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Brid Smith to contest European seat… December 12, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.

As noted by dmfod in comments here….

The SWP have officially announced they are running Brid Smith against Paul Murphy in the European elections.

As dmfod also notes:

Ironically enough it’s also announced on the United Left Alliance website

What do people think?

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1. Firbolg - December 12, 2013

Cynical, stupid or both? It’s a difficult call but at least they have a sense of humour with where the announced it!

2. AonRud - December 12, 2013

United indeed.
The ULA site has been abandoned to pulling in automated feeds from the other sites for a while now, so presumably it’s not deliberate. Ironic nonetheless.

WorldbyStorm - December 12, 2013

Interesting, presumably it’s being let to lapse away…

3. Sharester - December 12, 2013

In what sense is she running “against” Paul Murphy? It’s a multi-seat constituency after all.

In any case, Murphy doesn’t own the seat. Last time I checked, he wasn’t even elected. So he could have had no expectation of a clear run unchallenged by anyone other left-ish candidate.

Mark P - December 12, 2013

Always good to have an SWP contribution, Sharester. Hopefully you’ll stick around to try to defend the indefensible for a while rather than following the usual drive by pattern.

As for your two disingenuous comments:

1) the “multi seat constituency” argument relies on people swallowing the idea that there is more than one seat for the socialist left in Dublin, out of three. Not even the most gullible SWP member actually believes that, although we have seen a couple of them come out with it. She is running against Paul because the only impact of her candidacy will be to reduce whatever chance there is of the socialist incumbent retaining the seat.

2) nobody thinks that Paul “owns the seat”, however for those of us who think that it’s a good and useful thing to have a socialist left MEP, running a spoiler candidate against the only left candidate who could even possibly win is a straightforwardly destructive act of sectarian vandalism. That’s a view common across the socialist left in Dublin, and not one limited to supporters of the Socialist Party or particular admirers of Paul (although he’s certainly been very articulate and capable in the role).

That the SWP’s real agenda is to raise Smith’s profile to better enable her to compete with Joan Collins in the next general election is almost funny. While their current proclivity for issuing pious calls for unity at the same time as engaging in destructive manoeuvring of this sort moves the whole thing outright into the realm of farce.

WorldbyStorm - December 12, 2013

And not just a view confined to SP or its support base. Many of us would agree with the broad analysis that to run Smith and Murphy is futile and counterproductive (and seems very self-serving in relation to national electoral politics at play).

richotto - December 13, 2013

“Well, in fairness, richotto, I wonder if the SWP felt they had a snowball in hell’s chance at the previous three? Unlikely.”

And so what? The first two times Joe Higgins was given a clear run by the SWP he got 3.8% in 1999 and 5.5% in 2004. He lost his Dail seat in 2007. But for the economic crash he would probably have been an no hoper in 2009 as well. Its not hard to imagine Boyd Barrett with a Dublin profile in with a shout of a similar outcome to Joe Higgins at third time of asking if he had the same opportunity. But the sacrifice of SWP was pocketed and forgotten. So why should they be suckered into playing second fiddle again when theres nothing but abuse given back in return… particularly on behalf of a candidate who has never stood for an election before?

Sharester - December 12, 2013

Even if there was just one left seat in it, who’s to say it’s not Murphy running as a spoiler against Smith rather than vice versa? I say again: *he wasn’t ever elected*. He has no God-given right to that seat.

And if you were follow through on your line of reasoning, what next? The Shinners’ candidate must stand aside to give Murphy a clear run? Every other vaguely progressive formation has to sit this one out, even the Labour candidate must be benched to assure Murphy of a manufactured victory? I heard Shane Ross was contemplating a run … maybe he should step aside too to avoid stealing one or two of the anti-establishment protest votes?

As for “sectarian vandalism”, honestly WTF is that about?!

Sharester - December 12, 2013

BTW that was meant as a reply to MarkP, not the venerable WbS. Dunno what’s going on with the threading.

Ed - December 12, 2013

Labour and SF are declared political opponents of the Socialist Party and of all those who were part of the ULA. Are you saying that the SWP are also declared political opponents of the people with whom they were allied until a few months ago (and at whom they have been directing calls for unity for more than a decade)? If that’s your position, fine, but it tends to make a nonsense of much that the SWP has been saying since 2000 or thereabouts.

‘Who’s to say it’s not Murphy running as a spoiler against Smith rather than vice versa?’

Hmmm, well, Paul Murphy took the seat from Joe Higgins after the last general election, and the SP have been doing their best to raise his profile since then, with a view to running him as a candidate in 2014, so I’m not sure what way of looking at the question would allow you to present him as a spoiler for Brid Smith, who has just entered the field now, with about 6 months to go before the election, I think. But the emphasis on Murphy not having been elected to the seat is one to file away for the future, when the SWP run Smith against Joan Collins.

Sharester - December 12, 2013

Declared opponents? Listen, we’re all competing within the same pool of voters. Show me a SP or PBP voter in the last election, and I’ll likely find that they voted SP/SF/Lab in the past or at least considered doing so.

Yes the ULA existed. But it certainly didn’t exist to stiffle competition for the SP. Competition is healthy remember?

Also the he took the seat from Joe, doing their best to raise his profile? C’mon! Murphy has close to zero name-recognition. I had to google him to recall exactly who he was just now. Ah yeah, right, the un-Joe ;)

WorldbyStorm - December 12, 2013

Oh dear, Sharester, despite the energiser bunny enthusiasm isn’t really an SWPer, is he now? Nope, it’s someone else, just like ‘Dell Boy’ and ‘The Rambler’ all three of whom, remarkably, spoof, at times, an US IP address that claims to be located in the same Eastern seaboard city.

Sadly it’s some sort of compulsion for them, I’ve tried to help by giving advice, at least once, about seeking help because no kidding, they really need it, but no, they just can’t stop themselves. I guess it’s only a matter of time before they do themselves or someone else an injury.

Sharester - December 12, 2013

Eh, WbS, have you heard of EC2? AWS? Y’know, the cloud like? Virtual desktop?

No? Well, welcome to the 21st century. All the Amazon VDIs are routed thru’ Virgina or somewhere of that ilk.

WorldbyStorm - December 12, 2013

Yeah, sure. No doubt that’s the ” sit-chi-achion”, eh?

Sharester - December 12, 2013

You *are* a strange one. We shall see come euro-election day who has the last laugh.

WorldbyStorm - December 12, 2013

Oh no doubt, but you exceed my strangeness to a disturbing degree.

4. Jim Monaghan - December 12, 2013

There has been a petition by the independent lefties calling for Smith to withdraw and for some kind of non aggression pact. Is it not sad that it has come down to this. This is worse than the debacle of the SLP of Brown and Merrigan.I see nothing worth a thing in Irtish leftwing politics.I was going to devote a few evening to Boyd Barrets local people in Dun Laoghaire but I cannot support Smith over Murphy. Even on a good day Murphy would have to be lucky. Every leaked vote weakens his chances.
I hope the SWP implodes.

Sharester - December 12, 2013

“Every leaked vote weakens his chances.”

Jaysus Jim you’re not getting the whole democracy thing at all are ya?

There’s *no such thing* as a leaked vote in this context.

Murphy starts with zero votes, same as everyone else.

He never won a vote in a European election in his life, no more than Smith or any other first-time candidate. So he’s coming from square one, ground zero, null stunde, whatever you wanna call it.

You can’t leak something you don’t already have locked down.

Ed - December 12, 2013

So I take it Joan Collins has the left vote in Dublin South Central ‘locked down’, and needn’t worry about the SWP trying to make off with it?

Sharester - December 12, 2013

I say again: in an election *everyone starts with zero votes*.

In fairness, this Panic on the Streets of Dublin over Smith’s candidacy has got me thinking the real fear here is that Smith will out-poll Murphy. Not that she’ll just “steal”/”leak”/whatever a handful of votes that’ll cause Murphy to falter on the last count.

Ed - December 12, 2013

I say again: you’ll be fucking off now, yeah?

Bob Smiles - December 12, 2013

Very short sighted. SF have good chance, Murphy possibly if right split. Smith has no chance and discredits herself by standing.

5. Nessa Childers MEP (@NChildersMEP) - December 12, 2013

It is a moot point. The only left candidate who has a chance is SF. So the polling grapevine says. Even that is fragile.

Sharester - December 12, 2013

Eh, isn’t that why we fight elections?

To prove the pollsters wrong?

To change voters’ minds?

To shift the dynamic with the power of our arguments?

Have I fetched up in some sort of club where hard-bitten cynical politcal consultants hang out? Where’s the IDEALISM peeps? Where’s the Is feidir linn?

6. dilettante - December 12, 2013

Does this petition call on the SP to put Brid Smith as a substitute MEP?
Could there be an agreement that Paul Murphy would resign the seat after a couple of years to give it to Brid? (like Joe did with Paul)
Could there an agreement to give the PBPA some workers in Europe so they can be present in meetings of the European left?
To affiliate the PBPA to the left group in the parliament? (do you need to have an MEP to do that?)
To share the travel expenses? (I could imagine the PBPA would be happier if Paul Murphy wasn’t running around the world presenting the SP as the only left in Ireland)

Isn’t there somebody who could look at some of these things and try to put together a deal?

Sharester - December 12, 2013

Smith is not going to be bought off with a few quid in travel expenses. She’s in it to win it!

And the idea of Murphy “giving” the seat to Smith after a few years is laughable. Higgins ceeded the seat to Murphy becuase he was elected to the Dail, remember. Not out of the goodness of his heart. Do you really think Smith is gonna rely on Murphy being elected to the Dail and play second fiddle in meantime? Sharester does his best Goodfellas imitation … forget about it!

Ed - December 12, 2013

So would you mind fucking off now? This guff would be irritating enough if it was genuine, but coming from our most boring troll yet, Dell Boy/Rambler it’s about as welcome as incontinence in a jacuzzi.

WorldbyStorm - December 12, 2013

I suspect our pal is also tells.it.like.it.is from Notes on the Front. And who knows, it could even be the late but far from lamented Bartley, or even Proposition Joe.

But to the matter at hand… he didn’t realise one salient fact. The SWP is oddly reclusive when it comes to this site, always has been, comments from them are as rare as hens teeth. More than two comments? Not their style. A trolling response? Never seen it ever here.

Of course they could have gone mad and started trolling us, just like they could be spoofing an IP address in that Eastern seaboard city. Just like they could be doing that a week after DB and TR?

Nah, nah they couldn’t.

I’m sorry for him to be honest. It’s kind of amusing how much energy he invests in this and to what purpose?

WorldbyStorm - December 12, 2013

Actually just did a little check. Bartley had an affinity for US cities on the Great Lakes. Ain’t that a coincidence? And I’d somehow excised from my memory that Bartley departed us around this time last year.

Dr. X - December 13, 2013

+1. There’s far too much tolerance for disruptive trolls on this site.

dilettante - December 14, 2013

I’m not too happy with my questions having been shoved into slagging off trolls cul-de-sac (even though probably Sharester is as WbS suggests)

And, by the way, thanks JRG for at least acknowledging the post.

But to pursue it a bit, if there is no possibility of a “principled” agreement (and I did suggest that somebody (implicitly a neutral person) could at least explore the possibility.
I feel that Brid Smith could do quite well (and on a good day maybe even outpoll Paul Murphy, but let’s not go there).

Would it not be better to try to incorporate that potential support into a common campaign? (put Brid as first substitute on the list, resources, access to the left in Europe…)
It’s not about buying anyone off. It’s about accepting that there are two Trotskyist groups of fairly equal size and strength and trying to minimise the friction and maximise support – instead of just supporting the incumbent (the suspicion might exist that they might like to use their incumbency in a faction fight against their biggest rival).

Probably it’s mad utopian stuff; but no harm in just putting it out there.

WorldbyStorm - December 14, 2013

dilettante, ignore sharester, your points are entirely valid without any reference to him. My intention wasn’t to in any way undermine them.

Mark P - December 14, 2013

Dilettante: Brid Smith has zero chance of winning. And the SWP know that, as they show by also running her in the elections. The issue isn’t whether it’s “fair” that Brid is a no hoper spoiler candidate. It’s that she is a spoiler no hoper candidate. And nobody at all thinks otherwise.

dilettante - December 14, 2013

Mark P: I don’t think my point was/is based around being “fair” or not.
We could equally say that Paul Murphy has zero chance of winning.
It’s more about whether you want to hegemonise the political benefits of having an MEP, or whether you would be willing to explore the possibility of allowing others access to some of those benefits in order to win support for your candidacy?
If you want to move Paul into a position of more than zero chance of winning then it might be worth looking in to?
Why not at least look at having a list of substitutes that includes others on the left? Some sharing of resources and access?
Why does it have to be exclusively the SP involved with the European Parliament?

Mark P - December 14, 2013

Think of it this way dilettante. The Socialist Party could stand against Boyd Barrett and ask similar questions of the SWP. But it would be stupid and self serving and destructive and rightly seen as such by the wider left. Much of the time some other socialist or socialist group will be in a better position to win an election, and only a sectarian whines about it and demands to be paid off or else they will act as spoilers.

Murphy is the only left candidate with any chance of winning. Not necessarily a huge chance of winning. But a chance. The SWP do not have a chance. and they know it, which is why they are running Smith in the locals too. They are also running against SP councillors in at least two wards (so far). It is a straightforwardly destructive and sectarian approach and almost comic when combined with the SWPs plainly disingenuous pieties about left unity. The SP have not responded in kind, because unlike our evil twins we do actually have a view that the wider left matters and that it’s better for an SWPer pretending to be a PBPA community activist to win a seat than some Fianna Failer. I will admit however that I think there should be limits on the tolerance implicit in that point of view. After all, the SWP as a method prey on the reluctance of others to do damage to campaigns or the wider left, relying on other people’s aversion to destructive behaviour to push their luck. I’m not in favour of pandering to that method any more.

que - December 14, 2013


Would it not actually make sense to stand against people like Barrett and other lead SWPers and well bluntly take them out.

It would he hard politics but real politics as well and why would it be particularly stupid. Yes there might be a few finger wagging recriminations on this site and the inter-web and the wider left might tut tut but none of that would make it a stupid decision.

To what purpose is the creation of a plural far left if the only effect is to later see an outfit like the SWP come along and target your sitting MEP.

The only consideration which makes the Socialist Party unable to now take out the SWP is its weakness. If it can come up with a working plan to grow then the incidental taking out of the SWP would be a necessary requirement. The wider left who seem comfortable with a plural far left divided and free-loating have to date seemed too comfortable with a divided and free-floating left. Hardly a consideration to weigh up.

The idea that its better to have a SWP person than a Fianna Failer is also questionable. The SWP is a unique entity, really unique. Is the left well served by having a party which plays silly games of fronts and micro campaigns and all out global revolution in the context of a local election campaign. Its not a useful party and the further left is not served by it having any foothold nor does anyone else on the left owe it that foothold.

Don’t electorally destroy them because they are ideologically different but they should be electorally destroyed because their silly games are utterly destructive. Drive over and drive on.

WorldbyStorm - December 14, 2013

Some very interesting thoughts there que.

To be honest I think there might be something in what you say.

In a way that’s why I don’t see this as a matter of principle, people will do what they will do when they calculate it is in their own self-interest. No shame in that… but ultimately it suggests it’s all about utilitarianism.

A big part of the problem is that although very small the further left formations are fairly finely balanced in terms or representation when one includes it all. I suspect this is precisely why this issue has become such a source of controversy because the potential outcomes threaten that balance quite significantly.

que - December 14, 2013

Yet WBS a chara, is not that fine balance the equivalent to an equilibrium but more so an equilibrium way below potential. Does such a fine balance not need its own crisis and disruption. I would see it as stasis rather than balance and feel that it springs from a weakness rather than a strength. For fear of ending the left altogether there seems to be a reluctance to rock the boat. Yet the left we now have is hardly ideal and is set at an equilibrium determined after the utter collapse of communism and the feel good years of the ascendant neo-cons with easy money and free-market fetishism.
Thats wider equilibrium ended in 2008 across Europe. The left is in a new equilibrium and for the SP to now drive over the SWP is not a bad thing. The only bad thing would be if they looked out the window while they did so because then they would be more pre-occupied with the SWP than moving forward.

Lets end this phoney balance which was determined at a time where socialism was relegated to a crank philosophy and day to day survival was necessary, when having a cranks outfit like the SWP was as good as not having them because with the left on the floor who could choose their friends.

Things have changed so drive over and drive on.

I repeat the drive over and drive on point in all its crassness because I think the idea that one left party has no right to finish an other is an idea that has out lived its usefulness.

Jack Jameson - December 14, 2013

Que says:-
Is the left well served by having a party which plays silly games of fronts and micro campaigns and all out global revolution in the context of a local election campaign.

Could the same not be said of the SP as well as the SWP?

que - December 14, 2013

Yup, it could and I have said it many times but the silly games of the the SP are tame to the baroque plays of the SWP. If the SP were to grow and electorally replace the SWP then we all would be in a better place.

Can anyone think of a purpose of the SWP other than adding to plurality is my main point.

The SP are in no way immune from this line of reasoning and unless they prove capable of growth they do will be Darwinised.

WorldbyStorm - December 14, 2013

que, it reminds me of a way of the WP line in the 1980s. They didn’t look for left unity, they did their own thing. This could be problematic as with non participation in the anti-drugs marches and in relation to aspects of the H-blocks, but it perhaps was a better strategy than paying lip service to left unity which, on the face of it, simply does not exist. Though the respective social and political weight of the various formations and the WP was very different.

WorldbyStorm - December 14, 2013

Mind you in practical terms que, what are you suggesting, that they simply ignore the SWP’s Euro campaign and then contest against PBPA’s elsewhere?

There is the danger due to that balance that the SWP and them could take each other out. I bet that’s a consideration too.

WorldbyStorm - December 14, 2013

And one last thought, despite the rhetoric the WP was a much broader party encompassing a number of strands some mutually antagonistic to one another. That is something I think the SP or any similar party would have to take on board as it grew, both in order to maintain and increase strength and to become more attractive to outsiders. I wonder if the SP or any similar party can quite do that, whether they would countenance it.

que - December 14, 2013

No the SP cant ignore the SWP campaign. Their fight to retain the seat will of course have to take into account the SWP campaign. They have to there is no choice.

Should they then counter by running against the SWP at the next opportunity. Well yes if and only if their wider project will be bettered by it but feeling they must stay the hand because of some notion of left wing unity is in my humble opinion to continue to be bound by the uneasy truce required to survive an era of easy money and apparent unlimited prosperity. Well that mirage came crashing down and the tactics of balance from the past are now inapplicable. However the caveat is that finishing the SWP is not the goal. It can only be the incidental occurrence in a wider growth strategy.

That’s why when the time comes for the SP to finish the SWP it should be drive over and drive on without a hesitation and how in any way is that a problem.

The equally applicable corollary is that the SWP can try to build their corner and who can say otherwise.

The reality is the ULA was formed because its components recognised that there was a new scenario and that for the first time in 20 years the left could jump a level in support. The ULA didn’t work out but that doesn’t mean the scenario that gave it their a chance has somehow vanished and everyone can go back to the world ex ante.

I cant see how they can go back now to the strategies of the pre-crash world having both abandoned that approach in order to realise the possible gains but now can occasionally appeal the status quo ex ante.

Don’t work.

7. Jolly Red Giant - December 13, 2013

It really is hard to know if our SWP drive-by commentator actually believes the guff he/she is spouting. I tend to believe they are actually as cynical and sectarian as the comments indicate.

To be clear about this -
1. Brid Smith is not running in the Euro elections to win a seat. Brid Smith hasn’t a snowballs chance in hell of winning the seat or coming close to out-polling Paul Murphy. The SWP know this and all the guff about votes and competition is designed as a poor attempt at deflection from their rampant sectarianism on this.
2. The reason for running Brid Smith is to raise her profile for a run at the Dail in the same constituency as Joan Collins. I would have no problem with this if there was a possibility of the left winning two seats in the constituency – however, given the fact that the constituency is reduced to 4 seats in the next election, this is now an unlikely proposition and by running Smith as a second socialist left candidate would likely result in a straight forward sectarian dog-fight for the one left seat.

The target of the SWP is clear – they regard (and have since early on in the existence of the ULA) their PBPA vehicle as the only show in town – and they are willing to walk on anyone who gets in their way in promoting it. For the SWP the target is to get Smith into the Dail – irrespective of the impact on Joan Collins – and an added bonus would be to scupper the chances of Paul Murphy retaining the left MEP seat in Dublin.

The SWP have a long history of pulling stunts and engaging in sectarian antics but I don’t think there has been any that have been as brazen as this one. Hopefully it will not be responsible for the loss of a left MEP for the Dublin working class (and the Socialist Party and the wider left). I wish the SWP (and PBPA if there are any non-SWP candidates in their ranks) every success in the local elections – but I sincerely hope that Brid Smith doesn’t get a single vote in the Euros (and that is hoping she sees sense and realises that her own vote would be more valuable in the count column for another left candidate)

Briefly – in response to dilettante – agreements of the type you are proposing can only be done on a principled basis with clear demonstrations of trustworthiness from all concerned. The SWP have demonstrated on many, many, occasions that they are incapable of being principled or trustworthy.

8. steve white - December 13, 2013

The reason for running Paul Murphy is to raise his profile for a run at the Dail

commplc - December 13, 2013

No – Paul Murphy is a candidate in the Euros to retain the seat he currently holds. If the objective was solely to prepare for a Dail constituency then he would be running in the locals as well. If the SWP were confident that Brid Smith could win a seat in the Euros then she wouldn’t be a candidate in the locals (which I guarantee she will). This would not be happening if Joe Higgins was a candidate because they know they would be roundly attacked from every quarter but they think they can get away with this stunt because it’s Paul Murphy.

9. Jack Jameson - December 13, 2013

Now that the ULA is defunct, the SWP and SP have reverted to openly being separate and competing parties.

So isn’t the SWP entitled to compete?

Or do they have to give up an EU election profile in the capital to the SP for many years (maybe decades) or until the SP loses its seat to someone else?

commplc - December 13, 2013

The far left in Ireland is way to small for this nonsense. The Socialist Party would still call for agreement among all forces on the left on a strategy to maximise the return for the left in the elections and has already reduced the number of candidates it planned to stand to maximise the impact of the Anti Austerity Alliance by having as broad a range of candidates as possible.

Your suggestion would have the left fighting amongst each other for crumbs.

que - December 14, 2013

Remember the shaka zulu tv series. They used fight in ritual combat with no casualties until Shaka decided that the purpose of spears was in the using of them. Carnage ensured and the old order ended with a zulu empire. A somewhat overblown comparison but the idea of detente from weakness is to maintain the weakness.

If the left is fighting over crumbs its because it insists on taking its slice of the bread and breaking it into crumbs.

Its part of the inherited mindset to say that the left block of votes must remained divided and fractured because otherwise thats to threaten the existence of the left. We must co-operate to simply exist.

Generals sometimes fight the last war. Can we turn now at this point and recognise the world of 1990 – 2008 is gone and the uneasy truce for survival is no longer the best way to serve the left. The strategy of a calcified left built for survival in a free market hell is still appropriate even now.

The SWP will always have a place and a purpose. Their sheer dogged resilience and ability to survive but not thrive is still acceptable.

que - December 14, 2013

is still appropriate even now?

The SWP will… a purpose?

is still acceptable?

richotto - December 14, 2013

That would be effectively the SP’s position I believe. They simply have a top dog attitude but they don’t have the strength to be the undisputed champions of the left of Labour movement with just two hundred or so members nationally. If the best outcome is in my view some sort of co-existence then SP have to admit that their manopoly of the European gig has to come to an end sometime.

WorldbyStorm - December 14, 2013

Well events have their own way of ironing out these contradictions, don’t they?

richotto - December 13, 2013

Agree wth that. If a political party is to be positive about its own existence its default position should be to run as many candidates as possible. SWP’s only area of influence is in Dublin after all.
If there are circumstances where it will go against the party interest and restrain itself from running I would think that a deal should be on the table from the beneficiary party which is SP. The only dealings however from it and its supporters that I can see is to use the “bully pulpit” and try and exert simple condemnation and pressure to withdraw. The situation in NI is a pretty close parallel to this. When there was a bit of trust and give and take the Unionist and Nationalist “families” agreed to run a joint candidate. But unless there was a positive intervention and reasonable dealings between the competing parties the good faith was’nt there and there was no arrangement.

Jolly Red Giant - December 13, 2013

I have absolutely no problem with the SWP declaring that they intend to operate in the interests of the SWP – and act accordingly – and run as many candidates as they want in what ever election they want.

This, however, is not the situation – the SWP do not stand under their own banner but under the name of a front organisation – PBPA – which the claim is a broad inclusive front but in reality is operated in the sole interests of the SWP. Similarly – the SWP repeatedly claim that they support the idea of left unity and left cooperation – however, the reality is that this unity and cooperation only exists if it is on their terms.

As has been said earlier – this can only come about on a principled basis – and principles are not things that are high up on the priority list of the SWP.

The reality is that Brid Smith’s intervention makes it more difficulty for Paul Murphy to hold the left MEP seat in Dublin in an already difficult situation. I believe that he can win the seat – however, if he were to lose and it was because of the intervention of Smith then everyone on the left would be highly critical of the actions of the SWP – the SWP on the other hand would be celebrating their successful intervention.

richotto - December 13, 2013

Theres seems no appreciation on the SP’s part of the forbearence of SWP/PBP in standing aside and letting Joe Higgins build up his votes over three European Elections as the sole standard bearer of whats considered the left Labour cause. The SWP/PBP side put themselves into the role of long term second fiddle to the SP in Dublin with nothing specific being offered in return. Beyond the overall gain for the left in the form of Joe Higgins’ election it was from a selfish point of view of SWP possibly a mistake to offer no competition for the left vote. There was of course what became the ULA in the offing but as far as the SWP/PBP profile was concerned they were taking a hit without any compensation. So why with the ULA destroyed and Joe Higgins no longer there should SWP continue to take it on the chin and being rubbished into the bargain by the SP side? Surely if there is a gain to be made with an agreed candidate the SP must take on board that something has to be given in return??

Mark P - December 13, 2013

I’m sure that the SWP will be very glad of your support, Richotto

Jim Monaghan - December 14, 2013

Perhaps you could ask what is in the interests of the oppressed rather that what anyone is entitled to do. Sure all 40 shades of leftism are entitled to get in each other’s way.

10. more craziness on the wilder shores of politics | organising my thoughts - December 13, 2013

[…] Now things have been made even harder for him by the decision of the Socialist Workers Party (as the name suggests, a sister party of the UK based wreckers and rapists) to stand their own candidate as reported here. […]

11. littlemicky2012 - December 13, 2013

So are the socialist party people on here saying they themselves will not run candidates where there are sitting “left” councillors or does this non aggression stuff only apply to European elections?

Mark P - December 13, 2013

As far as I’m aware, the SP has not announced any candidates in wards where existing left councillors are running. However both the SWP/PBPA and the entertainingly named “United Left” grouping have already announced that they are running candidates in wards with sitting Socialist Party councillors.

As a rule of thumb, the more pious waffle about unity an Irish left group comes out with, the more likely it is to be simultaneously engaged in fratricidal idiocy. This won’t stop various well meaning sorts from doing a bit of sanctimonious sighing about “the left”, as if this kind of vicious stupidity was evenly spread.

richotto - December 13, 2013

My support for the SWPs reasonable decision to run this time is as clearly and specifically laid out in the interests of fairness and crucially their history of standing aside for the past three EU elections, something which probably meant the difference last time round between Joe Higgins getting elected and not. I note that you have no answer to the points themselves.

Mark P - December 13, 2013

As you are a Labour supporter and a right wing troll, its hardly surprising that you are glad to see left wing groupings engaged in fratricidal stupidity. And I think you’ll find that everyone here takes your posts on this thread in that spirit.

WorldbyStorm - December 13, 2013

Well, in fairness, richotto, I wonder if the SWP felt they had a snowball in hell’s chance at the previous three? Unlikely.

I’m not sure there’s any particular principle democratic or otherwise in relation to it. People can and will contest as they see fit.

That said given that there is a seat occupied at the moment it seems odd to try to let that slip away, given the current diffuse and marginal state of the further left, through multiple candidates.

It’s a long shot most likely, and of course the SP is special pleading – who wouldn’t in their position – but also in fairness why shouldn’t they, it was their political heft and effort that got them the seat in the first place.

RosencrantzisDead - December 13, 2013

Obviously, the SWP do not contest elections – groups like PbfPA or ULA do.

But, if we are discussing standing aside, no SWP backed group ever ran in the same constituency as Mary O’Rourke. Were they standing aside for her? Nor has any candidate run against a Healy-Rae. What does that mean?

littlemicky2012 - December 14, 2013

Are you saying so that it is or is not policy as opposed to ye haven’t nominated anyone thus far.
I also assume that John Gilligan in Limerick is therefore not leftwing according to your party’s definition.

12. richotto - December 13, 2013

The points which you are for obvious reasons avoiding are either valid or not regardless of the person who is making them. No one here needs a certificate of worthiness from self appointed guardians like yourself to make a valid point. Your evasiveness tells its own story anyway.

13. Jolly Red Giant - December 13, 2013

Let’s be clear about the nonsense richotto is spouting – which maybe the result of a lack of knowledge about the attitude of the SWP to elections – or – as Mark has pointed out – nothing more than right-wing trolling.

Up until quite recently the SWP dimissed elections and the idea of standing in them – for the SWP the battles were to be fought on the streets. It was the success of the Joe Higgins in the 1996 by-election that led the SWP to run a few token candidates – with the objective of doing nothing more than seeing if they could get a few recruits. The SWP never stood aside for Joe Higgins in the Euros – they never had any intention of running. What they did do was produce material for their own local candidates with ‘Vote Socialist’ and a picture of Joe Higgins in another example of crass opportunism. And they were ready to claim pole position on the left in 2009 when the PBPA secured more council seats than the SP, only to have it scuppered when Joe Higgins won as an MEP.

This decision to run Brid Simth has nothing to do with the Euros – nothing to do with competition – and everything to do with setting up Brid Smith for a run at a Dail seat in the same constituency as Joan Collins. An added bonus would be to deny Paul Murphy the opportunity to retain the MEP seat. Then the statements that were quitely put away in 2009 would be copied and pasted and the SWP would claim that the PBPA is the only show in town (and quietly avoid telling people they were running it).

richotto - December 14, 2013

You could say the same about Joe Higgins’ candidacy, that it was not intended as a serious attempt to gain a seat but to boost his profile and that of the party. Why would’nt the SWP be interested in doing the same thing? Boyd Barrett for example had a general high profile in the media similar to Higgins and could have used the Euros as a similar platform. Higgins’ vote of 3.8% in 1999 and 5.5% in 2004 could hardly be called a genuine attempt to win the seat. Given that he lost his Dail seat in 2007 if the economic crash did’nt happen any future candidacy would have been a no hoper also. He just got lucky as the recognized left standard bearer for the Dublin Euros in 2009. The fact is that giving the SP an unconditional clear run with no acknowledgement from the SP whatsoever did do some damage to the SWP profile which came to be seen as a consequence as playing second fiddle to the SP. If the SP intend to be taken seriously in their attempt to field a sole left candidate they need to get real. In any case why should everyone stand aside for someone who has never stood for an election of any sort before?

Pangur ban - December 14, 2013

People here are losing sight of the important issue…the people of dublin will be able to vote on the issue of whether the USSR of glorious and immortal memory was “state capitalist” or a ” degenerate workers state” . Now THAT is important

Johnny Forty Coats - December 16, 2013

Very true. How could the people of Dublin focus on praxis when such fundamental theoretical issues remain unresolved?

However, I would not expect to see a successful resolution unless both parties engage in an honest re-evaluation of the Kronstadt episode.

Enya Rand - December 16, 2013

Yep – I can see queues at the polling booths while the EU citizenry stand with indecisive pencils poised for hours trying to work out where they stand on these knotty theoretical questions.

Thanks PB & JFC for injecting a bit of humour into the whole pathetic situation.

Tip for the SP – non-Irish EU citizens have the right to vote in Dublin.

Jim Monaghan - December 14, 2013

SWP successes due to hard work and excellent politics and SP successes due to luck. Have I it right?
A growing part of the non SP left are beginning ( further than that) to think the SP are right about you..

richotto - December 14, 2013

Why don’t you check up with the North Koreans and at least learn how to do so much better in the art of personalisation and insult when encountering those with inconvenient points to make?

WorldbyStorm - December 14, 2013

I don’t think Jim meant you personally, but more the corporate SWP, which I’m almost entirely certain you’re not a member of :)

Jim Monaghan - December 15, 2013

In the interest of balance I will be equally disgusted if and when anyone stands against Collins and Daly. Even though I think they are at most Gregorys.

14. que - December 14, 2013

“What they did do was produce material for their own local candidates with ‘Vote Socialist’ and a picture of Joe Higgins in another example of crass opportunism. ”

That’s mind blowing charlatanism. How can such cheap parlour tricks be used. Its pathetic beyond belief and yet somehow or other we are to believe that there should be a sense of common cause with them.

15. shea - December 15, 2013

you don’t get this sort of bitching with the other parties, smile, wish the opponent well and hug each other with a dagger in hand. There have been a few of these treads on here and facebook and other blogs, long threads, possibly the same people contributing to them but the nature of talk possibly increased viewers. SP friends and their well wishers are essentially giving publicity to an opponent having this fight in the public. Unity is not an option for youse now what ever it was worth, if its an obstacle, figure a better way to get over it, the way smith is being painted all she has to do is say the alphabet right and she would look good.

Frank - December 15, 2013

So you think the method of bourgeois politics; deceit and treachery and opportunism, is preferable to the method of the workers movement; open criticism, debate and honesty. Well that says it all.

Brid and the SWP have disgraced themselves shea, they can only look terrible and they really do.

shea - December 16, 2013

Its not honest, its calling defeat before the game and making a mountain out of a molehill in doing so. The SWP are a seperate formation from the SP, they are entitled to take there own council. If there was say some broad united left alliance lets say that tryed to maximise the left vote in operation and they went against that then an accusation of treachery could stand. if everyone is a free agent then everyone is a free agent not just some.

Its all balls any way. people are going on as if a first past the post one seat system is in operation in this state. its not. Its a muti seat constituency with a transferable vote. the mathematics required for a split vote the level people are going on about require both candidates to get just under a quota stuck in 4th and 5th place in the pecking order for a long period with a 6th candidate soaking up transfers and leap frogging the two on the final count. Is the left vote in this city that strong that senario will be a possibility, don’t think so. Is the left vote in dublin that small in that both will get eliminate on the 1st//2nd or early counts, again don’t think so. If FF Fg or the shinners in dublin where having a debate about a two candidate statagy i could understand people pulling their hair out but in this case the weaker candidate will get pushed out first and push the stronger candidate up through transfers. All transfers for candidates eliminated below the quota get distributed until the seats are filled so what vote is split goes back and what ever else was never hard left in the first place.

shea - December 16, 2013

And another thing the SP biggest problem is replicating joe’s personal vote. If Brid is on their radar then that is a problem in its self, what ever brid ‘takes’ from the table is miniscule in comparison to that. Paul is very capable he has proven that since taking over the seat, how many people know that, he uses social media well but i would be curious and wold go looking for it, is this what the potential voter sees? if not why not and what can be done about it, that should be the focus for this project. The SP done something very impressive when they won that seat, they got a considerable amount of people to look past all the rhetoric of looney left that is spoon feed to them in the press and put their trust in a SP candidate. How did that happen, who where these people who gave their vote. They can do it again but it means some serious thinking and planing or they could give it a good go with an eye to the election after that if its determined after serious study thats the most attainable goal but coming up with excuses under a year to the election, not impressive.

Frank - December 16, 2013

All of that is beside the point, nobody from the Socialist Party has said that Paul Murphy can’t or won’t get elected because of this stunt by the SWP.

The point that’s being made is that the act of standing Brid Smith and the motivation behind it, is incredibly and transparently sectarian. It’s also worth making the point that this arrogant self-interest comes from the same political method that has led to the destruction of the SWP in Britain.

shea - December 16, 2013

shocking stuff all together.

16. Enya Rand - December 16, 2013

One wonders how many people not employed by various state agencies are left in the SWP. However, in the spirit of non-sectarianism a point of order, namely:

How’s the current polling looking like? i.e.

- Is Labour likely to lose a seat?
- Is FF likely to gain one?
- Is it the case the SF, as Nessa suggests, has enough votes to take the third seat?

17. richotto - December 16, 2013

Its interesting that all the incumbent parties FG, Lab and SP will be fielding weaker candidates than last time. Also among the main challengers FF are trawling around for a celeb and SF have someone no one has heard of. I hope Patricia McKenna stands again. Theres always an appetite among the electorate for a flutter on an outsider in the Europeans and I could’nt think of anyone on the left better qualified.

Johnny Forty Coats - December 16, 2013

I agree. Patricia McKenna is the one person I can immediately think of who would get me off my bum to work in the euro election campaign.

Jack Jameson - December 16, 2013

Wouldn’t that split the Left / progressive vote even further (providing she was interested)?

Would Patricia (and whoever she stood for) be accused of being sectarian?

Johnny Forty Coats - December 16, 2013

The opposite is the case. In 2004 Joe Higgins split the left vote (taking 23,000 votes to McKenna’s 40,000) and thereby handed the seat to Sinn Féin.

Furthermore, McKenna’s views on Trotskyism are sound: she never mentions the subject.

Ed - December 16, 2013

It was worth looking up those 2004 figures just to be reminded of the existence of Royston Brady.

dmfod - December 16, 2013

Just out of curiosity, Johnny fortycoats, what’s your rationale for placing JH and Patricia McKenna on the left but not SF? I would have thought PMcK and SF would be at fairly similar points on the spectrum and if you were going to define either of them as left, you’d have to do it for them both.

CMK - December 17, 2013

JFC, you could just as easily say that Ivana Bacik split the Left vote in the 2004 Dublin Euro election, as two Labour seats were never on the cards. I know that that complicates your anti-SP efforts but the rest of us can read those results, as well.

dilettante - December 17, 2013


It could be related to the “drive over and drive on” theory of que.

Patricia McK could (maybe, just maybe) be a contender for a seat.
But she’s a dilettante (for want of another word). She would be easy enough to unseat when the time is right in a few years time. The shinners would be a different prospect. Joe H did it, but it’s not easy to see anyone else from the left who could pull that off at the next election if SF took the seat this time.

So why not try to give it to Patricia and have another go in a few years time?

I don’t know why you expect to see objective analysis of left and right in this calculation?

Opportunism becomes ideology?

Johnny Forty Coats - December 17, 2013

It was put to me above that Patricia McKenna could be accused of splitting the left and of sectarianism if she were to run in the euro elections.

I pointed out that Joe Higgins of the SP previously ran when Patricia McKenna was a sitting MEP. So if such behaviour constitutes splitting the left and sectarianism, the trail was blazed by the SP.

Patricia McKenna was far and away the best MEP ever elected in this country. Joe Higgins and Mary Lou McDonald used the European Parliament as a convenient staging post on their paths to Leinster House, but McKenna was exercised by European issues: lack of democracy, the single currency, neo-liberalism, militarisation, “ever closer union”, etc.

We badly need a principled voice like hers to challenge the EU Commission and the ECB on the issue of the crippling debt they have foisted on this country.

dmfod - December 17, 2013

JFC I see you didn’t actually answer my question, unless you’re implying that you didn’t actually mean what you said initially?

Dilletante, I’m not sure what you mean either. Who are saying is being opportunistic here?

Johnny Forty Coats - December 17, 2013

Dmfod (do you take a capital D at the start of a sentence?), I said nothing about Sinn Féin being left, right or centre. My only mention of the left was to say that the Socialist Party split the left vote in 2004 by running against McKenna – that observation was in response to Jack Jameson’s argument that McKenna would appear sectarian if she were to run against the SP in 2104. What’s sauce for the goose is, I’m pretty sure, sauce for the gander.

In response to your argument that McKenna and McDonald are “at fairly similar points on the spectrum”, I pointed out that McKenna provided a valuable, unique and critical voice on EU issues whereas McDonald was an opportunist carpet bagger who just wanted to raise her profile in advance of the next Dáil election (the same was true of Joe Higgins in 2009).

Like it or loath it, the European Parliament is sufficiently important for us to elect people who are actually interested in sitting there.

CL - December 17, 2013

What important pieces of legislation have Irish members of the European Parliament succeeded in getting passed?

Johnny Forty Coats - December 17, 2013

CL, you seem to be confused about the governance of the EU: the power to initiate legislation lies with the commission, not with the parliament. Depending on the area concerned, parliament either isn’t consulted at all, or it can give an advisory opinion that the commission and council are free to ignore, or it can accept/reject/amend the commission’s proposals.

If you are implying that it doesn’t matter who is returned to the parliament because its control over legislation is limited, then you are ignoring its importance as a vantage point from which the activities of the commission and council can be observed and as a forum in which the policies of these and other European institutions (the ECB for example) can be publicly challenged.

But for that to happen, the MEPs have to be focused on European issues – not nursing Dáil constituencies with an eye to the next general election.

CL - December 17, 2013

In other words the EU parliament is a talking shop with no legistlative power; but it does contribute to the illusion of democracy.

Johnny Forty Coats - December 17, 2013

The Bolsheviks sat in the “cowshed” of the Tsarist Duma comrade!

[It's depressing to have to resort to such arguments in the year 2013 ...]

dilettante - December 17, 2013

It’s a general point dmfod – not directed at you.

18. Joe - December 16, 2013

I saw the SF candidate on something on Facebook recently. And she was Linda (?) Boylan. First I heard of her was on the CLR a while back and she was Linda Ní Bhaoighealláin. Boylan would be a lot higher up on the ballot paper of course. These SFers have no principles!

Jack Jameson - December 16, 2013

To be fair, she’s used both versions of her name interchangeably.

Lynn Boylan – Importance of all-Ireland institutions – Ard Fheis 2012
Dia Dhaoibh a chairde, Is miseLynn Ní Bhaoigheallain, ionadaíonn Thamhlachta Láir agus Cathaoirleach Safefood.


19. Could The Socialist Party electorally destroy The SWP ? | The Cedar Lounge Revolution - December 18, 2013

[…] There was a very interesting comment (amongst others) that caught my eye from que on the Brid Smith running for Europe thread […]

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