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The Socialist Party leaves the ULA January 26, 2013

Posted by irishelectionliterature in The Left.
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No surprise really to see that

The Socialist Party has ended its membership of the ULA. We do so with regret as we initiated the negotiations that led to the ULA and are genuine in our preparedness to work with others on the left in a respectful, democratic and principled fashion.

the announcement continues…

However some in the ULA, including TDs, have moved away from a principled left position and have ditched the collaborative spirit. Apart from the Socialist Party, the other groups in the ULA have accepted this situation, leaving us with no choice but to withdraw.

These developments decisively undermined the ULA, which was already in a weakened state as ordinary working class people had not joined it in any significant numbers, along with the withdrawal of the Workers and Unemployed Action Group (Tipperary) last autumn. As a result, any potential that the ULA had of playing a role in building a new mass Left in Ireland is now gone.

interestingly it sees an anti property tax/ anti auterity alliance as the way forward.

If out of the struggle came the proposal for a slate or an alliance of anti-Property Tax / anti-austerity candidates for the Local and European Elections next year, that would really ratchet up the pressure on the Government, and on Labour in particular.
Such a proposal could gain huge support and could lead to the involvement of thousands of working class people in a political struggle, with the possibility that many working class activists could get elected. Such developments would not only be a massive step towards forcing the scrapping of the Property Tax, but would also represent a big step towards a new mass party of the working class.

As you can imagine, there’s an awful lot more in the statement.

So is that it? The ULA now gone or will the remainder stay on in a smaller group.

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Comments»

1. steve white - January 26, 2013

the WUAG and the Socialist Party blaming mick wallace for the break up of the ula is just as silly as media who kept suggesting he was in the ULA, ULA was never going to last beyond the historic situation of the 2011 election shift

2. Gary - January 26, 2013

The Socialist Party never blamed Mick Wallace – it has explained that the mood and lack of activity in society, in particular the working class, followed by the opportunist and anti-democratic actions of some TD’s and forces within the ULA are responsible for it’s demise.

steve white - January 26, 2013

for not blaming him they send an awful lot of time mentioning him in the press release as did the WUAG when they left, they both succumbed to media jibes he was irrelevant

Gary - January 26, 2013

Mick Wallace publically attacked the Socialist Party on the airwaves, in the Dail and in the press – the Socialist Party had a right to reply as well as condemn his tax evasion, particularly since the media attempted to link Wallace with the ULA. The Socialist Party would not accept Clare Daly’s political support for Wallace – it was damaging to the Socialist Party in working class communities, and for the same reasons we refused to shut up after she resigned, but made the same points within the ULA. Some on the Left are out of touch with significant sections of the working class on the issue of Wallace in my opinion, his tax evasion has sickened many people, and rightly too.
As for the WUAG, I thought they did buckle under the pressure of the capitalist press by demanding he resign.

steve white - January 26, 2013

their mistake was not in asking him to resign but making (as they said) ‘the SP not supporting a call for his resignation’, a quitting matter for them from the ULA

steve white - January 26, 2013

…they being WUAG/Healy

Jolly Red Giant - January 26, 2013

The WUAG would have left anyway – they proposed two motions at the council meeting the second attacking the SWP – even if the Wallace one had been accepted they would have walked on the other one because the SWP would have vetoed it.

steve white - January 26, 2013

wallace was the first thing they mentioned in their press release

Organized Rage - January 26, 2013

The lack of radical political activity in society is surely an argument for keeping it going, not getting grid of it, or is the SP arrogant enough to believe it can form a core of political activity, whether extra parliamentary of within the Dail?

Gary - January 26, 2013

No – the Socialist Party makes it clear that it will be an upsurge in class struggle which will lay the basis for a new party – the property tax looks likely to provide a real opportunity for such a development. If you cared to read the statement, I doubt whether you would honestly think or question whether the Socialist Party has the arrogance to think it can “form a core of political activity”.

doctorfive - January 26, 2013

Without going back down the hole again I think some have vastly over-estimating the impact of the Wallace fiasco. Giving INM & co far too much credit and even then, it was directed against the entire technical group.

Aside, and to why people weren’t ‘pushed’ towards the ULA in the form it took. Whatever comes next I hope someone is asking that question because this statement doesn’t address it.

steve white - January 26, 2013

you know who gave way too much credit to the wallace fiasco the SP and WUAG who both mentioned wallace as key reasons for leaving in their parting statements

doctorfive - January 26, 2013

aye, sorry if I wasn’t clear. We’re almost lead to think they are only people in the country taken in by the Indo.

Which of course isn’t true.

3. WorldbyStorm - January 26, 2013

I think IEL’s question is perhaps most significant. The SP’s departure is no surprise, it’s been coming for months and in retrospect I wonder if once the WUAG left this was all but inevitable, but what happens to the ULA now? Does it continue as a sort of marriage of convenience and electoral banner for the SWP/PBPA and the Independents, or does it reduce even further to one or other of those fractions, and if so which one?

Mark P - January 26, 2013

The ongoing connection between the SWP and Daly/Collins will pose certain problems for each side. I think for instance that faced with the prospect of a now numerically dominant SWP that those who have wanted to move towards “party like” structures will probably reconsider rather quickly. I certainly can’t see Joan or Clare deciding to make themselves accountable to the SWP (or for that matter to the ULA independents).

This, however, and issues like it are now someone else’s problem. As far as I’m concerned, I wish the small number of activists still in the ULA well. Hopefully we can continue to work with them on areas of common agreement. I fully expect this thread to be an absolute car-crash, unfortunately.

4. ejh - January 26, 2013

and have ditched the collaborative spirit. Apart from the Socialist Party, the other groups in the ULA have accepted this situation

5. Joe - January 26, 2013

Didn’t someone on here say, when the ULA was formed, that the U was superflous. So what remains could re-christen itself the LA :).

RosencrantzisDead - January 27, 2013

The name always did irritate me. ‘Left Alliance’ or ‘United Left’ always seemed like a pert and pithier moniker.

6. Sapteuq - January 26, 2013

what’s likely to happen next is that Daly and Collins will form a new bloc with Flanagan and Wallace.

“Aside, and to why people weren’t ‘pushed’ towards the ULA in the form it took. Whatever comes next I hope someone is asking that question because this statement doesn’t address it.”

I think it does, it sums up all the conditions in society that were holding back struggle at the time when the ULA could have gathered momentum. What forms do you think would have overcome these factors?

doctorfive - January 26, 2013

Reads like an attempt to spread responsibility though.

7. que - January 26, 2013

Reading that last extract about the property tax/ anti auterity alliance and their prospects for success, as the Socialist party sees it, you’d have to be excited.

I am sure the Socialist party will be clear in pointing out that such an alliance can/cant be the basis for a new party.

Positive also to see that all the problems which prevented the ULA building a mass movement have been overcome so decisively and a new phase has been entered which “could gain huge support and could lead to the involvement of thousands of working class people in a political struggle, with the possibility that many working class activists could get elected”.

Mark P - January 26, 2013

The Socialist Party was right when it picked out the Household Charge as the element of the austerity offensive which the socialist left was in a position to challenge, even in the absence of any kind of leadership from the union movement. It has been pretty much the one issue where there has been a fight and where wider numbers of people than “the usual suspects” have been involved.

The Socialist Party thinks that the Property and Water Taxes provide the opportunity to mount a stronger, louder, bigger, struggle. It may be right or it may be wrong, but really, sneering doesn’t address the issue in any useful way.

que - January 26, 2013

its wrong.

The route its chosen will not enable a louder,stronger, bigger struggle.

Its hard not to feel some disregard, which is unbecoming if somewhat inevitable, considering the route being taken.

Having seen the ULA fail as an entity the proposed solution is to instead create an electoral alliance.

Forgive me if I dont see much success coming from repeating the exact same strategy but expecting a different outcome.

Mark P - January 26, 2013

I’m beginning to suspect that you aren’t actually paying much attention to the arguments you are sneering at.

The proposed strategy is not to create an electoral alliance. The proposed strategy is to build the strongest and most effective struggle against the Property and Water Taxes, one part of which may be to mount an electoral challenge.

que - January 26, 2013

awesome.

Good night though. Watching Django unchained now.

doctorfive - January 27, 2013

The proposed strategy is not to create an electoral alliance. The proposed strategy is to build the strongest and most effective struggle against the Property and Water Taxes, one part of which may be to mount an electoral challenge.

But isn’t this presenting arguments around particular issues as opposed to arguing, for instance, for a socialist tranformation of society?

RosencrantzisDead - January 27, 2013

Mark P, is it the position that people who oppose paying the Property Tax etc. will extrapolate from this that they should adopt a leftist – perhaps even revolutionary leftist- position?

I would always presume that a movement that involved the basic premise of notpaying something would attract many who would never tend towards socialism (revolutionary or otherwise). This is not to denigrate a campaign but rather whether such a campaign can build a left-wing base on its own or in conjunction with an undiluted left wing political move.

Mark P - January 27, 2013

is it the position that people who oppose paying the Property Tax etc. will extrapolate from this that they should adopt a leftist – perhaps even revolutionary leftist- position?

Not automatically at all.

But people who are involved in real struggles against the government, led by left wingers, will sometimes draw leftist conclusions from that experience. Particularly if left wing people argue their politics in the context of those campaigns.

There is nothing automatic about it. People can go through even quite confrontational campaigning experiences without changing their wider world view. But people are also more open to radical assessments when they are running into those assessments in practice.

RosencrantzisDead - January 27, 2013

Thanks for the response, Mark P.

“People can go through even quite confrontational campaigning experiences without changing their wider world view. But people are also more open to radical assessments when they are running into those assessments in practice.”

But would a broad based, left-wing, party stand a better or equal chance of appealing to people involved in such a campaign?

The pulling out of the ULA seems to mean that we will have parties proselytizing pell-mell and possibly losing potential members in the process. My take – pure theorising, I will admit – is that a broad church like the ULA would have a better chance of getting people interested or involved.

8. Julian Assandwich - January 26, 2013

Just taking in the freedom of not being under the thumb in a controlling/abusive relationship with the Socialist Party CC/website/IndependentNews&Media.

Soon we’ll all have to start thinking about how we make another attempt to resurrect the left. We could really do with one.

tomasoflatharta - January 26, 2013

Plus One

Mark P - January 26, 2013

“Just taking in the freedom of not being under the thumb in a controlling/abusive relationship with the Socialist Party CC/website/IndependentNews&Media.”

What a deeply obnoxious comparison.

If you have some criticism of the Socialist Party’s approach or arguments or actions, feel free to raise it. But the above is both empty of content and vicious in tone.

Julian Assandwich - January 27, 2013

What can I say, I’ve learned my political method from the SP. I’ve learned how to treat comrades from seeing how you treat them.

One of the main ways I came to be a socialist was from seeing Joe Higgins fight for the GAMA workers on the evening news – personally it has been very disappointing to see how the SP are.

Mark P - January 27, 2013

I’m still waiting for a substantive comment from you, critical or otherwise, and have a great deal of difficulty taking this moaning about hurt feelings all that seriously. How exactly are the Socialist Party suppose to be “treating comrades” badly? This is nonsense.

9. Organized Rage - January 27, 2013

“Having seen the ULA fail as an entity”

Failed as what, not providing enough new members to the SP? Have any of the elected TD’s been unseated? To claim an organisation has failed after such a short period of time is not sound politics but blind activism.

How has it failed, what lessons have been learned? If the SP were to use the same criteria about their own organisation, then surely they would have to close it down too, as ordinary working class people have not joined it in any significant numbers and members have broken away.

The reason SF have managed to gradually build a party organisation throughout Ireland is due to persistent hard work on the ground and when they face set backs, they do not scrap what they have set out to do and fall at the first hurdle, but continue and fight to overcome them.

If they have no intention of seeing it through why do groups like the SP bother to join these left fronts, to put it bluntly it reeks of taking the piss.

Dr.Nightdub - January 27, 2013

In fairness, OR, comparisons with SF are hardly valid. They bend depending which way the wind is blowing. Think what you like about the various components of ULA, they do veer more towards principle than opportunism, even if the working-out of those principles in practice gets messed up along the way for a whole host of reasons.

richotto - January 27, 2013

The opposition to a comprehensive property tax reeks of opportunism and reactionary populism. Domestic rates were abolished in 1978 after a right wing populist FF bribe to get the middle class vote in the 1977 election. And see the mess that happened in the 80s directly as a result of removing that revenue base and trying desperately to load it on income tax instead when the budget deficit went crazy. No advanced country let alone one in our state has shown an ability to run itself without such a property tax. Its seen throughout the world but most particularly on the left as of equal significance and legitimacy as income tax and VAT. It should be no surprise that the non compliance is highest in the rural areas where tax avoidence if possible remained most respectable. Thats fundementally a right wing impulse and if the SP expect a dividend out of that “cute hoor” constituency its fooling its own base.

Mark P - January 27, 2013

I’d pay more attention to this sort of gibberish if it had even the slightest relevance to anything we’ve been talking about. What “comprehensive property tax” is this character talking about?

He can’t possibly mean the home tax that the current government is introducting, can s/he?

richotto - January 27, 2013

If its gibberish of “this character” to refer to homeowners paying far bigger “home taxes” in the most advanced countries then thats a misrepresentation of the facts.
I would like to argue for a more progressive element or a site value tax but apart from that in principle its a long overdue restoration of the tax which should never have been abolished in the 1977 FF election bribe. If SP wants to get into auction politics its a bit late. Also it seems now to be a one trick pony. We’ll see how long it lasts.

CMK - January 27, 2013

The abolition of rates by FF was not done to win the middle classes; it was a measure to increase FF’s vote among the working class. At the time the working, like now in fact, bore a disproporionate burden of taxation as well as paying rates. The abolition of rates was a progressive measure in that context as it lifted some of the burden on workers. It’s a hoary middle class myth the abolition of rates was a factor in the fiscal crises of the 80′s. If the middle classes and, in particular, the professional classes had actually paid taxes at the time, instead of colluding with the banks to subvert the financial viability of the state, those crises would have been significantly ameliorated. There’s a grim irony that the two forces who have historically posed the greatest barrier to the development of a decent society, the banks and the middle classes, are being by the current government. The former by the various bailouts, the latter by the refusal to have a third rate of income tax for.high earners and to the other refusal to raise existing income tax.

10. revolutionaryprogramme - January 27, 2013

And of course the SP continue with their myth building that nothing could have been done differently – it was all the “objective factors”.

That committing to the process of moving the ULA towards a party, as promised in their election manifesto, or prioritising the ULA on demonstrations and general political events wouldn’t have helped make the ULA attractive to working class militants.

The SP have learnt nothing from the experience and will no doubt repeat all their mistakes again with this new focus on the CAHWT.

I think que got it spot on earlier in this thread:

Positive also to see that all the problems which prevented the ULA building a mass movement have been overcome so decisively and a new phase has been entered which “could gain huge support and could lead to the involvement of thousands of working class people in a political struggle, with the possibility that many working class activists could get elected”.

If the SP are going to put all the blame on the “objective factors” then there might be some responsibility to explain what has changed to make the prospects so much better now.

Jolly Red Giant - January 27, 2013

Alan – you really should try reading what Mark has actually said – rather than your own version of his comments in order to try and take a swipe at the SP.

revolutionaryprogramme - January 27, 2013

? I made no reference to anything Mark P has said on this thread ?

However rereading Mark’s comments I see no attempt to explain what is different now with the CAHWT, and working class militancy in general, as compared to the CAHWT, and working class militancy in general, over the past 18 months or so that will see the prospects for a new party qualitatively enhanced as compared to the chances of it occurring through the vehicle of the ULA.

Jolly Red Giant - January 27, 2013

I doubt even Mark – despite his ability to write long posts – would have the time or energy to adequately respond to the level of what you expect – and I’m sure he has better things to be doing with his time as well.

critical media review - January 27, 2013

God forbid the comrades explaining inconsistencies in the position.

Jolly Red Giant - January 27, 2013

There are no inconsistancies – only an unwillingness to read the bloody stuff properly and then a willingness to distort it for a particular viewpoint.

revolutionaryprogramme - January 27, 2013

Your position is that it was the “objective factors” that stopped the ULA from growing. The potential you project for the CAHWT clearly implies a change in those “objective factors” and yet there is no explanation in the article for that supposed difference in the “objective factors”.

That may not be an inconsistency but it does require some analysis if you expect anyone to be convinced by it.

But no we get the usual – can’t be bothered, no need to as you are all shite anyway and we have better things to do with our time – except the two of you have posted a few times on this blog. If it isn’t to help explain the SP position what is the point of your posts – just to disrupt other people talking about the SP position?

11. Sapteuq - January 27, 2013

Anyone who’s spent ten seconds anywhere near the household tax campaign will know two things:

-this stuff about reactionary populism is nonsense and nowhere near the reality in the campaign. It’s people taking up this issue in order to hit back at austerity generally.Only people with anti-working class prejudices who’ve never spoken to people in the campaign will paint it as right-wing and populist

-it’s a hundred times more significant than the ULA in its numbers and in what it’s achieved

-it and the ULA are totally different in nature – one is a very ground-up fightback against austerity and one was a coming together of already existing left groups in the hope that it would develop a base. The strength of the initial push given to each by the organisations involved was the only factor that’s similar I’d say.

Again, to anyone who’s been within a mile of actual left-wing activism over the past year or so, two things should be clear: the ULA was irrelevant outside the Dail while the CAHWT was and is the only real fightback against austerity.

From this I draw the conclusion: there’s people posting comments here who haven’t a clue what they’re talking about.

ULA was a worthy attempt and it’s sad to admit defeat. But it would just be totally sentimental to cling on just because of that. Organised rage, the SP is a revolutionary socialist party and you’d expect it to be smaller and less significant than a broad left front! Comparisons with the totally unprincipled, sectarian tory lapdogs SF are irrelevant

revolutionaryprogramme - January 27, 2013

As someone involved intimately in the leadership of both the CAHWT and ULA in Cork I would agree with your general analysis of the respective social weights of the two organisations.

However the two development of the two organisations cannot be seen to be unrelated as you appear to be arguing.

The SP’s claimed “objective factors” holding back the development of the ULA is actually a reference to the level of militant consciousness of the wider working class. What the CAHWT shows is that this consciousness was, and is, in fact quite militant (though not perhaps unfortunately as widespread as some of the hype would have us believe).

If the SP analysis of the CAHWT as a vehicle for militant class struggle is correct to any degree, and as an active participant I believe it is to some degree, then it directly contradicts their main reason for the failure of the ULA.

Revolutionary Marxism is supposed to be a science, or at least have aspirations in that direction. It is of course possible that this apparent contradiction can be explained but so far the SP have not done so and their representatives on this thread seem to be seriously arguing that there is no need for them to even bother trying to explain it.That is not serious for any organisation claiming the political tradition of revolutionary socialism.

militantsocialist - January 27, 2013

What we are saying is that the campaign against the Property Tax has the potential to bring into struggle and political activity, huge numbers of working class people, which could lay the basis for a mas political organisation to emerge. Clearly the ULA is not and will not be a factor in such delevopments, if they do happen.

We could be wrong about the potential for the Property Tax campaign, and it could be a total flop, but at this point in time we feel it’s the most likely perspective and the most important focus for those who are committed to building a new working class party, as well as fighting austerity generally.

revolutionaryprogramme - January 27, 2013

So you are saying that there is going to be a completely new and qualitatively larger and more militant campaign against the property tax as compared to the campaign against the household charge that has existed for the past 18 months (and coincided with the existence of the ULA)?

Have a read of some of the SP articles about the CAHWT over the past 18 months – you might find that there is a large similarity between them and what you are now saying about this supposed new campaign against the property tax.

Dr.Nightdub - January 27, 2013

In fairness to the SP, they do use the words “could” and “possibility” in the statement. You’ve been very critical of them for suggesting at the last election that they definitely would build the ULA to be a new party, various SP members have pointed out that this didn’t materialise, so it would make sense to me that they don’t give any hostages to fortune when talking about what may materialise when the Revenue start implementing the property tax.

WorldbyStorm - January 27, 2013

That’s not a bad point Dr.Nightdub. I wouldn’t see the SP as particularly at fault in all this – certainly to my mind once the WUAG went AWOL that was more or less it and everything subsequent was an afterthought.

That said I’m deeply dubious about the CAHWT’s potential, and just to be clear, in the context of Sapteuq’s comment, I’ve spent a lot more than 10 seconds in and around it.

It seems to me that the charge and the property tax are two distinctly different things and it’s very difficult to map the essentially successful campaign around the former onto the latter. The risks are much greater and demand considerably more than the largely passive response demanded during the campaign from those involved in not paying.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think there’s a material base for a nascent political electoral response there, and it also seems to me that even if candidates are found, selected and run they will not be analogous to ULA candidates. Ironically, though, even were it marginally successful eventually it would wind up with the same protagonists as were in the ULA having to make common cause at some point sooner or later.

revolutionaryprogramme - January 27, 2013

So the SP make these initiatives and pose potentials – if they fail it will have been nothing to do with anything they might have done in the process but all to do with the omnipotent “objective factors”.

It is implicit in their analysis that they are able to measure these “objective factors”.

My point is that there is a contradiction between what they have said about the success of the CAHWT (and now even bigger potential success in opposing the PT) and the failure of the ULA when both occurred within the framework of exactly the same “objective factors”.

If all they say about the success of the CAHWT were true then it contradicts, at least on the surface, what they say about the failure of the ULA.

They presumably want to convince people to work with them on their new path to a workers’ party so it is not unreasonable for them to be asked to explain this apparent contradiction.

If not then why should anyone expect them to be any more successful in whatever post-ULA organisational framework they presumably will set up to manifest their pro-party perspective.

Jolly Red Giant - January 27, 2013

I am not going to waste time copying and pasting in here – and I am not wasting anymore time addressing issues because people won’t attempt to read stuff in an open and unbised way. You can read my answer here -

http://www.politicalworld.org/showthread.php?p=311778#post311778

revolutionaryprogramme - January 27, 2013

The SP argument remains that nothing could have been done differently and they have no explanation for why the “objective factors” that led to working class activists being drawn to the CAHWT was happening concurrently with the “objective factors” that kept them away from the ULA.

Nothing would have been different if the promise to launch a new party made in the SP’s election manifesto and been given some concrete reality instead of almost immediately after individual membership was opened up the SP continual pouring cold water on the idea except as some abstract long-term goal – which hardly made the ULA look attractive to the working class militants in the CAHWT.

Nothing would have been different if alongside those concrete moves towards launching a new party the SP (and SWP) had made the ULA their real priority so that on demonstrations etc the ULA was THE public face of the components of the ULA instead of it being themselves in competition with each other. Why would the ULA be attractive to working class militants in the CAHWT when it barely existed in most public manifestations of opposition to austerity?

I guess it makes JRG feel better to argue this as it absolves the SP from any critical self-analysis but it will not encourage anyone to believe SP calls, that will inevitably come at some stage, for a ULA 2.0

Dr.Nightdub - January 27, 2013

@ Revolutionaryprogramme

You’re going to the opposite extreme and insisting that any failure, if that should be the outcome, will be entirely due to the SP’s efforts or lack of effort, before they’ve even made those efforts. Objective factors get written out of your equation so everything is reduced to a triumph or failure of willpower.

Like WbS, I think opposing the household charge and the property tax will be two very different kettles of fish. At least with the household charge, you had to sign up for it to pay it so there was an element of putting yourself in harm’s way which could be avoided by the simple expedient of not registering.

However, with the property tax, the Revenue have everybody’s details already and they’ll be deducting it at source so it’s not an “opt-in” tax the way the household charge was. Resisting it will therefore be an entirely different proposition, even just in practical terms.

You seem to suggest that the only factors at play are objective conditions and the SP/SWP’s mindset. There is, however, a third factor – the nature of the objective itself: building a successful single-issue campaign and building a political party are two entirely different kettles of fish.

revolutionaryprogramme - January 27, 2013

I accept there is no guarantee that doing anything differently would have overcome the low level of class consciousness among the wider working class.

But the SP are arguing that nothing could have made any difference.

The two points I make would seem to pose a couple of reasons why the ULA was not more successful in attracting working class militants from the CAHWT. No guarantees that this would have made a decisive difference

Given the positive “objective factors” that lead to the CAHWT this should have been reflected to some degree, even if ultimately not enough, in the ULA. The fact that this did not happen at all needs explaining not merely brushing under the “objective factors” carpet.

I also accept that the PT is different, though not necessarily qualitatively, from the HHC. Indeed the main tactic being recommended by the CAHWT is the same – boycott of the registration/payment process.

Dr.Nightdub - January 27, 2013

“Indeed the main tactic being recommended by the CAHWT is the same – boycott of the registration/payment process”

If that’s the case, you’d want to think the thing through a bit more. Unlike the Corpo with the household charge, the Revenue CAN go “We know where you live” – as a first-time buyer a number of years back, they administer the mortgage interest tax relief I can claim, so it’s not like the many thousands in the same boat as me can hope to somehow stay under their radar. Non-registration is therefore not an option. As a PAYE worker, non-payment is not an option, they’ll just take the money either way. The only wriggle-room is over the value of the home on which the tax is based.

If you want to draw parallels, the CAHWT is probably not the best place to look. I’d argue that the pension levy imposed on the public sector is a closer fit. And look how that panned out.

WorldbyStorm - January 27, 2013

+1 Dr. Nightdub.

richotto - January 27, 2013

How do you explain then the fact that the areas of most observanance of the property tax are the urban areas particularly Dublin and least compliant in the traditionally tax dodging “chancer” rural areas? Its wishful thinking to think that most people trying to get out of paying tax are going to be sympathetic to the left parties when elections come. It may qualify as some kind of populist politics but feeding off a “hands off my property” attitude is nothing to do with revolutionary socialism. The left throughout the world would not understand how an anti property tax movement can be seen in any way as coming from a genuinely left wing standpoint. Its one of the most progressive taxes on wealth statistically.

hardcore for nerds - January 27, 2013

richotto, I can’t remember where I found them but there were figures released some months ago (iirc around the time of the controversy about linking to student grants to the household charge) about the disposable income levels in each county – on an index system, where 100 was the average, and places like Donegal and Monaghan were in the low 80s, Dublin, Wicklow, Galway City in the 110s. Map those onto the household charge payment rates and there’s an obvious connection (and it fits the urbanisation factor since on average, people in urban areas have higher incomes because of the type of jobs they are doing). I would have similar reservations to you about opposition to the property tax, but it still has a sound socio-economic basis.

If there’s an anti-property tax/anti-austerity campaign, I can understand why the first is an obvious and immediate issue (and the effects of austerity are a reason why it’s not a good idea to take more income away now from those on the lower and middle levels, even if in principle it is a fair measure) that motivates people. And if the rhetoric surrounding the campaign is overtly leftist and anti-austerity, wouldn’t that alienate the more opportunist, broadly anti-tax protesters – hence removing your problem?

Interesting to see a report on the RTE news about the 100th week of local anti-bank-bailout protests in Cork. That hasn’t spawned a national movement, mostly I suppose because it’s such a nebulous issue, that mostly everyone is aggrieved by but feel powerless to effect any change on. It’s not an unproblematic cause in itself either, but it would be useful if there was more serious consideration of what it would mean to push beyond the government’s current quixotic quest to reduce the burden marginally and actually force a realignment of powers between the Irish state, the markets, the quasi-nationalised banks and the ECB. But that’s not the sort of issue with direct personal impact that a nationwide campaign can be built on, unlike the property tax?

12. Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - January 27, 2013

Just wondering if it’s true that Owen Jones is speaking at an SP event in Dublin soon and are details available? Thanks.

Jolly Red Giant - January 27, 2013

Yes – you can find details here -
http://countersummit.eu/

13. richotto - January 27, 2013

CMK above states “The abolotion of rates by FF was not done to win the middle classes: it was a measure to increase FF’s vote among the working class”.

That simply dos’nt make sense. It could be taken as read that near 100% of the middle classes own their own home, and homes logically at the higher end of the tax liability also. A much lower percentage of working class would own their own home and have a lower bill to pay. All the coverage of the removal of rates issue is clear on who it was aimed at, the middle classes of course as chief beneficiaries. The US Republicans and UK Tories would be chomping at the bit if they manage to could get away with abolishing a property tax on behalf of their natural supporters. But the left are the ones defending property tax around the world as well as the simple fact that the state needs the money from property tax sector to do things.

CMK - January 27, 2013

Do you have any grasp of the socio-economic structure of this society? Of income distribution patterns? If you did you wouldn’t be capable of writing the above. My point stands and makes complete sense: the abolition of rates in 1977 by FF was populist but it did ease the burden on workers. Were you around in the 70′s? Do you have sense of how pushed many families were at the time to get by? Rates were a burden and the property tax will be a burden that will break hundreds of thousands.

The obtuseness of those – like richotto above – and their fellow travellers in the Labour Party and the trade union leadership, who are blindly and blithely insistent that this property tax represents a progressive tax, is absolutely astounding. No heed at all being taken of the extent to which households are struggling to service debts and maintain a semblance of a life. No heed of the repeated reports from the Irish League of Credit Unions telling us how little millions have left after all bills are paid.

Context is everything when it comes to a property tax. Such a measure in France or Sweden or Denmark, where there are true progressive tax systems and very good levels of social provision, generate little to no opposition from the Left. A property tax here, in what is effectively a glorified tax haven with a government intent on sucking billions out of the economy to ensure private banks don’t go under, is just another austerity tax to subsidise the continuance of the tax haven and the continuance of payouts to bondholders.

Labour Party and ‘progressive’ supporters of a property tax would be employed explaining the following two recent stories:
- 22 December the Irish Times reported that Abbot Vascular Technologies in Ireland had reported a profit of just over 1 billion euro but paid no tax on that.
- Last Sunday the SBP report that Adobe Technologies Ireland reported a profit of over 460 millions and paid 3 million in corporation tax.

Nearly 1.5 billion in profit, profit mind not revenues, reported; 3 million in corporation tax paid, an effective tax take of 0.2%; if the 12.5% rate were applied, you know the rate we’re wrecking our society to defend, it would have yielded over 180 million (more than the revenue targetted by the household tax).

Two multi-national companies paying effectively no tax on enormous profits, with no adverse comment, and the property tax, the USC, cuts to services and other austerity measures are effectively subsidising such practices. In the reverse of what the mainstream media are telling us, the 12.5% tax rate is, in most cases, a 0% tax rate.

In that context I can’t seriously critiques of those who oppose resistance to the property tax or who engage in nit-picking and nonsense about how ‘The Left’ is in favour of taxes on property in other countries. This is NOT a tax on property but on peoples’ homes. And, as we’re beginning to find, it contains loopholes – allowing landlords to deduct from their tax liability – which negate any notion that this is ‘progressive’.

richotto - January 27, 2013

On the last point if there are weakness in the progressivity of the property tax then that would best be argued as an adjustment while accepting the general principle that the property owning sector whether its their home or not should pay a fair share of the tax burden. This principle is accepted in the most socially progressive countries. You’d have to go to countries like in Eastern Europe with flat income taxes and no belief in progressive taxation to find property exempt from taxation as the far left and the PD type right in common want it to be here.
Of course theres plenty of examples of unfair tax here but there are in all capitalist or mixed economy countries. I believe the unfair priviliges of the Corporate sector over the PAYE sector are another inheritance from our political cuture like the property owners. But two wrongs don’t make a right. Before 2008 it was conventional political wisdom that the Irish are special and don’t do
property tax. One vested interest at least has been tackled in the public interest.
The main losers if there no property tax would be the least well off. In 1978 before property tax was abolished the main rate of VAT was 8%. That was hiked up to 15% within a couple of years to accomodate the shortfall in revenue when rates were abolished. Its well known that VAT is the most regressive of all taxes. Income taxes also went through the roof. There was in short a transfer of wealth from those paying rent to property owners with the changes in the burden directly as a result of abolition of rates.
Its some achievement for the vested interests of property owners to be promoted in this way by what passes for the far left. in this country

richotto - January 27, 2013

Incidently CMK in answer to your question I was unfortunately around in the late 70s and 80s to feel the effects of what I described above.

14. Ordinary Worker - January 27, 2013

The SP account has more than a grain of truth to it. However, the ULA non-aligned is not a ‘group’, nor is it simply comprised of established left activists. The non-aligned have only been categorised as such in order to facilitate sectarian generalisations, which have been used to justify the disgraceful treatment of all those that joined the ULA, but who did not immediately appear as ready recruits. It is quite clear that the main obstacle to the development of the ULA has been sectarianism. The remaining non-aligned are quite diverse in political orientation, but many of us had more confidence in the SP than any of the other left groups. Some of us expected the SP to see beyond its own immediate recruitment goals, its own strategic advantages, and to at least make some attempt to treat new members as equals in a common project. Needless to say we have been bitterly disappointed.

While we are here, could the SP please define ‘ordinary workers’? What is it exactly that distinguishes all those people that looked to join the ULA early on, became frustrated and then bailed out, from ‘ordinary workers’?

Jolly Red Giant - January 27, 2013

The only way that the ULA was going to grow was if enough ‘ordinary workers’ joined to create a situation whereby the component organisations could not play a dominant role in the ULA – that it would take on a political life of its own and the component organisations were just one part of the mix without dominating what was going on. That never happened.

Some argue that the ULA should have become a fully fledged party with individual membership and one person one vote. The Socialist Party vetoed such a measure for very good reason – the SWP (who wanted this to happen) have repeatedly in the past used this mechanism to pack meetings and dominate through sheer weight of numbers. It is not and never has been the way to build a broad political movement. The SWP have succeeded in wrecking several such initiatives when they have been allowed pack meetings by sheer weight of numbers rather than winning a political debate and convincing members of their position. If the ULA had attracted enough new members to make this an irrelevent factor then the ULA had possibilities of developing – until that point it was always going to have difficulty surviving.

LD - January 27, 2013

I don’t agree that the Socialist Party treated anyone in the ULA disgracefully. I actually think the Socialist Party has been consistently political and honest in all its dealings with others in the ULA, which is a lot more than can be said for others. If people are not happy with the decision that the Socialist Party has made, that’s understandable, but that in itself doesn’t amount to ‘disgraceful treatment’ in my opinion. For us to continue in an alliance with others who are on very different paths politically, and therefore to be forced to veto more and more things, would have been the less honest thing to do in reality.

The people in left in the ULA, including the non-aligned, do have to take responsibility for the issues raised, such as the acceptance of the undemocratic practices by some, which they refused to even try to stop.

As for the idea that the Socialist Party simply wanted to ‘achieve recruitment goals’, it’s just not true. People can flatter themselves into thinking that the Socialist Party just wants to recruit them, sometimes we do, a lot of the time we don’t. Recruitment had little to do with our involvement on the ULA.

As for those who joined, became frustrated and left, the truth is that there weren’t many who fit that description.

revolutionaryprogramme - January 27, 2013

I agree that the SP was consistent and open about its approach – unlike the SWP. I disagree with the SP but I trust them to be consistent and mostly do what they say. Where we do agree I find it quite possible to work together with the SP – even very closely, as I did with Mick Barry and his comrades in Cork in the CAHWT.

I also agree that the key was getting more people to join and it is in that context that my criticisms of the SP (and SWP) are made.

A couple of corrections.

For most of the ULA’s existence the SWP blocked with the SP in opposing any concrete moves forward towards a party. It was only quite late on, for their own opportunist reasons, that the SWP became the champions of democracy and one-person one-vote. Not many, if indeed any, people in the non-aligned were fooled by this.

Both Eddie C and I, as non-aligned reps to the NSC, criticised the SWP & the incipient Daly/Collins grouping for excluding the SP from the Dail parliamentary work when the SP raised this at the NSC.

15. Organized Rage - January 27, 2013

A few points, firstly my point about SF was not about their politics, we can argue over that on another thread, but how they go about party building and spewing bile out does not deny that fact. SF is a broad coaltion of the centre left nationalists, and what ever the comrade may think about what he calls their sectarian tory crap, if s/he cannot see there are lessons to be learned about party and coalition building then I fear s/he is the one who is caught in a sectarian trap.

I understand the SP is a small organization and it must prioritise its members work. But the ULA was set up as an electorial front and as far as I can see little has changed.

I feel it is a massive mistake to conclude extra paliamentary work should take priority over parliamentary, surely the two should work in tandem? The cuts etc , etc have all passed into law via the Dail, thus an organised group of socialists TDs is imperative to expose these bastards at every turn as there wretched legislation passes through parliament. It also allows the socialist left an invaluable public platform to offer up real alternatives to working classes and the best of middle class. Resources and manpower wise this does not need great numbers at this stage.

So I can see no valid reason why the SP could not remain within the ULA parliamentary group whilst targeting its main human and material resources at the extra parliamentary campaign if that is their ‘collective’ wish.

At this time it may well be true the ULA was irrelevant outside the Dail, and the CAHWT was and is the only real fightback against austerity, those working within the latter campaign will know better than I. But this was always going to be the case between elections as the ULA is an electorial front not sadly a political party and why is that pray tell?

By walking away from it, if there is an upturn of working class struggle, come the next election the SP will either have to rebuild another left electorial front or, what I feel is more likely, stand under SP colours, either way it is like reinventing the wheel when the one you had would work fine, if given a little oil.

I find it hard to take the SP statement at face value, for what it is saying is the party cannot play a leading role in the CAHWT and in tandem contribute positivly to the ULA block within parliament, one or the other had to give. Given the high calbre of some of the SP lead militants, I find that hard to believe and many class conciouse workers will also think that.

This whole business has the whiff of the vanguard party, if so it’s a middle class illusion which I fear will end in failure.

CL - January 27, 2013

Perhaps the problem is that there are a number of vanguard ‘parties’ each one certain of its own version of the truth, competing against each other tactically and strategically, and trying as Owen Jones has said to replicate ” a revolution that took places in a semi-feudal country nearly a century ago”.

revolutionaryprogramme - January 27, 2013

Actually if you look at the whole ULA experiment the Dail activity predominated over extra-parliamentary activity. This is as the ULA, the two main components did do plenty of extra-parliamentary activity but this was mostly as themselves rather than as the ULA.

Scabby Rabbit - January 28, 2013

I think the SP’s point is that the ULA itself is shifting to the right politically in an undemocratic and unaccountable fashion. Its not like the SP haven’t tried to raise this within the ULA either, two branch councils were taking up basically discussing these issues.

The simple fact is that the ULA has stopped functioning even as a parliamentary alliance – the most recent abortion bill and the penalty points matter are evidence of that – and neither the ULA constituent groups, individual membership or steering committee are able to exert any influence over the political positions its TDs take.

It’s not unsurprising that the SP viewed such a situation as untenable.

Scabby Rabbit - January 28, 2013

* It’s hardly surprising obviously… double negative above.

16. Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - January 27, 2013

There’s always two reasons for everything; a good reason and a real reason. The SP’s outrage over Mick Wallace is understandable and politically consistent. I wonder however how widespread disgust at Wallace is in the wider population-and how it would have really affected the ULA, and whether Clare Daly’s own independence from the SP had more to do with their attitude than anything about Wallace.

17. Ordinary Worker - January 27, 2013

I agree with a great deal of what is said above, and perhaps ‘disgraceful’ is too strong a word, but few of us are happy with the situation. I agree that the SP is generally honest and consistent in its approach. But here we go again ‘ the non-aligned, do have to take responsibility’, as if the non-aligned had the opportunity to develop factions or tendencies capable of agreeing positions as issues arose. They couldn’t do so, as JRG explains above, because not enough ‘ordinary workers’ joined and stayed with the ULA. However, we have to explain why. ‘Objective conditions’ doesn’t cut it. As ‘revolutionaryprogramme’ points out, this claim is contradicted by the progress of the CAHWT. And even if it wasn’t it is contradicted by little groups, like the Ballyhea group, that are operating in the middle of nowhere, and still attracting new people. Just last night, a Saturday night, they attract well over 300 people to a meeting held in Charleville Park Hotel. We are in an environment where other various groups, like Debt Options, formed last November, emerge, and within the space of two months have 1000 members. The problem with the ULA is sectarianism. I’ll happy agree to being wrong on everything else, but this is a huge problem with all of the founding organisations, and also among the non-aligned. But as yet we absolutely refuse to recognise it, much less do anything about it.

18. Jolly Red Giant - January 27, 2013

Clearly – people here completely misunderstand the CAHWT and the natue of its impact.

I will repeat this again – the overwelming opposition to the Household Charge is passive (i.e. refusing to register) – and even those who are active in the campaign have not drawn the conclusions that it is necessary to become politically active. People are stunned by the scale of the crisis, people are hesitant about getting involved in political formations, people are manifesting their opposition through passive resistance and through the ballot box, people have not drawn the necessary political conclusions because there has not been the necessary level and intensity of class struggle to raise class consciousness.

The anti- property tax and water charges campaign will require a major increase in the intensity of the opposition to the government. If it is to succeed. It will require people throwing off their hesitation and getting stuck in – and that level of activity and intensity (if it happens) could (and I repeat – could) lead to people drawing the necessary conclusions about political involvement that could (and I repeat – could) lead to the development of a left-wing political movement.

Unfortunately the ULA has gone passed its sell-by date. I expect the SWP to do their ‘one foot in and one foot out’ thing. I expect Clare Daly and Joan Collins to look at expanding their Buswell’s 4 collaboration while at the same time making overtures to the remaining ‘non-aligned’ to ensure canvassing teams and I expect those non-aligned still involved to slowing get disillusioned and drift away.

It is unfortunate that the situation has come to this – but it is a direct consequence at the lack of involvement of large numbers of new working class activists over the past two years. It is much better to be honest about the situation and draw a line under – it rather than continue the drawn out slow decline that is taking place.

WorldbyStorm - January 27, 2013

The problem with that analysis is that as you say it ‘require(s) a major increase in the intensity of the opposition to the government’. Is any such increase likely? Have we seen any evidence of any such increase? Given that the property tax is going to be taken in by Revenue over the heads of individual householders what means are there available to actually stop its collection? If there are no concrete ones why would anyone put themselves on the line for retribution over a tax that has already been paid?

I read Mick Barry’s contribution here http://www.socialistparty.net/household-charge/1118-how-to-fight-the-property-tax with interest, but noted that there was nothing specific in regards to how Revenue were to be brought under pressure or likewise the government.

That’s to some extent fair enough, but he seems much more chipper about the prospects for success than the SP’s statement of the 27 of November, barely eight or nine weeks ago that:

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.

And…

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.

And…

The property tax can be a decisive issue next year but the approach that is being adopted by some ULA affiliates undermines the capability of the campaign to match the potential. ­

And…

The CAHWT needs to be rebuilt in all areas as active and democratic campaigns, and it needs to be connected to the perspective that the battle against the property tax can be explosive. It can become the sharp edge of a battle against austerity and this government. But right now the ULA isn’t playing the role that it should.

I don’t know from my own experience of these matters and that of others what has materially changed in that eight or nine weeks from a situation where the CAHWT wasn’t fit for purpose as it was then to the situation today.

One other point on the substantive issue. I’ve said above I don’t place particular blame on the SP as regards the current circumstances, it was perhaps always a long shot that an alliance of the further left would work sufficiently well to have any great longevity (though there’s a possibility that the ULA will have gifted the Irish left with a more organised and allied formerly ‘independent’ component which in my view would be no harm at all if that can be formalised in some way as a campaigning and electoral entity). Others were equally and in some instances much much more culpable etc.

But did the SP ever state at any point either before or since the ULA’s foundation that it intended to give x amount of time to the project to succeed or fail, or outline the criteria by which it would judge the project a success or a failure?

RosencrantzisDead - January 27, 2013

After five years of recession and austerity, you are saying that there has not been the ‘necessary level and intensity of class struggle’. I have to ask: why not? Why has there not been the necessary intensity?

What qualifies as necessary intensity? People have been getting it in the neck for a good few years now and there are a lot of struggling households out there. If you are waiting for Leo Varadkar and Olli Rehn to ride through Limerick striking any proles within reach with their sword canes, then you will have a long wait.

ejh - January 27, 2013

Besides, Olli Rehn’s like that gangster in The Long Good Friday who never goes north of the river. As far as I’m aware he never leaves Brussels.

WorldbyStorm - January 27, 2013

That’s an huge part of the problem you reference there RiD. Simply put the models for activity put forward aren’t resonating to any great degree (some degree, but clearly not sufficient) with citizens. I genuinely don’t know what is going to tip the situation into a more progressive place.

19. Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - January 27, 2013

‘I expect Clare Daly and Joan Collins to look at expanding their Buswell’s 4 collaboration while at the same time making overtures to the remaining ‘non-aligned’ to ensure canvassing teams’

I think you know that both of them have quite secure numbers for canvassing teams and one of the problems (from a sectarian point of view) is that neither of them need the SP, SWP or ULA.
Look, Joe Higgins is an outstanding socialist. He was an excellent TD who punctured the cosy consensus of the Celtic Tiger years. But if you are honest you will know that he looks tired and has been outshone by Daly since 2011. None of this is going anywhere good, but spare us the mock sorrow. Daly was too independent for the SP so the high moral ground had to be found (Wallace). Joan’s partner was one of your leading figures for two decades- she and him left the party and therefore no good can be allowed come of them. Ever.
A modest suggestion: why doesn’t Kevin McLaughlin (and Kieran Allen for that matter) dust down their suits and put themselves forward to the electorate? Let’s see the theorists test their strategies against the ‘real’ world and see how they maintain their 100% correct record against actual activity?

Jolly Red Giant - January 28, 2013

Branno – you are more than a little off base here.

I have spent numerous elections working in Dublin North and the Socialist Party have provided the backbone of the election team in Dublin North for nearly 20 years. When Clare Daly left, she left on her own (with the two Greene brothers). As a result of the CAHWT there is a partial leafleting network in Dublin North and I am sure she will pick up a few more people to help along the way – but she has a lot of work to do replacing the support provided by the Socialist Party. I am sure the Dail salary and expenses will assist in this.

As for high moral ground – don’t talk nonsense. Clare Daly was a member of a political party and as such had a responsibility to represent the interests of that party. She also had a responsibility to raise any political differences she had within the Socialist Party (she was a member of the National Committee) – she did not. Furthermore she refused to engage in any discussion over her political support for Wallace despite the Socialist Party bending over backwards to accommodate her. Leaving was her decision – but she singularly failed in her responsibility as a member of the Socialist Party by doing so.

I was a close friend of both Joan Collins and Dermot Connolly for more than 20 years. As with Clare Daly, I was sad to see them leave the Socialist Party. Like Clare Daly, the both have shifted political positions since leaving the Socialist Party from support for building a left party based on a socialist programme to an attempt to build a parliamentary alliance with ‘progressive’ types. All three are good, honest working class fighters that I respect – I just don’t agree with them politically. I sincerely hope that they play a progressive role in developing the left in Ireland in the future and I hope that their continued political association with Wallace does not damage them when more skeletons come tumbling out of the closet (and I here there are a few rattling around in there).

20. richotto - January 27, 2013

Agree with you on the Joe Higgins point. Regardless of his attributes when on shows where people are familiar with the issues he has to answer specific questions and engage with fellow panellists or audience members, and not just delivering pre prepared public meeting type lines as he seems to be doing more these days.

21. Ordinary Worker - January 27, 2013

If there a ‘Bushwell’s 4′ group is formed I expect that almost none of the non-aligned will have anything to do with it. I do not agree that there are too few workers ‘drawing the necessary conclusions about political involvement’. More and more people are doing so. The real problem with the ULA is that so far we have failed to provide an appropriate environment for new class activists to fully develop their capacities – to collaborate, to analyse, to educate and to organise. We created the opposite: a left sectarian, undemocratic and bureaucratic environment in which political differences (those not conflicting with the basic programme) were transformed into major moral flaws, as if each was a potential deal-breaker. We repelled rather than attracted. The non-aligned members (including new activists) were condemned en masse because they did not all simultaneously view the same differences as deal-breakers. Where everone agrees no one is thinking. The SP cannot be blamed for this, but it is equally responsible, along with WUAG, the SWP and the non-aligned. The apparent commitment to ‘march separately, strike together’ was abandoned by each group at different times according to perceived advantage. The next problem is that so few appear capable of admitting their own mistakes.

WorldbyStorm - January 27, 2013

“The real problem with the ULA is that so far we have failed to provide an appropriate environment for new class activists to fully develop their capacities – to collaborate, to analyse, to educate and to organise. We created the opposite: a left sectarian, undemocratic and bureaucratic environment in which political differences (those not conflicting with the basic programme) were transformed into major moral flaws, as if each was a potential deal-breaker. ”

I wouldn’t necessarily agree with all that, but that point about major moral flaws is an interesting one.

LD - January 28, 2013

I agree with you that more and more people are “drawing the necessary conclusions about political involvement”, so does the Socialist Party. The issue for us now, having made an assessment of the ULA as it stands and its trajectory in the last few months in particular, is that it is more or less dead from the point of view of the building towards a new left party.

This is because of the damage that’s been done and the response to that damage by most of the forces involved, which is to ignore it. The only thing that potentially could have saved it was a large independent membership, which it doesn’t have.

Our analysis of why the ULA did not develop, is not that nothing couldn’t or shouldn’t have been done differently, many things could / should have been, but it’s highly unlikely, to say the least, that such things would have qualitatively transformed the situation that we have now.

Even if it’s true that the ULA was “a left sectarian, undemocratic and bureaucratic environment”. The fact remains that the numbers who got close enough to the ULA to find that out, which would have meant getting involved for some period, were not significant in themselves. That was the fundamental problem for the ULA.

So even before the ULA could have been described as you describe it, when it was just a new and fresh attempt to build a force on the left that included the main organisations on the left, very few people wanted to be part of it. This wasn’t because of any subjective failing on the part of the affiliates, it related fundamentally to mood and consciousness in society. We always maintained that it was a temporary mood and that it would change, and it is changing, but the ULA has also changed, unfortunately that’s been for the worse.

22. doctorfive - January 27, 2013

United Left Alliance
Press statement
January 27th 2013.

The United Left Alliance regrets the decision taken by Joe Higgins TD and the Socialist Party to leave the Alliance. We believe that they have made a serious mistake. The need for a new, broad and inclusive left, which will not on principle enter right wing governments with either Fine Gael or Fianna Fail is today more urgent than ever.

Faced with a massive attack on jobs, pay, pensions, working conditions, welfare payments and entitlements, health and education and other essential social services, working people need an independent and radical political movement which will seek to represent them, help organise them, and above all, fight on their behalf.

The ULA was formed with the intention to bring together existing left groups along with individual members to help lay the basis over time to enable a new party of the left to come into existence. It was inevitable that there would be difficulties in bringing together groups who have had a long period of independent activity and indeed rivalry.

We believe it is necessary to work to overcome such problems and to create the conditions in which the ULA can achieve its undoubted potential.

It is unfortunate that the Socialist Party feels it necessary to create or exaggerate political differences to justify their action in leaving the Alliance. In reality their decision reflects an inability to put the urgent task of building a broader movement to more effectively represent working people before the narrow interests of their own small grouping.

Richard Boyd Barrett TD. Clare Daly TD. Joan Collins TD.

revolutionaryprogramme - January 28, 2013

It is a bit unclear where these 3 get the authority to speak for the ULA – seems like all power to the TDs might still be the order of the day in what remains of the ULA.

Ordinary Worker - January 28, 2013

So this statement was put together without even running it by the non-aligned, not even you or EC?

Jolly Red Giant - January 28, 2013

One of the problems was that Clare Daly (in particular) and Joan Collins were actually going against decisions made and agreed at the Steering Committee

Ordinary Worker - January 28, 2013

Yes, that is certainly a problem.

revolutionaryprogramme - January 28, 2013

Not me – I’m checking with EC to see if he heard anything.

revolutionaryprogramme - January 28, 2013

EC was not involved – got told about it after it had gone out.

23. itsapoliticalworld - January 28, 2013

The problem with the Cawht campaign is nothing to do with whether people are or are not enraged with Government (they are, very much so) but that a small but significant socialist Party is putting all its eggs in this one anti-tax basket at the expense of other very important developments in the class struggle.

I agree that the Household Charge was less paid in lower income areas and I am quite sure that the main reason for this is that people are less able to pay. The regular Credit Union “what’s left” income and expenditure surveys shows that over half the population (and the numbers grow with each survey) have little or nothing left after basics are paid. I think the extent of non payment is much more to do with can’t pay, or can barely pay, than won’t pay. This is going to get a lot worse. We are in for a succession of further cutting budgets that are aimed at a permanent impoverishment of the working class and most of the middle class in accordance with what was voted for in the FST Referendum. It seems to me that the left needs urgently to organise to prevent evictions and defend peoples rights to housing, than to run an anti-property tax campaign. There is a long history in Ireland that would be tapped in to of resisting eviction.
The left also should organise to support squatting of suitable empty NAMAd property as there is an increasingly severe homelessness problem. These actions are practical and would bring people into a much more direct move towards socialism and to understanding of the need to organise on the basis of socialism.

The limitations of the CAWHT have diverted energy away from some of the most fertile grounds for organisation – young people, people in rented accommodation and social housing, much of the immigrant population, are outside the loop. CAWHT’s base is mainly male, and middle aged or older, and a good bit of it rural and politically conservative with a small c. That will inevitably feed back into the perceptions and consciousness of SP activists working in the campaign. It is a turn away from the organised working class who are left with a decrepit and discredited leech leadership that was pretty well booed off the stage over a year ago, but which for some reason is being left to roost.

In the last year too tens of thousands of people have marched in protests against health service closures. Many of these marches have been of the old school “keep it in my back yard” type, but the content of that is changing as Dublin hospitals are now being told not to treat culchies, and travel is prohibitive and lives have been and will be lost in travelling. Jobs, and facilities, need to be defended.

The Ballyhea movement is significant – again rural based and politically ambivalent has it has given a platform to far right elements like Ganley who is a dangerou populist determined to make another showing in politics. Ballyhea people deserve better but seem to have been left aside by the Left. People have illusions, fostered by Ganley, Gurdgiev, Ross and co, that Ireland’s problems can be solved by an easy default. These illustions need to be contested by the Left and the hypocrisy of those people exposed.

The public response to the abortion issue is also highly significant politically, in that it shows that the stranglehold of the Church on politics in Ireland has been broken.

And before anyone starts waving Clare Daly and Mick Wallace at me – just don’t as I don’t support their politics or the practice of walking from a party without taking one’s position to leadership and to the membership.

There is not all the time in the world. Anyone watching Greece or Egypt can see the extreme dangers that will ensure from mistakes in what we do now and too much time has been lost already.

I have written at length about the ULA over on http://www.politicalworld.org so I won’t repeat myself here. Said enough at this stage.

Ordinary Worker - January 28, 2013

If the cat had kittens the problem would be traced back to political connections with Mick Wallace.

What thread on politicalworld.org?

D_D - January 29, 2013

Part of the Socialist Party’s departure statement runs:

“Last summer sections of the media consciously used Mick Wallace’s tax evasion and Clare Daly’s close political connection to him to attack the Left. This damaged the Socialist Party and the ULA’s standing as principled Left organisations.

…In this instance, the fact that the Socialist Party was prepared to lose a TD rather than compromise on an important principle meant that we overcame that damage and gained considerable credit among working class people in particular, who strongly disapprove of Mick Wallace’s actions.

Unfortunately Clare Daly and another ULA TD, Joan Collins, intensified this political connection with Mick Wallace. …

Just as damning for the future of the ULA as these actions, was the fact that none of the other groups in the alliance, the People Before Profit Alliance, the Independent / Non-aligned Group nor significantly, the Socialist Workers Party, opposed this approach of supposedly being committed to a left project but in practice contradicting that by organising a political alliance with others in the Dáil Technical Group who couldn’t at all be characterised as on the Left.”

[end of quote]

This starched-collar pomposity has in itself barely a leg to stand on. An officer in the novel ‘Dr. Zhivago’ attempts to rally the mutinous troops by hopping up on a barrel to address them. The lid collapses and he lands in the water. He loses all credibility and a soldier shoots him. The concern about the toxicity of Wallace and the absolute need for the left and the ULA to put clear blue water between them and Wallace loses all credibility by the invitation of the Socialist Party to ten-times-more-toxic Tommy Sheridan to grace the speakers’ platform (three times, including a speech on the media, lol) at their counter summit in Dublin in February: http://countersummit.eu/ [Shoulda been a ULA event!]

The day Tommy Sheridan began his appearance in Celebrity Big Brother (2009) the CWI section of Solidarity [the Socialist Party is affiliated to the CWI; Solidarity is Sheridan's organisation] issued a statement saying: “We believe that Tommy’s decision to take part in CBB is a mistake that will damage his standing”. The programme, it said, sought “to denigrate and humiliate those who took part” [The show was produced by Endemol. In 2007 Silvio Berlusconi had led a buy-out of Endemol.]

Alan McCombes comments in ‘Downfall: the Tommy Sheridan Story’ (2011), p.276:

“They had no problem with Tommy cavorting around swingers’ clubs while using his wife as a political accessory. They had no problem with him patronising commercial sex clubs while legislating in Parliament on lap-dancing and prostitution. Then they cheered him like excited schoolchildren when he took out a high-profile court case to deny his behaviour. They applauded his skills as a liar and condemned those who refused to join in the game. They raised not a murmur of dissent when he falsely denounced his own party leadership as scabs, perjurers, forgers and plotters. They aided and abetted him when he split the most successful socialist unity project in Europe. But now he really had damaged the socialist movement…”

Big Brother was as excruciating as you would expect. In ‘the house’ Tommy befriended the rapper Coolio while “Anti-bullying charities condemned his [Coolio’s] lewd behaviour and offensive language to some of the women on the show” (p.277). Tommy Sheridan gave the Daily Record his exclusive inside story of ‘the house’, saying “Coolio was head and shoulders above everyone else” (p.279).

Ordinary Worker - January 29, 2013

I don’t have a problem with the SP sharing a platform with Sheridan, nor did I have a problem with the SP sharing a platform with Sinn Fein when opposing the austerity treaty. I did not have a problem with the SP loosely associating with Mick Wallace at the early stages of opposition to the household charge. I only started to object when new standards were arbitrarily imposed on others – standards that are not adhered to by the SP. I may be wrong. Perhaps sharing platforms with right-wing former terrorists, and former big brother contestants that spend their time falling in and out of brothels is actually superior to sharing a platform with tax dodgers and pot smokers. We should leave all associated gossip and moralizing for the Joe Duffy show. Paul Murphy’s initiative is a welcome step forward as far as I am concerned. I would prefer a broader left platform, but when Murphy and the SP make efforts that are positive I think we have to support them –  I think that everyone on the left should support what they are doing. We do not have to turn Sheridan into Satan in order to recognize the hypocrisy of the SP with respect to the Daly/Collins shenanigans.

pat - January 29, 2013

Exactly which standards does the Socialist Party not adhere to?

Having a debate with someone or some party, is not an endorsement of that person or party’s politics. Neither is it an endorsement of a person or party to be in the same broad campaign (like the CAHWT or the CAAT) as them, necessarily. Ideally such situations wouldn’t arise, but sometimes they do.

In relation to Mick Wallace and the Socialist Party. He was also a member of the CAHWT, until the campaign took the correct and democratic decision to disassociate itself from him – which Daly and Collin’s were in a tiny minority in opposing. Shamefully.

Their ongoing political connection to Wallace is a completely different thing altogether. They’ve gone out of their way to try to rehabilitate Wallace (the corrupt property developer. Yes, a much worse thing than someone who has gone to swingers parties) which is a bizarre thing for left-wing representatives to do in itself, but it’s even worse that they’ve done it at the expense of the organisation they are apart of – the ULA.

So you are either being disingenuous or extremely naive, but there has been no hypocrisy on the part of the Socialist Party.

As for D_D, who talks about the Socialist Party’s “pomposity”, and without a hint of irony goes on to make a bad reference to the novel ‘Dr. Zhivago’; the fact that he can’t see that Sheridan, despite all his many faults, has been a working class fighter for over two decades and that McCombes is nothing less than a scab – it’s not surprising that he can’t tell the difference between Wallace and Sheridan. Although it does say something about his poor political judgement.

Ed - January 29, 2013

“Yes, a much worse thing than someone who has gone to swingers parties.”

Hang on a sec, was that not meant to be all lies, a ‘smear campaign’ by the NOTW? Or has that argument been given a decent burial now?

pat - January 29, 2013

Well I can’t speak for Tommy Sheridan, but more or less yeah.

Still he’s not the only person on the left to have told and stood over outright porkies in public.

Brian D - January 29, 2013

like “it was only a hot whiskey” !

WorldbyStorm - January 29, 2013

Inviting someone to your own debate seems to me to be of a different quality to participating in a debate through the offices of a third party. I’m not sure it’s hypocritical, but it does seem a bit open to question.

Re the left and ‘porkies’, that’s all very well, but if – by way of an hypothetical example – those porkies appear designed to protect an individual over an organisation then that seems a lot less like a leftist approach and a lot more like an opportunistic individualist one and are nothing to be waved away.

Jolly Red Giant - January 29, 2013

WbS – you cannot have a debate with people you agree with – you have a debate with people you don’t agree with.

The event organised by Paul Murphy is an attempt to open up debate and discussion on the alternatives to austerity and the pro-neo-liberal agenda of the ruling class.

As for Sheridan telling porkies – the people who is has been proven told porkies in the Sheridan case are elements within the SSP and the NOTW witnesses. Sheridan’s perjury conviction was based on proven false testomy from witness for the NOTW and from SSP members who admitted they lied in an attempt to damage Sheridan during the original libel trial. Sheridan’s conviction is unsound and should be immediately overturned – and the final curtain on this matter is still some time away.

WorldbyStorm - January 29, 2013

I’m not sure that’s true JRG about only having debates with people you disagree with. There are differences – as this thread itself proves – between people with very similar approaches.

In any case, are you seriously suggesting that there’s going to be an enormous gulf between any of the speakers on that particular bill – in political terms, at least as they want to project their political approach? There’s no one there who from my scanning of the names, for example, agrees with austerity.

I’m not really interested in what Sheridan did or didn’t do. My point was a response to Pat’s where he seemed to imply that a) Sheridan had told porkies and b) that that was fine and part and parcel of leftwing rhetorical approaches. I find the former an interesting approach (and as it happens in direct contradiction to your view expressed here) and the latter bad politics.

Ordinary Worker - January 29, 2013

@ Pat – it appears that I can only fit into one of three categories: those agreeing with the SP on every detail; the disingenuous; or, the naïve.

I don’t think I am being disingenuous. I really do try my best to be as sincere as I can in these discussions. You will just have to accept that I just don’t see as much evidence of real political connections with Wallace or Ming as you do. I did read all of the SP articles and statements – including the one that mentions Mick Wallace 47 times (which is unhealthy in itself). I am still not convinced that Wallace is very important, or even that Wallace is the issue. Paranoia and sectarianism appear to pose far greater obstacles at the present time than occasional cooperation of leftists with our most comical TDs. I do see problems with Daly and Collins in terms of accountability, but perhaps you are right, I might be naïve to have any faith in them at all.

Jolly Red Giant - January 29, 2013

WbS – even among the left (indeed especially among the left) there is intense debate and while I may have a lot in common with members of other left organisations and left independents – I have serious and fundemental differences with them as well.

And while all the speakersmay oppose austerity – there will be fundemental differences in how to fight it, which is the purpose of the conference.

As for Sheridan – I have not idea if Sheridan told lies – the point I was making is that the only people who have been proven to have told lies in this episode are the members of the SSP who gave evidence against him and the NOTW witnesses – his conviction is unsound and should be overturned.

Ed - January 29, 2013

Apparently it was too much to hope for that decent burial … oh well.

pat - January 30, 2013

WbS,

I certainly don’t think that telling porkies is ‘part and parcel of left-wing rhetorical approaches’, nor do I think that it’s ok that Tommy Sheridan told lies (I think he probably did). I’m quite proud of the fact that the Socialist Party can stand on its record of honesty and integrity, likewise our public reps. I think Sheridan has made many bad mistakes, embarrassing ones, but nothing that’s totally undone the good work he did over many years. Compared to some in the SSP, he’s a shining light.

OW,

No, you don’t have to agree with the Socialist Party on every detail, but if you’re going to say that we are hypocrites then you need back that up with evidence of something that we’ve said or done that’s hypocritical, or show me what standards we expect from others that we don’t adhere to ourselves.

I don’t think you can, so either you were making a disingenuous comment or you don’t understand the difference between having nothing to do with Wallace and promoting him at every opportunity.

Was it not for the rest of the ULA burying their heads in the sand re the ongoing political connection (which was clear to everyone not in the ULA) we wouldn’t have had to mention Wallace at all, unfortunately when your dealing with people who are in denial you have to state things very very clearly, again and again. But you’re right, Wallace isn’t very important and he isn’t really the issue, the ULA TDs who are moving away from a principled left position are.

revolutionaryprogramme - January 30, 2013

People should also remember that this is the same Sheridan who denounced those who fought back against the police on the 31 March 1990 anti-poll tax protest and threatened to ‘name names’ – that is to collaborate with the capitalist state in their repression.

WorldbyStorm - January 30, 2013

@pat

I’m not trying to get on your case, and that’s fair enough about the SP, but surely you see the problem in giving a pass to others who do – by your own admission in your opinion – tell porkies. It’s a basic problem. Once one person does it and it’s okay, then where is the line drawn? Going back to the hypothetical an individual who told porkies initially seems to me have been way askew of where a leftist should be, a simple analysis of causality would suggest where the blame primarily was located.

JRG, you miss the point. As I noted before, I’ve not been looking for yours or my opinion on Sheridan.

As to the debate issue, surely you’re now proving my initial point.

Jolly Red Giant - January 30, 2013

RP – you comment about Sheridan and the Poll Tax Riot is crass stupidity and typical of an ultra left sectarian then and now.

Jolly Red Giant - January 30, 2013

WbS – what a lefty does in their private life is their own business and they can tell all the porkies they want about it – I tell little white ones all the time. Whatever Sheridan’s political views are, there is zero evidence that he has ever told lies in a politcal context – unlike those in the SSP who gave evidence against Sheridan and for the state and the NOTW.

And I would suggest that the debate here actually proves my point – but I’ll let you claim it if you want.

revolutionaryprogramme - January 30, 2013

JRG – so you dispute that he did this? I wasn’t in Britain at the time but It was apparently on national tv and has been widely reported.

Or do you think that he was correct to offer to collaborate with the capitalist state in their repression of anti-poll tax activists?

revolutionaryprogramme - January 30, 2013

As regards the court case against Sheridan I would largely concur with JRG’s view of this.

Jolly Red Giant - January 30, 2013

RP – the claim that Sheridan threatened to shop the roits to the cops is an urban myth created by ultra left sectarians who hung around the fringes of the anti-poll tax campaign.

Prior to the demonstration the All-Britain Anti-Poll Tax Federation took a democratic decision that the focus of the demonstration was to be a peaceful mass mobilisation of the working class as part of a strategy to force the Tories into a climbdown.

On the morning of the demonstration when 250,000 people assembled in London a vote of all those in attendance unanimously backed a resolution that the demonstration would be a peaceful mass demonstration to highlight the injustices of the poll tax and to demand it be withdrawn.

The primary responsibility for the riot lies with the British state and it was their intent to attempt to provoke a riot in order to retaliate and to use it for propaganda against the anti-poll tax campaign. Those who engaged in the riot facilitated the state in its actions and motivations.

Furthermore and more importantly – those who engaged in the riot went against the democratically expressed wishes of the overwhelming majority of those on the demonstration and against the democratic decision of the campaign. Their attitude was – ‘we don’t give a sh*t about workers democracy, we are going to do what we want because we are right and youse are all stupid’.

Sheridan and Nally said afterwards that the anti-poll tax campaign would investigate the riot and hold those responsible accountable to the democratic processes of the campaign. Over the following weeks meetings were held in London where the rioters were questioned on their motivations for rioting, where the membership of the campaign told them in no uncertain terms that they were wrong and they were not wanted in the campaign and they were booted out of it. This is what Sheridan and Nally indicated would happen after the riot. Not one sinlge name was ever shopped to the cops – yet every individual involved who dared to turn up at a campaign meeting to defend their actions were dealt with in a proper and democratic fashion by the members of the campaign.

Now – stick that in your pipe and stop peddling this ultra-left sectarian urban myth.

revolutionaryprogramme - January 30, 2013

So I’ve done a bit of research and most of the references do seem to fall under the “urban myth” category, or at least are repetitions of something that “everyone knows” without quoting the source material.

It would seem that the real sources are as follows:

“We are going to hold our own internal inquiry which will go public and if necessary name names”
Steve Nally (a different Militant member), ITN interview, 1 April 1990

“Our Federation is going to be conducting an internal inquiry to try to root out the trouble-makers.”
Tommy Sheridan, LWT News interview, 1 April 1990.

There is also Sheridan’s public condemnation of those who fought back against the police attack on the demonstration – see Sheridan in a tv interview at 0:42 in the following piece by Class War – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDlqF6AE6dk.

While not necessarily endorsing anything Class War argue in this video, and the other two parts of their documentary on the 31 March protest/riot, it does seem pretty clear from the footage of the protest/riot that it involved far more than just the small minority of 200-250 Sheridan claimed in that interview.

It is also clear that Steve Nally (not Tommy Sheridan) did publicly threaten to grass on those deemed to be trouble-makers as that is clearly the only way his comment to go public and name names could be interpreted.

Jolly Red Giant - January 30, 2013

Both ‘quotes’ you give are edited quotes from tv interviews after the riot – both Nally and Sheridan outlined that the campaign would carryout its own investigation and ‘name names’ within the context of the campaign – this happened at numerous campaign meetings for individuals who failed to turn up and defend their action. And it wasn’t the Militant who demanded this happen – it was the ordinary non-aligned members of the campaign who were absolutely hopping that the rioters had usurped the demonstration to further their own agenda.

Furthermore the campaign defended those who got caught up in the riot (including members of Militant) and had to defend themselves from police attacks and the campaign provided legal assistance to those same people when some were taken to court.

On all occasions – including the interviews quoted – the leaders of the campaign first and foremost pointed the finger of blame for the riot fairly and squarely at the police and the Tory government

As for the Class War video – like the mainstream news reports – it is edited to suit their agenda (The daft claim by Andy Murphy that Class War never planned anything demonstrates the nonsense of individuals like this – members of Class War admitted at cmapaign meetings that they had planned it – including the fact that they do not accept the democratic decisions of a mass movement of working class people and were just intent on doing what THEY wanted) and agenda so off the mark that they actually claimed the riot they instigated ‘helped’ the campaign – it did in its rear end – instead of the focus being on the Tories with 250,000 on the streets and momentum behind the campaign to force a climbdown – all the media reported was the riot and it was a propaganda boost for Thatcher and the Tories at the height of the campaign. Fortunately the campaign was much stronger than any attempt to undermine it by tory propaganda (and the propaganda of the likes of Class War).

revolutionaryprogramme - January 30, 2013

Well that is not quite what Nally is quoted as saying but it seems it stayed at the level of implied threat and that no names were ever made public and it was all kept within the campaign.

Jolly Red Giant - January 30, 2013

As I said already – both the Nally and the Sheridan interviews were edited and purposely edited in such a way that it might leave it open to a different interpretation. However, the intent was clear – the campaign would deal with those who went against the expressed democratic wishes of those involved in the campaign and demonstration. The only people who placed a different interpretation on it were Class War and other left groupings who attempted to use it as a sectarian baseball bat against the Militant. It was utter rubbish – it was a created urban myth – and it was something that was utterly ignored by practically every one of the millions of members of the anti-poll tax unions around Britain.

WorldbyStorm - January 30, 2013

JRG, I’m not sure that I as someone with no axe to grind in this matter would take your interpretation of those statements as read. The timeline with which you’ve responded to RP is disappointing, from your initial totally dismissive and insulting comment about ‘crass stupidity’ to your response once he actually did some digging and discovered that both Sheridan and Nally had publicly made comments that, at the least, were dubious, then you respond about ‘misinterpretations’ and then attack those who made them.

I don’t know, even taking into account the fact Class War would have their own bias those statements seem to me to be problematic. Even your account of what happens is likewise.

And it’s interesting how your argument oscillates between blaming the police for ‘primary responsibility’ and blaming Class War et al for ‘instigating it’. Were some of those ready for trouble? No doubt, but the cause and effect relationship is key. Even to label them ‘trouble-makers’ is problematic.

But I know from first hand accounts – including my partner who was there throughout and experienced as a protester dismal actions – that there was provocation and worse by the police that day – and it seems far too easy then to simply talk about ‘those who engaged in the riot’ when that didn’t occur in a vacuum.

Finally, you’re incorrect about it being a propaganda boost for Thatcher and the Tories. Outside the usual suspects the general feeling was that it was a watershed for her administration and a moments consideration of the political situation subsequent demonstrates that. Throughout the rest of 1990 the Tories were way behind Labour in the polls. She was gone as leader not eight months later. Moreover it killed the poll tax in that form stone dead as a viable piece of public policy.

Jolly Red Giant - January 30, 2013

Sorry WbS – but forgive me if I don’t accept your ‘no axe to grind’ comment at face value. The statement made by RP was ‘crass stupidity’ because it was not based on fact but an urban myth dreamed up by Class War and ultra-left sectarians in Britain including the sparts and spartoid groups – none of whom played any role in the campaign against the poll tax and all of whom wailed from the sidelines at the treacherous role of the Militant (which they had been doing for two years at that stage)

I am not interpreting the statements made by Sheridan and Nally – I know exactly what both of them said and I know the full content of it – not the edited version. The digging that RP did was to find the urban myth created by the ultra left – not research into what actually was said and what happened.

I will repeat it again – the primary responsibility for the riot lay with the state forces and the Tory government. They planned to use the demonstration to instigate a riot in an attempt to 1) undermine the campaign and 2) give members of the campaign a battering on the streets. The cops had arranged to use South Africa House as their base and were prepared to engage in a riot. The actions of Class War gave them the excuse they needed. Even without this the cops could and probably would have provoked a riot (undoubtedly they had agent provocateurs in the crowd) – however Class War handed them their excuse on a plate and undermined the ability of the stewards to resist the police attacks on the demonstration by their actions (Class War picked a point on the demonstration that had few stewards to start the riot).

I am not incorrect in it being a propaganda boost for Thatcher and the Tories – for weeks after the demo all that appeared in the media was stories about the rioting poll tax troublemakers. For weeks after the event members of the Militant and other activists in the poll tax unions had to patiently explain what had happened and what the consequences were. It was the sheer hard work on behalf of the activists that ensured the damage done by Class War was kept to an absolute minimum. Furthermore it was not because of that demonstration that Thatcher’s popularity went into a slid – it was because of a two year long, extremely effective and very well organised campaign of working class opposition to the poll tax that cause Thatcher to be dumped by the Tories.

Last point – right throughout the anti- poll tax campaign members of the Militant were on the frontline confronting the cops. In demonstrations all over the UK Militant members and other activists stewarded the protests and prevented police assaults on protestors. During the entire existence of the poll tax not a single warrant sale was carried out – although thousands were attempted. They were resisted because members of the Militant and other activists physically prevented seizures of goods taking place. When confronted by the cops the activists simply stated ‘we will stop you, by physical force if necessary, and if you go off and get more cops, we will go off and get more activists to stop you’. When confrontations did take place the cops were physically prevented from carrying out their orders (Sheridan was arrested and jailed following one such action in Glasgow) – and guess what – on every single stand taken against a warrant sale there was not one single member of Class War or any other ultra-left standing with the working class people resisting the state – they were no where to be seen.

Jolly Red Giant - January 30, 2013

Link to a book by the Socialist Party on the anti-poll tax campaign – there is a chapter on the riot and what actually happened on the day.

http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/polltax/index.html

WorldbyStorm - January 30, 2013

Sorry WbS – but forgive me if I don’t accept your ‘no axe to grind’ comment at face value. The statement made by RP was ‘crass stupidity’ because it was not based on fact but an urban myth dreamed up by Class War and ultra-left sectarians in Britain including the sparts and spartoid groups – none of whom played any role in the campaign against the poll tax and all of whom wailed from the sidelines at the treacherous role of the Militant (which they had been doing for two years at that stage)

What axe could I possibly have? I’ve no inclination to do down Militant, or indeed the SP – quite the opposite, in general I think they both had in the general and specific approaches which are marked by their sanity and I’d argue honesty. But nor am I blinded by partisan blinkers and I certainly don’t have a party line to follow. You by contrast do consciously or unconsciously. That’s fine, but you’ve got to accept that there’s absolutely no reason why I or anyone else should take what you say as the final word on any topic at all.
Indeed this approach you have of your being right and everyone else being wrong, and worse still that the former allows you to treat others insultingly is not good.

I am not interpreting the statements made by Sheridan and Nally – I know exactly what both of them said and I know the full content of it – not the edited version. The digging that RP did was to find the urban myth created by the ultra left – not research into what actually was said and what happened.

I’m sorry but I am as able as the next person to see what statements are made and read them and there’s little question in my mind that there were problematic aspects to them – and for a start the condemnation of those rioting. You don’t have to accept that, but neither do you have the right, as noted above, to assume your interpretation is the last word. Not least because you would have a partisan reason to believe them above and beyond anyone else.

I will repeat it again – the primary responsibility for the riot lay with the state forces and the Tory government. They planned to use the demonstration to instigate a riot in an attempt to 1) undermine the campaign and 2) give members of the campaign a battering on the streets. The cops had arranged to use South Africa House as their base and were prepared to engage in a riot. The actions of Class War gave them the excuse they needed. Even without this the cops could and probably would have provoked a riot (undoubtedly they had agent provocateurs in the crowd) – however Class War handed them their excuse on a plate and undermined the ability of the stewards to resist the police attacks on the demonstration by their actions (Class War picked a point on the demonstration that had few stewards to start the riot).

Your read of this is simply incorrect. it wasn’t the police responding to Class War and others, it was the marchers, or elements of them, responding to police provocation. The violence from elements in the crowd was a response – and in many respects an understandable one – to an intolerable approach by the police. Later it clearly got well out of hand, but then so did the police response to the initial flare up of violence.
I worry consdierably about the way you fixate on Class War. They were far from the only elements there who responded to police provocations. I know from eyewitness experience that the policing was designed to provoke a response, indeed only by forcible responses were people able to move on from areas that the police were kettling (though the term wasn’t used at the time). There’s no doubt that some took advantage of that, but the reality is that the police – to be frank – started it.
Furthermore the police report released two years later accepted that there was no evidence of anarchist orchestration of the riot. If they can I can’t understand why you can’t.

I am not incorrect in it being a propaganda boost for Thatcher and the Tories – for weeks after the demo all that appeared in the media was stories about the rioting poll tax troublemakers. For weeks after the event members of the Militant and other activists in the poll tax unions had to patiently explain what had happened and what the consequences were. It was the sheer hard work on behalf of the activists that ensured the damage done by Class War was kept to an absolute minimum. Furthermore it was not because of that demonstration that Thatcher’s popularity went into a slid – it was because of a two year long, extremely effective and very well organised campaign of working class opposition to the poll tax that cause Thatcher to be dumped by the Tories.

You’re simply wrong about the propaganda boost. I was in London myself very shortly afterwards to live. I spoke and know many who were there during the period. To suggest it was a propaganda boost is nonsense and I don’t know where you’re plucking this out of. Again you point to Class War, but no one gave a fiddlers about Class War even if they knew they had been involved, which most didn’t.
You’re also wrong about the effect of that demonstration. I’ve no quibble with you that the broader campaign was hugely important, not least in bringing 000’s of thousands into London that day and in earlier marches. But it was a key event because it was so atypical, not merely marching but actual civil disorder on a significant scale. I think it is both partisan and perverse to argue otherwise and the general historical consensus is that it was of considerable influence.

Last point – right throughout the anti- poll tax campaign members of the Militant were on the frontline confronting the cops. In demonstrations all over the UK Militant members and other activists stewarded the protests and prevented police assaults on protestors. During the entire existence of the poll tax not a single warrant sale was carried out – although thousands were attempted. They were resisted because members of the Militant and other activists physically prevented seizures of goods taking place. When confronted by the cops the activists simply stated ‘we will stop you, by physical force if necessary, and if you go off and get more cops, we will go off and get more activists to stop you’. When confrontations did take place the cops were physically prevented from carrying out their orders (Sheridan was arrested and jailed following one such action in Glasgow) – and guess what – on every single stand taken against a warrant sale there was not one single member of Class War or any other ultra-left standing with the working class people resisting the state – they were no where to be seen.

I couldn’t care less about your differences with Class War. Or indeed vice versa. Entirely irrelevant to me. But I tend to think that it’s very bad politics to have a rhetorical approach of bad mouthing everyone but the formations with which one is linked or supports. It’s also, and I don’t wish to be meanspirited here, deeply unconvincing if you’re attempting to convince me of your bona fides as a reliable analyst of these events.

Jolly Red Giant - January 31, 2013

You state “I’m sorry but I am as able as the next person to see what statements are made and read them and there’s little question in my mind that there were problematic aspects to them – and for a start the condemnation of those rioting.”

Two problems here – you weren’t able to see what statements were made – you were able to see what statements were edited and broadcast. The Militant published a statement the following day outlining the real position. Secondly – neither Sheridan nor Nally condemned those who rioted, they condemned those who instigated the riot. So my position is based on what was actually said – not what was broadcast by the mainstream media.

You state “Your read of this is simply incorrect. it wasn’t the police responding to Class War and others, it was the marchers, or elements of them, responding to police provocation.”

I have outlined who bore the primary responsibility for the rioting on the day – the police and the Tory government. However, the role of Class War cannot simply be ignored. They staged a sitdown protest and encouraged others to do likewise. When the stewards organised meetings of those in the sit down protest, those in attandance voted to continue on the demonstration. This happened repeatedly as members of Class War repeatedly attempted to get people involved in their sit down protest. When Class War were making no progress on this and the stewards re-routed the march away from the sit down protests, they started shouting that the stewards were police agents. The started throwing objects shouting ‘get the stewards first’ – several of the stewards were injured by the anarchists before the polcie ever attacked. They then started throwing police railings and other objects in the direction of the police but they landed on the protestors in front of them. It was then that the polcie attacked and used this ‘disturbance’ to drive into the crowd in Traflagar Square and start a full-sclae riot.

I am not fixated by Class War – they were a tiny group with no influence anywhere – however, with the help of some other ultra-lefts standing on the sidelines they help to create and perpetrate this urban myth about the Militant and the Poll Tax riot. As for the propaganda – I was in London too – and I made the point that while it initially was a boost for the Tories, the hard work of activists quickly counteracted any negative effects of the Tory porpaganda particularly in areas outside London. I attended a meeting of 600 people in Hereford the week after the riot and at the start of the meeting practically everyone in attendance was demanding the local union disaffiliate from the national federation – by the end of the meeting three hours later they voted to unanimously remain as a part of the campaign.

There are repeatedly times over the past 20 years that this urban myth crops up – usually from someone who has recently joined one of the ultra-left grouplets and think they have ‘discovered’ something about the ‘treachery’ of the Militant – and occasionally we have to respond. RP did it here and I responded. You can dress it up what ever way you want – but I will 100% defend the actions of the leaders of the campaign on that day – and give 100% respect for the tremendous job that the members of the Militant in the UK did during this period when they built a movement that defeated the poll tax and brought down Thatcher – when everyone else on the left were attacking us for our efforts.

WorldbyStorm - January 31, 2013

You state “I’m sorry but I am as able as the next person to see what statements are made and read them and there’s little question in my mind that there were problematic aspects to them – and for a start the condemnation of those rioting.”
Two problems here – you weren’t able to see what statements were made – you were able to see what statements were edited and broadcast. The Militant published a statement the following day outlining the real position. Secondly – neither Sheridan nor Nally condemned those who rioted, they condemned those who instigated the riot. So my position is based on what was actually said – not what was broadcast by the mainstream media.

Let’s be clear, they certainly did unequivocally condemn the rioters. Trying to finesse it in the way you do is pointless. And given the events of the day condemning the rioters was at the very least missing the point and arguably playing right into the hands of the state.
Speaking of which:

You state “Your read of this is simply incorrect. it wasn’t the police responding to Class War and others, it was the marchers, or elements of them, responding to police provocation.”
I have outlined who bore the primary responsibility for the rioting on the day – the police and the Tory government. However, the role of Class War cannot simply be ignored. They staged a sitdown protest and encouraged others to do likewise. When the stewards organised meetings of those in the sit down protest, those in attandance voted to continue on the demonstration. This happened repeatedly as members of Class War repeatedly attempted to get people involved in their sit down protest. When Class War were making no progress on this and the stewards re-routed the march away from the sit down protests, they started shouting that the stewards were police agents. The started throwing objects shouting ‘get the stewards first’ – several of the stewards were injured by the anarchists before the polcie ever attacked. They then started throwing police railings and other objects in the direction of the police but they landed on the protestors in front of them. It was then that the polcie attacked and used this ‘disturbance’ to drive into the crowd in Traflagar Square and start a full-sclae riot.

Wait a second. A sit-down protest is now instigating a riot? Or is an excuse for the police to act as they did? Come on, you’ll have to do better than that.
As to your contention that Class War attacked first – I’ve mentioned before that you’ve a real thing about CW, but truth is I’ve already noted that I have it on first hand account from people who had nothing at all to do with Class War that there were provocations (including the arrest of a protester in a wheel chair and the use of snatch squads) and a police horse mounted baton charge before there was any response at all from the crowd, or sections of it (by the way, any thoughts about the lack of police identification numbers on the day and what that implied?). Many far beyond Class War agree on this picture.
As I said earlier, I need only go four or five feet from where I sit to get a first hand eyewitness account of the days events. I can email or lift the phone to talk to two friends who were likewise in the Sq. I can email acquaintances who were also on the marches.
But you know, I don’t even have to move from this computer to find a completely different analysis and one which takes the blame away from Class War – or any other organised group of anarchists or others – for instigating or initiating these events. I need only go to here.

http://www.socialismtoday.org/137/demo.html

A long piece from UK Militant/SP itself from after the riots which offers the following:

…a handful of people did go on the demonstration with the sole intent of provoking a confrontation – including the authors of Poll Tax Riot [perhaps so, entertainingly it appears at least one of the authors was an SB infiltrator of anarchist circles - wbs].

And:

The reality was explained by Militant immediately after the events. If there had been any organising taking place then it was by the senior ranks of the police. It was “the use of police horses, the driving of vehicles at 50 miles per hour into the crowd, the lashing out by riot squads at innocent and peaceful demonstrators, (which) absolutely infuriated a section of the demonstration, particularly the youth”. (Militant, 6 April, 1990) Many youth risked life and limb to hit back at the police attack on the demonstration. There was nothing consciously planned by these youth, however, to ‘organise’ a riot. Indeed, that is in the very nature of a riot. Far from being a conscious act, it is a cry of despair and frustration.

I like the ‘explained’ but that aside, given that this is precisely the line I am taking I think it’s a bit much of you to criticise me, tell me I have an axe to grind, etc when my analysis dovetails perfectly with the Militant line at the time.

If that’s not enough, what of this, again from Militant, a doc written a year after the riots. http://www.socialismtoday.org/137/demo.html

Evidence on and after the demonstration makes it clear that plans were laid down in advance by senior police officers to sabotage the demonstration, and to enable punitive action to be taken against the leaders of the anti-poll tax movement in the aftermath. Agreements previously made between the Federation and the police were broken. Coach dropping off points were changed for no reason, so that stewards from the regions could not reach the main stewards’ point and as a result received no instructions on the day. The police disregarded guidelines laid down with the Federation that stewards would deal with sit-down protests. Instead the police waded in, using one such protest as a pretext to attack the demonstration. This provided the spark to the initial fighting, which then escalated, undoubtedly to the surprise of the police, into serious clashes and then a full-scale riot.

As for your risible contention about Tory propaganda boosts. This again from Militant:

But the attempt by the Tories to disorientate the movement through provoking a ‘riot’ situation backfired. A poll sponsored by The Sunday Correspondent, (8 April, 1990) showed that three times as many people blamed the Tories than blamed the Labour Party for the riot. Too many people had been touched by the campaign: the Tories’ attempts to create a red scare failed. The mass non-payment campaign, lifted by the scale of the magnificent demonstration, went on from strength to strength. It was the inability of Thatcher to successfully impose the poll tax on the working class, because of the organised campaign, which was overwhelmingly responsible for her removal as prime minister.

Nothing I haven’t been saying from the off.
Bottom line, as Branno noted further down the line, Militant called it wrong, thought there was going to be a massive backlash against the rioters. When that didn’t manifest itself their statements which were already problematic seemed positively strange. I’ve already credited Militant with excellent work in generating the context within which the poll tax marches and riots were the tipping point but there’s no shame, again as Branno says, in admitting that calling it that way was wrong (btw, often forgotten is that at the precursor marches there was violence as with the one that went through Hackney only shortly before).

Of course, if you wish to rewrite the history in order to paint Class War or others in a worse light than the police simply for the sake of this discussion by all means feel free to do so but don’t expect others to take it seriously.

Jolly Red Giant - January 31, 2013

WbS – I have no intention of going around in circles with you on this one.

I have stated repeatedly that the primary responsibility for the riot lay with the state forces and the tory government. I have also stated that the state forces consciously planned to engage in a riot.

The condemnation was of the 150-200 people who were organised around the Class War bloc and some ultra-lefts who egged them on. They did not ‘respond’ to police provocations – they attempted to povoke the cops (and they were infiltrated by the cops whose job it was to create a pretext for the assault by the cops). They attempted to build up their numbers by trying to get large numbers of demonstrators to engage in a sit down protest – when the stewards held on the spot meetings and explained the strategy of the campaign the meetings voted not to continue the sit down protests. This happened on several occasions and the 200 or so involved, frustrated that their plans of building up numbers before having a go at the police, began attacking the stewards and then began throwing stuff around the area hitting protestors near the police lines – the cops used this as the pretext for attacking the protest.

Now – I will repeat this one last time – no one from Militant stated that they were going to shop the rioters to the cops – no one from Militant stated that they condemned the people who were caught up in the police attacks and were forced to defend themselves against attacks by the police. The only people condemned were those elements that consciously went against the democratic wishes of the campaign and the demonstrators and engaged in their own ultra left agenda. Furthermore members of the Militant stood in the frontline to defend the demonstration from attacks by the police – including some members of the Militant from Ireland who played a very courageous role during the riot in marshalling a line of stewards that prevented a police cavalry charge into the protest and pushed them back repeatedly during the riot.

Now I am not and never have dismissed the importance of the London demonstration (and the huge demonstration of 50,000 in Glasgow earlier the same day) – what I have said was that the London demo was not the key to defeating the poll tax and bringing down Thatcher – that result from an almost three year campaign, countless mass meetings, 18 million participants, countless demonstrations, thousands of warrant sales prevented etc.

So you can attempt to spin this story any way you want – you have been attempting to use innuendo to tarnish the name of the Militant throughout the entire debate. The role of the Militant before, during and after the riot was a credit to the organisation and of vital importance to the anti-poll tax campaign in general and those who participated in the demonstration in particular. The urban myth will continue and you can choose to propagate it – but when you do expect someone who has the knowledge and experience of the actual events of the day to come back hard at you everytime.

Now if you want to learn how a left-wing organisation can organise a mass movement and defeat a rightw-ing agenda I suggest you read this – http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/polltax/index.html – even at your age it might inspire you to question you own ideas.

WorldbyStorm - January 31, 2013

Sorry, JRG, but it’s you who is going around in circles and not engaged substantively even with the quotes I’ve provided.

The police report of the event admitted there was no organised plot to disrupt the march. The events, as even a cursory review of the contemporary and subsequent reports demonstrates, indicates that the trouble flared up because of police actions, not because of actions by marchers of whatever stripe. Militant itself at the time and after – in the quotes I provided above from their documents – blamed the police for provocation, not CW or shadowy others.

I don’t care if you repeat something once, or never. You seem to have this belief that simply because you assert it it has some sort of truth beyond question.

I’ve done no spinning, quite the opposite – it’s you who is spinning and wildly so as each new piece of information that contradicts your stance comes to light. Nor have I once attacked Militant either directly or by innuendo. I’ve been entirely open in my praise for their work in the campaign and the marches and in my criticism of the Nally/Sheridan comments which were deeply regrettable (but in fairness to them they were one off’s and made at the height of the pressure on them). Indeed it’s you who can’t even keep your story straight with that of your own organisation. I think it’s depressing when a person is unable to take even the – frankly – very mild criticism of an organisation that has characterised this exchange.

And it does sort of hint at a sense that from your perpsective that not merely can Militant not do anything wrong, but that any deconstruction of its actions and criticism sent its way is beyond the bounds of acceptability. Fine, if that’s the sort of world you want to live in, go right ahead.

It’s clearly futile trying to engage with you, you’ll change a story to suit your argument come what may – I’ve certainly learned a lesson here.

Actually I’ll add a couple more thoughts. Your behaviour here to others is a disgrace. You don’t engage, you criticise, insult, demean others motivations and make absurd allegations and you ignore all contradictory information – even if its’ from Militant and the SP. As indeed you did in the last comment of yours. I’ve been extremely patient about all this, but really, that has its limits.

Jolly Red Giant - February 1, 2013

Not for the first time you are missing the point of this argument – it started with RP propagating the urban myth that Sheridan said he would shop the names of rioters to the police – he did not.

I have repeatedly stated who was responsible for the riot. The only real involvement of Class War was that they were in the main responsible for the urban myths created about the role of Militant in the poll tax riot and campaign in general. Did Class War go into the demo with a blueprint for starting a riot – no – and I never claimed they did. What they did was go into the demo with the intent of engaging in a riot and provoking one if they could – that was their plan. It was the actions of a bunch of nuts who started attacking stewards and others on the demo that gave the cops an excuse. If that hadn’t happened the cops would have found another pretext for launching an attack – but the actions of Class War gave Thatcher an avenue for propaganda and also gave a couple of clowns fifteen minutes of fame on TV.

Finally – you have used innuendo – you have inserted words like ‘regretable’ into your text to undermine the position of the Militant. Above you again state that the comments of Nally and Sheridan were deeply regretable – they were not – the comments made were absoltuely in tune with the criticism the overwhelming majority of the campaign who demanded action against the actions of a tiny undemocratic and anti-democratic element on the demo. The role of the Militant during the demo and during the entire campaign was exemplary – yes there was the odd tactical error – but the entire campaign is a blueprint about how to organise, operate and run a mass campaign of opposition.

WorldbyStorm - February 1, 2013

Not for the first time you are missing the point of this argument – it started with RP propagating the urban myth that Sheridan said he would shop the names of rioters to the police – he did not.
I never said once that Sheridan said that. I never echoed that. I said that Sheridan had condemned the rioters. Which he did. INdeed looking back I don’t see RP attacking Militant, but certainly calling into question whether inviting Sheridan was such a great idea.

I have repeatedly stated who was responsible for the riot. The only real involvement of Class War was that they were in the main responsible for the urban myths created about the role of Militant in the poll tax riot and campaign in general. Did Class War go into the demo with a blueprint for starting a riot – no – and I never claimed they did. What they did was go into the demo with the intent of engaging in a riot and provoking one if they could – that was their plan. It was the actions of a bunch of nuts who started attacking stewards and others on the demo that gave the cops an excuse. If that hadn’t happened the cops would have found another pretext for launching an attack – but the actions of Class War gave Thatcher an avenue for propaganda and also gave a couple of clowns fifteen minutes of fame on TV.
No, you have continually brought primary responsibility for ‘instigating’ the riots (your word not mine) back to CW. Even above you can’t restrain yourself from yet again putting the blame firmly on CW and others when it is blatantly clear that the responses were to provocations and worse by the police. That’s causality, plain and simple. Police overstepped by a wide mark. Parts of crowd and way beyond CW and sundry anarchists responded.
Finally – you have used innuendo – you have inserted words like ‘regretable’ into your text to undermine the position of the Militant. Above you again state that the comments of Nally and Sheridan were deeply regretable – they were not – the comments made were absoltuely in tune with the criticism the overwhelming majority of the campaign who demanded action against the actions of a tiny undemocratic and anti-democratic element on the demo. The role of the Militant during the demo and during the entire campaign was exemplary – yes there was the odd tactical error – but the entire campaign is a blueprint about how to organise, operate and run a mass campaign of opposition.
This is desperate stuff JRG, it really is. ‘regrettable’ isn’t innuendo – it’s completely overt and explicit criticism. And by the way it’s not directed against Militant. It’s directed against the statements Sheridan and Nally came out with. There’s a distinction there.
Read what I have done. I have found Militant texts which comprehensively demolish your assertions regarding the riot. It’s not Militant I disagree with, it’s your very curious and ultra-partisan analysis of these matters. You’re not so much defending Militant – because you veer away sharply from their analysis as gratuitously getting the digs in at CW.
I have no beef against either Militant or the SP. If you think my criticism which I entirely stand over of those statements which I do think were regrettable, represent ‘innuendo’ or undermining the position of Militant it’s then clear you don’t actually understand what criticism is (by the way for innuendo look at your comment about me having an axe to grind, or indeed your charge of innuendo. You don’t explain what possible reason I’d have to diss Militant or the SP, for the basic reason that there isn’t one. So instead you accuse me of malfeasance. Neat trick JRG.)
Your tiresome boostering of Militant and inability to accept criticism and analysis as anything other than an attack actually does them an immense disservice, overshadowing the reality that the campaign was very good and the more considered response after a couple of statements also was good.
I’ve no problem with Militant who I’ve demonstrated took, after a wobble with Sheridan and Nally’s initial statements, a very good line on the events of that day. I’ve demonstrated that that line of Militants is precisely the line I’ve been taking. So trust me, it’s not Militant which is the problem, here but your own analysis which is demonstrably wrong on almost every count.
Again, your behaviours on this thread are abysmal and continue to be.

revolutionaryprogramme - February 1, 2013

JRG, you say “it started with RP propagating the urban myth that Sheridan said he would shop the names of rioters to the police – he did not.”

I did initially make that reference. Then I did more research and discovered that Sheridan did not say that.

But Steve Nally is on public record as saying that “if necessary” the names of troublemakers would be made public – which amounts to threatening to shop them to the police.

I also note that – despite what some of the urban myth reporting of this implies – this never happened. It seems to have been just a mistake in the context of that particular interview so it does seem very odd that you are so unwilling to accept that this mistake was made by Nally.

You also claim that the comments by Nally and Sheridan were edited and taken out of context but have failed to provide any evidence of how Steve Nally’s comment from that tv interview was taken out of context and what he is quoted as saying therefore didn’t actually mean what it appears to on face value.

As wbs points out you are also playing some kind of game where on the one hand you say that the police were to blame for the riot while at the same time attacking Class War for instigating the riot. Sorry but you can’t have it both ways.

Jolly Red Giant - February 1, 2013

WbS – not matter how many times you repeat your claim that I put the blame on CW – you know that I have not and your efforts to insist I did are disingenuous. I will repeat it again for you – the primary responsibility for riots rest with the state forces and the Tory government – they planned to instigate a riot and they succeeded in doing so. CW gave the cops a pretext to attack the demo – and – PLEASE TAKE NOTE – I stated that if CW did not provide this pretext the cops would have found something else. I have also stated that CW were infiltrated by agent provocateurs who used CW to instigate the riot. CW then went on to attack the Militant for their role in the riot and its aftermath when in fact they should have been looking at their own role and membership. Of course every other left organisation in Britain and internationally who had been standing on the sidelines for two years in the poll tax battle, took up the urban myth created by CW and ran with it. There is nothing in any of the Militant quotes you provide that contradict anything I have said throughout this thread.

Sheridan and Nally were representatives of the All Britain Anti Poll Tax Federation and of the Militant – they played a magnificent role in the battle against the poll tax committing every waking minute they had to this campaign. RP says now it wasn’t Sheridan who made the ‘mistake’ it was Nally – however, the fact is that neither of them made the statement you claimed or interpreted in the way that you did. In every interview both Nally and Sheridan blamed the cops, both Nally and Sheridan stated that those who had undermined the campaign by facilitating the cops would be dealt with by the campaign and both Nally and Sheridan stated that the actions of the Tories and the cops would not detract the campaign from its objective. The only mistake that either Sheridan or Nally could be accused of is that they did not insist that the interviews would be broadcast live, that they did not receive written guarantees that the interviews would be only be re-broadcast unedited and in full and that they did not get a tape of the entire interview. Despite all the crowing about what Sheridan and Nally were suppose to have said all that exists from the ‘evidence’ are short clips from edited TV footage that have been re-edited again to suit a political agenda opposed to the Militant and the CWI. After 20 years of digging no one has come up with any concrete evidence for their claims and the subsequent events prove that they were rubbish.

WbS – you have ‘dissed’ the Militant and the Socialist Party on this blog – you do it on a regular basis – and that’s fine – you come from a different political position to the Socialist Party. Factual criticism I have no problem with – political disagreements I have no problem with and I will defend the Socialist Party and the CWI to the hilt as I have done for 30 years – but as I said before – start telling porkies (particularly ones based on an urban myth) about the Militant or its members and expect a response.

RP – I am playing no game – the blame lies with the cops – they were responsible – what CW were responsible for was being used by the cops as a pretext to attack the demo and then blaming the Militant and attacking the Militant (by telling lies) for saying they should be held to account by the campaign. There is no ambiguity, not hedging, no nothing – the position is clear.

WorldbyStorm - February 1, 2013

WbS – not matter how many times you repeat your claim that I put the blame on CW – you know that I have not and your efforts to insist I did are disingenuous. I will repeat it again for you – the primary responsibility for riots rest with the state forces and the Tory government – they planned to instigate a riot and they succeeded in doing so. CW gave the cops a pretext to attack the demo – and – PLEASE TAKE NOTE – I stated that if CW did not provide this pretext the cops would have found something else. I have also stated that CW were infiltrated by agent provocateurs who used CW to instigate the riot. CW then went on to attack the Militant for their role in the riot and its aftermath when in fact they should have been looking at their own role and membership. Of course every other left organisation in Britain and internationally who had been standing on the sidelines for two years in the poll tax battle, took up the urban myth created by CW and ran with it. There is nothing in any of the Militant quotes you provide that contradict anything I have said throughout this thread.

JRG stop, please. You’re unable to support the contention you’ve made and yet you seem to think that making it yet again will do the trick.

Yes you say that the police and Tories are ‘primarily responsible’ but then you immediately move on to state that CW instigated the riot. This is factually incorrect and it doesn’t matter how many times you repeat it it remains incorrect.

I’ve now listed ad nauseum the facts that it was police provocations that initiated violence and that anarchists and others in the crowd responded. This is the Militant line as expressed immediately after and long after in the documents I’ve quoted from.

You’re simply wrong that the Militant quotes don’t contradict your position – I won’t go into them all again, one small sample will suffice, as evidenced by the follwoing:

The reality was explained by Militant immediately after the events. If there had been any organising taking place then it was by the senior ranks of the police. It was “the use of police horses, the driving of vehicles at 50 miles per hour into the crowd, the lashing out by riot squads at innocent and peaceful demonstrators, (which) absolutely infuriated a section of the demonstration, particularly the youth”. (Militant, 6 April, 1990) Many youth risked life and limb to hit back at the police attack on the demonstration. There was nothing consciously planned by these youth, however, to ‘organise’ a riot. Indeed, that is in the very nature of a riot. Far from being a conscious act, it is a cry of despair and frustration.

That directly contradicts what you’ve said above. Full stop.

Just stop. This is ludicrous.

Sheridan and Nally were representatives of the All Britain Anti Poll Tax Federation and of the Militant – they played a magnificent role in the battle against the poll tax committing every waking minute they had to this campaign. RP says now it wasn’t Sheridan who made the ‘mistake’ it was Nally – however, the fact is that neither of them made the statement you claimed or interpreted in the way that you did. In every interview both Nally and Sheridan blamed the cops, both Nally and Sheridan stated that those who had undermined the campaign by facilitating the cops would be dealt with by the campaign and both Nally and Sheridan stated that the actions of the Tories and the cops would not detract the campaign from its objective. The only mistake that either Sheridan or Nally could be accused of is that they did not insist that the interviews would be broadcast live, that they did not receive written guarantees that the interviews would be only be re-broadcast unedited and in full and that they did not get a tape of the entire interview. Despite all the crowing about what Sheridan and Nally were suppose to have said all that exists from the ‘evidence’ are short clips from edited TV footage that have been re-edited again to suit a political agenda opposed to the Militant and the CWI. After 20 years of digging no one has come up with any concrete evidence for their claims and the subsequent events prove that they were rubbish.

That’s simply wrong. I’ve seen the footage of the statement that Sheridan made. That statement was an unequivocal condemnation of the rioters. I don’t and haven’t blamed Miltant for that statement.

So please again, just stop it.

WbS – you have ‘dissed’ the Militant and the Socialist Party on this blog – you do it on a regular basis – and that’s fine – you come from a different political position to the Socialist Party. Factual criticism I have no problem with – political disagreements I have no problem with and I will defend the Socialist Party and the CWI to the hilt as I have done for 30 years – but as I said before – start telling porkies (particularly ones based on an urban myth) about the Militant or its members and expect a response.

Wow. What an out of order comment to make. I do not ‘diss’ Militant or the SP ‘on a regular basis’. I’ve said no porkies about Militant whatsoever, either here or elsewhere on the CLR and I’d be fascinated to see you stand over those comments. Because trust me the way you’re throwing unfounded and unfraternal allegations around a banning awaits you.

Your modus operandi on this thread is directly in contravention of the rules of this site. You’ve attacked people, cast aspersions on mine and others motivations, made disgraceful comments about what I’m supposed to have said. And you just won’t stop!

But it’s also so counterproductive – to start attacking people and throwing around personalised accusations simply because your argument won’t hold up to any serious scrutiny.

I’ve worked closely with SP activists both in my work and in activism and I have nothing but the highest respect for the party and those activists – even if there would quite naturally be disagreements about various issues, so this is a charge entirely without credence.

But I guess it’s a bit like Mark Humphrey’s, you’ve set yourself up as judge and jury on this and refuse to see that criticism is not the same as an attack, that I haven’t actually attacked Militant in this thread. Well you know? It’s well past time you copped onto yourself.

revolutionaryprogramme - February 1, 2013

JRG, I am quite prepared to accept that the following quote from an interview with Steve Nally has been taken out of context:

“We are going to hold our own internal inquiry which will go public and if necessary name names”
Steve Nally (a different Militant member), ITN interview, 1 April 1990

But only if you can provide some evidence to back up that claim.

As it stands it is quite clear what is being threatened by Nally.

You don’t deny that these words were said during this tv interview, just that they have another meaning in the context of the whole interview.

Strange then that the major pamphlet on the poll tax that you gave a link to does not provide the full interview to simply shoot the claims out of the water.

Surely if it was that easy the CWI would have provided this evidence somewhere and you should be able to provide a reference to it that can be checked.

While you continue to refuse to do that we are left with no choice but to take the quote at face value – as a threat to shop the troublemakers.

Jolly Red Giant - February 3, 2013

Loathe do I am to engage with this nonsense I will make one last comment.

WbS – you are a past-master at engaging in a debate – taking one word out of context and then circling the wagons around that word in an effort to imply a whole host of claims that have no validity. I suspect that this is the result of the political training you have received over the years. Your arguments are spurious and without an validity – you have attempted to take what I said out of context – you have ignored what I said in comprehensively answering the points you made and you continue to focus on one word – so be it – maybe this will feed your ego – you are right – I am wrong – goodbye, good luck, have a happy life.

RP – the onus was not and never has been on the Militant/Socialist Party/CWI to provide any evidence to counter these absurd accusations. The only evidence against Sheridan and Nally were edited clips from edited interviews and all the so-called evidence was manufactured by group of anarchists and circulated by a number of small ultra-left grouplets – not in an attempt to further the anti-poll tax campaign – but in an attempt to politically damage the Militant. Furthermore the Militant issued a public statement the following day making it clear that this was the case. The Militant never had full copies of the interviews – those were the possession of the tv companies. Finally, the subsequent events demonstrate the voracity of what Sheridan and Nally said – those who played an anti-democratic role in providing the cops with a pretext for the riot by attacking stewards and other protestors were brought to book by the campaign. Names were named at campaign meetings and those involved were given an opportunity to state their case. Some were exonerated others were booted out. No evidence from the campaign was used in any subsequent court cases, no member of the campaign gave any evidence in a court case – and the cops had all the evidence it needed from their undercover agents who had used CW to ‘instigate’ the riot.

revolutionaryprogramme - February 3, 2013

JRG – so there is a quote from a tv interview which you claim was edited to consciously misrepresent the real position of the Militant/SP/CWI.

I agree that the substantive point would be that this threat to shop troublemakers was never implemented.

But still it seems clear that the threat was made in the tv interview with Nally – you don’t dispute that the comment was made by Nally, just that somehow it is out of context.

I am sure that many Militant members saw the interview and it simply does not make sense that the Militant would have not responded in some way to correct the implication being made by others that one of their leading comrades in the anti-poll tax campaign was making this threat.

It seems you are admitting that no attempt to claify this was made – by the Militant simply interviewing Nally to explain the context of his comment for instance.

So I am left wondering how you can be so sure that the threat was made in an edited clip from an edited interview that misrepresented it’s content.

I can therefore only assume that you are simply taking the word of other people who are taking the word of other people. Now granted you no doubt have political confidence in those people but without any evidence, and no indication that the Militant ever tried to provide that evidence, it is hard for you to convince anyone else and so the threat stands.

Now I also accept that it was probably just a mistake in the heat of the moment but the fact that you are unwilling to even concede that could have happened does make me wonder about the degree to which there is some kind of infallibility culture in the SP/CWI – which would of course be a distinctly unhealthy thing.

WorldbyStorm - February 3, 2013

JRG. Casting yet more aspersions on me and my supposed political ‘training’ does nothing to strengthen your argument. I’ve taken nothing you’ve said out of context. I’ve used not ‘one word’ but full sentences of yours.

But extraordinary claims demand proof, I would expect you to demand no less of me were the position reversed.

I’ve no argument with you politically or personally – quite the opposite, I know from our communications that you’re a dedicated socialist – and I’ll say no more for fear of saying something positive in regard to you that might be interpreted as being patronising which isn’t my intention.

Jolly Red Giant - February 3, 2013

RP – there was an edited interview with Nally that was broadcast on TV. The comments of Nally on TV were taken out of context, manipulated by ultra-lefts and an attempt was made to use them was on purpose and deliberately in an attempt to politically damage the Militant irrespective of the consequences to the anti-poll tax campaign.

I am aware of the context of what was going on as I was in England at the time and I was aware of the (brief) discussions within the Militant at the time on how to respond. The Militant did respond promptly and issued a lengthy statement in response to the riot and its aftermath. Again I will repeat what I said earlier – the onus was not and is not on the CWI to prove their ‘innocence’. The claims were spurious, were without foundation and lacked any evidence what so ever. To have gone off wasting resources in response to this nonsense at a time of intense political activity would have been wrong and would have done nothing more than to give credence to this claims when they deserved nothing more than to be tossed in the bin – it would have led to the claim by CW and others that if the Militant had responded directly to these claims that there was ‘no smoke without fire’.

In the twenty years since this urban myth was created no one has ever produced one shred of evidence to back it up. The video from class war from shortly afterwards was edited and manipulated to politically damage the Militant. There is no discussion within the video of the actions of CW on that day or afterwards. The CW had played zero role in the campaign before the demo and played zero role afterwards. The evidence on the ground in the aftermath actually confirms that the claims of CW and others were spurious. The campaign conducted an open and democratic inquiry that allowed everyone accused by the campaign of ‘instigating’ a riot and attacking stewards and others to answer the accusations and the campaign groups then decided whether they could remain as members of the campaign or not. A few weeks later Nally and Sheridan were overwhelmingly re-elected as national officers of the campaign – only a handful of SWP members attending as delegates from student groups voted against them (and not one single member of CW was a delegate).

The Militant made many mistakes during the anti-poll tax campaign (none fortunately that had anything more than a very minor impact on the campaign) – the Militant however is not responsible for the actions of others, it is not responsible for what the mainstream bourgeois media broadcast, it is not responsible for how ultra-left grouplets re-edit the same news broadcasts, it is not responsible for the creation of this urban myth and no member of the Militant/ Socialist Party / CWI who was a member at the time will move one inch to giving any credence to this pack of lies.

WorldbyStorm - February 3, 2013

RP. I may be wrong, but I fear this is a dialogue of the deaf – and not on your part. As I’ve discovered, it really doesn’t matter what evidence you or I bring here, it doesn’t even matter if we bring evidence from his own formation, it won’t be considered, or rather will simply be filed away in the context of very rigid preconceptions and we’ll be abused for our pains.

As I said above, I’d fear that in the context of my last comment I might say something postive that might be construed as being patronising, but I’d equally fear that if this continues that the chances of saying something genuinely negative will arise.

I think in some ways it might be better to leave JRG to his comfortable pre and misconceptions about these matters.

revolutionaryprogramme - February 3, 2013

WBS, I was going to respond but it would just be to repeat what has been said before regarding the Nally comment. So I will take your advice and leave JRG, and his political deafness, with the last word.

WorldbyStorm - February 3, 2013

To be honest, we’ve done everything we could. We’ve remained courteous despite enormous provocation and pretty poor – though all too frequent – insults. We’ve used referenced material to support our case and we’ve demonstrated comprehensively that it’s a case that is shared by more than just us.

We’ve accepted where we might have got it wrong, as you did re Nally and Sheridan, that it was the former not the later who said the ‘naming of names’. In short we’ve acted reasonably and honestly in the context of the discussion.

I don’t know what more we could do, what more anyone could do, given that we’ve been met by an approach 180º at odds with our approach.

Jolly Red Giant - February 3, 2013

WbS – you talk about ‘evidence’ yet there is no ‘evidence’ – There is the wet dream of a few ultra left sectarians looking for a big stick to beat the CWI with.

You used several quotes from an article from Socialism Today and claim that they contradicted what I said – yet there was nothing anywhere in the quotes, in the article in its entirity or in the longer pamphlet written by the Militant about the poll tax that was in any way inconsistent with my comments. and again you insinuate that something is amiss because I won’t engage with this nonsense.

RP – You can take what I say at face value or not – you can suggest that the Militant should have engaged with this rubbish at the time – which it didn’t and in my opinion correctly did not. But the proof is in the pudding – the Militant remainded playing a massive role in the poll tax campaign after this and the CW disappeared in the ether from whence they came. The efforts by Thatcher and the Tories to denigrate the campaign were soundly rebuffed and the Militant continued to confront the cops on countless warrant sales all over the country making the poll tax unworkable and the repressive measures being used to force it onto working class people unworkable.

I am sure that in six months time the sparts or some other grouplet will recruit some unsuspecting young person, feed them the same rubbish, tell them to look at the tv clips and they will emerge on some internet forum singing and dancing about the Militant threatening to shop people to the police.

revolutionaryprogramme - February 3, 2013

Good grief, what is wrong with you JRG?

You keep on ranting but refuse to deal with the reality of the following quote:

“We are going to hold our own internal inquiry which will go public and if necessary name names”
Steve Nally (a different Militant member), ITN interview, 1 April 1990

You don’t deny this threat to shop those the Militant considered troublemakers was made. Instead you say there is some context in the full interview that can explain this did not mean what it appears to.

So I ask you for the evidence of this but instead of providing it you go mental claiming that it is outrageous of me to even make this request and indeed just to request that evidence is proof of my nefarious ultra-left sectarian motivations.

I on the other hand have accepted your clarifications and even in this case have argued that it is likely to just have been a mistake in that particular interview – but this just seems to increase the level of your ranting.

I wonder if you realise how this is making you, and your organisation, look?

WorldbyStorm - February 3, 2013

I have to echo RP’s point. What on earth is wrong with you JRG? You’re the online equivalent of someone who whatever information is put to them puts their fingers in their ears, shuts their eyes and sings ‘la la la’ in order that they need not engage with anything that shakes their worldview.
I have demonstrated that your contention that CW or whoever ‘instigated’ the riots is wrong. It’s wrong in terms of the police account, in terms of media accounts, in terms of Militant’s account. It is simply disingenuous of you to suggest that that account doesn’t directly contradict what you have said numerous times on this thread.
Let me just quote one last time – I hope – the relevant passage from Militant itself:
…youth risked life and limb to hit back at the police attack on the demonstration. There was nothing consciously planned by these youth, however, to ‘organise’ a riot.

Let me spell it out – Militant says in black and white that the police attack (A) occurred first and then youth hit back (B).

B follows A.

Either Militant is right or you are right. It cannot be both.

You are wrong.

I think it. My eyewitnesses think it. The accounts of the actions of the day support it. And most importantly – surely – from your position, Militant itself says so. There’s no ‘wet-dream of ultra-left sectarians’, there’s no ‘big-stick’, I’m not ‘bashing the CWI’. I’m disagreeing with you! I’m not insinuating that, I’m saying it openly. Your contentions are wrong.

Is it so difficult to accept that? Is it such a matter of pride for you that you can’t walk away from a discussion where the facts comprehensively prove the line you are taking is wrong. Christ knows, I’ve have no end of having to face up to my mistakes on this site and elsewhere – the Bartley’s and alastairs of this world made it their business to pick apart every line I wrote, and you know what, for all the pain it made me more honest and better and my approach to promoting the politics I identify with better too because I had to rely upon referenced data to support my contentions. Never any harm in recognising that accepting error isn’t the same as defeat.

Jolly Red Giant - February 3, 2013

RP – I absolutely deny anything of the sort.

You quote one line from a five minute interview – see the words ‘name names’ and automatically jump to the conclusion that he is talking about shopping people to the cops. Even from this one line quote you ignore the bit about an ‘internal inquiry’. Furthermore you claim that it was a threat ‘to shop those the Militant considered troublemakers’.

To start with it was an anti-poll tax campaign inquiry – not a Militant one – and the naming of names made at the local anti-poll tax union meetings came from rank and file members of the campaign who wanted these clowns out of the campaign. The evidence you asked for is the fact that the campaign held an internal inquiry in an open and democratic fashion – these people were called to the meetings and given the opportunity to address the complaints made against them by other members of the campaign and if they were unable to do so in a satisfactory fashion as decided by a vote of the rank and file they were booted out of the campaign. No one from the campaign engaged in any contact with the cops – no one from the campaign gave evidence for the cops in any of the court cases (evidence was given in defence of some of the innocent accused for whom the campaign provided legal representation) and not one single item or comment from the campaign was used as prosecution evidence in any case after the riot.

I am going to quote from the same article WbS attempted to use above (it a review of a pamphlet by anarchists) –

“There is nothing new about a labour movement inquiry. Indeed, how else, to borrow the words of Acab Press, can ‘the other side of the story’ be assembled? How could lessons be drawn for future demonstrations about pre-march preparations, how to negotiate with the police, stewarding tactics etc, except by a full appraisal of the events of March 31 and an open discussion throughout the movement? Undoubtedly, there were undercover police provocateurs on the demonstration, as is conceded by one of the authors (p42) – apart from the provocative actions of sections of the uniformed police! Through what other means could they be uncovered and exposed before the movement, except by naming names? Or is it that the anarchists fear that most anti-poll tax activists would find their actions indistinguishable from those of agents provocateurs?
This is the key. An inquiry would have to include an examination of the perspectives, programme, strategy and tactics of the different political currents within the anti-poll tax movement and open them up to debate. Militant would be confident that our approach, which has predominated in the anti-poll tax campaign to date, would stand up to any examination. Our strategy and tactics, despite the complete opposition to the non-payment campaign of the leaders of the labour and trade union movement, have led the campaign to the position today where a stunning victory is in sight.
For the authors of Poll Tax Riot, however, open debate and discussion is an irritation. Throughout they reveal their contempt for the discipline and democratic norms of an organised movement. One author reveals his favourite method of debate as “beating the left scum (preferably with a big stick)” (p22).
An open inquiry would force them to defend their strategy of rioting and looting and ‘a series of escalating confrontations with the police’ as ‘the only way forward’. On the evidence of this pamphlet, they have no defence.”

As for how my organisation looks – long after Class War had departed from the scene – the Militant was still organising the campaign, organising protests, organising to confront the cops and sherrifs on warrant sales etc. The standing of the Militant / Socialist Party / CWI was not affected one jot by this urban myth. Every member of the campaign saw if for what it was – a pack of lies – and the only people who still harp on about it are members of ultra-left sectarian grouplets and their hangers on.

Jolly Red Giant - February 3, 2013

WbS – I have previously referred you to the pamphlet written by the Militant about the poll tax – I will now quote from this to demonstrate the point taken from a report by Colin Fox who was a steward on the day immediately after the riot (the article in Socialism today is a review of a pamphlet from anarchists and is not intended as a definitive account of what happened during the riot). The points made in the article about the reaction of people on the demo are clear and correct and nothing I have said contradicts these.

“For almost an hour, the stewards had attempted to make sure that the rest of the march just passed by the 100 or so who had sat down opposite Downing Street. Some people, especially those with children, decided to sit on the grass and have a rest. One of the stewards, Colin Fox, reported that as the stewards got to Downing Street, about 40 anarchists were sitting in the road and

‘as their numbers grew they were obviously intent on causing trouble. They began throwing placards, cans of lager and even crowd barriers about. They were aimed at the police but most fell short, on people on the march. I shouted at them to stop throwing but it had no effect. By this time they considered the stewards fair game.

As some idiot shouted: “Get the stewards first!” I was hit on the head by a full can of lager, causing me to drop my megaphone. As I bent down to pick it up I was kicked three times in the back and legs. Just then, a hail of missiles rained down, the police burst through and started flailing out at anyone they could hit, even though they had stood idly by for a good 40 minutes and watched…

What on earth were the police commanders thinking of, charging the 300-400 trouble makers in Whitehall up into the crowd gathered in the Square? It was like throwing a lighted match into a petrol tank.’

In effect, this was the beginning of a police riot.”

http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/polltax/index.html

As for your ‘eye-witness’ – was this eye witness at the Downing street junction when the attacks started? If not then you are talking information from another section of the march and extrapolating it to apply to what started the riot. The cops used the pretext of this violence to launch their attacks – but the first blows are clearly outlined in this report from Colin Fox.

Now – politiely stick it in your pipe and refrain in future from telling me that I don’t know what I am talking about.

WorldbyStorm - February 3, 2013

But JRG you ignore a basic problem and in doing so get to the heart of why this is so problematic.

Why should those involved be ‘named’? Even by light of the Militant pamphlet they were responding to a police provocation and actions and attacks. I’ve said above that some of that response went too far though in the heated context of the day I think that was understandable – not least if one factors in the power relationships at work (mounted and motorised police as against people on foot and essentially unarmed).

Moreover by blaming CW and others you point to the very misreading that Sheridan and Nally made which was apportioning blame on the rioters rather than on the authorities.

Why is it acceptable in your view that the police should act in that way against unarmed protesters? Why would you stand over that by apportioning blame to those protesters when in extremis they respond in kind?

And the history of the subsequent legal actions taken against protesters/rioters (and again the police report) indicate that blame lay with the police rather than them.

Don’t you see, in everything you’re saying you set yourself up on the side of the state and the police as against people who – as I’ve noted previously from eyewitness anecdotes etc – were attacked by that state and those police.

And for the record, I’m not someone who ever takes an anti-police line credulously. Sometimes they’re bad, more often generally they’re okay and in instances they’re both essential and good. But as with credit, blame where blame is due.

And let’s not even get into the point that this occurred in 1990 after a decade of a politicised and semi-militarised usage of the police in the UK with all that that entailed in terms of the perception of them andtheir attitude to using violence as a normal methodological tool of their practice.

It’s very hard not to have a sense that quite apart from your strange adherence to a line that isn’t even that of Militant, you simply don’t get what the issues are here one little bit.

WorldbyStorm - February 3, 2013

Now – politiely stick it in your pipe and refrain in future from telling me that I don’t know what I am talking about.
JRG, you clearly don’t. Have you read the transcript of the police logs from that day?

As noted by this useful piece in the Morning Star, which again, unequivocally demonstrate that it was recorded police actions which instigated violence – notably an arrest of a protester which was responded to (by the police’s own account) by http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/news/content/view/full/29285

Solomon Hughe’s conclusion is as follows:

(1) The Police tried to push the crowd about after the 4pm ish Downing Street Sit Down, this attempted “kettle” went badly wrong (2) The Police identification of Anarchist and SWP activists role seems to me reasonably accurate and (3) After they lost control, the “Gold” and “Silver” commanders seem to give up, they just seem a bit bewildered and demoralised by the riot.

Let’s also note who was arrested. First two were SWP members!

WorldbyStorm - February 3, 2013

One would have to ask why the salient detail of the arrest out side Downing Street, an arrest that provoked a response, isn’t mentioned in the account you offer. Perhaps Fox was looking in a different direction. Yet that arrest is in the police log and is recorded as kicking off the subsequent events.

One would also have to ask why it is that Militant’s overall account takes a completely different line, the one I’ve now recounted numerous times. Perhaps they knew about the arrest and recognised that in the context of a til then peaceful sit down protest outside Downing Street it was the match that lit the flames.

Jolly Red Giant - February 3, 2013

WbS – I have never ignored the basic problem – you keep focussing on one aspect of it and you ignore all responses to it.

You ask ‘why should those involved be named?’ – because you cannot conduct an open and democratic inquiry without naming people. The objective of the inquiry was for local anti-poll tax unions to discuss what happened, who was involved, why did it happen, what was the motivation of people involved, did they have a political agenda etc and that is exactly what happened. The vast majority of those ‘involved’ in the riot were either defending themselves or engaged in acts because of their alienation from society. The local meetings acknowledged the circumstances, took the intent of this on board and for anyone charged and brought to court they provided assistance. That could not have been done without ‘naming names’. Furthermore, a very small number of people played a provocative role in the riot and were booted out of the campaign – and rightly so. Anyone who, on purpose, not just ignores, but consciously goes against the democratic wishes of the campaign, should be ostracised.

I am going to repeat this for the last time – both Nally and Sheridan condemned the police actions and placed the blame for the riot firmly on the police and the Tory government. That is a fact – to suggest otherwise is again telling porkies.

No matter how many times you state that either I or Sheridan or Nally blamed the demonstrators and set me or them up on the side of the cops – it does not make it so – and you have repeated it again right throughout your latest comment. A very small number of people engaged in violence at Downing Street that gave the cops the pretext to attack the March – it shouldn’t have happened but it did – and if it hadn’t then the cops would have found another excuse or instigated one themselves. That does not take away from the fact that a small number of members of CW and their hangers on acted in an anti-democratic fashion by acting as they did.

Finally – in your evidence from the Morning Star – the quote you give from Hughes is about stuff that happened AFTER CW members had started throwing crowd barriers and attacking the stewards at Downing Street. As for the SWP – members of the SWP had been hanging around the fringes of CW all day waiting for them to start off so they could join in. Note point 2 that you quote above from Hughes.

WorldbyStorm - February 3, 2013

RP has dealt more than adequately with the ‘naming names’ stuff, so I won’t go back into that.

This is what Sheridan said on the news.
He was asked ‘did he condone the riot?’
He answers:
TS: Of course we don’t condone that. We condemn it totally as most working class people would do. People sitting in watching those scenes would be very very angry that this small minority of people have marred what has been a marvellous demonstration

Q: So what went wrong?

TS: What went wrong basically was we had two or two hundred and fifty of these individuals who were intent on causing trouble.

Now note not one mention of the police actions there and when given a direct opportunity to explain that the police had initiated violence with the question ‘So what went wrong?’ he doesn’t take it instead going straight on to blame the ‘individuals…etc’. And this on top of his earlier condemnation where instead of pointing to police actions he suggests that a ‘minority of people marred… a marvellous demonstration’.

But of course you keep claiming that you don’t blame the rioters. And yet you have, you said they instigated it etc. And you’ve said that consistently. You only qualify that by your comment about police finding a pretext etc. As you do in the quote below:
A very small number of people engaged in violence at Downing Street that gave the cops the pretext to attack the March – it shouldn’t have happened but it did – and if it hadn’t then the cops would have found another excuse or instigated one themselves. That does not take away from the fact that a small number of members of CW and their hangers on acted in an anti-democratic fashion by acting as they did.

Finally – in your evidence from the Morning Star – the quote you give from Hughes is about stuff that happened AFTER CW members had started throwing crowd barriers and attacking the stewards at Downing Street. As for the SWP – members of the SWP had been hanging around the fringes of CW all day waiting for them to start off so they could join in. Note point 2 that you quote above from Hughes.

I don’t understand how you can assert that with such certainty. These are a variety of reports on the events.
UK Independent

At around 4pm, Steve Glennon got a report from a stewards at Downing Street that a sit-down protest in nearby Whitehall had become “a bit of a ruck” between police and protesters. This was to be the turning-point.
As protesters refused to be moved, the police began making arrests – only to be pelted with missiles.

SWP

As some people listened to speeches in the square, police attacked a section of the march as it sat down outside Downing Street.
The arrest of a protester in a wheelchair was a spark for some jostling and shouting.
Jane, a health worker from London, told Socialist Worker at the time, “The march stopped briefly. People sat down for a second time and then the police came for us. Riot cops who had been waiting were sent in to break up the crowd.”
Mounted police laid into the crowd with batons flying. At first demonstrators ran in all directions, trying to shield children and older people.

BBC

A group of protesters involved in a sit-in at Whitehall, close to the Downing Street entrance, refused to move after requests from police and stewards.
As police arrested offenders, placards and cans were thrown from the crowd and the trouble spread to Charing Cross Road, Pall Mall, Regent Street and Covent Garden.

Hughes also makes it clear from listening to the logs:

The battles between police and protesters reported in the log mostly happen after this sit-down demo outside Downing Street.

Demonstrators said that heavy-handed police attempts to move the enormous crowd after this sparked the riots.

And:

O/S Parliament – one arrest – bottles and missiles thrown at officers during course of arrest. Prisoner removed from scene – punks concerned.”

And of course the Militant text itself.

As you’ll see in each instance trouble only kicks off after the police move in to arrest people.

revolutionaryprogramme - February 3, 2013

It is quite simple:

You don’t deny that Nally said the following:

“We are going to hold our own internal inquiry which will go public and if necessary name names”
Steve Nally (a different Militant member), ITN interview, 1 April 1990

First you claimed it didn’t mean what it seems to mean because it is a short clip taken out of context from a wider interview. Now you seem to be claiming that the short comment itself doesn’t actually mean what it says.

What this comment says is actually very clear.

- There will be an internal inquiry conducted within the campaign.

- The results of that internal inquiry will be made public – that is beyond the campaign to the wider population, including therefore to the capitalist state.

- “If necessary” the results of that internal inquiry that will be made public, including therefore to the capitalist state, will “name names”.

That is clearly a threat, thankfully not carried out, to make the names of those deemed to be troublemakers (“instigators of the riot” – see WBS on this) available to the general population, which includes the capitalist state.

I’m sorry but there is no other possible interpretation of that comment that accords with normal use of the English language.

I don’t see why you see it necessary to defend the idea of labour movement inquiries. I have not challenged that idea at any time.

What I have challenged is threatening to make the results of such labour movement inquiries available to the wider public, and therefore the capitalist state, in such a way (“name names” of “troublemakers”/”instigators of the riot”) that would bring individuals within the labour movement to the attention of the capitalist state in terms of potential harrassment and repression.

Jolly Red Giant - February 4, 2013

WbS – I am not going through this again – I have provided evidence (the report from Colin Fox) on what happened at Downing Street prior to the attack by the cops – you are choosing to ignore it despite the fact that the attacks by a small number of anarchists on the stewards and actions by the anarchists and a small number of SWP members in firing crowd barriers into the crowd was used as a pretext for the attack by the cops.

As for the Sheridan interview you quote from – you are seeing the CW clip of the interview – not everything that was actually broadcast where Sheridan laid the blame for the riot firmly on the police and the Tory government.

Now, as I said before, you can insist on taking the CW edited version of events and you can continue to ignore the reports from Militant members about what happened at Downing Street – but it does not change the facts. The responsibility for the riot rests with the state forces and the government – the incident that was used by the cops as a pretext to attack the demo was instigated by CW (and very likely some udenrcover cops in CW who were there to incite the riot).

RP – you again go around the houses with the ‘naming names’ nonsense. The inquiry conducted by the campaign was open, democratic and public. The inquiry was conducted at local campaign group meetings where people were asked to explain their actions, motivations and political agenda before the membership of the campaign. This is what happened and nothing else. No evidence was produced by the state in any court case from any campaign meeting, no member of the campaign gave evidence on behalf of the prosecution, no prosecution was secured using anything within or connected with the campaign. The local campaign meetings addressed what had happened and took action accordingly – kicking out the elements that were considered to have acted inappropriately and in a manner to undermine the campaign.

As with WbS above – you can attempt to twist and turn and re-write and imply all you want – it doesn’t take away from what were the facts about what happened. The suggestion that Nally’s statement was anything to do with shopping people to the cops is a figment of your overactive imagination just as it was 20 years ago by a whole host of ultra-left sectarian grouplets who played no role in the campaign.

WorldbyStorm - February 4, 2013

WbS – I am not going through this again – I have provided evidence (the report from Colin Fox) on what happened at Downing Street prior to the attack by the cops – you are choosing to ignore it despite the fact that the attacks by a small number of anarchists on the stewards and actions by the anarchists and a small number of SWP members in firing crowd barriers into the crowd was used as a pretext for the attack by the cops.
As for the Sheridan interview you quote from – you are seeing the CW clip of the interview – not everything that was actually broadcast where Sheridan laid the blame for the riot firmly on the police and the Tory government.
Now, as I said before, you can insist on taking the CW edited version of events and you can continue to ignore the reports from Militant members about what happened at Downing Street – but it does not change the facts. The responsibility for the riot rests with the state forces and the government – the incident that was used by the cops as a pretext to attack the demo was instigated by CW (and very likely some udenrcover cops in CW who were there to incite the riot).

That’s not “evidence ” in the sense of overwhelming everything else you’ve been presented with. That’s one account which leaves out one extremely important detail, the arrests that precipitated the violent response. I’m not doubting that it was hot and heavy outside Downing Street but all accounts suggest that it was verbal rather than active until arrests took place. In other words the vast weight of reporting suggests that the police initiated an actual violent response by wading in to arrest people (and in particular one individual in a wheelchair). And look again at the transcript. They’d already started this process well before Downing Street was reached by arresting people outside Parliament about half an hour or so before hand. And let’s be clear, that account by Militant itself of the protest agrees with that broader generally accepted narrative. It’s just you who doesn’t.

As regards Sheridan. What am I meant to do, accept your word – when it’s clear that you’re hyper-partisan to the point of actually diverging from the stated Militant line on this whole topic, a line which I have complimented numerous times and which is irony of ironies given your attacks on my supposed anti-Militant bias my line as well – that there exists other material that wasn’t included? What a crock. Sheridan said what he said, it’s clear to any reasonable interpretation that when offered a chance in the very phrasing of the questions to disagree with the spin being put on it by the interviewer he didn’t do so but instead criticised the rioters. Even had he blamed the government as you claim he did that would still be inadequate.

Where on earth do you get the idea that I’m insisting on the CW version of events. I’ve not used any of their sources, for precisely the same reason that I wouldn’t take that quote you’ve offered on face value, because they’re deeply partisan in this process as well. Hence I’ve depended exclusively on reports and accounts from non-CW media and observers and analysts.

Though seeing as you keep bringing up CW, you clearly aren’t aware that by 1990 CW at the time had a minimal membership and were an effectively moribund organisation – some would argue that the aftermath of the riots was a shot in the arm to them though they only staggered on a relatively short time after. The idea they had the ability to get out 50 let alone 250 to 300 activists is barmy. The idea they could mount the sort of activities you blame them for is simply incorrect.

Anyhow, we’re at an impasse. You won’t accept the weight of evidence and aren’t just cherry picking but basically making assertions of fact with nothing to support them. It’s no way to argue a point and not much of a discussion to be honest. It really isn’t.

Jolly Red Giant - February 4, 2013

WbS – the arrests at Downing Street started AFTER the attacks began on the stewards and the ‘mob’ began chucking around crash barriers. There had been some arrests a couple of hours earlier back the march route when some of the anarchists began chucking beer cans at the cops – but the stewards quickly dealt with the disturbances by persuading those involved to stop.

You are refusing to accept my ‘partisan’ account of what Sheridan said – yet you will accept the ‘partisan’ account of CW and other ultra-lefts and their ‘partisan’ editing of the Sheridan interview (and yes you have used their sources – you quoted the Sheridan interview word for word from the CW video). I saw the full TV broadcast and Sheridan started by putting the blame on the cops and Tories and even in the CW editing he makes it clear that he condemned the actions of 200-250 people who, after starting trouble, went off smashing up and looting shops and restaurants, rather than defending the demonstrators under attack from the police.

This is the summary of the interview from the British Universities Film and Video Council – it clearly shows that Sheridan condemned Thatcher and the cops and stated that the campaign would have nothing to do with the government or police inquiries into the riot -
“Chairman of the All Britain Anti-Poll Tax Federation, Tommy Sheridan is interviewed about last week’s demonstration in Trafalgar Square, London. Sheridan expresses disappointment that the protest ended in violence, but largely blames Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher for instituting the poll tax (community charge) in the first place, and the police for launching an assault on a largely innocent crowd. He expresses distrust in Government and police inquiries, saying the Federation will be holding its own. There are plans for future demonstrations, even in London, although probably in a larger venue than Trafalgar Square, where they will try to peacefully quell any action on the part of potential troublemakers.”

The evidence you quote from is ‘evidence’ from people who were not at Downing Street when the trouble started – members of the Militant were stewards at Downing Street when the whole thing kicked off and reported directly what had happened. Despite the fact that the cops were itching for a fight and everyone knew it – people like Fox and Glennon gave an accurate and true account of events even though it would have served their political agenda better if they had simply glossed over the actions of CW and their SWP hangers on. None of this in any way diminishes the antics of the cops and their intention of instigating a riot – but neither does it mean that the truth is simply brushed under the carpet. The actions of the anarchists and the SWP elements resulted in the campaign having to deal with nonsense it shouldn’t have had to. And by the way – this is the type of stuff that had to be addressed in the aftermath of the riot – from the same article you quoted – One author reveals his favourite method of debate as “beating the left scum (preferably with a big stick)” and their political strategy for defeating the poll tax – ‘a series of escalating confrontations with the police’ as ‘the only way forward’.

WorldbyStorm - February 4, 2013

WbS – the arrests at Downing Street started AFTER the attacks began on the stewards and the ‘mob’ began chucking around crash barriers. There had been some arrests a couple of hours earlier back the march route when some of the anarchists began chucking beer cans at the cops – but the stewards quickly dealt with the disturbances by persuading those involved to stop.
This flies in the face of the evidence I’ve provided and you’ve offered nothing to demonstrate that your contention is correct. Simply asserting it as you do proves nothing.

You are refusing to accept my ‘partisan’ account of what Sheridan said – yet you will accept the ‘partisan’ account of CW and other ultra-lefts and their ‘partisan’ editing of the Sheridan interview (and yes you have used their sources – you quoted the Sheridan interview word for word from the CW video). I saw the full TV broadcast and Sheridan started by putting the blame on the cops and Tories and even in the CW editing he makes it clear that he condemned the actions of 200-250 people who, after starting trouble, went off smashing up and looting shops and restaurants, rather than defending the demonstrators under attack from the police.
You clearly haven’t read a word I’ve written, and are just making up stuff now. I’ve already noted I’ve used no CW sources. I’ve accepted no partisan CW accounts. I wrote this explicitly in black and white in my last comment. This is frankly incredible. Not merely do you not understand but you don’t seem to be able to engage with what others present.
This is the summary of the interview from the British Universities Film and Video Council – it clearly shows that Sheridan condemned Thatcher and the cops and stated that the campaign would have nothing to do with the government or police inquiries into the riot -
“Chairman of the All Britain Anti-Poll Tax Federation, Tommy Sheridan is interviewed about last week’s demonstration in Trafalgar Square, London. Sheridan expresses disappointment that the protest ended in violence, but largely blames Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher for instituting the poll tax (community charge) in the first place, and the police for launching an assault on a largely innocent crowd. He expresses distrust in Government and police inquiries, saying the Federation will be holding its own. There are plans for future demonstrations, even in London, although probably in a larger venue than Trafalgar Square, where they will try to peacefully quell any action on the part of potential troublemakers.”
This isn’t proof either. Firstly it’s not a transcript, it’s a summation of someone else’s words. Secondly it ignores entirely the actual words Sheridan spoke and the fact when given the opportunity in the context of sentences quoted above he did not resile from condemning the riot. Not good enough JRG.

The evidence you quote from is ‘evidence’ from people who were not at Downing Street when the trouble started – members of the Militant were stewards at Downing Street when the whole thing kicked off and reported directly what had happened. Despite the fact that the cops were itching for a fight and everyone knew it – people like Fox and Glennon gave an accurate and true account of events even though it would have served their political agenda better if they had simply glossed over the actions of CW and their SWP hangers on. None of this in any way diminishes the antics of the cops and their intention of instigating a riot – but neither does it mean that the truth is simply brushed under the carpet. The actions of the anarchists and the SWP elements resulted in the campaign having to deal with nonsense it shouldn’t have had to. And by the way – this is the type of stuff that had to be addressed in the aftermath of the riot – from the same article you quoted – One author reveals his favourite method of debate as “beating the left scum (preferably with a big stick)” and their political strategy for defeating the poll tax – ‘a series of escalating confrontations with the police’ as ‘the only way forward’.
Christ JRG. You’ve offered one quote from one individual and that’s it – a quote that doesn’t mention the arrests unlike the accounts I’ve provided. How on earth do you know that the others weren’t at Downing Street? You can’t, and again you’re just making it up if you say otherwise. In the context of the comments of Sheridan and Nally it’s clear that Militant members were in a bit of a cleft stick, as was the organisation itself – for which it has my sympathy, but it did the right thing and pointed the blame where it lay – unlike you.

revolutionaryprogramme - February 4, 2013

JRG, I have never claimed that the Militant shopped anyone to the police by actually making the names of those considered to be troublemakers public. The inquiry was indeed internal to the campaign.

But that does not alter the fact that Nally threatened to do something different in that tv interview the day after the protest/riot.

I am not the one “going round the houses”. I have just pointed to that threat being made by Nally.

It is you who has been “going round the houses”. First saying that some wider context of the whole interview meant the comment didn’t mean what it clearly does when taken alone.

Then when that argument fell down, through your inability to provide any evidence, you bizarrely tried to argue that the comment itself didn’t mean what it clearly does mean.

Then you have moved on to making general arguments about labour movement inquiries and the fact that the threat was never carried out.

But none of that alters the truth that the threat was made by Nally.

I know you won’t like this but this really does remind me of “discussing” with Sparts who will never concede they could be wrong even about any secondary or tertiary point to an argument. It is an article of faith for them that they represent the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I must confess it is frustrating to find a similar approach being taken by someone in the SP.

Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - January 29, 2013

Ah for the days when Militant were the most puritanical of the Trotskyist groups. A snorkel parka, NHS specs, faux Scouse accent ( or true Dub if in Ireland), a pint of plain and maybe a Woodbine, ‘pound for the fighting fund comrade, Marxist paper for workers unity and socialism’. None of this swinging clubs, hairy chests and the like.

Jolly Red Giant - January 29, 2013

You forgot the sunbed – and it would be a shame to forget Degsy.

Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - January 29, 2013

Hatton was good value and that rarity in the Militant- an excellent public speaker. I take the view- which his former comrades seem to share- that he wasn’t really a traitor, he just moved on. Lots do, most not in public.

Jolly Red Giant - January 29, 2013

I had a lot of time for Hatton – while he wasn’t the most politically conscious activist , he had tremendous class instincts during that period. He was prone to taking short cuts. He was an excellent speaker but not the best of the Liverpool Militant by a longshot (Tony Mulhearn was head and shoulders above Hatton). To the best of my knowledge the only people that considered hima traitor were non-Militant people (I don’t recall any Militant member describing him as such). He was faced with enormous difficulties after the defeat of the Council and – yes – simply moved on.

Ordinary Worker - January 30, 2013

@ Pat – hypocrisy might be an inappropriate word, but to veto a clear ULA position on Wallace when the scandal broke, and then change tack as soon as Daly resigns, and then browbeat others for not condemning Wallace, as often, or with equal urgency, when it suited the SP to do so. What should we call this? We agree on the necessity of distancing from Wallace. We just disagree on the purposes of an obsessive focus on Wallace at a particular point in time. Perhaps we are too soft, but for some of us the spectacle of an entire party machine attacking Daly so relentlessly on this point (particularly on social media) was actually quite disgusting. There is also a tendency on the part of the SP to moralize about solo-runs while itself does solo-runs. One example was the SP response to attacks on the left by the right-wing media (over expenses etc.). It is possible to explain the above, but it requires mental contortions that even someone like me (you know, a disingenuous, naïve type, who doesn’t understand anything and who is clearly in denial) would find difficult to manage.

pat - January 30, 2013

OW,

“Hypocrisy” not just inappropriate, it doesn’t apply at all, in any sense.

The Socialist Party hasn’t changed tack since the Wallace issue first emerged, our position is the same now as it was then. We condemn his actions and we demand that he pays back all of the money he owes, if he doesn’t it should be taken.

That was a clear position. A clear position didn’t necessitate calling for his resignation. A demand that you and the others quickly abandoned I might ad. Incidently, if things take a turn for the worse, you all could be accused of hypocrisy if you don’t call for Clare’s resignation for breaking a law, something we would also not be in favour of.

We didn’t demand anything of anyone in relation to Wallace, except that they don’t politically associate with him. This was also the position of the ULA. The problem was that it only mattered to the ULA on paper, what happened in reality was not important, the general refrain was to look the other way and appeal to us to “move on”, it was all a bit farcical.

That was the only reason we had to continue to raise the issue. What were we to do, keep stum in case we hurt some feelings? Give us a break.

I also refute the idea that Clare was attacked by the Socialist Party at any stage, we’re involved in a serious political struggle, Clare knows that as well as anyone and is more than capable of standing up for herself if she feels she has to. I stand over everything we said on the issue, in fact we’ve been vindicated by successive events, and will continue to be I’m sure.

revolutionaryprogramme - January 30, 2013

I think that the SP, to their credit, have been pretty consistent on the Wallace issue but it is fairly annoying to have them paint themselves as the only ones to have taken a consistent line and that the non-aligned have all capitaluted on this question. This is simply untrue and it serves no useful purpose to distort reality in this way.

Jolly Red Giant - January 30, 2013

RP – you are correct – others have also been consistent on Wallace – WUAG immediately demanded his resignation. Clare Daly defended him to the hilt. Both the SWP and Joan Collins changed positions as it suited their own political agendas.

The Socialist Party have never claimed they were the only ones to take a consistent line on the Wallace scandal – what the Socialist Party has done is consistently defended its position in the light of others telling lies about its political position on Wallace (i.e. that it was tantamount to supporting Wallace or that the position changed when Clare Daly resign.

Finally – I think that Wallace should resign at this point – despite his protestations that he would come clean he has consistently hindered any investigation by the Dail committee on P & P into his tax affairs and, more importantly, has refused to disclose any details of his activites to the people who elected him.

Ordinary Worker - January 30, 2013

@ Pat -
“A demand that you and the others quickly abandoned I might ad. Incidently, if things take a turn for the worse, you all could be accused of hypocrisy if you don’t call for Clare’s resignation for breaking a law, something we would also not be in favour of.”
As you know a number of non-aligned ULA members thought it necessary to call for Wallace’s resignation. Quite a lot were against the call. I think that most either abstained or were undecided on the issue. You do not appear to understand that the non-aligned do not comprise a group, a formation, a tendency or anything else that involves formulating and agreeing on positions – not yet at least. The clue is in the name.
There are quite a few other unsubstantiated assertions. “A demand that you and the others quickly abandoned.” I never supported the call for Wallace’s resignation. I didn’t care very much about it, but I would have preferred if the left stood up to the right-wing media, which was what the SP appeared to be doing at the beginning, and I supported them. From my point of view the Wallace issue is only significant insofar as the most sectarian elements on the left have been using it to attack one another. Your comment about calls for Clare Daly’s resignation is just another expression of this problem.
“we’re involved in a serious political struggle, Clare knows that as well as anyone and is more than capable of standing up for herself.” A purely sectarian witch-hunt is ok then I suppose. No matter how you twist it, this issue has not been pursued in the interests of the working class.
“we’ve been vindicated by successive events, and will continue to be I’m sure.” This one requires no comment.

pat - January 30, 2013

OW,

If you didn’t care very much about the call for Wallace’s resignation, then what exactly were you referring to in saying that the Socialist Party prevented the ULA from taking a clear position? Or are you backtracking now?

I’m aware that the non-aligned are not a coherent grouping, but like the other forces they were unanimous in allowing agreed positions in the ULA to be broken – either by supporting the actions of Clare and Joan, or remaining silent.

You clearly have a warped understanding of the term ‘sectarian’. Unless you are suggesting that there was and is no political connection between Daly, Collins and Wallace at all, which would be astounding, then you have to accept that there was a political basis for raising the issue – as such a connection is damaging to a left-wing organsiation.

Just because you and others didn’t like that we raised it does not make it sectarian.

Hence, these pathetic notions that, “it was all just about attacking Clare Daly”, is nothing more than a poor excuse for awful stances taken by some on these issues.

And we have been vindicated in the sense that the political connection has become more open and pronounced since these issues were first discussed, the X bill and the penalty points stunt being the most concrete examples.

Ordinary Worker - January 30, 2013

@ Pat – the broad call for resignation was thought by some to be a means of making the position on Wallace clear. Perhaps it would have, if the SP had been on board; perhaps it wouldn’t. I did not think it was the way to go anyway because the demands just fell into line with the agenda of the right-wing media, which I thought, was making a mountain out of a molehill.
The non-aligned have made it clear to Daly and Collins that they do not want to be part of any formation that is connected with Mick or Ming. That is not to say that the non-aligned wish to control every initiative, or tell people to sit etc. But joint press statements are unacceptable.
So, what do you think is the best way to realise agreement and accountability from Daly and Collins on this issue? A public war of words? Digging up every embarrassing issue we can think of, exaggerating every issue and relentlessly airing them in public? The result would be to breed mutual hostility. We could not expect anything else, since if we were to do this our goal would not be to pressure, to convince, or to influence; our goal would be that of undermining them. We will leave that to the SP.
I am quite familiar with definition of sectarianism adhered to by the SP – ‘putting the interests of your own organisation before the interests of the working class’. This definition on its own provides no guide at all for practice. As you know, sectarian organisations always and everywhere consider their own analysis to be correct. The leadership is rarely, if ever, wrong. Mistakes are rarely made, or at least, they are rarely recognised. Problems that arise are always somebody else’s fault. Sectarians are always the most certain that they possess the correct ideas. It follows that they think they know precisely what to do in the best interests of the working class. Therefore, in putting their organisation first they think they are putting the interests of the working class first. Whatever they say and do is understood to be in the interests of the working class, so nothing they say or do can be described as sectarian. I bet you cannot even admit to one mistake on the part of the SP which was detrimental to the ULA. Yet, the sectarianism of the SP over the last few months is clear to all except the SP. Do you see the problem?

pat - January 30, 2013

So you accept that the Socialist Party did not stop or veto the ULA taking a clear position on Wallace, that’s good.

On how to realise your agreement; absolutely have a discussion, have many. We did that in the ULA. The question you have to ask is; what happens when they agree to that arrangement, if they do, and then break that agreement again and again?

We felt the need to make public statements, as that situation was untenable and nobody inside the ULA would listen.

As for your definition of sectarianism:

“sectarian organisations always and everywhere consider their own analysis to be correct. The leadership is rarely, if ever, wrong. Mistakes are rarely made, or at least, they are rarely recognised. Problems that arise are always somebody else’s fault. Sectarians are always the most certain that they possess the correct ideas. It follows that they think they know precisely what to do in the best interests of the working class.”

In one sense these are just abstract generalities, divorced from the actual discussion and debate. It’s not enough to say; “you couldn’t possibly be right all the time so something you’re doing must be wrong”, without being able to demonstrate with a decent argument or evidence that something has actually been done wrong.

In another sense, what you’ve just said applies to individuals, like yourself, and other non-aligned members who are never wrong about anything.

No, I can’t think of one mistake on the part of the Socialist Party that was detrimental to the ULA, but neither can I think of one mistake on the part of the SWP that was detrimental to the ULA. And while they did the most damage to the ULA with the political connection to Wallace, fundamentally it’s not all Joan and Clare’s fault either.

The “sectarianism of the SP over the last few months is clear to all except the SP” – to all ULA members perhaps, but that’s because like you, they maintain that things they don’t like must be sectarian, it means the don’t have to deal with the political issues.

Ordinary Worker - January 30, 2013

@ Pat – the quote you took from my last post does not contain a definition of sectarianism. I did not attempt to provide one. But you are right. Many of the sentences are just abstract generalisations. These have their place, except that in your view, they do not apply to any of the examples we have been discussing. I disagree. Thanks for the discussion in any case – time consuming but fruitful.

Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - January 30, 2013

This is in the wrong place! re the Poll Tax- every political history of late 20th century Britain dates Thatcher’s fall to the Poll Tax riot. Militant fucked up and knew it, no shame in that, they thought there would be a huge backlash but there wasn’t. The riot in central London brought Thatcher down.

revolutionaryprogramme - January 31, 2013

I resent the implication by JRG that I was searching for quotes to prove the case against the SP. In actuality what I found was evidence that there has indeed been a large degree of sloppy regurgitation of claims against the SP which are not completely accurate. However it is also the case that the source material I did find does paint the Militant comrades in not a great light by blaming the violence on the demonstrators and making an implied threat to grass them up – though it is important to state that this did not happen.

JRG says that the quotes from Nally & Shedian are taken out of context. Fair enough that can happen, but I would want to see some evidence to back that up. JRG links to an online pamphlet so I assumed there might be this evidence in that but actually there is none.

What it does have is a very good and orthodix statement against collaboration with the capitalist state:

“It is impermissible to collaborate with the capitalist state, even against those whose methods and actions we implacably disagree with. Disrupters and disorganisers of Saturday’s demonstration should be dealt with by the forces of the labour movement and not by the capitalist state.”

But it then goes on to impy that the “name names” statement was never made:

“It was necessary to make this statement because, quite shamefully, Steve Nally and Tommy Sheridan had been accused after the demonstration by the some small groups of threatening to ‘name names’ of those who deliberately set out to disrupt the demonstration.”

When this is in fact the implied threat in Nally’s statement.

Now this can perhaps be put down as a mistake in the context of a particular interview but it still did happen and pretending that it did not doesn’t indicate a particularly healthy political culture.

WorldbyStorm - January 30, 2013

[Edit] moved to correct position

Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - January 28, 2013

Good points re make of campaign- on the march in November the average age of the CAWHT contingents was 40 if not 50+. Nothing wrong with that but there is another world out there that haven’t been mobilised.
Agree re Ballyhea too- Vincent Browne’s show (which I know all lefties are supposed to love) gives plenty of airtime to the populist right- whose explanations chime with people more than the left’s to be honest.

Liberation Jumpsuit - January 28, 2013

“It is a turn away from the organised working class who are left with a decrepit and discredited leech leadership that was pretty well booed off the stage over a year ago, but which for some reason is being left to roost…”

Very, very true but calls for a phantom general strike doesn’t help organise the disillusioned trade union activists who wish to dislodge Fr. Begg and his corportist parasites.

itsapoliticalworld - January 28, 2013

No sure why you are mentioning a general strike, phantom or otherwise, as I didn’t mention one. Did someone call for one ? The job of overturning and expelling these corrupt and self serving Union “officials” starts in the union branches. And turning 90% of time and resources into a tax boycott campaign is not going to allow for that work being done.

CMK - January 28, 2013

People can be involved in both CAHWT and fighting to reclaim the unions at the same time; in fact many are. Political activity is rarely ‘either/or’ but rather ‘both/and’. It’s just, at this point in time CAHWT is the only organised opposition to austerity. It would be crazy to concentrate on other issues when this one has still a long ways to go.

Liberation Jumpsuit - January 28, 2013

“And before anyone starts waving Clare Daly and Mick Wallace at me – just don’t as I don’t support their politics or the practice of walking from a party without taking one’s position to leadership and to the membership.

That sums on Ms Daly nicely – to be trusted to the same extent as Comrade Gilmore and Rabbitte – anyone know if she is still drawing down just the average industrial wage? Her partner certainly is not.

24. itsapoliticalworld - January 28, 2013

to clarify – the “leech leadership” I refer to is the Trade Union leadership

25. itsapoliticalworld - January 28, 2013

@ Ordinary Worker
In a number of threads in the WUAG subforum http://www.politicalworld.org/forumdisplay.php?f=320
and the ULA subforum http://www.politicalworld.org/forumdisplay.php?f=199

Ordinary Worker - January 28, 2013

Thanks

26. CL - January 28, 2013

Populism,-the people versus the elites-is on the upswing with Sinn Fein’s surge in the polls over the weekend.
‘Sinn Féin’s entire political project, including our opposition to austerity, is populist, and unashamedly so.’
-Eoin O Broin.
http://www.irishleftreview.org/2013/01/03/defense-populism/

27. Polls, Politics And Conspiracy Theories | An Sionnach Fionn - January 28, 2013

[...] some sort of good news for Labour as the United Left Alliance (ULA) enters true meltdown mode with the Socialist Party bidding it a not so fond adieu. What is left now of the ULA is pretty much a rag-bag of independent Left activists, effective and [...]

28. D_D - January 29, 2013

We’re a rag-bag again. I think Róisín Shortall (the originator of this arrogant designation of the ULA) is herself out with the rag bags these days :) At 11% to be joined by lots more from Labour after the next election.

richotto - January 29, 2013

Don’t be so quick to write off Labour. In the 1987 election they were reduced to 6.5% and being chased out of Dublin by the Workers Party but by 1992 had gone up to a record 19.3%.

Jolly Red Giant - January 29, 2013

2013 is utterly totally and completely different to 1987-1992. The present day LP is in terminal decline – most of the safe seats belong to people who will retire by the time of the next election and most of the young guns will lose their seats. I will be surprised if the LP break double figures after the next election.

Jim Monaghan - January 29, 2013

And due to the ULA implosion at least in part the gainers will be SF and maybe/probably a FF revival. Of course the sects will claim after this it will be their turn.

WorldbyStorm - January 29, 2013

I think it is clearly a significant opening for SF. Almost guarantees them an extra seat or two and less competition. But that’s fair enough. If people don’t hang together they hang separately. And while I know many here will see SF as an abomination they’re playing the long game and doing it well. There’s also the small point that they are likely to be about the best that can be hoped for for anything left of centre in the next Dáil.

29. itsapoliticalworld - January 29, 2013

:)

30. doctorfive - January 29, 2013

Former comrades can take some comfort that Clare Daly was pulled for a left turn.

Contrary to some of the accusations levelled recently.

Jolly Red Giant - January 29, 2013

I heard it was a u-turn

revolutionaryprogramme - January 30, 2013

Actually it was a right turn…

“I left at midnight and not being familiar with the area found myself on the road to Ballyfermot at Kilmainham and took a right turn onto the South Circular Road trying to get back onto the Northside – unfortunately there is no right turn at this junction”

que - January 30, 2013

“and took a right turn… unfortunately there is no right turn at this junction”
:)

31. CL - January 29, 2013

Can a populist party, Sinn Fein, be described as left-wing?

que - January 29, 2013

having elected more than 2-3 TDs its hard to see how they could be considered an Irish left wing party.

If however they start haemorrhaging seats, reducing in membership, slating other groups and planning how to go forward while actually going backwards at full speed then maybe we should reconsider.

Seriously whats the deal with the obession on SF being left and if so how much.

Time to park the SF question and answer other quesions?

dmfod - January 30, 2013

Because left wing politics matter? Strange to have to point this out to someone who regularly comments on a left wing political site.

revolutionaryprogramme - January 30, 2013

Left-wing populism does exist and it is likely that SF will increasingly take on that mantle – though of course the reality of how they would act if they ever got into power is a quite different matter. Populists, no matter how left-wing they may appear, are not anti-capitalist and will be “pragmatic” and “realistic” if ever in power.

CL - January 30, 2013

I suppose it depends on how one defines ‘left-wing’.
If the poplulism of Sinn Fein is not anti-capitalist they can hardly claim the radical mantle of James Connolly.
Does anyone doubt that Sinn Fein would jump at the chance of forming a coalition government with Fianna Fail if the opportunity arose?

que - January 30, 2013

all fair points maybe but still not negating the point that “Irish left wing ” is a synonym for ineffectual.

Busily pointing out Sinn Fein as being less than perfect while everyone left of them struggles in a small pond of about 3% with receding prospects of growing or making an impact on the current economic model seems disingenuous at worst and simply missing the real problems at best.

Ed - January 31, 2013

I try to avoid using the word ‘populist’ to describe SF, because it’s used so often as a meaningless label to attack anyone who steps outside the right-wing consensus (e.g Chavez / Morales are ‘dangerous populists’, SYRIZA are ‘irresponsible populists’ etc.). I’d be quite happy if SF were ‘populists’ in that mould.

My problem with SF is that they are ‘pragmatists’ in the worst sense of the term; they follow what they think is the prevailing wind. So in 2007, they tacked to the right, thinking that would win them votes; that turned out badly, then when the ECB/IMF came to town, they tacked left again, and did very well in 2011 on the back of that; but they’re still perfectly capable of tacking back right again when they think the moment is right. And this is all without even mentioning the contradictions between SF policy on either side of the border.

The fact that socialist groups to the left of SF haven’t been able to get their act together doesn’t prove SF have the right strategy, although of course it’ll make it a lot easier for the SF leadership to dismiss their critics. The radical left in Britain has completely failed to organise an effective challenge to the Labour Party over the last 10-15 years; that doesn’t mean any of the criticisms of Labour are any less valid.

Jim Monaghan - January 31, 2013

And the far left rivals of SF cannot form a coalition with each other.The right in SF have been given a perfect argument for “realistic” politics by the debacle.

32. critical media review - January 30, 2013

My take on some of the issues involved can be found here:

http://links.org.au/node/3203

33. Red Hand - February 4, 2013

My feeling would be after wading through the above, is that the left get the left they deserve. The working class probably deserve better.

CMK - February 4, 2013

The above is commentary on the Left; it is not the Left. While this commentary is worthwhile and often illuminating many active on the Left will be unaware of it and would care less if they were aware of it.

The idea that the ‘working class deserve better’ is unhelpful. The corollary of that would the view that working class support for FF/FG/Lab means they deserve the consequences when the policies persued by those parties inevitably go wrong. That is that the ‘working class’ now deserve austerity, cuts, property taxes etc because they voted for FF in huge numbers (many, many multiples more than ever voted for a Left party, including the WP at its height).

The fact is that the ‘working class’ has ignored the Left since the foundation of the state for a variety of reasons and placed their fate in the right wing parties who, up to 2008-2011, mostly came up with the bacon, if you ignore, as most workers did, mass emigration, occasional mass unemployment and pitiful public services. The clientist module is bankrupt, gone forever, under the new dispensation following the installation of what will prove to be permanent Troika rule. Conscious class politics – i.e. Left politics – form the only coherent response to that. And I think we’ll see incremental growth of the Left vote over the years.

The idea that the sudden massive crash in the Irish economy should have translated in huge gains electorally for the Left is again unhelpful. However, the drastic restructing of the parameters of Irish politics following that crisis opens up spaces that only Left wing politics can fill and, as I said, I think we’ll see a steady growth of the Left over the next decade. The Right have precious few sweeties to dispense, and they’ll never have them again, and the consequences of that are only beginning to percolate across the system.

WorldbyStorm - February 4, 2013

I think there’s a lot in that CMK.

And I’d add and underline your point about the right not dispensing sweeties. They’ve used this crisis to accentuate class structures to their own advantage and are now set against even the partial social democratic consensus of the post-1945 era (that which wasn’t whittled away already). This is a qualitatively different crisis to that we’ve seen hitherto – and while I get why RH below might be sceptical I’m not exactly a revolutionary, at least in the sense I suspect he means, and I still find your argument persuasive.

CMK - February 4, 2013

Yes, this feeds into the other debate on the Left arising from the RTE feature yesterday. Historically the Left has been weak here for a number of reasons that most will probably be familiar with them. However, I think it’s important not to confuse reasons why the Left have, up to now, not secured a structurally significant part in Irish political life, with claims that it will never, ever, become an important part. I actually think in current circumstances, and this will be case for the next 15 years at least, it is all to play for and that the Left, in its many guises, will advance, possibly significantly and beyond what we might comprehend working within the collected wisdom about the Irish Left 1922-2013.

WorldbyStorm - February 4, 2013

Big time, was just commenting in the same vein to Branno. It’s not impossible for there to be a significant change for the better. After all, the situation today with five clear further left TDs (more or less :) ) and a halo of left social democratic indo’s and some progressive voices in both SF and the LP is immeasurably better for all the obvious problems with them than say five years ago.

34. Red Hand - February 4, 2013

‘The Right have precious few sweeties to dispense, and they’ll never have them again, and the consequences of that are only beginning to percolate across the system.’
You hope? or you know? This sounds just like what revolutionaries have been saying for years. In fact what they usually said was ‘wait until capitalism goes into crisis…’
I don’t believe the working class deserves the right, but I do thionk they deserve better than the sociualist party, socialist workers party etc squablling


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