Stamina, Ambition, Orientation

"It's a story of neglect. Of poor housing, no facilities or community centres for young people or old, of unemployment, of big money unjustly distributed, of queues for hospital beds, of withdrawal of medical services.

It is a story of neglect and injustice. It is also a political story of apathy, of hopelessness, of corruption, of political parties scrabbling for votes against each other, and between party running mates, of political want-to-be's, blowing into areas for votes and blowing out again, passing the parcel between them on councils, taking elections as an accolade not an obligation".

All an all it is a familiar story throughout much of Europe. Conditions ready made you would have thought for a breakthrough by a dynamic progressive working class party. Yet in the last fifteen years we have become conditioned to accept that in the unlikely event the mold is broken, it will inevitably be by the extreme-Right.

However in local elections in the 26 counties in June, Sinn Fein trebled its representation on city and county councils, taking in total 62 local authority seats. Quite apart from it 's success on the other side of the border, SF is now the fourth largest party in the 26 Counties. And yet as republicans are only too happy to admit there is no secret to their success.

"The vote represents all the work which has been done by Sinn Fein down the years, every week, going out talking to people, putting newsletters out to over 10,000 houses, letting people know what we are doing, being actively involved in the community campaigns around the issues that concern people".

Expanding on the point another local activist pointed out that "people know we are not afraid. We 're from the community, we live here, not like the other candidates who park their car a mile away. We 've lived here all our lives. Sinn Fein lives in and is part of the community".

Overall SF 's success is "a testament" according to An Phoblact/Republican News "to arduous patient work without glamour on the ground amongst the people." Simple as that.

As well as being an inspiration to those of us pursuing a similar strategy, what a devastating rebuke to the 30 year investment in entryism, opportunism, middle class student recruitment, sectarianism, paper selling and demos practiced by the now collapsing European Left.

Politics has always been the art of the possible not the improbable. It is essentially a collection of successful recipes. Orientation, stamina and ambition being the critical ingredients. Once the political objective is agreed, the course of least resistance is decided. Any serious or prolonged deviation from this course of action comes under the category of hobby.

Reproduced from RA vol 4, Issue 2, Aug/Sept '99