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United Left Alliance Launch Tonight 29th November. 8pm- The Gresham Ballroom ,O’Connell Street. November 29, 2010

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.
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Just a reminder should anyone not know the details…

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1. Mark P - November 29, 2010

If anyone from here is coming along, say hello!

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Joe - November 29, 2010

Will you have a name badge?

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Mark P - November 29, 2010

I’ll have a red carnation in my lapel. The code phrase is “The sky is red over Cairo tonight”.

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LeftAtTheCross - November 29, 2010

Well if hell does actually freeze over…

Seriously though, hope you get a good turn out despite the weather, fraternally like.

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2. Captain Rock - November 29, 2010

I’m afraid reindeer, huskies and snow mobiles may be needed to get people there.

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Mark P - November 29, 2010

It’s very cold and there’s some ice on the ground, but it’s not snowing yet. Hopefully it will hold off!

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3. Pope Epopt - November 29, 2010

Hope it goes well with a big turnout, but with 20cm of snow about to dump on Dublin, I wouldn’t recommend driving.

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WorldbyStorm - November 29, 2010

Likewise.

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4. goodhardrant - November 29, 2010

Can someone who attends report back on how it goes / what people say? Would be interested in hearing (also interested whether Mark P will really be wearing a carnation…).

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5. irishelectionliterature - November 29, 2010

I gather representatives (not sure if its one or more) from the United Left Alliance will be on RTEs Frontline this evening.
The National Alliance Crowd mentioned here a week or so back will also be featuring.

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neilcaff - November 29, 2010

It’s Richard Boyd-Barret who’ll be representing the ULA. Pat probably finds Joe a bit scary seen as he a) goes around saying scary shit like “nationalisation under workers control” and “plan our economy” and b) says the above in a culchie accent :)

Seriously though good luck to the ULA tonight on RTE, I can imagine the sort of inane questions that RBB will have to deal with as Pat tries to disguise his class instincts as objective journalism.

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WorldbyStorm - November 29, 2010

Very true.

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6. irishelectionliterature - November 29, 2010

Supposedly over 350 people turned up for the event this evening. Considering the weather that wasn’t bad.

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Mark P - November 30, 2010

Yes, a very big turnout, which came as a pleasant surprise given the unbelievably terrible weather.

I’ll give a fuller report tomorrow.

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WorldbyStorm - November 30, 2010

Mark P, if you like I’ll post that up as a proper post and let it start a discussion, would that be okay? I think the subject really deserves it given the importance of the development of the ULA at this point in time.

350 is a very very good turnout. Well done.

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Mark P - November 30, 2010

Sure, WbS. I’ll knock something up now.

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Mark P - November 30, 2010

The United Left Alliance (ULA) was launched last night in the Gresham Hotel, Dublin. The Alliance consists, at this stage, of the Socialist Party, the People Before Profit Alliance and the Workers and Unemployed Action Group.

Around 350 people filled the ballroom, despite terrible weather conditions. I have to admit that at about ten to eight I was a bit concerned that freezing cold and snow might have damaged the attendance, but the room filled up very rapidly after that. There were many faces familiar to me, supporters of the Socialist Party and the PBPA, but also many people I’d never seen before.

A four page leaflet, containing the founding political basis of the ULA was distributed to those in attendance. The leaflet also contained a lengthy pledge to be signed by all ULA candidates, committing them not to take part in junkets at the public expense or to profit from expenses fiddles.

The meeting was chaired by Ailbhe Smyth, a prominent feminist academic and convenor of the People Before Profit Alliance. Also on the platform were Richard Boyd Barrett, a PBPA councillor and SWP leader, Seamus Healy, a WUAG councillor and former TD, Cian Prendeville, an SP activist from Limerick, Joan Collins, a PBPA councillor, and Joe Higgins, Socialist Party MEP.

Unfortunately, I don’t have notes of precisely who said what during their speeches. Hopefully other people who were there can fill in some of the detail on that score.

Richard gave an outline of the political and economic crisis facing Ireland, and talked about the kind of attacks Irish workers could expect on their living standards. Both he, and later Joe, emphasised that the ULA as it stands is only a starting point.

Cian was introduced as one of the youngest if not the youngest candidate of any party in the forthcoming General Election. He spoke very well, emphasising the effect that the crisis will have and is already having on young people and talking about the impact on Limerick City. He also took some time to ridicule a certain Labour Party councillor who put out a red-scare press release expounding the glories of the market this week.

Seamus Healy explained that he wasn’t going to repeat at length the political points made by other speakers at length, and instead focused on the story of the Workers and Unemployed Action Group. The WUAG, which was founded in 1985 by a small number of trade unionists, has built itself into a position where it has 5 out of 12 councillors in Clonmel, 2 South Tipperary County councillors and a new councillor in Carrick on Suir. They are central to every community campaign in the region. He emphasised that this showed the kind of possibilities that were open to the left in towns and villages across the country.

Joan Collins had just returned from a Dublin City Council meeting where the Labour/Fine Gael majority had just passed estimates involving huge cuts – just a taste of what’s to come. I’m afraid that I had to leave the room for part of Joan’s speech and so didn’t hear all of the rest of it.

Joe Higgins was the last of the platform speakers to speak. He spoke about the bailout and austerity, about the “lifeblood” being sucked from the working class of this country to “fill the bellies of financial vampires.” He argued that crises and chaos are an inherent part of the capitalist system and advocated the democratic control, on an international basis, of the financial system. He particularly emphasised the need for a European and international perspective, arguing that just as the capitalists and financiers organise internationally that we need to link up with the workers of Greece, Portugal, Spain etc who are or will be facing similar attacks. He also said that the ULA was a starting point, a step towards a goal of a new mass party of working people and of the left.

All of the speakers were also sharply critical of the Labour Party and Fine Gael, pointing out repeatedly that a FG/Labour government will be fundamentally no different to the current one.

Each of the platform speeches were very well received. When the meeting was thrown open to the floor, dozens of hands went up, so although the Chairperson did sterling work keeping things moving, only a minority of those looking to speak actually got in.

Speakers from the floor variously volunteered to raise funds, welcomed the new initiative and made suggestions of various kinds. Unfortunately, my lack of notes is even more telling here and I really don’t know who said what. Questions were also asked about corporation tax, about whether other groups such as the Workers Party would be involved, and about moving the next national meeting forward.

Finally Joe Higgins returned to the podium to briefly respond to the discussion. He answered the questions asked and then he went on to outline what he saw as the role of any ULA candidates elected as TDs. He talked of them helping to give voice to movements in the streets and in the workplaces against the cutbacks and of using the positions to mobilise people to defend their livelihoods and communities.

After the meeting finished, a lot of people stuck around for a drink. The mood was very good. People at the meeting were angry but felt that the ULA offered a way to do something about it. Two of the people I was chatting to had never been to a political meeting of any kind before, which was an encouraging sign.

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LeftAtTheCross - November 30, 2010

Two of the people I was chatting to had never been to a political meeting of any kind before, which was an encouraging sign.

Indeed, that’s excellent!

Good report.

Out of interest, if people want to join the ULA or contribute their effort as supporters how do you divvy that up between the various groups involved, have you agreed geographical spheres of influence for example?

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Mark P - November 30, 2010

Thanks LATC, although on reading it there it seems that I managed to spell Cian Prendiville’s name wrong and I also included the words “at length” twice in the first sentence of the paragraph on Seamus Healy’s speech.

As for your question, my understanding is that anyone who signs up as an individual will be given a list of contact details for each candidate and will be encouraged to contact their nearest one. There are also to be local launch meetings to get local organisation and involvement on to a firmer footing.

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WorldbyStorm - November 30, 2010

Great report, thanks a mill Mark P. That’s gone up now.

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Mark P - November 30, 2010

No bother WbS.

I’d appreciate though if you’d change it so that Prendiville is correctly spelled and to take out one of the “at length’s” from the first line about Seamus Healy!

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WorldbyStorm - November 30, 2010

Done and done… :)

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7. D_D - November 30, 2010

300-350 was the consensus among anyone I talked to. The ever-scientific Emmett confirmed this. He, incidentally, counted (insofar as that was possible on Saturday) 60,000 on the ICTU march and admits there may have been more at other points. Any estimate/count from Andrew?

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anarchaeologist - November 30, 2010

Dunno about Andrew, but after consulting with a few usually accurate heads we came up with a figure of between 100,000-110,000 at O’Connell Street. It’s probably the case that many came directly to the platform and after waiting for over an hour on St. Michael’s Hill with the freezing left, I was about to join them before we finally moved off. Town was also busy with early Christmas shoppers and the like, so that would’ve contributed to numbers too. The real test of this sort of thing will come on budget day.
On the ULA and Donegal (SW), is there any indication out there that Pringle might get involved? He’s certainly more popular than McBrearty, who was dismissed by many on the south of the constituency as ‘a bit of an auld ejit’. Now that Labour seem intent in running local candidates who’ve had run-ins with Corporate Ireland, who can they possibly present to us next? Roy Keane?

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D_D - November 30, 2010

A figure of 100,000-110,000 is great news. Though “consulting with a few usually accurate heads” and coming “up with a figure” would not be best accounting practice.

Yeah, that wait was cold!

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WorldbyStorm - November 30, 2010

A small straw in the wind. I was asked by a Garda I know once they’d heard I had been on the march as to what my estimate of the numbers was.

Thought it was interesting that my opinion (they have no idea about the CLR) would be wanted.

I said I thought it was somewhere between 80 – 110k by a very rough estimate and including people who drifted up at O’Connell Street during speeches.

They didn’t think that was unlikely.

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8. Jim Monaghan - November 30, 2010

Des, Mark
Are you happy with the number of seats ikn Dublin being contested. Are we spreading the jam(workers0 thinly.

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9. D_D - November 30, 2010

Jim,

Are you going by the declared list in the ULA statements so far? I have no problem with those names. Twenty candidates is being mentioned. I don’t know who that twenty includes or if it includes candidacies I consider too weak and which I have opposed in the PBPA (from a small minorty position I might add).

In general I think the jam is being spread too thin and that there is a mistaken view (in the PBPA anyway) that the present opportunity is seized by standing large numbers ‘to offer an alternative’. The real opportunity of a breakthrough, of really offering an alternative, is the election of half a dozen radical left TDs who will become a pole of attraction for a wider movement. Fuethermore, their election is not guaranteed and all resources should, with some reasonable exceptions, be put into the six or seven possible-probables.

This is a conservative position and I may be proved wrong. Though Cian Prenderville (who is an SP candidate) would on paper seem a candidate with too few roots in Limerick yet, on hearing him last night he is charismatic enough to make a mark in the right circumstances.

After last night I feel confident that, in any case, there will be a major and united effort behind the ULA in the coming election.

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Mark P - November 30, 2010

I think that there’s a big tactical difference between standing a relatively new candidate, or a candidate who is starting with a relatively low profile, in a constituency near to a “target” constituency and doing so in a constituency in a different part of the country.

Realistically speaking, the Socialist Party branch in Limerick or the People Before Profit people in Wexford aren’t going to be able to contribute all that much to campaigns in Cork, South Tipp or Dublin anyway. I’d tend to take a more conservative view of the wisdom of standing a candidate in, say, Dublin South when any local activists would be of more use in Dun Laoghaire or Dublin South Central.

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10. Fight the cuts - November 30, 2010

I guess the previous comments on this blog as to why some groups were excluded were baseless, as a question posed on the night in relation to WP, IRSP and eirigi was met with that they would be welcome if they agreed to the programme. The questioner I believe then suggested that the attitude was these groups would be fine for the donkey work and would they actually be allowed field a candidate..this wasn’t answered. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong. Seems the ULA wanted a certain leadership and certain candidates before talking to any other groups.

That being said, looks like the ULA had a great turnout and hopefully they can get a number of people elected.

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11. EamonnCork - November 30, 2010

Interesting list of candidates. The top six, Higgins, Boyd Barrett, Healy, Collins, Barry and Daly are all in with a fighting chance of getting elected. Get one more and you can have a technical group which could really stir things up. What’s the story with Ciaran Perry who’s well thought of on here? I still think it’s pity the likes of Bree, Connolly and Murphy couldn’t have been attached, the broader the front, within reason, the more likely it is to catch the public imagination. Or what about Louise Minihan, the impromptu makeover on Harney will surely have boosted her popularity. I’m presuming Brid Smith and Hugh Lewis are out because of constituency crossovers with other candidates. Are there any WP people who’d do anything with a bit of back-up, in Waterford perhaps? I think it’s all quite exciting. I was dying to get to that thing on Monday but the weather is so dire getting into town is impossible never mind hitting the capital. Which is probably what some lad was saying back in October 1917 as he mouldered away in Nowehereograd. Someone should post up the cool Galaxie 500 version of Listen The Snow Is Falling.

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