The FF miracle is, like the Catholics, the faithful remain, blind to the abuses of the leaders.
The latest opinion polls continue to reveal a decline in support for Fianna Fáil, traditionally Ireland’s most successful political party. Disapproval of the coalition FF/Green Government’s performance is at 84%, a staggering indicator of dissent. Yet FF – the Soldiers of Destiny - retain support from some 20% of the electorate. Apparently not all who are dissatisfied will vote against the party.
This is understandable as Fianna Fáil, for its rump of supporters, is as much a belief system as a political party. The current incarnation of the party - pro privatisation, pro "open" economy, sustained by donations from developers and speculators – is completely different from the original ideals and policies of the post revolutionary party founded in the 1920s.
There is no more talk of self reliance and traditional values. No more support for nationalised industry. Founding principles were abandoned as FF recast itself as the Irish branch of the worst of US policies. FF embraced consumerism, glorified affluence and revered globalisation, regardless of its impacts on domestic and international communities and environments. They positioned Ireland as the most globalised country in the world, and hence the most vulnerable to global economic turbulence. It was the wrong strategy, and poorly executed at that.
Many core supporters still cling to the original ideals, and have been betrayed by the behaviour of the leaders. Ray Burke's disgraceful deal on the Corrib Gas Field; Michael Woods on the indemnity deal; the jailing of former press secretary Dunlop - we can all quote examples of FF deviance.
But like Catholics continuing to pardon the abuses of mind, body and spirit by participating in rituals and sending children to Catholic educators, FF supporters believe in the party and will pardon it with votes and donations, regardless.
A vote for FF is a pardon for the indemnity deal. A vote for FF is a pardon for the abuses of the planning system. A vote for FF is a pardon for the economic debacle.
The FF miracle is, like the Catholics, the faithful remain, blind to the abuses of the leaders. Something is rotten at the heart of the party, the party my grandfathers worked for.
Support for FF hasn't bottomed out, but over a generation, it will fizzle out. Future cute hoors and fat, greedy gombeenees will join the Greens, FG or Labour, leaving a defiant rump of eFFers wrapped in a crumpled flag, clinging to the illusions and rhetoric of bygone days.
May 29, 2009