Far left’s high profile contrasts sharply with modest electoral reach

Factionalism has long relegated fractious hard left to margins of Irish politics

Solidarity/People Before Profit  TDs Mick Barry, Bríd Smith, Paul Murphy and Gino Kenny.

Solidarity/People Before Profit TDs Mick Barry, Bríd Smith, Paul Murphy and Gino Kenny.

The alternative left, like all populist movements, relies on the contrivance of perpetual conflict between those they seek to portray as “ordinary citizens” and “the elites”. Appreciating their need to do so helps one understand why they get so exercised about what is said about them in publications such as this newspaper.

The footprint of The Irish Times in the sectors of the electorate in which the alternative left seeks to thrive must be relatively small yet their spokespersons spend much of their time and efforts on media and social media obsessing about and criticising how they are covered here. At one level it reveals the middle-class reading habits and origins of some of their most prominent leaders. At a broader level, however, their focus and attack on what, like Donald Trump, they characterise as “mainstream media” enables them to talk up the sense of perpetual struggle they wish to generate.

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