferences were uppermost in our thoughts, and had rightly led with Moyes, a story of enormous cultural and social and emotional significance for hundreds of thousands of people in this country. In fact, if news programmes were accurately to reflect the true levels of public engagement in various stories, the teachers' conferences wouldn't have been reported at all.
But we'll allow for a certain amount of "official" obligation here, on the part of the national media, to cover these things. What we can't allow for is the level of delusion it takes to declare that that week was "dominated by events at the teachers' conferences".
As for Sinn Fein representing the rise of the far right in Ireland, apparently there is no such thing.