Left left high and dry?

I’ve just read an article in the Guardian by Andy Beckett – ‘Has the Left Blown its Big Chance of Success (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/aug/17/left-politics-capitalism-recession). He notes the fact that not just in Britain but in countries throughout Europe, with capitalism wobbling at or on its knees, the voters don’t appear to be listening to any alternative message from the left. It’s odd, really – all the things that lefties were saying for so long – banks make obscene profits, wars are waged in the interests of big companies – and were laughed for saying, have now become accepted as mainstream commonsense. But while everybody goes blue in the face at the way the Celtic Tiger, for example, has been put down, leaving less than nothing to show for all those years of roaring and clawing, nobody seems prepared to act or even vote in a way that will make encourage real change. You remember when Michael McDowell gave Gerry Adams that lesson in economics on TV during the election debate? Strange to tell, I haven’t come on a single instance of a commentator saying ‘We got it all wrong, lads – McDowell was the economic illiterate, much of what Adams warned against has come to pass’. More importantly, there’s been no signs of more votes coming the Shinners’ way in the wake of the collapse of McDowell and all he stood for. It’s hard to say why. The easy answer would be that life and its problems, including the economic, go beyond rational analysis. The slightly less easy answer would be to say that the left, including Sinn Fein, have completely failed to put forward a convincing case for organising society and the economics on which it is based differently. Or maybe the left has got convincing alternative policies and people who can articulate those policies, but they just don’t have a platform from which to deliver them. That’s true of Sinn Fein in the south certainly. In the past two days I’ve seen at least three articles in southern newspapers mocking Sinn Fein and declaring they were on the road to nowhere. I’ve read no detailed statement by republicans of where they are heading and how they plan to get there – because republicans don’t have a newspaper, a radio station, an organ that can deliver that message to the people of the twenty-six counties. Or, come to that, to the people of the six counties. The Andersonstown News is a lonely voice and once it reaches the outer limits of West Belfast, its message grows thin and is scarcely heard. It’s time republicans learnt that while the medium may not quite be the message, you need a medium if your message is to get through. Or was the short-lived Daily Ireland it?

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