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Left Unity How Are You…… October 6, 2013

Posted by irishelectionliterature in The Left.
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Mark P commented earlier …..

There is a rumour going around Facebook and twitter, in both cases originating with SWP members, that the SWP has decided to stand Brid Smith in the Dublin constituency against Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy. Smith would be standing under the banner of their People Before Profit electoral front rather than openly as an SWP candidate.

She would be a no hope candidate, so their rationale for standing seems to be to raise her profile to better position her to take on independent socialist Joan Collins in the general election. Or to put it another way, damaging Murphy’s chances would merely be an added bonus in a two for the price one piece of naked sectarianism.

There has been no official announcement as of yet, so I sincerely hope that saner heads will prevail. But for the moment there are quite senior SWP people welcoming this “fantastic news” on Facebook.

Had a look and there’s all sorts of stuff on Facebook and Twitter from as Mark P says people from various sides.

There’s another Austerity budget due in the coming weeks and ……. Yes more pointless infighting from The Left.

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Comments»

1. steve white - October 6, 2013

bcos Paul Murphy was going to get elected no he wasn’t. should FG stand aside for FF?

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What a Toole - October 7, 2013

Paul has a chance of being elected, a very credible chance, even without the goodwill of the SWP in Dublin. Hoping for which would be delusionally wishful thinking.

The politics of austerity are guaranteed to have a candidate elected in the 2014 Euro elections, so no; there is no need to have FG stand aside for FF. The politics of anti-austerity however… but whether the SWP are serious about the fight against is debatable, certainly if the fight against austerity includes a stronger left.

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2. Kevin Higgins - October 6, 2013
3. Ivorthorne - October 6, 2013

War of the buttons territory.

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4. SEK - October 6, 2013

Who are the quite senior SWP people welcoming this news” on Facebook. ?

If this is true, its bad form and counter productive on part of the swp trying to undermine and split the left vote.

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Mark P - October 6, 2013

Marnie H on Facebook. Niamh McD defended the decision. Memet U also welcomed it in twitter. It would be surprising to say the least if these people weren’t in the know.

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5. Shn - October 6, 2013

*not an SP member*

1. This is plain and simple a wrecking operation(and maybe critical for the resources it would take out) with a view towards further wrecking operations(profile-building to unseat Joan Collins in the next GE). It is the heights(or pits) of sectarianism in all of its many definitions.

2. There is *zero* theoretical justification for this on, supposedly, their own grounds. “Revolutionaries don’t care about parliament anyway” doesn’t cut it when there are sitting socialist reps who will lose the objective gain for the working class of those platforms for your actions. This attempt to monopolize the left for themselves by dealing heavy blows to rivals is anti-Leninist – the working class will always have multiple organisations. It strays dangerously close to conflating building the party with the class – which is, actually, the method of reformism and a dividing line between revolutionary parties and old school Kautskyian reformist social democracy. Or it actually sees the SP as reformists and is taking the mad Zinvovievist position of systematically routing them out of the movement – which is what those Sparts we all love to joke about are all about. It all suggests a serious political degeneration in sections of the SWP leadership so they probably won’t be the source of a solution here.

This strategy of theirs seems to indicate serious political degeneration of elements in sections of the leadership. Thankfully, the SWP is not a monolithic bloc. There are great people and organisers in there and among the rank and file. We should make comradely appeals for them to correct this course quickly before it polarises and starts to fragment the left – leaving all of us, including them f*cked. It has not been publicly announced yet so there is time. Coming from different perspectives, some things aren’t always at first as apparent and as obvious to others as we might see from other vantage points.

At the same time, it is the ideal opportunity for other groups and candidates to pass motions/appeals of support for Paul Murphy being the leftwing candidate for the Dublin MEP seat.

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theworkingclassheroesblog - October 8, 2013

Well said!

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6. Mark P - October 6, 2013

Just seen Tina McV moaning about all the people giving out. she argues – and I swear I am not making this up – that we should be talking about how to get two socialist MEPs in Dublin. Out of three.

As so often with the SWP the observer is left to wonder: disingenuousness or full frontal lobotomy?

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SEK - October 6, 2013

I just seen her post.

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Mark P - October 7, 2013

I’ve always wondered if SWP have a special procedure to remove their sense of shame, or if that kind of brazen dishonesty develops over time.

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7. Chet Carter - October 6, 2013

….. dealing heavy blows to rivals is anti-leninist ….. old school Kautskyian reformist social democracy …. mad Zinvovievist position of systematically routing them …. I don’t know I am sure Shn means well but sometimes I really despair of the Irish Left.

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que - October 7, 2013

Your having a lark Carter if you dont understand Kautskyian or Zinvovievist positions.

Clearly you are not a working class lad.

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8. people beyond sense - October 7, 2013

The SWP may have received this order from the Islamofascist/MI5/sexual deviant centre in England – if so it means Paul Murphy has been doing good in Europe.

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9. Mark P - October 7, 2013

Actually just for entertainment purposes, what sort of first preference vote do people reckon the left would need in the SWPs bizarro-world Dublin to get two seats out of three?

Would 42% do it?

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10. SEK - October 7, 2013

Here is the comment from Tina m.

(Is this not a reflection of the low level of struggle existing in Irish society, and the role of the whole of the left in that? Why aren’t we discussing the kind of left we want in Ireland and strategising for two left wing Irish MEPs?)

https://www.facebook.com/tina.macveigh.1/posts/10201630197750059

I personally can see this as BS, its an attempt by the swp to undermine someone getting elected nothing more, and it wouldn,t be the first time either the swp tried to undermine something, a protest was organised by tony rochford during the summer for dail return day on september 18th, what did richard boyd barrett do ? organised his own peoples assembly protest on the same day in an attempt to undermine the other protest, between the swp running brid smith against paul murphy and richard boyd barrett trying to undermine someone elses protest, on a political level I have lost a lot of respect for the swp for their carry on.

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11. DerBlutendeRabe - October 7, 2013

In fairness, Murphy is dead on arrival, whether or not Brid stands.

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12. people beyond sense - October 7, 2013

To be fair Rochford undermined his own protest by being insane.

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SEK - October 7, 2013

The protest that tony rochford organised, although it was a small turnout, it received far more national and international media coverage and got more peoples talking and debating protests, then richard boyd barretts gathering giving speeches to a captive audience.

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DerBlutendeRabe - October 7, 2013

It received more national coverage for all the wrong reasons.

File it under: conspiracy nutjob idiocy.

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13. people beyond sense - October 7, 2013

Nah, Murphy had a slim chance – these clowns running ends that.

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14. Chet Carter - October 7, 2013

FG and SF have the first two seats. A broad left campaign for Murphy could have got him ahead of FF and LAB but if SWP are going to do this you do have to wonder about their commitment to giving the working class a voice in Dublin.

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15. dilettante - October 7, 2013

Paul Murphy has been a CWI MEP, – not particularly interested to use the seat to benefit the broader left in Ireland.

Not really sure why non-CWI people should be so worried about whether he keeps the seat or not?

Would be good for him to keep the seat though – or for Brid to get the seat in his place.

Hopefully they’ll transfer to each other.

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dilettante - October 7, 2013

I say “keep the seat”, but of course Paul Murphy is no Joe Higgins. The only electoral advantage that Paul Murphy has over Brid Smith is that Joe left Paul the seat.

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Mark P - October 7, 2013

Ah, there’s a familiar odour. Could it possibly be the rank scent of SWP disingenuousness again?

On the last thread you trotted out a wilfully ignorant view that, sure split votes don’t matter with STV, so what’s the problem?That didn’t fly. So now we get, sure Paul Murphy is only a sectarian anyway, so what’s the problem?

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David L - October 7, 2013

I think that’s a unfair criticism of Paul Murphy. I’m not SP, but as someone involved in international solidarity campaigns, I know that Paul has done sterling work on this issue, as well as a number of others. At the same time, though he is a good candidate, I agree that he only has an outside chance of getting elected because of his relatively low profile (outside of left circles). But wouldn’t dilettante agree that this chance will be made even slimmer if the SWP run a candidate?

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que - October 7, 2013

Paul may have been someone involved in international solidarity campaigns but that wont be something that determines the Socialist Workers party position on an election in Dublin and why should it? This is an election in Ireland not in Palestine etc issues close to the hearts of activists but in an election in Ireland it will neither influence voters nor determine strategy.

The charge of sectarianism by Murphy is again a charge that should just be ignored or laughed at. When Dilletante talks about sectarianism just laugh and nod. If you talk to any man woman or child in a working class area about sectarianism then they will think Catholic/Protestant.

Dilettante just proves how far removed he is from the working class by saying so and others the same by being offended by it.

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Ed - October 8, 2013

Ah here would you give us a break with that stuff – it’s perfectly clear why David L made the point about Murphy’s support for Palestine etc., it was in response to a claim that he had used the seat for the CWI’s good and nothing else; people like myself and David who hold no brief for the SP can see that’s rubbish, and I’m sure you can too. ‘Sectarian’ may have a certain meaning in Belfast but it also has a clear meaning in left-wing circles that you’re perfectly familiar with.

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16. shea - October 7, 2013

bit of an over reaction no? if she has no chance then the votes will most likely go to Murphy down the line. yis left the ULA, are others obliged not attempt to build their party. Do like all mature politicians do, welcome her to the race and give her a hug with a dagger in your hand.

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RosencrantzisDead - October 7, 2013

As Mark P pointed out earlier and on another thread, PR-STV does not function like that. Transfers get lost and the order of elimination can prejudice a candidate.

An example: Fianna Fail ran two candidates in the last Euro elections, they both went home empty-handed despite their combined first prefs being almost one and a half times that of Higgins.

If the SWP/PbPA wish Brid Smith to run in Dublin, that is their decision but any argument that Murphy won’t be adversely affected is just plain wrong.

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dilettante - October 7, 2013

FF didn’t get elected because of SF transfers to Joe Higgins. SF votes put Joe over the line. Joe and SF votes ( 50,510, and 47,928) were more than FF votes (55,346 and 18,956). Simple maths really.

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RosencrantzisDead - October 7, 2013

While it is not the best analogy, you’ve warped it somewhat. Higgins got over the line by a margin of about 5,400 votes. He did get SF transfers, but he had to have the initial vote to put him in a position to benefit from said transfers. If Eoin Ryan had 65,000 first prefs as opposed to 55,000 things may have been very different.

I might put this another way, why did no other party, apart from FF, run a second candidate? It isn’t because the deposit was too steep.

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dilettante - October 7, 2013

SF transfers went 4:1 to Joe:FF (after the elimination of other lefties) Even if FF had been at 65,000 Joe would have romped home on SF transfers. Not sure what your point is?

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RosencrantzisDead - October 7, 2013

Fine. The analogy was a bad one.

My other question: why did no other party run a second candidate in ’09? Are you really saying that voting splitting does not occur?

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Mark P - October 7, 2013

I’m looking forward to dilettante putting all those party strategists the mainstream parties waste their money on out of work, by showing that it doesn’t matter how many ways you split the vote under STV.

Sure maybe Joan Collins should consider standing as well. I mean, she’ll need to keep her profile up as against that of her sororicidal neighbour in Ballyfermot. And as of now split votes don’t matter!

Perhaps as one independent leftist on Facebook suggested, if Paul Murphy loses the European seat he could consider standing in Dun Laoghaire in the next general election. I’m sure Richard Boyd Barrett wouldn’t mind, given that dilettante could explain to him that split votes make no difference.

(Or perhaps you are running into that patented SWP disingenuousness again. Surely not.)

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dilettante - October 7, 2013

Didn’t realise that SP and SWP were the same party (as you seem to imply)

And I would have thought that “vote-splitting” would have been more of a bourgeois pre-occupation?

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Mark P - October 7, 2013

I’m impressed with your work rate dilettante. Your average SWP member doesn’t have the self-discipline to keep moving on to new pastures like this. They tend to pick a disingenuous pose and stick with it. You on the other hand have managed to go from (a) sure, split votes don’t matter with STV through (b) sure, Paul Murphy is only a sectarian anyway, what’s the harm to (c) sure, thinking about electoral strategy is bourgeois, nothing to be worrying about. And that’s in half a dozen posts.

I look forward to seeing how many more you come up with over the rest of the thread. If you at some point start worrying about your well of inspiration running dry, please don’t doubt yourself. I have every faith in your ability to come out with this kind of butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth dishonesty on a practically unlimited basis.

And if you are really stuck, you could always give Tina or Marnie a ring and pick up a few tips.

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dilettante - October 7, 2013

Mark P

Not sure you can show me where I’m wrong? (even in terms of your caricatures of my opinions)

Meanwhile, some of us have to sleep.

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Mark P - October 7, 2013

Show you where you are wrong about which of your interchangeable disingenuous excuses wrong? And do I have to keep rebutting each new excuse as it occurs to you?

1) I’ve already explained to you that vote splitting matters under STV. You have neither tried to rebut that explanation nor attempted to answer RiD’s illustrative question because although you’ve adopted a useful argument, you don’t actually believe it. That disingenuousness, by the way, is what makes your unstated SWP affiliations so clear to those of us who have had to deal with this kind of shiteology for years on end.

2) I don’t really feel the need to defend Paul Murphy’s admirable record of working to build a stronger left in Ireland from sneering accusations made by someone trying to defend one of the most nakedly sectarian manoeuvres the Irish left has seen in quite a while. I’d presume that you haven’t watched him on television or been active in any of he many campaigns he’s used his platform to assist, but that would mean taking your disingenuous sneering in good faith. In fact, I tend to assume that you know of his record and are, as so often with SWP members, are merely lying because it’s convenient.

3) I am not under the impression that the SWP ( or their front name the PBPA) is part of the same organisation as the Socialust Party. I did however make the mistake of arguing on the assumption that both organisations are interested in building a stronger left in Ireland. That, of course, was a mistake. Don’t worry: not many people will be as mistakenly generous again.

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shea - October 7, 2013

Dilettante got there before me. The bulk of the second FF candidates transfers went to Ryan, yes not all of them, but then thats the voters choice, if your candidate isn’t getting a number two can you really talk about splitting the vote. The only votes she will take away will be either ones who for some hypothetical reason where not going to vote for him anyway or ones that think she is slightly better and mark a no 2 for him on it.

Our transfer system is actually very easy. if you get over a quota your surpus gets distributed proportionally to how people marked their second preferences on all your ballots or if your at the bottom you get elimitated and your votes distributed in accordance to the voters preference.

How high are independents in dublin in that last poll, have read that the shinners and FG and the two biggest parties in dublin but where are the independents in that.

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shea - October 7, 2013

sorry forgot to add this if we are talking about transfers. http://electionsireland.org/counts.cfm?election=2009E&cons=524&ref=

any way pauls going to need transfers if he is to get elected. while his defenders may mean well not sure how productive it is. to the cynic in me it reads like coming up with excuses to justify not winning before the ball has been trown in.

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What a Toole - October 7, 2013

Of course Paul needs transfers, but he also crucially needs all first preference votes for the left, if he is to survive all elimination ROUNDS. Paul and Brid could both be eliminated in the same round because neither have enough first preferences to proceed to the next, because of a split in the left vote.

This is one part of how your destructive self interest could damage the chances of retaining a left MEP. As for the cynic in you, I’m inclined believe that the cynicism in you knows no depth, nor does the sectarianism.

This decision of the SWP is a disgrace, and the people who support a left-wing candidate for Europe will agree, thats a certainty. This will damage brid among her supporters too.

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WorldbyStorm - October 7, 2013

I’m pretty sure shea is not a member of the SWP. I could be wrong, but that’s my sense of things across the years.

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shea - October 7, 2013

Think you need to relax there with the paronia, you won’t win anything with it. if paul is that low that he gets eliminated on the same count as brid then his problems will not be her or the SWP’s making. you do melodrama very well but the way european elections work out is that there is usually one leafty seat in Dublin, the weaker transfering to the stronger. Given that dublin is now a 3 seater that tradition may be dead and you are arguing over nothing or maybe with the realignment going on and the rise of the independent vote there may still be something to play for. If there is get used to other candidates putting there name in the race and i mean that, get used to it, trowing a tantrum is never an endearing quality and can do more damage to a campaign than you clearly realise. not now nor never have i been a member or supporter of the SWP. I come on this site for a bit of interesting reading and maybe the ‘odd’ conversation, thats whats happening now on my part, no political skullduggery from me.

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What a Toole - October 8, 2013

If you don’t think that first preference votes for a left-wing candidate could make a critical difference to the election of a credible left-wing candidate with some chance of being elected, then you don’t understand our electoral system. But the real point here is that Brid has no chance of being elected and therefore nothing good can come of this plan; it’s pointless (save a cheap profiling stunt for the SWP candidate) and potentially destructive.

I’m fairly sure the person commenting here as shea is an SWP member, his clutching at straws defences of this sectarian nonsense have similar characteristics as dilettante’s above. So in one post he offers two equally terrible justifications:

1) That Paul will simply get all of Brid’s votes in transfers, so her standing will make no difference to the outcome. So presumably all of the left organisations in Dublin should stand, sure ‘it’s all to play for’. That’s how it works, no? No…

2) Neither candidate may have a chance in contesting the seat, so this all could be an argument about nothing. Yes that would suit you. Except that’s simply not the situation here, but shea’s only concern is what’s good for the SWP, regardless of what it means for the politics of anti-austerity, the left or the working class.

The SWP should think harder about their own credibility going forward and reconsider this ridiculous decision, it won’t be forgotten and they will pay a price.

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shea - October 8, 2013

Given that joe got about 50,000 last time how much of that vote was SWP supporters lending their support. hardly half, the SWP would not have 25,000 supporters in Dublin, little chance of 10% would 5% at 2,500 be generous. lets call it that for the sake of argument. The SP risk loosing about 5% to the SWP by the latter group running a candidate, Now Paul and Brid may by some long shot end up at the same level and get eliminated at the same time but the SWP running a candidate will only be a very small conribution to that senario. If Patrica Mckenna is running they would possibly loose more to her, and maybe a few more other possible candidates, Candidates stood against patrica when she was an incumbant so doubt the same sentimentality will fly with her. Doubt its flying with sensible heads in the SP either.

your dead right 1st preferences are important. the left candidate who gets the most has the best chance of mopping up the transfers of all the weaker left candidates and getting over the line.

nah mate, you have me wrong, i don’t identify with Russian tendencies.

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17. people beyond sense - October 7, 2013

SWP, counter gang or useful idiots?

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18. Mark P - October 7, 2013

To be fair, there are some SWP members who seem pretty appalled on Facebook. I’ve just been reading one of the getting shouted at by one of the rabid element.

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19. rockroots - October 7, 2013

I may be missing something here, but Joan Collins (at least on her website) still advertises herself as part of People Before Profit. Even if her membership of the new UL party cancels that out, the UL is still technically allied with PBP within the ULA. Why would they be targeting even her?

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Kevin Higgins - October 7, 2013

Because, Rockroots, me auld mucker, “The Socialist Workers Party, [is] an organisation whose opportunism is such that they would likely, as a friend of mine once put it, ‘be prepared to sodomise their own dead grandparents live on national TV if they thought it would buy them some short term political advantage’” http://upstart.ie/poem-of-the-day-kevin-higgins-against-togetherness/

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20. Jim Monaghan - October 7, 2013

I suggest that maybe a meeting of relevant parties chaired by say Mick O’Reilly might help. A bit desperate but worth a try. For me it is a wrecking op. I don’t think I will canvass for the SWP in Dun Laoghaire not that they will miss me.

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21. Johnny Forty Coats - October 7, 2013

Neither of the British-based Trotskyist groupuscules have a snow flake’s chance in hell of winning a seat in the EU elections. Joe Higgins’s success last time was a personal vote based on his previous performance as a Dáil performer. Neither the SP nor the SWP have anyone else who can come near to matching his performance.

If a left-wing seat is to be won in Dublin (apart from the one that is likely to go to SF), it will require a candidate with broad recognition and respect across the constituency, and I think that means a genuine independent. Failing the emergence of such a candidate, the most likely scenario is that the third seat will go to a right-wing independent.

As for names, it’s still early days, but I wouldn’t rule out the re-emergence of Patricia McKenna. She got a respectable vote the last time even though she was overshadowed by Higgins, and I noticed that she made a reappearance during the Seanad referendum campaign (on the wrong side, admittedly). The EU has never been lower in popular esteem, and someone with her track record of opposing real power-grabs (by Brussels) would be in with a chance.

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Bob Smiles - October 7, 2013

What a mess. A terrible commentary on the SWP’s desire to be the biggest kids in the playground.

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CMK - October 7, 2013

JFC, Patricia McKenna came from nowhere in 1994 to win her Euro seat. Paul Murphy has been in situ over two years now and has performed excellently in the Fiscal Treaty referendum campaign, the CAHWT and as a generally well clued in and articulate opponent of austerity. His profile as much higher at a national level than Patricia McKenna’s was when she first won the seat. Paul is well on the way to matching Joe and is immensely more visible than Brid. But, please, spare us the fantasy that some ‘Independent’ Left candidate with ‘broad recognition and respect’ will emerge. Who do you have in mind? The anti-party politics attitude, which will see a raft of crazies elected next year to local authorities, has infected the Left as well where sensible people seem to think that Independents are the way to go. Parties remain relevant and, as we see in the Dáíl, Independents are extremely limited in what they can achieve. Politics remains a collective enterprise. It will suit the establishment just fine to have a raft of uncoordinated Lefts running around while the right wing party machines hoover up votes.

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22. littlemicky2012 - October 7, 2013

I am assuming Paul Murphy is standing for the Socialst party not CAPTA (bit rich of the SP whinning about electoral battles isn’t it). It is posible for people to vote 1,2,3,4 etc in these elections, so I don’t get the idea that the SP own the thing and everyone must row in behind them. I think honestly this is the CAHWT and ULA split chickens coming home to roost. Brid Smith is being run to heighten her profile for the genral lection I would assume, which makes sense from an electoralist point of view. Thankfully I am long done with all that nonsense.

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23. Gearóid - October 7, 2013

Not in the SP and indeed have often been critical of them, but this is a very dismaying move by the SWP, if true. They’ll alienate a lot of people on the left who aren’t in the SP, but recognise that Paul Murphy has the only real chance, albeit slim, to win a seat for the further left in Dublin.

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24. doctorfive - October 7, 2013

Are we to face weeks of Ireland’s revolutionary parties arguing over transfers then.

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25. Jim Monaghan - October 7, 2013

And I have been giving out about the sectarianism of the Greek KKE

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26. Dave - October 7, 2013

I fail to see what the problem is .This is two parties with different views on what kind of left we need in Ireland both running candidates. There was never any discussion on who should be “the left candidate” when JH ran. The SP left the ULA so calling on the rest of the left to row in behind PM is a bit much at this stage.

There are plenty of areas for the local elections where numerous candidates from the left will be contesting in the same constituencies. Including a few where SP members will be challenging PBPA candidates who have been working and standing in the area for some time. Not to mention that PM is planning on standing in Clondalkin in the next general election.

It’s all a big fuss over nothing. The majority of votes for either candidate will likely transfer to the other anyway and having more left candidates should help raise some of the bigger political issues that badly need more discussion in wider society. Getting a real debate about austerity during the campaign is much more useful than the various parts of the left arguing with themselves.

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Mark P - October 7, 2013

The thing that makes dealing with the SWP such an unalloyed pleasure to deal with, whether ir be in campaigns or online, is their absolute refusal to limit themselves to arguing things they actually believe. They will use whatever argument is momentarily convenient, whether or not its credible and even when it is obvious that they would just as happily argue the opposite if it suited their short term interests. Perhaps the single most prominent distinguishing feature of that organisation is their addiction to the bad faith argument.

Take Dave’s contribution above. When Que argues that the left should treat each other like the right wing parties, as enemies and not expect any favours or considerations, I disagree. I think that there is a broader left, a socialist movement and a wider workers movement and that groups and people involved should pay attention to the interests of those movements and not merely the sectarian interests of their own small group. But I don’t thnk that Que is arguing in bad faith. When Dave, on the other hand, implies the same, talks about how we’re all different organisations and the like, he clearly is arguing in bad faith. Or if he isn’t, then the SWP have been arguing in bad faith for years on end now as they go on and on about building a wider left, about putting petty sectarianism behind us, and all of the other feel-good stuff they spout at tedious length when it suits them. You see, you can have one or the other, but not both.

Similarly, when Dave talks about how its a good thng to have more than one left candidate (!), if it was someone else I might simply assume that he doesn’t understand STV elections and leave it at that. But the SWP are well aware that having more left candidates than is optimal is a very bad thing and would squeal at the top of their voices if someone suggested that running a rival left candidate against Richard Boyd Barrett “should help raise some of the bigger political issues that badly need more discussion in wider society” or some similar transparently disingenuous guff.

And yet again, when Dave talks about these things as “no big deal”, not only can anyone with a functioning brain understand that he would not be arguing that if there was a clash in Dun Laoghaire, we don’t actually have to get into those kind of what ifs. Because in actual fact when the SWP have believed that someone else on the left might stand on what they regard as their patch (and they have a very expansive definition of their patch) in recent years they have indeed objected vociferously. Even though, of course, nobody has ever proposed standing a second candidate where an SWPer was an incumbent or was in with even the slightest chance of winning. They wouldn’t, you see, because no other force on the Irish left would be quite that sectarian, destructive and irresponsible. When it suits them they will argue A is B and then if their immediate self intersts change they wll argue B is A. You can’t trust them to stick to agreements, you can’t even trust that they believe whatever they are saying at any given moment.

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Mark P - October 7, 2013

That second last sentence should of course read “…if their immediate self interest changes they will argue that A is the opposite of B”.

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WorldbyStorm - October 7, 2013

I’m not doubting your sincerity in making this case, but I can think of one glaring case where there was an incumbent left TD with a very good chance, perhaps even an excellent chance, of retaining that seat and where another candidate entered the ring (and eventually won a seat at a subsequent contest) and the incumbent lost theirs.

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sonofstan - October 7, 2013

Indeed.And helped elect Liam Lawlor.

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WorldbyStorm - October 7, 2013

Yep.

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RosencrantzisDead - October 7, 2013

I don’t get the reference, but how does something that happened in the 1980s justify what is happening now?

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irishelectionliterature - October 7, 2013

The reference is to this… where Joe Higgins by standing put an end to any hope the WP had of a Dail seat right after the split with DL.
http://electionsireland.org/result.cfm?election=1992&cons=112
It doesn’t have the count details but Tomás Mac Giolla lost the seat by 59 votes to Liam Lawlor.

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RosencrantzisDead - October 7, 2013

Thanks for that, IEL. I would have been quite young when that happened. Still, it does not justify what is happening now.

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irishelectionliterature - October 7, 2013

To be fair as far as I recall the constituency had been redrawn since 1989 and the redraw did MacGiolla no favours. His heartland was split whilst Higgins would have been based on the other side of the Park.

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WorldbyStorm - October 7, 2013

That’s true, though mcgiolla was winning 10% of the vote as late as the 96 by election and absent a challenge from another left candidate would still have been strongly positioned in 1992, but re boundary changes wouldn’t the same excuse hold true for Dun Laoghaire now in the wake of recent changes or any Constituency where such changes had taken place given that these matters are quite subjective?

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WorldbyStorm - October 7, 2013

Justify? No, but it raises the question as to what principle underlies the criticisms levelled at the SWP. And in all honesty 1992 isn’t that long ago in political terms and many, perhaps most, of those in all party leaderships across the left remain in situ.

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irishelectionliterature - October 7, 2013

The Boundary changes prior to 1992 that impacted MacGiolla were that part of the existing Dublin West which was a 5 seater went into Dublin Central. This would have been part of MacGiolla heartland. It also went from 5 seats to 4.
Which thinking about it makes it even worse to stand against him.
With the new boundaries none of Dun Laoghaire is taken out its been added to.

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Jolly Red Giant - October 7, 2013

Hold the bloody horses – MacGiolla didn’t lose the 1992 election because Joe Higgins stood in the election – he lost because his vote dropped from 8,200 to 2,700. The big question for the WP in 1992 was why did MacGiolla suffer such a vote drop?

Now – I still believe that Paul Murphy has a good chance of winning the seat – I would argue that there are four candidates fighting it out for three seats – SP with FG,FF and SF.

The decision of the SWP actually surprised me (and I know it shouldn’t have) – simply because no one on the left will bother talking to them about ‘left unity’ and who will stand where, for a long time to come. This will be further reinforced when Brid Smith runs in the same constituency as Joan Collins. I still think Joan Collins will win.

This action demonstrates two things – the SWP are not actually interested in building the ‘left’ – it is a flag on convenience until new pastures appear (they have adopted the attitude that they need to by-pass the rest of the ‘left’) – and – it will lead the SWP to further dumbing down the political content of their programme in order to engage in populist rhetoric to bolster their vote in the hope of winning seats in the next general election.

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WorldbyStorm - October 8, 2013

Frankly I think running an PBPA candidate is pointless and Murphy remains best positioned to keep a seat, and I hope he does, but I’m dubious there’s any great principle here and suspect pragmatism is a better guide.

But JRG surely the point is not that Mac Giolla lost votes, for a variety of factors, including rupture of WP, constituency redrawing, and yes another left challenger which hardly helped, but whether some sort of unstated principle of not challenging incumbents which we are told is very important in relation to Paul Murphy was somehow not very important back in 1992.

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Jolly Red Giant - October 8, 2013

WbS – I don’t recall a single mention at any stage about the fact that Joe Higgins was running in the election and that he might damage MacGiolla’s chances of being re-elected. I spent a couple of weeks canvassing in the election – spoke to several WP members at the time – and it was never raised as an issue by anyone.

But I think you are missing the point a little. The SWP will make their own decision about running Brid Smith in the Euros – that is not an issue. The situation has changed since 1992 – there has been efforts at some degree of ‘left unity’ and the left co-operating over the past few years that didn’t exist in 1992 – and the SWP have been the ones doing ost of the shouting about it. Furthermore the decision to stand Smith is designed specifically to undermiine other left candidates in a most blatant fashion – that was not the case with the Militant in 1992 as there was no indication – at least from the perspective of the Militant – that Macgiolla’s vote would collapse the way it did (and the actions of the Militant in standing Joe Higgins was not designed to try and ensure MacGiolla’s defeat).

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shea - October 8, 2013

do the two groups rely on the same people to do the work go to the same fundraisers, is there a tradition of cross party sharing the load or something. the pain in this as articulated seems more than just a rival trowing their hat in the ring.

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WorldbyStorm - October 8, 2013

Don’t worry about intentions JRG. Everyone has good intentions, and perceptions, at least in retrospect. I’m sure that the SWP is furnishing a list of their good intentions as to why they are running Smith including how they never heard others complain about it, or that they don’t intend to damage PM, and surely it can’t help, and if those good intentions aren’t good enough, well, no doubt they’ll have another list somewhere of other ones too (actually they could furnish another list about how their perception is that PM isn’t going to win so they’re trying to keep the left vote as large as possible, etc).

But this isn’t about intentions good bad or otherwise, or perceptions by those with a vested interest as to how something plays out. This thread has been explicitly about effects of left candidates running against incumbents and the overwhelming consensus is that it shouldn’t be because it can damage them, and very particularly PM in this case. As it happens I think that assessment is correct and I’d be very critical about the decision to run against PM.

But there’s no particular guiding principle at work here, obviously.

BTW, at risk of derailing this thread, really, hanging your hopes on left co-operation, after the disintegration of the CAHWT etc? I’m hard pressed to think of a time when it was so close to non-existent, and as to that being a difference between 1992 and 2013. Don’t think so.

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Mark P - October 8, 2013

WbS, had it been apparent before that election that MacGiolla’s vote would go through the floor completely , moving him from being apparently the safest of incumbents to someone hoping for the last seat, there would doubtless have been pressure put on Militant both externally and internally to consider whether running was a good idea in the circumstances. Whether such pressure would have made any difference I cant say – the WP in its pomp made something of a point of pride out of having an antagonistic relationship with the smaller outfits to its left, Provo-trots etc, and it was long before my time.

As it is, I very much doubt if anyone in the WP or elsewhere on the left thought that Higgins standing had much bearing on MacGiolla one way or the other until the tallies started coming in.

I will note on your point about “good intentions” that nobody from the SWP has actually expressed any or explained what they may be, other than the lobotomised stuff about winning two seats for the left. Instead it’s all been disingenuous stuff about how it doesn’t matter anyway or how Paul Murphy is only a sectarian anyway or how running multiple candidates is actually a good thing. This is fairly easily explained, in that none of them think that their actual intentions (damage Paul to better damage Joan to better build the SWP at the expense of the wider left) will be accepted as “good” by anyone outside their own ranks. Or by some inside their own ranks, judging by the couple of them who were questioning the decision on Facebook and getting roared at by their rabid element. I’d have slightly more respect for them (as in respect > zero) if they did actually put forward their reasons openly, but they won’t.

I agree with you by the way that electoral strategy decisions are pragmatic in most circumstances. But that pragmatism shoul preferably involve taking into account the interests of the wider left and the wider workers movement, rather than only the sect interests of one component. There’s a balance to be struck.

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WorldbyStorm - October 8, 2013

WbS, had it been apparent before that election that MacGiolla’s vote would go through the floor completely , moving him from being apparently the safest of incumbents to someone hoping for the last seat, there would doubtless have been pressure put on Militant both externally and internally to consider whether running was a good idea in the circumstances. Whether such pressure would have made any difference I cant say – the WP in its pomp made something of a point of pride out of having an antagonistic relationship with the smaller outfits to its left, Provo-trots etc, and it was long before my time.
As it is, I very much doubt if anyone in the WP or elsewhere on the left thought that Higgins standing had much bearing on MacGiolla one way or the other until the tallies started coming in.

Short version. This isn’t a principle. And in any case it was the WP. And we might have considered the situation if Tomas was in trouble. But we might not. And in any case they probably don’t count because they’re obnoxious fuckers.

I will note on your point about “good intentions” that nobody from the SWP has actually expressed any or explained what they may be, other than the lobotomised stuff about winning two seats for the left. Instead it’s all been disingenuous stuff about how it doesn’t matter anyway or how Paul Murphy is only a sectarian anyway or how running multiple candidates is actually a good thing. This is fairly easily explained, in that none of them think that their actual intentions (damage Paul to better damage Joan to better build the SWP at the expense of the wider left) will be accepted as “good” by anyone outside their own ranks. Or by some inside their own ranks, judging by the couple of them who were questioning the decision on Facebook and getting roared at by their rabid element. I’d have slightly more respect for them (as in respect > zero) if they did actually put forward their reasons openly, but they won’t.
That’s the problem with ‘good intentions’. You say the SWP is offering lobotomised stuff about two seats. They’ll say they’re growing the left vote. You say it’s putting a seat at risk. They say you’re just being sectarian. You’ve both got the best of intentions. Seriously, the very best of intentions. Just competing sets.
I agree with you by the way that electoral strategy decisions are pragmatic in most circumstances. But that pragmatism shoul preferably involve taking into account the interests of the wider left and the wider workers movement, rather than only the sect interests of one component. There’s a balance to be struck.
Even shorter version. There’s no principle involved. It’s all pragmatism.

Glad we’ve cleared that up.

Now, perhaps we could then have less of the long winded rhetoric about the SWP’s fault, and how we shouldn’t undermine incumbents (or how we don’t when we actually do) when really all they’re doing is what everyone else, SP, Militant, WP and uncle Tom Cobbley have done from the off and will do again and again and again.

And let’s all be just a bit honest for a moment. The SWP think that the Murphy seat is vulnerable. They may be right. They may be wrong But rather than see any point in putting their shoulder to the wheel they’re trying to get what they can out of it particularly because their one Dáil seat is under threat itself at 2016. Yeah, it’s mean spirited, strategically I’m agin it, but I’m in no doubt that if the positions were reversed we could apply almost any acronym to the players and we’d come up with probably the same sort of situation.

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Mark P - October 8, 2013

I don’t accept that there are any good intentions on the part of the SWP involved here – and they are yet to propose any despite your attempt to come up with some for them. Unless you think that boosting the profile of the SWP’s fictitious electoral front is so important that doing damage to the prospects of maintaining a socialist Euro seat and a socialist Dail seat in order to raise that profile is worth it. Now if the SWP actually do believe that, it may qualify as the good intentions of incorrigible sectarians, incapable of distinguishing between their narrow factional interests and those of a wider movement. But in fact they do have just enough self-awareness to realise that openly making that argument would come across badly.

I don’t know why you are so insistent on repeating that electoral strategy decisions are pragmatic. I agree with that, with the caveat that there is a balance to be struck between the pragmatic pursuit of narrow organisational interest and the pragmatic pursuit of wider interests. To pursue only narrow factional interest is the very definition of sectarian. As the SWP would undoubtedly be pointing out if some others were irresponsible enough to set out to undermine Boyd Barrett in DunLaoghaire. The disingenuousness and hypocrisy grates at least as much as the sectarianism.

As you say that you are against their “mean spirited” on solid straightforward tactical grounds, and as I am too, I’m not entirely sure what we arguing about.

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WorldbyStorm - October 8, 2013

I don’t accept that there are any good intentions on the part of the SWP involved here – and they are yet to propose any despite your attempt to come up with some for them. Unless you think that boosting the profile of the SWP’s fictitious electoral front is so important that doing damage to the prospects of maintaining a socialist Euro seat and a socialist Dail seat in order to raise that profile is worth it. Now if the SWP actually do believe that, it may qualify as the good intentions of incorrigible sectarians, incapable of distinguishing between their narrow factional interests and those of a wider movement. But in fact they do have just enough self-awareness to realise that openly making that argument would come across badly.

Of course you don’t see them as good intentions because there’s an SP MEP seat to be lost. But the SWP/PBPA could make a fairly coherent case that it sought to increase the left vote beyond where Murphy could reach, and given the number of PBPA cllrs there’s perhaps something in that. My point isn’t that that is correct or not, it’s just that it is entirely possible to look at this from various points. Nor does it matter whether they’ve come up with them yet, as we all know it doesn’t take long for the SWP or anyone else for that matter to find multiple reasons for why what they do is for the very best!
After all, you’ve said it yourself, they’re muttering already about two seats for the left in Dublin. Total nonsense, but some will believe it and I guess if one squinted (and crossed one’s fingers) while looking at the electoral prospects on a very very very good day it might just happen – after all the LP are in terrible shape, FG are likewise, FF aren’t back at the races in any shape or form and theres one huge heap of people waiting to vote Ind/Other in Dublin. I’m not saying it’s likely, possible or going to happen, I’m just saying that I or you could make a case for it if we wanted to and it might even sound credible.

I don’t know why you are so insistent on repeating that electoral strategy decisions are pragmatic. I agree with that, with the caveat that there is a balance to be struck between the pragmatic pursuit of narrow organisational interest and the pragmatic pursuit of wider interests. To pursue only narrow factional interest is the very definition of sectarian. As the SWP would undoubtedly be pointing out if some others were irresponsible enough to set out to undermine Boyd Barrett in DunLaoghaire. The disingenuousness and hypocrisy grates at least as much as the sectarianism.
As you say that you are against their “mean spirited” on solid straightforward tactical grounds, and as I am too, I’m not entirely sure what we arguing about.

The point I’m getting at here is that there’s no principle involved at all. That any party will do likewise.
But I don’t particularly want to hear the SP (or anyone) complaining about Smith in 2013 (or Jane or John Doe at some other election) trying to make out there’s some great point of principle being breached or that the SWP are doing something unprecedented. It’s neither.
Unfortunately – in a sense – the SWP has every right to run candidates as and when it sees fit. After all some from the SP made noises about running candidates out where Clare Daly is when she departed the SP. That too is an incumbent left seat.
http://www.politics.ie/forum/united-left-alliance/195310-daly-resigns-socialist-party-39.html#post5732179
And just to be clear, do I think that Militant should have held fire in 1992? Not really. The WP wouldn’t have done so if the position were reversed.

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Jolly Red Giant - October 8, 2013

WbS – you are talking a load of nonsense.

Now no one from the SP is claiming any point of principle. As Mark has stated it is actually based on pragmatism.

In pragmatic terms – Paul Murphy is in a dogfight for a seat with FF, FG and SF. Absolutely he is vulnerable. Anyone with a modicum of understanding of PR-STV knows that in such a vulnerable situation a second candidate could potentially scupper any chances of Paul Murphy holding the seat. But it doesn’t end there – the purpose of the SWP running Brid Smith is to actually attempt to bring about the defeat of Paul Murphy, increase the profile of Brid Smith and then in turn unseat Joan Collins and take the seat for the SWP.

Finally – you refer to my post on p.ie. – the situation is utterly different. Clare Daly will romp home in Dublin North. In fact she will probably top the poll with a significant surplus. The Socialist Party has a thirty year tradition of work in Dublin North and the vote for Clare Daly in 2011 was in part a Socialist Party vote. Now – the Socialist Party has not made any decision about running a candidate in the next general election in the constituency. If it does so it will be on the realistic basis that the left could win two seats in the constituency – not the fantasy land stuff that the SP and the SWP could win two of the three EU seats in Dublin next May. If there was any threat that by the Socialist Party running a candidate in Dublin North would lead to Clare Daly losing the seat then the SP would not do it. This is despite the fact that Clare Daly and her supporters are actively attempting to organise candidates with the objective of unseating both Eugene Coppinger and Terry Kelleher. I don’t think this is likely but both would be far more vulnerable to competition than Clare Daly in a general election.

Yes it is all about pragmatism – and from the SWP perspective that pragmatism is a sectarian pragmatism designed to undermine others on the left while bolstering their own position. And, as I said earlier, it will lead to the further dumbing down of their political programme so they can engage in further populism to maximise their vote – something that is also not in the interests of advancing socialist politics.

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Mark P - October 8, 2013

I don’t think it’s unprecedented, in the sense that I think that the SWP have always been incorrigible sectarians right down to their genetic code. You can always count on them to fuck over the wider leftover anyone else on it if they think it is in their short term interests, even where wiser heads may conclude that assembling a record of such behaviour is not in their own ultimate interest. They can equally be counted upon to use any convenient argument to justify that behaviour, as disingenuousness is a core part of their political method. They will argue exactly the opposite of whatever they were arguing yesterday and deny it to your face, without the slightest hint of embarrassment.

It is this element of their make up that makes them by far the hardest group on the left for anyone else to work with or even coexist with. Differences of politics and strategy are par for the course. An utterly cynical and sectarian method on the other hand is toxic. I don’t think that there is any point in appealing either to reason or to their better natures when dealing with the SWP. All you can hope to do is to constrain their antics by making the costs seem to outweigh the benefits.

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WorldbyStorm - October 8, 2013

JRG… if it’s not a point of principle then it’s nothing at all. And there’s no point in complaining that the SWP does it because truth is everyone does it.
I applaud your certainty that Clare Daly will romp home in 2015/16. This of course is precisely the same certainty that led you to believe that TMacG would romp home in 1992.
But the problem here, and it’s entertaining that you can’t see it, is that you are arguing both sides of the same issue simply to defend the fact that you hold different and contradictory positions depending upon circumstances. In one case you’re arguing PM is vulnerable and therefore it’s wrong for the SWP to put up a candidate. In the other you’re arguing that CD isn’t vulnerable and therefore if the SP chooses to run it is entirely justified in doing so and can’t present a threat.
If by your lights it is wrong for the SWP to run against PM, then it is equally wrong for the SP to run against CD, just as it was wrong for Militant to run against TMacG.
And let’s just note that you cannot be sure, I cannot be sure, no one can be sure who is a safe bet or who isn’t in almost any election one can think of. Indeed we’ve just had an object example of how polling in relation to how votes are cast is completely wrong this last weekend.
Clearly there’s no principal at work here whatsoever except for one, that being the self-interest of the SP. I have no problem with the SP being self-interested, but I’d be a lot more impressed if you came out and admitted that that was the case rather than kicking sand up about SWP sectarianism etc.
Sure the SWP shouldn’t act the way it is, but you’re already defending any future run by the SP in CDs constituency. Surely you see the massive inconsistency here.

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WorldbyStorm - October 8, 2013

Mark P, I actually meant unprecedented in the sense that the SWP contesting an election where there was a left incumbent was as I’ve demonstrated above far from unprecedented.

It is indeed possible that the SWP is the physical and political encapsulation of all evil but I’ve found in my own direct experience that while aspects of their practice are deeply irritating they’re usually little more than accentuated versions of behaviours found on the rest of the left.

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Mark P - October 8, 2013

I don’t think that they encapsulate all evil. In fact I think that people join the SWP for much the same reasons they join other groups or become any other stripe of socialist activist. And I think that much of what they get out of joining is pretty similar too, a basic socialist education, drilling in organisational skills etc. but organisations aren’t interchangeable and each has a culture that it tends to replicate.

In the case of the SWP the particularities, quite aside from the details of their formal politics are:

1) A myopic short termism. They have no history, they have no longer term future except in the vaguest sense. There is only the next big thing and the next short term gain. So last weeks failed next big thing goes down the memory hole, and the longer term consequences of their behaviour never intrude.

2) An approach to party building that subordinates everything else to the SWPs immediate interests. Which is to say an extreme sectarianism.

3) A ruthlessly instrumentalist approach both to political argument and to others they are working with. Whatever is convenient in furthering their short term goals is the correct thing to argue. If that means lying to your face, so be it. If it means adopting arguments that they don’t believe, arguing in plan bad faith, so be it. It is disingenuousness elevated to political method.

Now are these things unique to the SWP? Of course not. The left may be small, but everything that is human can be found in it somewhere. Anyone and everyone can be short termist, sectarian or dishonest. But what makes the SWP different is that these are core distinguishing traits. They are things that any observer will see the signs of, and which anyone who has to deal with them will encounter.

As a result, I am immediately skeptical of any proposal or argument that includes or relies on an assumption of even semi reasonable behaviour by the SWP. And I think that the best way to deal with them isn’t through wasting your time trying to convince them, but is to restrain them by making as sure as you can that pulling some stunt will hurt them in the short term ore than it helps them.

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WorldbyStorm - October 8, 2013

Mark P, I was of course being come what facetious.

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Jolly Red Giant - October 8, 2013

WbS – at times it can be very frustrating debating with you because you argue the points you want to argue – not the points that others are actually making.

So – a couple of points for clarification.

1. When did I ever say that MacGiolla was going to romp home in 1992? – The point I made was that the reason MacGiolla lost the seat was because his vote collapsed, not because Joe Higgins stood in the election. Furthermore – as both I and Mark have pointed out – the fact that Higgins was running was never raised as an issue and the reality is the the WP would never have even countenanced talking to the Militant about the election.

2. You talk about ‘intent’ as if it doesn’t matter – but intent is important. The SWP are running precisely to scupper the chances of Paul Murphy winning and precisely to unseat Joan Collins. The ‘intent’ of the Militant in 1992 was not to unseat or scupper the chances of MacGiolla. The fact that it may have had a minor impact in the final result is neither here nor there.

Now there is also another interesting ‘intent’ – during the by-election in 1996 WP members canvassed in Ballyfermot and asked known WP supporters to vote MacGiolla 1, Lenihan 2 and Higgins 13. Over 220 votes came out of the Ballyfermot boxes with this configuration and the FF tallyman I was standing beside at the count said boldly ‘the WP have just won the seat for us’. If these 220 votes transferred to Higgins rather than Lenihan then Joe Higgins would have won the seat.

3. The possibility of the SP running a candidate in Dublin North is entirely based on advancing the cause of the left and the working class. It would be seriously remiss of the SP not to run a candidate if two seats were available to be won (and that is a distinct possibility in what is now a five seater). The opposite is the situation in the Euros. If you cannot see this then you are clearly blinkered in your outlook.

4. Of course there is self-interest here from the perspective of the SP – when has an SP member ever denied this fact? However, there is also a self-interest of the working class. It is far more beneficial for the working class on this island and the working class internationally for Paul Murphy to be able to use the platform presented by the EU Parliament to expose the antics of the right and promote the policies of socialism than it is for him to be sitting on his rear-end not having the platform to do either. The antics of the SWP do not take the interests of working class people into account – they are engaged purely in the sectarian self-interests of the SWP.

5. The Socialist Party is currently sacrificing electoral gain in order to attempt to advance the possibility of a large number of anti-austerity candidates being elected in the local elections. In many areas the SP is not running candidates but backing AAA candidates – in other areas the SP is actively encouraging and supporting candidates running in the same wards as high profile SP councillors and candidates with the possibility that it could impact on the number of SP members being elected. The SP is doing this in order to advance the possibility of the building of a broad anti-austerity movement and the creation of a political wing for that movement – all of which would be beneficial to the interests of the working class.

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WorldbyStorm - October 8, 2013

JRG, sure, you didn’t use the word ‘romp home’, what you did say though is that you didn’t recall a single mention during the election that JH might damage TMacG’s prospects etcetera. The clear implication is that, if you thought about it at all your assumption was that he’d make it back in. As to no communication with the WP in 1992 – how is that in any way relevant?

Arguing that ‘intent’ exculpates from outcomes is illogical – there are many things we choose not to do precisely because we can be uncertain of outcomes even if the intended course of action seems justified to us or our intent seems good. When you propose that because Militant didn’t ‘intend’ TMacG to lose his seat therefore any effect that running the candidate had on TMacG is ‘neither here nor there’ that just isn’t credible . If I do something that will potentially weaken someone else – even inadvertently – then whatever my ‘intent’ I am doing something that will potentially weaken that other person. This is precisely the point you yourself argue in relation to Paul Murphy!

But it’s also illogical because the SWP could easily argue that Murphy is weak, and perhaps they’d go so far as to say the same about Collins and therefore while their intent is not to unseat one or both if it happens at all, well, that’s ‘neither here nor there’. They didn’t mean to. Not their fault. You see how easily your line of argument can map onto theirs if one wants it to?

As to the 1996 anecdote, I see no relevance in that to the issue at hand as regards the issue of running candidates where left TDs/MEPS are in situ. I’m not a champion of the WP, my only point in referring to 1992 is to demonstrate an inconsistency, nothing more.

Re Dublin North. The point is not the subjective opinion of the SP, or its members, who have a vested interest in the issue. It’s the fact that on this thread the SWP are rightly taken to task for undermining the SP MEP whereas you are quite openly talking about potentially undermining a sitting left TD. It’s nothing to do with blinkers, again your argument is completely inconsistent.

As for the rest, it’s up to whoever is reading this to determine how credible your last couple of paragraphs are. One big problem is that one has to – despite the evidence detailed above in relation to contesting seats with incumbents, etc, simply take on faith your assertions. All I would say is that intentions, as noted above, aren’t enough and one has to look at actions, and the outcome of those actions. And those who take action have to think through its possible implications and not just dance away when there’s evidence that they might impinge negatively on others.

All parties are sectarian, the SWP has no monopoly on that, nor does the SP operate from the goodness of its heart – and I say that as someone who is broadly supportive of the SP. If it does something it does it because it can, because it wants to and because it has determined that it is in its interest to do so. Nothing to be ashamed of there, but let’s not pretend that all its activities are driven purely by altruism, or indeed that its activity is synonymous with the interests of the working class. You might think that last is correct but it’s not a self evident truth to many of us.

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Mark P - October 8, 2013

I know WbS, but its worth making it entirely clear that my issue is with the SWPs culture, not the people it recruits.

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WorldbyStorm - October 8, 2013

MarkP I’m sure they’ll take the critique in the spirit it is offered.

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cagp - October 8, 2013

Just to add one point to this: In the 2011 general election the WP ran Ted Tynan in the same constituency as Mick Barry. Tynan had no chance and it was felt at the time that there was an outside chance of Mick winning the seat. As it happened, Mick was a bit out and the WP vote made no difference. But the SP never raised an issue about the Workers Party standing given that they have a councillor and a longstanding base in the consituency, and so there’s a clear basis to them standing. That’s equally true of the Socialist Party in Dublin North, where there are 2 sitting SP councillors, but isn’t true in the same way at all in the case of the SWP in the Dublin Euro constituency.

Apologies if this comment appears in the wrong place.

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WorldbyStorm - October 8, 2013

capg… i think you’re perhaps missing the point of the discussion. Firstly, I’m not concerned with the WP as such – or its virtues or flaws – and I merely raise 1992 as an example, secondly communication or not between parties is irrelevant – if this is an issue then it is decidued upon with or without such communication, thirdly and most importantly this thread isn’t about elections where there are no left TDs already sitting. Those are a different kettle of fish, as are local elections. We’re very specifically discussing a situation where an existing left TD or MEP is in situ and another party runs an election campaign in the same constituency.

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Jolly Red Giant - October 8, 2013

WbS – there is no point in continuing this with you. You are engaging in an utterly superfluous debate making comments that could at best be described as academic.

I doubt that you are not able to distinguish between the two lines of argument and it appears to me that you are engaging in this for no other reason than to try and wind me and others up.

I have made my arguments – they stand on their merit – you can accept them or not, that is your choice. I see little point in continuing this and repeatedly going back over all the issues that have already been covered.

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WorldbyStorm - October 8, 2013

JRG your argument is unfortunately inconsistent, I’ve pointed out where, the examples I use are real life examples, I’m therefore at a loss as to how you could describe my points as academic at all.

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cagp - October 8, 2013

I know you aren’t, I wasn’t talking about the WP as such either. I was raising a point about the specific instances where it is defensible for left organisations to stand against better established left candidates and why I don’t think the example of the Socialist Party potentially standing in Dublin Fingal is a valid comparison to the situation of Brid Smith standing in the euro elections, and why I think the Socialist Party’s position on this is basically consistent.

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cagp - October 8, 2013

Sorry replied in wrong place!

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WorldbyStorm - October 8, 2013

How can it be consistent to argue that smith standing against the better established Murphy is wrong but a. n. other candidates against the better established Daly is okay?

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WorldbyStorm - October 8, 2013

By the way it’s not simply ‘better established left candidates’ but incumbent left candidates.

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Jolly Red Giant - October 8, 2013

Because in one instance a sitting representative could lose a seat and in the other a sitting representaitve could get two quotas and the surplus could elect a right-wing hack.

Now if you are too blind to see this or too intent on acting the eejit that is your choice – I will not engage further.

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WorldbyStorm - October 8, 2013

And so we arrive at the core JRG operating procedure for arguments, to insult anyone who has the temerity to simply disagree with you or point out contradictions or inconsistencies in your arguments.

I’ve already noted that there are no guarantees in politics and it does you no credit to pretend that any candidate, sitting or not, can inevitably gain two quotas or will even have a surplus at all.

But then having worked directly on the ground on numerous campaigns from the 1980s onwards to the last few years with people who were elected to the Dail or lost seats they held I know from bitter experience that nothing can be taken for granted.

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cagp - October 8, 2013

Well, I tried to explain why in the above comment. If an organisation, like for instance the WP in Cork, has an established base in an area I think they can generally make a case for standing, though of course that isn’t absolute.

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cagp - October 8, 2013

Also should be noted that Clare Daly was elected as an SP TD.

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WorldbyStorm - October 8, 2013

The issue re CD being elected as an SP TD is a bit more convincing, but… the ‘facts on the ground’ issue would come into play I’d think there, in so far as she is the existing incumbent left TD, which is the argument being used by the SP, again rightly in my view, for the SWP butting out in the European elections.

But perhaps I’m missing something here, you do see the distinction between elections with incumbents and those which are open to all? The Mick Barry WP example is in the latter. If Mick B got the seat then that would obviously bring the Paul Murphy/Clare Daly point into play ie approach with extreme caution in terms of contesting them.

As a general rule I think people should think long and hard about contesting left seats, like CD’s, PM’s, JH’s etc once TDs are in them. Can’t stop them, obviously if they want to, but in a time of retreat and retrenchment it seems sensible to try to focus our resources.

In terms of seats where there is no left candidate, that’s a different story. It depends, some caution, but again it depends on what the potential is to take it.

In terms of local election seats I think it’s mostly a free for all.

But look, I saw precisely the same dynamic in 2007 and before when working with Tony Gregory where Tony’s campaign came under pressure from other left candidates. That was tricky but what can you do? People have a democratic right to stand and to contest. The point I’m trying to get across in this thread is that I agree with the SP that this is a bad move by the SWP but that no one can take any moral high ground here and we have to be very wary about trying to establish precedents or indeed blindly supporting the SPs line without at least critiquing its actions past and potentially future.

After all, what is happening here is that we’re being asked to offer support to PM’s candidacy and implicitly exert some pressure on the SWP to think again. Fine, no problem at all there. But what happens in a year or two’s time when Clare Daly comes looking for support, or a.n.other if actions pointed to elsewhere on this thread go into play? Who are we meant to support then?

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27. que - October 7, 2013

I just looked at the Socialist Workers Page and couldnt find the part where they said free lunch for everyone.

Would the right spectrum ever be so naive as to complain that their nearest opponents want to also be in an electoral running especially when they are you know opponents.

The idea that opponents should somehow do right by you is a bit much. Why, because of some rhetorical flourish about the unity of the left. There is no left unity and its getting a bit old to pull that card out. Lets recognise where we are here people and stop with the assumption that left unity between different parties can be put into practice. If it can it will be because they are all moving towards becoming one party.

It seems like complaining about spoilers by a tiny outfit like SWP is a handy way of ensuring there is an excuse ready for the eventuality that Paul Murphy might lose his seat.

But its certainly easier to blame your and demand your opponents follow some high minded moral code of unity even though the week earlier you might have been calling them all types of unflattering names than to ask why is it that we are highly unlikely to retain Paul’s seat.

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sonofstan - October 7, 2013

Would the right spectrum ever be so naive as to complain that their nearest opponents want to also be in an electoral running especially when they are you know opponents.

Because the right wing parties can afford to fight each other safe in the knowledge that things will stay the same whoever wins? If the left in this country actually threatened to take power electorally, you see an alliance of FF/FG/LAB and SF soon enough.

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que - October 8, 2013

I think its more that the right operate as similar parties with ultimately the same broad set of aims and other than that dont talk about the unity of the right. If the left in this country threatened to take power ? But they couldnt be further from it and are more divided than ever.

The right doesnt in general waste time asking other right wing parties to facilitate each other and the right doesnt say well one day the left will unite and that’ll mean we’ll have to group.

They get on with the situation as it is right now.

Yes the left is hoping to change the paradigm but hoping for someone to give a dude a break is not a real world strategy.

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Ed - October 8, 2013

A better analogy would be, what if the PDs, towards the end of their lifespan, faced a challenge from an identical right-wing neoliberal party, running candidates in the same areas on the same programme. Even then, it wouldn’t really apply, because the ideas of the PDs still have plenty of traction in FF and FG, not to mention the media and lobby groups like ISME, so it’s not as if neo-liberalism has lost its foothold in Irish politics since McDowell and co bowed out. Insofar as the radical left has any toehold in the mainstream, people being invited to contribute to TV debates etc., much of it comes from having some electoral representation.

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28. Johnny Forty Coats - October 7, 2013

Comrades, the question we must ask ourselves is: “would Lenin have run a Bolshevik candidate against the Mensheviks or the Socialist Revolutionaries?”

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RosencrantzisDead - October 7, 2013

All of this would have given him an aneurysm.

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29. theworkingclassheroesblog - October 8, 2013

Reblogged this on The Working Class Heroes and commented:
We’re aghast at the story that apparently Brid Smith will be running against Paul Murphy MEP in the European elections. Sectarianism indeed! One hopes this is a falsehood…

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shea - October 8, 2013

why aghast?

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theworkingclassheroesblog - October 8, 2013

I think the blog above by cdlr explains it adequately :)

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Gearóid - October 8, 2013

SWP members are either defending or criticising the decision on Facebook rather than denying it, so I don’t think it is a falsehood.

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30. The Caretaker - October 8, 2013

The SP concern for Joan Collins’ seat is touching, especially in the context of their constant badmouthing and whispering about her ‘moderation’. A plague on all their houses…….

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Jolly Red Giant - October 8, 2013

There are many criticisms I would make about the political outlook of Joan Collins. However, I have know Joan Collins for nearly 30 years and I have tremendous respect for the woman. She is a hard-nosed working class fighter who is 100% committed to the betterment of the working class. She is an asset to the left and her presence in national politics is of benefit to the left. Furthermore she does not engage in the same sectarian antics that the SWP get up to and never would. If it is a straight-up choice between Joan Collins and Brid Smith then it is Joan Collins hands down – and that is not from a SP perspective – but from a working class perspective and what would be in the interests of the working class.

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31. Dekkard - October 8, 2013

George Redmond was the returning officer that elected Liam Lawlor. Small world

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32. Jack Jameson - October 8, 2013

Not that I have any affection for either of them but why would the SWP owe the SP a free pass in any election?

How would it benefit the SWP, whether Paul Murphy holds the seat or loses it? They are officially rivals post-ULA, after all.

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Pangur ban - October 8, 2013

I agree in fact the real story of the ULA is how the useful idiots of. The non aligned were strung along by the two local franchises of the Fourth fifth or sixth internationals, which compete with each other

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Jim Monaghan - October 9, 2013

The question is whether the left holding a Euro seat matters. Not who the standard bearer is..

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33. Article on Socialist Party site … “SWP’s sectarian decision could damage..” Paul Murphys chances | The Cedar Lounge Revolution - October 11, 2013

[…] already covered the issue here and […]

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