Teaching Vincent Browne the difference between SF & FF/FG

Posted: April 17, 2016 in Election 2016, Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Sinn Féin

Love him or loath him you have to admit that Vincent Browne has done the state some service. He is one of the few presenters who can unnerve even the most seasoned media performer.

Like a cranky, scruffy old dog with a well chewed bone he just won’t let go – even when the rest of the pack has drifted off in search of more meaty morsels.

With a crop of eager new TDs Vincent is in his element. Despite his feigned disinterest we all know that he is thrilled to have an even bigger cast of willing lambs to slaughter.

But the old dog seems to be tiring of late. His line of questioning is becoming formulaic. And his show is all the poorer for it.

Take his interviews with newly elected Sinn Féin TDs. I’ve started laying bets as to the length of time it will take before he groans, ‘sure there’s no real difference between Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael.’

This is not just a question designed to wrong foot his interviewee. Vincent really believes that there are no substantive differences between our parties.

Ordinarily I would just dismiss this as an ill-informed opinion of an otherwise astute commentator. But in the context of the ongoing debate about government formation this question takes on an added significance.

So for the benefit of Vincent –and anyone else who is interested- let me outline some key differences between Sinn Féin and the state’s other two large parties.

Sinn Féin is committed to ending partition and creating a 32 county republic. This is not an aspiration. It is not a rhetorical flourish to be used at election time. It is an active project at the centre of everything we do.

The horizons of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael do not extend beyond the border. Their interest in matters northern is either to limit their impact on the south or to use as a stick to beat Sinn Féin with.

I can already hear the nervous protestations of Fianna Fáilers across the 26 counties asserting that the Solders of Destiny are the republican party. If that were true they would be fighting an Assembly election right now.

But our differences do not just relate to the boundaries of state and nation. Sinn Féin is committed to a different model of social and economic development to that pursued by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

We do not accept the low tax low investment model that dominates economic policy in Government Buildings.

Our tax base is too shallow, our tax take as a percentage of GDP is too low and our debt burden is too high. The very wealthy -individuals and corporations- do not pay their fair share. Regressive consumption taxes place too heavy a burden on struggling families. Micro businesses are struggling with high rents and rates while multi nationals get sweetheart tax deals.

These economic problems are the direct result of government choices over many decades. An unfair and unsustainable tax system and a one dimensional enterprise policy have created a weak economy and a weak state – neither adequately equipped to meet the needs of society.

Similarly our public services are underfunded, badly designed and too residual. This is why children with special needs are left waiting for up to 24 months for speech and language therapy; why families are sleeping in hotel rooms for up to 18 months; why almost half a million people are on hospital waiting lists.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael fought an election on manifestos that would continue with these failed economic and social policies. In opposition to this failed centre right policy consensus Sinn Féin offered a real alternative.

We proposed to increase the tax take while making the system fairer. We proposed to reopen the question of the banking debt to reduce the repayment burden.

We proposed to invest in good quality well paid jobs and universal public services, strengthen worker’s rights and invest in social and economic equality for all.

Our Election Manifesto was the only one of the larger parties that rejected the auction politics of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. We offered a credible plan for a socially just and sustainable social and economic recovery for all.

Now maybe Vincent didn’t get a chance to read our manifesto, or our alternative budgets published in recent years. He is a busy man with a lot on his plate. But to lazily suggest that there is no real difference between Sinn Féin and the right wing consensus parties is just not credible.

Serious political parties contest elections to be in Government. Honest political parties only enter government if they believe they can implement the policies they stand for.

When that option is not available the responsible course of action is to stay true to your core beliefs and continue to argue for change.

There is nothing responsible about abandoning your electorate for a seat at a cabinet dominated by the people who caused the mess in the first place – as some independents look set to find out the hard way.

So Vincent, as you can see there is an unbridgeable gulf between Sinn Féin and the others on core political, economic and social policies. This is why we didn’t vote for Enda or Micheál on Thursday. Now, next question!

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Comments
  1. J says:

    Is calling him Brown rather than Browne a retaliation for having your name spelled as Ó Bróín on his show?!

    In any case, Vincent is excellent. He’s one of the few political moderators in Ireland not to show favouritism and doesn’t allow any of his guests’ claims to go unchallenged.

  2. roddy says:

    Browne is a very poor broadcaster. He loses his train of thought regularly,confuses one guests responses with another and has a halting presentation style.He obviously does’nt do any preparation beforehand and to be honest he could’nt keep his job in the BBC or similar broadcaster.

  3. Michael BRADSHAW says:

    Vincent Browne was once a true gentleman , journalist & many other great qualities denied to others far from the madding crowd , today V.B. is getting on a bit , he needs to stop look and listen to others he invites to his ‘Tonight with Vincent Browne’ show , perhaps he may be suffering from News-overload , perhaps not , in my humble opinion he strives too much in his search for Truth , dogmatic enters the rigorous sniping and snarling to such an extent we are treated to 3 invited guests , or more in fear of their question they produce as the seconds tick away , until the Outburst from the once true gentleman , journalist of such bygone days.

  4. I fecking love the man, think he is brilliant.

  5. Mick O' Reilly says:

    Vincent is a smart guy and a decent Irishman, but he is hanging on a bit too long. He’s in danger of becoming a parody of himself, (if he isn’t that already). You know it’s time to quit when your send-up (a lá Mario Rosenstock) appears to be closer to the real self than yourself!

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