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What political three letter acronym is missing here? January 21, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.

From the SP website…

Such a campaign [against the property tax and austerity] will have to employ a wide variety of tactics – mass street protest, direct action protest, mass boycott of registration, trade union action and exertion of huge political pressure up to and including standing slates of anti-property tax and anti-austerity candidates in elections.

A discussion should be initiated among campaigners about standing a slate of anti-property tax and anti-austerity campaigners in the 2014 Local and European Elections as well as standing a candidate in the Meath East by-election.  The threat to politicians of the Government parties – “Axe the Tax or Watch Your Vote Collapse” – will be all the more credible if this step is taken in the run-in to the 1 July deductions deadline.

Ah, perhaps this report here in the Irish Times today on the Socialist Party deliberations over the weekend and the news that Joe Higgins (and presumably the rest of the SP) might ‘leave the ULA’ clears things up somewhat…

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1. ejh - January 21, 2013

One of those occasions when you know what the posting will be worth from the name alone.

WorldbyStorm - January 21, 2013

Yeah. Can’t disagree there ejh.

ejh - January 21, 2013

Though it looks like I was referring to ivorthorne, when I was of course replying to the now-deleting opening comment….

ejh - January 21, 2013

“now-deleted”. Perhaps it might be best to delete all of my comments so far, including this one?

WorldbyStorm - January 21, 2013

Don’t worry about it ejh. Just to be clear to anyone reading the thread we deleted the first comment from ‘A Friend’ because it was out of order. That’s the comment myself and ejh are responding to.

tomasoflatharta - January 21, 2013

Good idea! – then everyone could start afresh – air the differences, stay civil, and so on.

critical media review - January 21, 2013

Hopefully when the SP leave the ULA it can be managed without public infighting on the bourgeois media; and we can keep the possibility of a non aggression pact or maybe even a basic list might (including the wp) can be held open for the locals? Maybe the parties weren’t ready for unity yet, and we should just try to work alongside each other for now. I would suggest next time more time be spent on programme and structure in advance rather than the ad hoc nature of the ULA and comrades should not hold up the notion of ‘a new party’ when clearly they wanted a low level list type alliance.

Mark P - January 21, 2013


The notion that “the notion of a new party”, in the sense of the ULA developing into a party or party like structure, was “held up” by the Socialist Party is absolutely laughable, given that you’ve been told a mere couple of hundred times over a two year period that we do not think such a thing either feasible or desirable.

You might be better off explaining to a certain subset of ULA independents that insisting that the ULA is a process centrally about creating a unified little left party in the short or medium term, no matter how many times they are told that this is not on the agenda, has never been a particularly helpful attitude.

As for “wanting a low level list type alliance”, the Socialist Party has wanted the kind of alliance appropriate for the forces involved. It was, remember, the SP which pushed for the ULA to be opened up to independents, which proposed that non-members of the affiliates be given representation on the leadership, which provided the office and half the staff, which organised the bulk of meetings around the country in an attempt to set up new branches, etc etc (Not that you would know any of this if you listen to the small number of people who constantly moan that they were somehow “held back” by the affiliates). Has there been more forces attracted and involved, the Socialist Party would have been in favour of pushing on with the further development of the structures of the alliance to accommodate them. But that did not happen.

There simply were no wider forces attracted to the ULA, which had a number of unfortunate consequences. One of which, albeit not the important one, was that those people who pinned their hopes on the magic effects of unity decided that the problem was that the parties involved weren’t putting in enough effort as if all it would take is a bit more dedicated recruitment of ones and twos and somehow everything would be better.

critical media review - January 22, 2013

That’s not quite true, while this position was clear within the SP – and certainly the ULA was very much played down within the sp branches. That was not the public position. Certainly anyone attending early ULA rallies (especially JH speeches) were told the ULA was a first step. Even the election position was the ULA towards a new workers party. But certainly one of the major reasons I left the sp was I didn’t think it was putting enough (in terms of politics) into the ULA. I never BTW thought the Sp should disolve into it.

On a more general point which I find interesting, you seem to be saying the ULA could never be a left or proto left party (And indeed km wrote an article saying so and you have said so many times) and on the other hand that it didn’t attract masses immediately. Seems to me to be a contradiction of intent? And as one comrade said after reading the article ‘why would I join?’ And I think this internal political line didn’t help. A subjective element to the question.

Certainly I think the Sp played a positive role for much of the time, however the half in/out mentality I think may have held the potential back. However I don’t ‘blame’ the SP, the SWP after all launched ‘enough’ as a solo run within two weeks of the election. And they have been quite mischievous in their positions and much worse in many ways.

But there is a question to whether either the Sp or SWP will ever be capable of working together to help build a mass party (the subjective question). Or indeed does Trotskyism itself have a maximum size before it splits. Or indeed can any strictly single tendency parties form long lasting alliances or build mass parties in contemporary politics. Certainly such groups can perform entryist tactics to already existing left parties, but building one is an entirely different problemic and the political culture developed for entryism may in fact be an impeidment to developing new forces.

Mark P - January 22, 2013

I’m not interested particularly in whether you think the Socialist Party mostly played a “positive role”, although I suppose I should at least acknowledge your honesty on that score. What I’m interested in is reaching an understanding of what went wrong with the ULA.

It was not some size limit on cadre groups. It wasn’t a “political culture developed for entryism”. It wasn’t a “subjective element”. It wasn’t a lack of effort. It wasn’t the two organisations that provided pretty much all of the resources somehow holding you back. It was the simple, undeniable, fact that the ULA never, at any point, attracted the active involvement of any significant group of people outside of the two main affiliated groups and perhaps three or four dozen other people.

That wasn’t for want of effort. It certainly wasn’t because of “competitive recruiting”. It was an objective problem, and one which it’s worth noting effected just about every oppositional initiative taken by anyone over the last couple of years (with the exceptions of the CAHWT and, more recently, the abortion issue, both single issue campaigns). Remember that Right to Work, Enough, People Before Profit, whatever that Communist Party run anti-austerity campaign was called, Occupy, the other now forgotten SWP fronts, etc, all went nowhere too. The left outside the ULA was hardly recruiting hand over fist in the same period, from the shrinking WSM to Eirigi or the Workers Party. And while the Socialist Party is slightly bigger than it was a couple of years ago, we are again talking tiny numbers, and the SWP likewise.

Lots of different structures, lots of different ideas, parties, anti-austerity campaigns, broad fronts, revolutionary groups, anarchist groups, left republican groups… I could go on listing the different structures and ideas involved. The failure to attract significant new forces was not down to some subjective failing. It was fundamentally about objective conditions: A lack of people interested in getting actively involved in left wing oppositional politics.

That had consequences. Within the ULA it meant that some people, convinced, deep down to their very souls, that if only more effort was put in (and that always meant more effort from the affiliates) things would be different. If only the affiliates stopped trying to recruit to themselves… If only they did everything under the ULA banner… If only we’d adopt a new internal structure… If only we’d declare ourselves a party… Now this of course entailed ignoring the uncomfortable fact that the ULA’s resources came pretty much entirely from the affiliates, in particular the Socialist Party. It also meant glossing over the inability of the ULA independents to build the ULA themselves. But more importantly it meant ignoring the reality of the ULA as it actually was, an alliance of two small organisations with a small number of individuals.

It had other consequences too, not least that the transparently obvious fact that the ULA is a shell of an organisation means that there isn’t and can’t really be any accountability of its public representatives – which is not, incidentally, a matter of “structures”, because the ULA doesn’t matter enough to be able to enforce the decisions of any structures on anyone and all of the reps know it. Even the SWP’s (as you correctly say) mischievous approach to launching or relaunching initiatives which were in direct competition with the ULA was in significant part fueled by frustration at the emptiness of the ULA (and their arrogant conviction that if they were calling the shots it wouldn’t be empty).

From the Socialist Party’s point of view, the launch of the ULA and then the attempt to launch branches around the country represented a testing of the waters. We had been, you may recall, saying for years that the circumstances weren’t right even for a new alliance of the left to make an impact, that there just weren’t significant number of people willing to be involved, and that what you’d end up with would be the existing left bickering with each other. The ULA was an attempt to see if that situation had changed on the ground as we hoped it had begun to do. It turns out, to our disappointment as much as anyone elses, that it had not.

I don’t blame the ULA independents for that (for all that the completely tendentious moaning about the affiliates from some of them irritates me). I don’t blame the SWP for that either, although their behaviour has at times been, well lets just say trying. I don’t really blame the WUAG, or Clare Daly, or anyone else either. The problems of the ULA stem from a failure to grow at all, to involve even the beginnings of a wider part of society looking to participate. And that failure stems from the much joked about “objective conditions”. The various other aspects, even if they fed back into the basic problem, were symptoms rather than primary causes.

To deal with an aside:

I am genuinely baffled that you can seriously suggest that the Socialist Party’s view of the ULA was somehow “internal”, after the thousands and thousands (and thousands and O please God no thousands more) words it has put out over the last couple of years outlining its views. This is an example (as with RP) of people seeing what they wish to see, finding the odd sentence here or there and deciding that this, not all of the frankly endless other stuff, represents the Socialist Party’s view. I’m never quite sure if this is disingenuous or not, but it certainly isn’t reasonable.

The Socialist Party remains convinced that there is a need for a new mass party of the working class. It has never however suggested that it is in favour of a new little party or proto-party of the existing left.

revolutionaryprogramme - January 22, 2013

And the amazing thing is that SPers really believe this mantra that nothing could have been done differently because of these “objective factors”.

Specifically that the subjective factor of them continually pouring cold water on any concrete movement towards a new party had no effect at all on attracting people to the project.

That the lack of a united ULA presence on virtually every demonstration in Ireland over the part two years had no effect on attracting people to the project.

That the continual in-fighting between themselves and the SWP had no effect on attracting people to the project.

But still much better to be able to blame the omnipotent “objective factors” than have to take on any kind of self-critical analysis.

critical media review - January 22, 2013

I disagree, you could be accused of impatience on the building of the ULA, and I disagree with the conception that a mass party will just appear without any preceding proto-groups (even failed ones). But overall I think the subjective element had at least some role in the lack of development of the ULA and the left in general. The objective conditions are obviously paramount but I still hold that the structures and political direction of the SP and SWP have had at least some role to play. Indeed the SP and SWP themselves have probably been retarded by some of the practices within them (such as the fetish around paper sales, the lack of agency for members etc). And I sincerely believe if we choose to ignore this we are ignoring a significant area of the problem. And as for the public and internal line being different, as far as public speeches and publications were concerned, there may have been some nuances but from attending the first rallies I think many people would have come away expecting development. I am surprised that you cannot acknowledge these pretty understandable expectations?

Mark P - January 22, 2013

“you could be accused of impatience on the building of the ULA Anyone can be accused of anything, but that accusation would be rather better aimed at those who have wanted to push on with integration of the ULA without any regard for the state of the ULA and its lack of growth. Or at the SWP who, as you note, were setting up wholly owned bodies in competition with the ULA very early on as they became frustrated. But I don’t really think that either of those issues were all that important either.

“I disagree with the conception that a mass party will just appear without any proceeding proto-groups? Good, but as the Socialist Party also disagrees with that, I’m not sure why you are telling me about it.

“The objective conditions are obviously paramount” Yet, in practice you draw no conclusions from that and instead spend most of this response and every other one harping on what even you regard as relatively minor issues. You make a rhetorical not towards the central issue and then get back to your hobby horses.

“I am surprised that you cannot acknowledge these pretty understandable expectations?” Misunderstandings are one thing, but they become less reasonable after the first few hundred times something has been spelled out in frankly tedious detail.

Jimmy Scutclife - January 22, 2013

Fucking site, my comment here – The time is over for the Trot groups – they were a symptom of the failure of the Left embodied in the fall of the Soviet Union. Among the decayed ruins of a mass movement with global influence the weeds of ego driven, sectarian, contraire for contraire sake, hyperactive sideshows sprouted. Amid the convulsions of financial capitalism post-2008 the paucity of these groups has been revealed, and about time too. The working class will now need to organise to represent itself and it may well be despite of the leadership of these sects rather than with them – that is if their leaderships are not honest enough to take a genuine appraisal of their situation.

critical media review - January 22, 2013

“The Socialist Party remains convinced that there is a need for a new mass party of the working class. It has never however suggested that it is in favour of a new little party or proto-party of the existing left”.

That’s why I brought it up :-)

I don’t believe the issue of the political structures and direction of the two main existing left parties (small as they are) is or minor, the crisis in the SWP UK and the extremely creepy silence of the Irish membership underlines that all is not well in the organisational systems as they stand, and it is hard to draw from the fact that organisations are putting sectional interests first.

A discussion on the objective conditions, and indeed the ideological conditions that are preventing left wing growth is important, but that I believe is being discussed while the subjective issue isn’t (or hasn’t been), one discussion does not negate the other.

Mark P - January 22, 2013

That’s why I brought it up

There is a big difference between thinking that a mass party won’t drop from the sky (a statement of the obvious) and thinking that a mass party will be built by forming a little party out of the current left first. I don’t think that will work and neither does the Socialist Party. Which doesn’t mean that we think that the left has no role to play or that intermediary formations (like the ULA) can’t be useful. But attempts to move the ULA towards becoming a little party of the left were always destructive no matter how well intended.

A discussion on the objective conditions, and indeed the ideological conditions that are preventing left wing growth is important, but that I believe is being discussed while the subjective issue isn’t (or hasn’t been), one discussion does not negate the other.

Within the ULA pretty much the only people who have ever been at all interested in discussing “the objective conditions” have been the Socialist Party. Most of our allies, SWP and independent alike, treat that as an irrelevance at best, an excuse at worst, and prefer to get on with moaning about structures and about the approach of their allies who are either all conservative (SWP) and holding things back or are just sectarian and are holding things back (various independents). So frankly, I’m completely and utterly sick of it at this point. It’s an example of people fixating on a single tree so as to avoid seeing the woods.

organisations are putting sectional interests first.

In what way do you think that the Socialist Party is putting its sectional interests first. Be specific. No arguments by amalgam.

richotto - January 22, 2013

It seems clear now that the ULA was brought to the publics attention on false pretences. All of the entities wanted to take as much as they could out of it in terms of profile and give virtually nothing in terms of their independence. It allowed itself to be seen as like Die Linke in Germany where the micro parties were preparing to dissolve into a general left of Labour entity.
SP should do the decent thing and pull out of the ULA now rather than this death by a thousand cuts business. I understand the SWP are much the same except they a lot cuter about hiding their lack of committment and also are coming from a position of having more vunerable seats to defend. I just can’t see particularly though how people can work at all with SP nowadays. They can’t even work with their own at top level, pissed off Joan Collins, then Clare Daly. Thats three seats they could have had instead of one, why!? The way the party founder John Throne was purged in the 90s was extremely dodgy, accompanied by accusations that seemed from the Stalin era.
Now they don’t want anything to do with the wider far left when its in their interest more than the rest to get every bit of help possible to re-elect Paul Murphy at the next election.

smiffy - January 22, 2013

“Now they don’t want anything to do with the wider far left when its in their interest more than the rest to get every bit of help possible to re-elect Paul Murphy at the next election.”

Well, elect rather than re-elect. And I don’t mean that simply to be snide, but in recognition that whatever Murphy’s own merits, it’ll be a huge challenge to have him elected in an ever more competitive constituency, regardless of whether he’s an SP or ULA candidate.

While the parties and situations are very different, Democratic Left had a similar situation in 1994, facing into an election with Des Geraghty as the incumbent, having inherited the seat from De Rossa. At the time the decision was taken to run Rabbitte instead. Although he didn’t win, it’s a fairly safe bet than Geraghty would have done no better.

Jolly Red Giant - January 22, 2013

Paul Murphy will be the Socialist Party candidate in the Euro elections and the Socialist Party will be campaigning for him to win/retain the seat. Every left-wing, socialist, working class activist is/will be welcome to participate in the campaign and I sincerely hope that thousands do.

Mark P - January 22, 2013

The live ones really are out and about today.

Mark P - January 22, 2013

Sorry Smiffy, the order of the comments is all weird today.

That “live ones” comment was aimed at the poster a couple of comments above who thinks that the Socialist Party were falsely claiming that they were going to dissolve despite endless statements saying that they had no intention of doing any such thing. And who thinks that the Socialist Party tried to pass the ULA as a Die Linke style party, despite endless statements saying that the Socialist Party opposed turning the ULA into a miniature “broad” party. And who… well, actually I really can’t be bothered.

For good measure it also applies to that other new anonymous poster who is moaning about Trots and making bizarre claims about Paul Murphy getting too big for his boots.

Say what you like about the ULA, while it may not have had much luck attracting new activists, it has had no such difficult attracting internet commentary from cranks.

critical media review - January 22, 2013

Sorry Mark, there has been little or no discussion between the independents and the Socialist Party outside the steering committee. And there has been pretty much no discussion between independents and SP members. The only SP members at the last delegate council were full timers and party officers. Moreover they did not speak to anyone outside the meeting.
They caucused at the break and left together immediately afterwards. There has of course been discussion on this blog but you can’t put what concerns a few people who debate here onto the heads of all independents. I for example am probably the only one concerned with the structures in the SP.

Independents do discuss the objective conditions etc and strategy all the time, and at length and this has been constantly brought forward to the steering committee, since the Delegate council we have not made any more demands on structure. There is a narrative being developed that we have no concern for strategy etc which is false. In fact all of the motions on policy at the last delegate council came from independents.

There is a belief however that most independents held for some time that both the SP and SWP had given up on the ULA and were not prepared to build it, this was a political evaluation rather than an issue of structure. On the issue of why we have not reached agreement, some maintain it was objective conditions, others that it is tactical and others that it is sectarian, there have been numerous arguments but no collective agreement.

critical media review - January 22, 2013

In fact Mark I have found there to be far more discussion within the independents of both objective conditions, policy and strategy than there ever was in my Socialist Party branch. In the branch all these issues are already decided and ‘patiently explained’ while branch members are left the important decisions of which street to sell papers on or leaflet,

Mark P - January 22, 2013

I’ve had quite a lot of contact with ULA independents. I can, after all, name pretty much every last one of them. I’m quite familiar with their views. Not all of them have the opinions I’ve discussed above by any means. But of the loudest ones, who set the tone, they tend to start and finish by moaning about the affiliates and about structures and about “competitive recruiting” and all the other can’t see the woods for the trees sectarianism of anti-sectarians rubbish I’ve been talking about above. A smaller number, like yourself, will make a general nod to the fact that objective conditions are in fact the main issue… and then will get back to the same moaning.

(Did you go to the public meeting hosted by Joan Collins at the weekend, CMR?)

It’s a reaction to disappointment, but it’s irrational. It’s a desire to have someone handy to blame, and lets face it many of the “old hand” independents would be moaning about the existing organisations in the pub after meetings even if the ULA didn’t exist.

As for there being a lack of discussion in the Socialist Party, I sometimes get the impression that your branch (as you have described it to me repeatedly) must have been affiliated with some other Socialist Party in some other world, perhaps on one of DC Comics Infinite Earths. In my branch, we talk about our perspectives to the point of tedium. We have talked about perspectives for the ULA to the point where people glaze over. And then again at conference. And again at aggregates. And again and again and again.

As for engagement between the Socialist Party and independent members, for a considerable period of time the Socialist Party was propping up most ULA branches, the Socialist Party brought almost every constructive proposal to the steering committee and the Socialist Party wrote about the ULA at great (sometimes too great) length. In more recent times there has been less and engagement as engagement served less and less purpose (and that was by and large the rank and file voting with their feet). The same arguments with the same small number of people, nobody convincing anybody and no wider participation.

critical media review - January 22, 2013

I think my branch was pretty typical mark, albiet more electoralist than the city centre. discussion is a two way process and may even involve decisions. Reports from leading bodies when the decisions are made are interesting but a different matter. But that’s an argument for another day.

critical media review - January 22, 2013

Thats Sp branch.

Mark P - January 22, 2013

CMR, I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt when you describe your old SP branch, because it doesn’t fit my experience of any of the four branches I’ve been a longish term member of.

Mark P - January 22, 2013

But as you say, that’s for another day.

critical media review - January 22, 2013

Well being where it was electoralism did take precedence, I believe it was similar in the other electoral ward, my experience in the city centre Sp branch was better. But it does go deeper than individual branches I’ll leave my structural fetish at that :-)

Jolly Red Giant - January 23, 2013

CMR – our local branch of the ULA had its usual monthly meeting last week – attended as always by members of the Socialist Party and a handful of independents (the lone SWP member turns up the odd time). There was a long and detailed discussion about the current situation in the ULA. A couple of the independents complained about the SP and not forming a ‘party’ but when the meeting went through everything that happened over the past two years, the same independents agreed with every individual step made by the Socialist Party – and were still likely not convinced because they want something to hang on to and see it slipping away.

critical media review - January 23, 2013

To be fair jolly ye’s haven’t been very convincing of late.

Jolly Red Giant - January 23, 2013

That’s a matter of opinion – you are entitled to yours.

critical media review - January 23, 2013

Actually send us on the minutes I’m curious about this step by step process that you gave to the still unbelieving independents.

D_D - January 23, 2013

Objective – subjective. To unite the two you need some means. Public meetings for example. When was the last ULA public meeting in Dublin city centre? Was it not as far back as October 2012: the Greek meeting that fell through but was revived as an ad hoc meeting the next day? Before that, in September 2012, there was a public meeting on abortion rights. According to an organiser of that (well-attended) ULA meeting the input from the groups was minimal. In the following week – and advertised on the streets at the same time as the ULA meeting – both the Socialist Party and the SWP held public meetings in Dublin city centre on abortion and womens rights.

How many SP and SWP/PBPA events have there been since? The objective conditions obviously justify these. But not ULA activities or even the ULA?

The ULA once filled the Gresham Hotel ballroom. Over 400 attended the first ULA conference in Liberty Hall. The ULA did attract lots of people.

It is important to get history right and to explode mythologies as they are being created. But the most important thing is to save and renew the ULA project, or its equivalent, regardless of those no longer interested in it. That those who really do want to build a new left alternative themselves begin again the public activities that will begin to bridge the distance between the idea and the objective.

Jolly Red Giant - January 22, 2013

Thats claptrap CMR – there has been widespread and ongoing discussions between members of the Socialist Party and independents in local ULA branches (sometimes quite sharp discussion – but discussions none the less). It is clear and obvious that many independents are frustrated by the lack of development of the ULA – the Socialist Party is too (probably more so than any of the other component organisations). This frustration has occasionally spilled over into the blame game and because the SP has been the most active group in local branches (and told the truth about the ‘objective situation’) it has been the target for these frustrations. Often when Socialist Party members explain developments over the past two years, the independents will agree but then go back to saying ‘its all your fault’. Its nobody’s fault – it happens – or in the case of the ULA, it looks like its not going to happen.

critical media review - January 22, 2013

That’s utter nonsense jolly red giant, the Sp haven’t been involved in branches in a year.

Mark P - January 22, 2013

Your branch, CMR. Which was entirely unrepresentative of the ULA, as it’s where all the “old hand” Dublin independents were clustered.

daramcq - January 22, 2013

“The failure to attract significant new forces was not down to some subjective failing. It was fundamentally about objective conditions: A lack of people interested in getting actively involved in left wing oppositional politics.”

Do you not think that there is a connection between popular involvement and the available paths to activity? It seems that one of the roles of a party is to provide a route to activity, to give people a way to start changing the world. It’s not the only thing they should do, and it’s not their sole responsibility (trade unions should really do the brunt of the work here) but it is important. I only attended one ULA branch meeting because it felt like we were being treated like leaflet fodder for the n campaigns/demonstrations that were running that week. That’s not involvement and it’s not empowering.

If the ULA wasn’t going to provide a path to activity, the approach looks like setting up a club, keeping a count on the door and waiting till the requisite amount of people show up before it’s a party. (What is the number btw?)

As you say, many other formations dwindled or disappeared as well, but they may have suffered the same weakness. You can get a lot of people together who agree to a greater or lesser extent, but the question then is ‘what next?’ I think that without some meaningful and evidently useful activity to engage in, people will drift away.

Mark P - January 22, 2013

Do you not think that there is a connection between popular involvement and the available paths to activity?

Sure, but the numbers who attended a branch meeting in the first place (as opposed to a local launch rally) were very small. It’s not that they were driven off, or felt that they weren’t valued, it’s that they didn’t show up.

And they didn’t show up for any other left wing oppositional activist group of any kind either, with the exception of the CAHWT.

If the ULA wasn’t going to provide a path to activity, the approach looks like setting up a club, keeping a count on the door and waiting till the requisite amount of people show up before it’s a party.

The ULA did provide a path to activity, just a path that nobody much wanted to take. Just as they didn’t take any other path to activity.

Yes, there are probably a few dozen people we could find with similar attitudes to yours, who did show up to the ULA (or to some other group) and who then for whatever reason didn’t like what was on offer and went away again. And maybe, possibly some of them have could have been retained if something else had been done in some way (although that something else might have driven off others or done damage in some other way). But this is still to miss the woods for the trees. The ULA was at attempt to involve a whole new range of people at a time when significant numbers of people simply weren’t interested.

That some people (not necessarily you) insist on convincing themselves that this was because the ULA wasn’t a party or didn’t adopt near-party structures is sheer delusion. I hate to think what those people would make of SYRIZA, which had considerably less in the way of party-like structures than the ULA.

daramcq - January 22, 2013

What sort of numbers would there have to have been for the SP to assess that there was potential for a mass party? (I wasn’t being entirely facetious with that question). Hundreds or thousands? It’s worth thinking about what is and isn’t realistic for increasing support and participation.

Mark P - January 22, 2013

The Socialist Party would take the view that many hundreds of activists (not nominal members) outside of the affiliates would be a minimum requirement before there would be any purpose to turning the ULA into a more tightly bound proto-party, or even a small party.

That would not constitute a mass party, a longer term goal, but it would be a substantial step towards one, in a way that a ULA party consisting of ourselves, the SWP and three dozen others would not. Putting small, tightly organised, left wing groups into a party structure with a handful of others is about as useful a method of moving towards a real, large, party as tying cats in a small bag. Adding a couple of extra TDs just adds more cats. What’s needed is significantly broader participation of a section of the working class. This would provide a context where individual public representatives and various organisations can be expected to accept being outvoted and can be expected to put up with compromises they might not like because the broader organisation they are in actually has some weight and value of its own. The ULA, by contrast, was a shell, with no substance. Which means it necessarily had to be created and largely run by organisational diplomacy.

revolutionaryprogramme - January 22, 2013

Always worth repeating when the SP trot out the “we never said it was time to launch the ULA as a new party, that was just the crazy independents”…

SP 2011 election manifesto:

“Elect Socialist Party/ULA TDs so we can launch a new party to organise working class people”

Jolly Red Giant - January 22, 2013

Wow – Alan – it looks like you have found your soundbite for the next 20 years.

revolutionaryprogramme - January 22, 2013

Well at least it has the advantage of being true – unlike the SP’s repeated narrative over launching the ULA as a new party…

Michael Carley - January 21, 2013

Actually, I thought the TLA was going to be SWP …

2. A Friend - January 21, 2013

Look, the SP are looking more and more like a quite strange group of people with this going on. Changing names of campaigns while wrecking them with their ego driven agenda – a curse on the hard left is the Labour Youth class of ’89.

3. WorldbyStorm - January 21, 2013

Now if you’d started with that A Friend wouldn’t it have been a bit easier?

4. LeftAtTheCross - January 21, 2013

“standing a candidate in the Meath East by-election”

The WP held its Meath-East by-election campaign kick-off meeting in Kells on Saturday.

As well as WP members there were also in attendence local supporters of the CAHWT and members of other further Left socialist parties.

The WP candidate, Séamus McDonagh, is the chair of the North Meath CAHWT.

The WP will be contesting the election on a range of issues and a focused anti-austerity and socialist platform, and hopes to harness the support of socialists and progressives of the broad Left throughout the county, in opposition to the failed policies of successive conservative governments.

Julian Assandwich - January 21, 2013

The national campaign hasn’t even discussed running or endorsing candidates in elections yet so it’d probably be best to hold off on advertising McDonagh’s CAHWT affiliation until those discussions are had and he is endorsed.

I hope that he is endorsed, but the time for acting unilaterally to get the jump on rivals is over. Not only is it bad method, we need to co-ordinate and plan this for maximum effect. A CAHWT candidate or chairperson acting alone and getting a tiny 189 votes would be a disaster for a campaign founded on its mass support/boycott.

My own opinion is that if CAHWT decides to enter candidates then it should go whole hog and develop a broad reaching programme and become a party. What happens if 50 new independent councillors get elected on the back of a narrow pledge and the campaign ends one way or another a few months later..?

WorldbyStorm - January 21, 2013

But where does the ULA fit into all this Julian? And you raise a crucial point. What happens if yet another loosish left formation emerges around the CAHWT and yet it too founders? How many times can the further left go to the well of potential recruits/candidates/activists willing to engage in a party/formation?

Mark P - January 21, 2013

I’m not sure that “well” metaphor really fits, unless you assume a fixed, limited, supply of activists which doesn’t expand and change over time.

WorldbyStorm - January 21, 2013

Well okay, where do you see the ULA in all this?

Julian Assandwich - January 21, 2013

If CAHWT with all of the left within it goes whole-hog – decides to register(with a better name maybe),run in elections North and South and adapts something like an anticapitalist and social program then there’s no need for the left unity project/the ULA. It’s a mighty big “if” though. Probably too big.

What’s more likely to happen is CAHWT agrees on a limited slate of candidates that will provide canvassing/leaflet fodder where the SP are and the rest of the country will work towards electing a new wave of independents accountable to no one but themselves. Those independents will probably go as independents tend to go – gombeenily – and divide up the new generation of activists CAHWT has brought forward into their respective fiefdoms – blocking any new mass working class party from emerging(new or currently existing)

The latter scenario clearly must be avoided. A developed CAHWT party or the united left project should run in elections – no falling short. We have to measure up to our political challenges.

revolutionaryprogramme - January 21, 2013

The idea of transforming the CAHWT into a party is absurd. One of the strengths of the CAHWT has been that it mobilised people from across the political spectrum.

To the extent there is a push to move the CAHWT in the direction of a political party it will destroy it as a campaign able to fight the household and water taxes. It is unclear whether it has the social weight and cohesiveness to do that effectively in 2013 anyway given the lack of commitment to creating a grassroots campaign in working class communities across the country but whatever possibility there is for that will be completely destroyed if this electoral/new party approach proposed by the SP is taken up.

revolutionaryprogramme - January 21, 2013

Oh and in reply to WBS’s question. The ULA as we currently know it is dead – it has no role to play in anything that happens now.

WorldbyStorm - January 21, 2013

That seems to be the situation revolutionary programme. Depressing. Notable too that some of the SP commentors here haven’t actually engaged at all with the substantive issues raised. That’s depressing too.

Re the CAHWT, there’s some potential, but given the broad make up you refer to in it the idea that will transfer across into an anti-austerity party of any strength seems frankly unfeasible.

Mark P - January 21, 2013

RP, nobody is talking about turning the CAHWT into a political party, bar possibly Julian.

As for whether making an electoral intervention would “destroy” a single issue campaign, let me suggest that you might want to familiarise yourself with the history of non-payment campaigns in Ireland and their electoral interventions before throwing in your tuppence worth. They’ve done it before and been strengthened by it.

Mark P - January 21, 2013

“Notable too that some of the SP commentors here haven’t actually engaged at all with the substantive issues raised. That’s depressing too.”

What on Earth are you talking about?

WorldbyStorm - January 21, 2013

You know you do like that line about familiarising oneself with non payment campaigns Mark P, but this ‘I know more than you, and you, and you’ stuff does ring a little hollow with constant repetition.

Let’s consider a recent statement from the SP on the CAHWT, not the last one, but the one before that.

Particularly the following:

The household tax, soon to be replaced by the property tax, has been the major issue this year. The different elements of the ULA have been active in the Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes (CAHWT), but not all have adopted a strong approach on the key issues.
For some time the Socialist Party has stressed the importance of defending non-payment by having a developed strategy for when householders are brought to court. Some multiple homeowners are already being pursued and it is only a matter of time, either this year or early next, that ordinary householders are dragged before the courts.
But amongst some, there is an element of “court case denial” going on and a refusal to prepare the communities and give people the confidence necessary to resist and defy court threats. In many areas, forces from the ULA have actually allowed the campaigns to lapse.

Interestingly on a thread here a short while before that statement was released I made this point: http://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2012/11/15/after-yesterday-what-next-in-relation-to-x/

“The CAHWT has on the ground where I live in the north inner city faded away radically over the past six months from a high point at the FG ard fheis. Perhaps it will rise again on foot of the property tax, or perhaps it won’t, but it’s not looking too healthy from ground level”

To which I got the following response from you:

This, I think, misunderstands the nature of non-payment campaigns in an important way. They are generally reactive in nature, and ebb and flow in terms of the scale of activity with government actions. At the moment, the Household Charge has long since been due, people have either not paid or paid and the government has yet to make a serious attempt to force the issue. It’s entirely unsurprising to people who’ve followed previous non-payment campaigns here and abroad that the pace of activity isn’t as frenetic as it was when the bills were going out. However, we know for certain that the government will not simply let the issue lie and will be back with (in an order yet to be determined) things like summonses, Property Tax demands, Water Tax demands, etc. And it is absolutely guaranteed that the campaigns will kick into much higher gear again, and on a scale not yet seen as these new charges will be much higher.

I’m not sure I did misunderstand anything. And more to the point, in my response to that comment directly above I said:

You and I both know that in the last week or two the letters have gone out to non-payers. One would have thought that at that point the campaigns would be well back in gear. More over I know of people who in the interim, who were linked to the campaigns, who have paid the charges. Now fair enough, next stop the property taxes, but that’s still a while away and that will be – I suspect – a different sort of battle because the government will do its damnedest to put a patina of fairness on it.
Again, I’m not saying this because I disagree with the campaign but because your position seems enormously optimistic.

Which it did, even putting aside the partisan boostering and the now continual condescension from your quarter to others.

Mark P - January 21, 2013

To be lectured on condescension in that hilariously patronising tone is a genuine treat, WbS. Please treat me to some more cut and pastes, but perhaps this time you could do me the honour of connecting them with an argument?

Now what “substantial issues” do you imagine I’m avoiding?

WorldbyStorm - January 21, 2013

Ah Mark, Mark. Don’t be obtuse. The argument is that you were quite happy to patronise my supposed lack of knowledge of ‘non-payment campaigns’ and yet the party you belong to issued a statement only shortly later detailing precisely the same arguments which I’d made that you’d seen fit to condescend to me about. So when I see you do likewise to others about non payment campaigns and their supposed lack of knowledge excuse me if I take it all with more than a pinch of salt.

As for the rest – again, don’t be obtuse. There’s been nothing from you about what the position of the SP is in relation to the ULA, whether it is leaving, whether the IT report is incorrect or how the push for an election slate of candidates arising out of the CAHWT impacts on the continued existence of the ULA. When I asked a direct question of you further up this specific thread about where the ULA was in all this you didn’t respond.

Mark P - January 22, 2013

Ah WbS, Wbs, that condescending tone you are so annoyed by in others is showing again. I don’t really mind, but I thought it best to warn you.

I’m not being remotely obtuse, I do however find it difficult to have a reasonable discussion with someone who seems to be jumping from point to point in a manner dictated more by an apparent irritation with me than an underlying argument.

1) What I said to RP was true: Non-payment campaigns have run/endorsed candidates in Ireland before to great effect. That doesn’t mean that it’s always a good idea, that’s a tactical issue. But it does mean that a priori declaration that doing so would always be damaging and destructive reflects a simple lack of knowledge of the history of these issues here. RP actually has an excuse for being unfamilar with that history, but he doesn’t have an excuse for making absolute declarations on that basis.

2) It hadn’t occurred to me that the ULA could be considered a “substantive issue”, it being an organisation with no substance. For the record, I am extremely pessimistic about the ULA as the ULA playing a positive role in anything much. So where is the ULA in all this? Nowhere really as far as I’m concerned.

3) There’s nothing in my comment to you in that earlier thread which was either (a) intended to be condescending, or (b) in contradiction to the Socialist Party statement you’ve gone to such trouble to find. Thanks though for reminding me of this prediction:

“We know for certain that the government will not simply let the issue lie and will be back with (in an order yet to be determined) things like summonses, Property Tax demands, Water Tax demands, etc. And it is absolutely guaranteed that the campaigns will kick into much higher gear again, and on a scale not yet seen as these new charges will be much higher.”

Which I stand by. The property tax is going to be a huge sum of money for large numbers of ordinary families and they are going to be extremely angry. As for the government’s “patina of fairness” (which I agree with you, they would like to cover the tax with), they will find it very difficult to combine that sort of propaganda campaign with things like their decision to make it tax deductible for landlords.

WorldbyStorm - January 22, 2013

Give it a rest, Mark, please. If you think any of my interactions have been patronising or condescending your definition of the term is radically different to mine. I doubt there’s a person on this thread who would accuse me of it. What they might find understandable is that my patience has finally snapped with such nonsense.

1) How many candidates from specific non payment campaigns have won election to Dáil Éireann and to local councils – that is non-party candidates, and we’re not talking about Joe Higgins in 1997 because he was a member of a political formation.

2) Thank you, finally, finally an answer.

3) I didn’t have to find it, given my own involvement in CAHWT it was something that stuck in my memory because your interpretation seemed so wildly at variance with the actuality of what was happening on the ground which I could and can still see with my own eyes, despite your suggesting my lack of acquaintance with such campaigns.

Unfortunately your rhetorical approach here seems to be one of a basic assumption that others have no experience of involvement in any activist work. I can see how that is a neat trick in arguments, but at the very least it is indeed condescending, and to be honest given that we’ve spoken about our different experiences face to face it’s deeply dishonest of you given that you know of my background in a myriad of campaigns.

And I’m afraid you are in direct contradiction both of the statement I originally made and the statement the SP itself made as regards the fact the campaign had flagged and was failing and was unprepared for the next phase. Your ‘prediction’ is entirely beside the point.

LeftAtTheCross - January 21, 2013

Seamus McDonagh will not be running under a ‘CAHWT ticket’, he will be a WP candidate. If the national CAHWT endorses his candidancy that would be useful of course, but in terms of Meath the only significant mobilisation has been around our small group in North Meath, Kells / Oldcastle / Navan, so locally there is support for the candidate arising from his work in the campaign on the ground. Unfortunately other areas of Meath don’t seem to have really got rolling with the CAHWT to date, possibly due to a lack of pre-existing activists in the county. I could be wrong but to date I know of one SWP member and one SP member in Meath. If there are others they are keeping a low profile.

The broad question of whether the CAHWT should engage in electoral politics will no doubt be an interesting debate, between the SP who are clearly keen to leverage and incorporate the campaign for their own purposes, the WSM who don’t do elections, and the unaffiliated membership of the CAHWT who are a diverse enough bunch.

Personally I agree that the CAHWT needs to clarify its position ahead of the 2014 local elections. Whether it could do so before the Meath East by election is another question. But that is a question for the CAHWT, not the WP.

In the meantime the WP in Meath and surrounding counties is better prepared to contest this by election than we were during the 2011 general election, at which time the branch had only been recently re-established.

I would hope that those on the broad Left can rally around this candidate and this campaign. All help will be gratefully received I’m sure.

Julian Assandwich - January 22, 2013

The WP should approach the rest of the left about perhaps using the byelection for building a political project(those serious about rebuilding the left anyway). Getting isolated X or Y elected isn’t much use unless it’s just a platform for a broader national movement. The appetite for a new left that swept 5 TDs into the Dail has only gotten stronger.

(Btw the CAHWT outreach group outlined in its report, that it’s the County/MeathCAHWT’s responsibility to launch and maintain the campaign there in all areas of the county, pre-existing activists or not. However if the campaign in the whole county is weak it can seek to twin with a nearby strong area for help.)

LeftAtTheCross - January 22, 2013


the time for building a political project is not during an election campaign IMHO.

As for the ‘responsibility’ to build the CAHWT across Meath, give me a break please. Do you live in a rural area? Does your campaign area of ‘responsibility’ cover 184,000 people spread over more than 2,000 square kilometres? The North Meath CAHWT is doing its bit where it can, Oldcastle, Kells, rural areas north of Navan. There is another unaffiliated group in Duleek, mostly ex-provos as far as I understand it. There is an active group in Drogheda with a small core membership incl. SP (CMK) and WP activists. Beyond that, nada. There is an ex-SP guy in Trim who was initially involved from the central campaign but as far as I know nothing has happened over there on the ground. It’s about bandwidth. If other groups want assistance with organising meetings and getting public speakers we’re willing to assist, but the leg work has to be done locally, and we can’t cover the whole county ourselves. Using words like ‘responsibility’ doesn’t alter that objective fact.

Julian Assandwich - January 22, 2013

Well such difficulty was the point of the Outreach report suggesting twinning of weaker areas with stronger areas.

There are probably 5 months until the by-election which is plenty of time to even initiate discussions.

LeftAtTheCross - January 22, 2013

“Well such difficulty was the point of the Outreach report suggesting twinning of weaker areas with stronger areas.”

Yes, there was an outreach meeting in Navan and it was attended by Séamus McDonagh representing the existinh North Meath campaign, the dormant ex-SP guy from Trim, and an SP guy from Dublin-West. Nothing happened afterwards, so whether the ‘stronger areas’ have the bandwidth or motivation to take on more work outside their core focus is perhaps debatable.

“There are probably 5 months until the by-election which is plenty of time to even initiate discussions.”

I believe discussions will be initiated, but the WP will be contesting the by election regardless of the outcome of those discussions. If the discussions result in a CAHWT endorsement of the candidate then that is clearly something the WP would welcome.

5. A Friend - January 21, 2013

Look if you think the SP give a shite about running a united Left candidate in Meath – more than getting to shower their egos with their one true church sectism you don’t know the game LATC – see the LY class of ’89 are the smartest of the smart and know all the answers – but the moronic working class won’t listen.

6. ivorthorne - January 21, 2013

At times it seems like the greatest obstacle to advancing a left agenda in Ireland is the current batch of Left parties.

Mark P - January 21, 2013

Yes, of course, the problem with “advancing a left agenda in Ireland” is in no way on objective one and it certainly can’t be blamed on people who are not seeking to advance such an agenda. It’s all down to the unnamed and unexplained failings of those small organisations which actually are trying to spread support for socialist ideas. Thanks for clearing that up.

richotto - January 21, 2013

I remember reading Orwell in The Road to Wigan Pier who said referring to socialists that the worst advertisment for a cause is its supporters.

Mark P - January 21, 2013

Given that he listed feminists and vegetarians amongst his despised groups but didn’t list those people who send lists of suspected communists to the authorities, at least he can’t be accused of hypocrisy.

CMK - January 21, 2013

Not one of Orwell’s better moments. And I think he was referring to a particular type of middle-class English socialist who is a more or less a jumped up boy-scout – it was as much Orwell’s venomous prejudice as it was an reasoned political assessment. He then went on to fight and almost die with a socialist militia and he did say that revolutionary Barcelona was worth fighting for. So, he was someone who recognised the often dispiriting nature of socialist practice and socialists, and yet he was willing to lay down his life with socialists. Are there maybe some lessons in that?

ivorthorne - January 21, 2013

I used the phrase “at times” and the word “seems”. I think you might have missed that.

Mark P - January 21, 2013

Feel free to elaborate.

ivorthorne - January 21, 2013

Is it necessary?

I spoke seeming because it would have been inappropriate to speak in terms that suggest some sort of absolute judgement. That is why I spoke in terms of appearance.

If you want to know why it might appear that the left wing parties of Ireland appear to be the left’s worst enemy at the moment, it is because, from the outside, it is difficult to comprehend why parties who oppose the same policies and who, from the outside, appear to have much in common cannot co-ordinate their opposition.

There was momentum behind the ULA last year. That’s gone. Energies that could have been spent opposing policies that have hurt the poor, the ill and the disabled have been spent on something else entirely.

If the ULA had focused its energies on opposing unjust policies, all of the component parties, not to mention the Irish public, would have seen dividends.

dmfod - January 21, 2013

Right Ivor, so you must think the CAHWT and pro-choice campaigning aren’t part of ‘opposing unjust policies’?

ivorthorne - January 21, 2013

The CAHWT is struggling. Maybe if less time had been spent in-fighting, more energy could have gone into the camaign and expanded it into something more e.g. a tax justice movement.

As for the pro-choice movement, while I personally wouldn’t support it, it is a perfectly noble cause for those who hold the assumptions that underlie it. That said, the importance of the ULA parties contribution to the movement is debatable. What is happening that would not have happened in the absence of the ULA or its constituent members? There are plenty of liberal voices in the Irish media and the Labour party.

dmfod - January 21, 2013

… None of those liberals legislated for x for the last 20 years and socialist women have been very prominent in pro choice activism pretty much everywhere! I also happen to think women’s liberation is an intrinsic aspect of any worthwhile socialist politics and it never ceases to depress me how many left wing men persist in seeing it as some sort of distraction – not saying you’re saying this necessarily btw, but it does seem to be a view still held by men on the left.

7. Mark P - January 21, 2013

Is “A Friend” the same person who made such a good impression ranting about Kevin McLoughlin on another thread the other day? Or have we just been blessed by two of our no doubt endless supply of great admirers discovering this site in immediate succession?

WorldbyStorm - January 21, 2013

I don’t think it is tbh, for one reason and another.

Just on that thought, would people commenting here on the site ever just step back from making potentially defamatory remarks about others. Having to step in and censor comments isn’t why I started going online in the first place and there’s no place for it here. Censoring will be followed by bannings if it doesn’t stop.

Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - January 21, 2013

The ‘liberal voices’ in the Irish media and the Labour party would run a mile from actual pro-choice campaigning. It will always be the far-left (including anarchists) who do the donkey work on this issue.

8. que - January 21, 2013

The page linked to by WBS on the Socialist party website uses the word “mass” 10 times – mass strikes, mass demos, mass boycott etc etc

You’d finish reading it with the impression that it truly will be a mass campaign with unparalleled success in those elections in 2014. (and of course the promised success is of course in 2014 – as always further down the line).

Why the repetition of ‘mass’ is bothersome in the article is because it creates this false energy – a sense of look at how dynamic things are going dont question it just get on board we dont need naysayers just feel the energy.

When you believe that so much dynamism and potential exists for your campaign are you going to agree to run in some places, not waste energy in others – leave that to other left formations. Nah course not. Why waste the dynamism and opportunity to build a mass party that you have and no others possess.

From that perspective its clear enough why they act like they do.

9. que - January 21, 2013

? why did all those comments append to me post 7? Same boat as ejh

10. irishelectionliterature - January 21, 2013

In the 1997 General Election The Socialist Party fielded candidates as part of the ‘Taxation Justice Alliance’ / ‘Federation of Dublin Anti Water Charges Campaign’ .and of course Joe Higgins was elected to the Dail as an Anti Water Charges campaigner initially (and narrowly missed out in the Dublin West By-Election won by Brian Lenihan jnr).
Leaflet from Owen Poole who was running as an Independent
and a leaflet from Lisa Maher who was running for the Socialist Party.
The leaflets are fairly similar.

I presume the latest proposal is to have something along those lines of being endorsed by CAHWT and there will be other non SP candidates endorsed by CAHWT.

Julian Assandwich - January 21, 2013

What came of independent candidates that got elected through the water, bin tax campaigns? Or even those associated who ran later? Does anyone know?

richotto - January 22, 2013

Joan Collins first got elected as an anti bin tax candidate in 2004 I think. Pat Dunne now her nominee as Councillor ran in Rathfarnham ward the same year, got 2000 votes and missed out by about 7.

11. Tomboktu - January 21, 2013

I wonder how many extra supporters — in campaigns or votes — the discussion on all of this will secure. Just saying, like.

richotto - January 22, 2013

Its a bit of a leap from representing a vested interest that simply dos’nt want to be taxed to calling it a tax justice movement. It sounds more like a propoganda throw away line rather than something genuinely principled.

12. David Simon - January 22, 2013

A link to the ULA’s first membership drive back in March 2011.

“A National Convention of the United Left Alliance will then take place in late June where a broad range of policy areas will be discussed as well as the steps necessary to launch the United Left Alliance as a party.”


The link was easy enough to find. It had been posted on cedarlounge on the back of a comment by Mark P:


Great thing about the internet. It keeps everything.

critical media review - January 22, 2013

Read through some of that certainly mark p. speaks of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ the ULA becomes a party.

revolutionaryprogramme - January 22, 2013

No, no, no

I think you will find the SP never, ever said anything that even gave that impression

13. Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - January 22, 2013

Nobody’s dead and life will go on. Hopefully all the TD’s currently under the ULA banner will retain their seats. Perhaps there will be some meaningful resistance to austerity. The sensible people in all camps will still talk to each other. But from the outside the overwhelming perception is that the two major far-left organisations in Ireland would rather protect their own little patches than risk something that neither of them could ensure control of. And that’s a shame.

14. Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - January 22, 2013

Nobody’s dead and life will go on. Hopefully all the TD’s currently under the ULA banner will retain their seats. Perhaps there will be some meaningful resistance to austerity. The sensible people in all camps will still talk to each other. But from the outside the overwhelming perception is that the two major far-left organisations in Ireland would rather protect their own little patches than risk something that neither of them could ensure control of. And that’s a shame.
(Meant to put this here rather than above)

richotto - January 22, 2013


Mark P - January 22, 2013

There was nothing to put anything at “risk” for. The ULA never took on any flesh at all. There was never any reality to it beyond those two major (least minor?) left organisations and empty structures sustained by those organisations.

richotto - January 22, 2013

At least the truth is out now about the ULA, a still born child concieved in bad faith if you can pardon some bad writing.

Mark P - January 22, 2013

Stillborn, yes, that’s a fair description. There was no bad faith involved though.

15. The Caretaker - January 22, 2013

There is a CAHWT NSC on Saturday, maybe Meath could send some delegates and initiate discussions on the McDonagh candidacy.

LeftAtTheCross - January 22, 2013

Or maybe the CAHWT NSC could first discuss the Meath by-election, and electoral engagement in general, and send some delegates to discuss the McDonagh candidacy with the WP.

Jolly Red Giant - January 22, 2013

LotC – the WP really do need to get off their high horse on this one

LeftAtTheCross - January 22, 2013

What high horse is that JRG?

Jolly Red Giant - January 22, 2013

The one the WP is sitting on that prevents it from seeing the reality of the current situation.

LeftAtTheCross - January 22, 2013

Why don’t you tell us what the reality is JRG, as you see it?

Jolly Red Giant - January 22, 2013

Reality -

CAHWT is a rather large organisation comprising thousands of members and organising a boycott involving hundresd of thousands

The WP is very very small.

16. Mark P - January 22, 2013

“And the amazing thing is that SPers really believe this mantra that nothing could have been done differently because of these “objective factors”.

That would a stupid position to hold. Of course, some things could have been done differently, here or there. But it was not in our power (or that of the SWP or the WUAG or the independents) to bring genuinely substantial numbers of people into the ULA, certainly not by recruiting a handful more on demonstrations or messing with this or that structure. And without substantial numbers of people, we’d have broadly the same results. It makes no odds in the greater scheme of things if there are thirty unaffiliated activists or forty or sixty.

Or was it also our fault that Enough, the 1% Network, Occupy, Eirigi, the WSM, the Workers Party, Right to Work, etc etc also didn’t attract significant numbers of people in the same period?

(Shockingly even the International Bolshevik Tendency doesn’t seem to have recruited many people here, despite having someone as all seeing as yourself at the helm. And indeed occupying every other role in the organisation. Perhaps you need to undertake some “kind of self-critical analysis” of this failure?)

17. Jimmy Scutclife - January 22, 2013

The time is over for the Trot groups – they were a symptom of the failure of the Left embodied in the fall of the Soviet Union. Among the decayed ruins of a mass movement with global influence the weeds of ego driven, sectarian, contraire for contraire sake, hyperactive sideshows sprouted. Amid the convulsions of financial capitalism post-2008 the paucity of these groups has been revealed, and about time too. The working class will now need to organise to represent itself and it may well be despite of the leadership of these sects rather than with them – that is if their leaderships are not honest enough to take a genuine appraisal of their situation.

Jimmy Scutclife - January 22, 2013

WTF is wrong with this site – my comment shoudl be here – The time is over for the Trot groups – they were a symptom of the failure of the Left embodied in the fall of the Soviet Union. Among the decayed ruins of a mass movement with global influence the weeds of ego driven, sectarian, contraire for contraire sake, hyperactive sideshows sprouted. Amid the convulsions of financial capitalism post-2008 the paucity of these groups has been revealed, and about time too. The working class will now need to organise to represent itself and it may well be despite of the leadership of these sects rather than with them – that is if their leaderships are not honest enough to take a genuine appraisal of their situation.

18. Jimmy Scutclife - January 22, 2013

It will be key to some in the SP leadership that Paul Murphy does not get to big for his boots – in their preverted world view losing the EU seat might be better for the world revolution – Trots – never build anything of substance, never will.

Mark P - January 22, 2013

We really are blessed to have your insights, Jimmy. Please continue to delight us with them.

19. Captain Moonlight - January 22, 2013

The only party that would stand a chance is a party that models itself on the ISRP agenda of 1896 and that should be easy enough for everyone to rally round the red flag and a socialist workers republic … I think the time is right for all concerned in seeing that the workers republic
is established… sit
down and do what is neccesary to do just that…
Let the pogroms begin…comrade

Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - January 22, 2013

You mixing up your metaphors there mate?

20. LeftAtTheCross - January 22, 2013

Ah, got you now, thanks.

So the WP should be seeking an endorsement from the NSC of the CAHWT, is that right? This is before the CAHWT has had any internal discussions about engaging electorally for itself? And when the subject of election participation is quite likely to be a devisive issue for at least one of the component gropus of the CAHWT? Yep, I can see that working out neatly alright. Nothing is likely to happen there this side of the Meath-East by-election. If it does then great, but we won’t wait around for the gift of approval. The reality in Meath-East is that the CAHWT’s ability to bestow gifts is limited, there is no organisation here other than what we’ve built on the ground ourselves. Of course you’re correct, there is a mass boycott, but out here in the real world the unfortunate reality is that SF and even FF are picking up kudos for their fudged opposition to the property tax. I wouldn’t go over-valuing the importance of the CAHWT. The WP is certainly not of similar size, but it has been around a lot longer and has staying power that you might wish to emulate within the CAHWT/CAPTA/ULA etc.

LeftAtTheCross - January 22, 2013
21. Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - January 22, 2013
22. revolutionaryprogramme - January 22, 2013

So the “objective conditions” (actually the political consciousness of the wider working class is what is being referred to) were insufficient to build the ULA, no matter what was done.

No only does this have the handy effect of allowing the SP, as they do here like elsewhere, to avoid any kind of critical self-analysis but is also flies directly in the face of the narrative they have told, and are telling, about the CAHWT.

Read the SP articles about the CAHWT and its bringing thousands of working class people into political action. Read Mick Barry’s latest piece projecting a qualitative increase in this level of working class activism to “mass” levels in response to the Property Tax.

When discussing the ULA we are told one story about the “objective conditions” while when discussing the CAHWT we are told another.

For my own part I believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle of this ultra-pessimistic to ultra-optimistic spectrum of SP propaganda.

No-one can know for certain what difference a different approach to the ULA by the SP & SWP would have made but what is clear is that the approaches taken by the two groups did not help and if there had been a real commitment to the project it could have opened up potentials which were explicitly closed off by the actual approaches taken.

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