By Anthony Sheridan
There’s a constant stream of articles by mainstream journalists struggling to explain why the political establishment they so loyally serve, continues to lose popular support.
The articles all take similar form.
A brief history of the failing fortunes of their favoured party, be it Fine Gael, Fianna Fail or Labour. Sometimes we’re presented with bizarre reasons for the collapse in support for these parties but more often than not, no explanation whatsoever is given.
In place of truth and reality these journalists invariably resort to delusional analysis.
Harry McGee, the political correspondent with the Irish Times, provided one such example recently.
Writing about Fianna Fail’s continuing decline, he makes the following points without providing any explanation or analysis.
The rapidly changing nature of Irish society [forced] Fine Gael and Fianna Fail into coalition.
The 85% vote received by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael in the 1982 election was halved by 2020.
Sinn Fein leader, Mary Lou McDonald, will almost certainly be the next Taoiseach.
So here, briefly, is the reason for the above developments which McGee fears to address.
It was not the changing nature of Irish society that led Fine Gael and Fianna Fail to form a coalition. It was an act of desperation by both parties to hold onto the power and privilege they have enjoyed for decades.
The continuing fall in support for the parties of the centre between 1982 and 2020 is a direct consequence of the incompetence, arrogance and corruption of the ruling political class.
McDonald is likely to be the next Taoiseach because the people are desperate to get rid of the current corrupt political class. The people want radical change, that’s what they have been voting for over the past several elections.
Establishment journalists do not see this because they operate within the same bubble occupied by the ruling political class.
So, instead of exposing the rot at the centre of Irish politics, journalists such as McGee resort to attacking those who are challenging the old, dying regime. Sinn Fein, because it poses the greatest threat to the power of that regime, is usually the prime target.
McGee’s analysis is both amateurish and delusional. He claims that a section of the electorate is strongly opposed to a Sinn Fein led government because of
The horrible, inhumane and cruel things the republican movement did during the troubles for which there were no grounds to claim justification.
There is no doubt that there are many opposed to a Sinn Fein led government because of what happened during the troubles but for a journalist to make such a political point without a balancing context, is to indulge in cheap propaganda.
For example, an unbiased journalist would balance the activities of the republican movement with the ruthless apartheid system operated by Unionists over a period of 50 years.
Next, he praises the openness of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail’s weekly parliamentary meetings and condemns the so-called secrecy of Sinn Fein meetings, suggesting that the party is acting undemocratically.
Of course, McGee knows very well that all political parties strive to keep their weekly meetings private. The only reason we know what goes on at FG/FF meetings is because they leak like a sieve. He also knows that the leaks are a reflection of the rancour and disunity within these two parties while Sinn Fein’s success in keeping their deliberations confidential is an indication of the party’s unity of purpose.
The purpose of this fake analysis is, of course, to throw mud in the hope that some will stick. It’s an effective propaganda tool but one that is spurned by professional journalists.
McGee ends his article on a note of high arrogance when he wonders how Sinn Fein will deal with sensitive security departments if they enter government.
How will it deal with the Department of Justice, the Defence Forces and the Garda? Sinn Féin is an erstwhile enemy, there is no other way of putting it.
Actually, there is another way of putting it.
Sinn Fein is a 100% legitimate political party with massive and growing support. That support stems from the democratic power of the people who are more than willing to trust Sinn Fein representatives serving in any department.
It is the height of paternalistic arrogance for a journalist to take upon himself the notion that the people’s democratic choice should be conditional or limited in any manner, in forming a government.
In his unquestioning loyalty to the rotten centre of Irish politics McGee is blind to the fact that the people are increasingly seeing his beloved political class as the enemy and Sinn Fein as the only hope for an accountable democracy.
This type of journalism is not without consequences. Good quality political analysis is critical in a democracy. When journalists speak truth to power, political behaviour improves and democracy remains healthy.
When politicians are confident that journalists will not only defend their errant behaviour but actively attack those who challenge the rotten status quo, the political system and democracy is exposed to serious damage.
That is exactly what is happening in Ireland today.