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Trade Unions hurt Labour: Quinn October 16, 2008

Posted by Garibaldy in Irish Politics, Labour Party, The Left, Trade Unions, Workers' Party.
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A most interesting  report in the Irish Times gives vent to Ruairí Quinn’s real feelings about the broader labour movement. Writing in a new book, State of the Unions, edited by Tim Hastings (which I can’t find a link for) he argues that the Trade Unions harm the Labour Party because the unions expect it to act as their voice in the Oireachtas, while failing to provide sufficient votes and electoral support in return. In addition, he argues that the public blames the Labour Party whenever unions engage in unpopular activity.

What is the significance of this? Possibly none whatsoever. But this is not the first time such sentiments have been voiced by elements of the Labour Party leadership, and it suggests that a Blairite push to negate the influence of the unions as far as possible may not be far off. The timing of the publication is particularly unfortunate given that the Labour movement now more than ever needs a united front. Even though this piece was obviously written some time ago, the credit crunch has been around for a year or more, and it has been obvious that the southern economy was heading for difficulties. It says a lot about the nature of social democracy in the south that at such a time an influential figure like Quinn should chose to say this. There is clearly a declining sense of a labour movement, and it is being replaced with one that there is a political party that is linked to the trade unions financially, and that sometimes agrees with them, but that has distinct and separate interests. It seems silly to raise this debate now.

I don’t want to go on about this, I just wanted to bring it to people’s attention for them to discuss, particularly in terms of what it tells us about the biggest forces in the left in Ireland, and the current difficulties of the left.

On a side point that will be of interest to many here, Quinn reveals that the desire to curb the influence of The Workers’ Party in political and trade union circles was a significant factor in the creation of SIPTU. There has been some discussion of politics and the trade unions past and present in the comments here.

Comments»

1. Cruibín - October 16, 2008

I think it’s bascially down to Labour wanting to make a final break from association with the working class. You will note in reaction to the Budget this week Labour, and Joan Burton, have put particular emphasis on how the budget will affect “the middle classes” (not the plural also).

I would not expect Labour to cut their links with the unions completely or at all in reality. They have significant influence among the trade union officials, particularly those of SIPTU, and have cultivated senior branch officers too. I don’t see them abandoning that straight away.

There seems to be a misconception still out there that Labour is still actually a left wing party. I have even heard this argued by people who should know better. They are not, and it is clear from this they do not want to be. The unions were a useful piggy back to power for Gilmore, Rabbitte and their ilk (like the other piggy back they took but forsook). Now however, they are on the pig’s back well and proper!

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2. Dermot Looney - October 16, 2008

It would be entirely incorrect to assume that the TD concerned speaks for the Labour Party as a whole, or even the leadership, on this or similar issues.

His attempt to roll back from the explicit socialist terminology in the party constitution at last year’s party conference was met with a crushing defeat from the membership.

More significantly, attempts by similarly-minded mandarins to squeeze the union link to the Labour Party through the 21st Century Commission have been roundly defeated.

I am wary of straying too far off topic, but can I note my disagreement with the previous poster about the ‘leftness,’ or otherwise, of the Labour Party. But then again, I would. Since the formation of the party it has either been too far to the left or too far to the right for great swathes of people on either side.

You can cynically paraphrase former Labour TD John Horgan in saying that for everyone on the left in Ireland, the Labour Party is the party you’re thinking of leaving, have just left or would never dream of joining.

Or you could note the failure of the dozen or so attempts in Irish history to create or form the basis for a ‘real’ Labour Party outside the Labour Party – National Labour (admittedly a right wing split), the NPD’s, the SLP, the DSP, DL, last year’s CIL, etc, etc. So, for socialists in the Labour Party – of which there are many, but by no means enough – the party is THE opportunity for a left wing alternative in Irish society.

We can all find plenty of cases where Labour has failed to live up to that tag, as well as instances where it has done so. And defeating the efforts of a small elite to cut links with unions and shift to a crowded centre have been substantial victories for the left in recent times.

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3. garibaldy - October 16, 2008

Surely the impulses for the proposed changes are coming from the top of the Labour Party, and they have not given up on the idea? I have to say I am sceptical of the idea that the Labour Party is not in the crowded centre. Gilmore doesn’t seem all that different, though admittedly not using the anti-immigrant rhetoric.

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4. Mark P - October 16, 2008

Dermot, the problem (well a problem) with your post above is that there is no organised or visible left wing to speak of in the Labour Party. Yes, there are some people who describe them as socialists and there are even a few people who actually are socialists, but they count for nothing in the party.

A couple of decades ago there was a large, distinct, left wing in the Labour Party. Ranging from Militant on its far left, to much more substantial left forces represented by people like Stagg and Michael D. Higgins. Labour Party conferences were a battle between the business as usual right wing of the party and a left which advocated a markedly different vision for Irish society and opposed coalition with the two main right wing parties. Now that is all gone.

Now you can certainly make a case that these ongoing arguments and divisions cost the Labour Party votes, but that’s a different argument. The point is that these divisions disappeared not because some compromise was reached but because the right wing won and their victory has been thorough and conclusive.

There are no organisations of the Labour left left. There are no frontbenchers who are notably to the left of Gilmore, Rabbitte or Quinn. It is inconceivable that any serious candidate for the leadership would be to their left. There aren’t even any TDs who have made a profile for themselves as the remaining left wing conscience of the party, like John McDonnell or Jeremy Corbyn or the like.

Take for example the issue of coalition. A small minority voted at Labour Party conference against the deal with Fine Gael at the last election, but even this minority did not oppose acting as a prop for another right wing led government. Their opposition was on the grounds of a preference for Fianna Fail, or a tactical preference for deciding on a coalition partner after rather than before the vote. There was no current of opinion opposed to right wing coalition on principle at all.

If the Labour Party is to be seen as an opportunity for a left wing alternative in Irish society (let alone “THE opportunity”), it would first have to be the case that there is “a left wing alternative” within the Labour Party itself. And all bullshit aside, you know and we know that there isn’t one and that there never will be one.

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5. garibaldy - October 16, 2008

Hard to argue with any of that Mark.

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6. ejh - October 16, 2008

There are no organisations of the Labour left left.

But there are organisations of the Labour right, right?

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7. Mark P - October 16, 2008

Yes: The Labour Party for starters.

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8. Dermot Looney - October 16, 2008

In response to Mark – who, if I’m not wrong, is the same Mark who is a member of the Socialist Party (If I am wrong, please disregard at least some of the below);

“Dermot, the problem (well a problem) with your post above is that there is no organised or visible left wing to speak of in the Labour Party. Yes, there are some people who describe them as socialists and there are even a few people who actually are socialists, but they count for nothing in the party. A couple of decades ago there was a large, distinct, left wing in the Labour Party. Ranging from Militant on its far left, to much more substantial left forces represented by people like Stagg and Michael D. Higgins. Labour Party conferences were a battle between the business as usual right wing of the party and a left which advocated a markedly different vision for Irish society and opposed coalition with the two main right wing parties. Now that is all gone.”

I think *we* count for something, but perhaps that’s misty-eyed sentimentalism on my part?

We don’t go around with badges proclaiming our political self-definitions, but my point of view there are plenty of what I perceive to be socialists in the Labour Party. There are plenty of non-socialists too. As Benn said, just like the fact that there are Christians in the church, there are socialists in the Labour Party.

Given your own politics, I am sure that you count very few indeed of those within the socialist rubric, myself included. Most of the time I have ever heard speak of ‘good socialists in the Labour Party’ from those elsewhere on the left have been in attempts to recruit!

As regards conferences, let’s take the last conference by means of example;

An avowed *socialist* candidate – Paul Dillon – took the 2nd of 15 NEC seats, beaten only by the SIPTU block vote for Jack O’Connor.

The *socialists* led the charge at that same conference to defeat the motion to change the party’s definition from social democrat to democratic socialist. They succeeded by at least 5 or 6 to 1.

The *socialists* reclaimed the Red Flag as the party anthem – symoblic absolutely, and mattering nothing to policy – but had that motion I put forward been beaten, I am sure it would count as yet another example of the Labour Party’s capitulation to the right!

Examples, all three. Not near enough. Not substantial enough to affect the kind of political changes necessary. But present and willing, if not yet able.

“Now you can certainly make a case that these ongoing arguments and divisions cost the Labour Party votes, but that’s a different argument.”

I don’t.

“The point is that these divisions disappeared not because some compromise was reached but because the right wing won and their victory has been thorough and conclusive.”

Partly. There were also serious gains made by Labour Left, including the 1987 Commission on Electoral Strategy and the election of the party leader.

“There are no organisations of the Labour left left.”

Nothing formal no. There are very few formal organisations of any nature in the party. That said, the most active section, Labour Youth, has been to the forefront of most left wing campaigns and some left wing policy issues over the last 5 years.

The point being that one of the perceived reasons for the failure of Labour Left to succeed in the late 80’s and 90’s was that issues of more formal organisation at times worked against them.

Paul Dillon’s Masters thesis on Labour Left – the only academic document I’ve ever read about it – hints at a few reasons as to why Labour Left was not the success it might have been. There are many on this site who were around at the time – I was in short trousers – who will have more insight than I, and I’d be interesting in hearing their interpretation of it.

“There are no frontbenchers who are notably to the left of Gilmore, Rabbitte or Quinn.”

I would put Michael D Higgins, Tommy Broughan and Jan O’Sullivan in that category. But, then again, you will take issue with how notable the differences are.

“It is inconceivable that any serious candidate for the leadership would be to their left.”

Tommy Broughan should have been a candidate for the leadership, and I proposed him on behalf of the National Youth Executive – see http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/frontpage/2007/0827/1187332635285.html .

“There aren’t even any TDs who have made a profile for themselves as the remaining left wing conscience of the party, like John McDonnell or Jeremy Corbyn or the like.”

Michael D Higgins has. And, besides, I’m more concerned about what members do than what TD’s do. McDonnell and Corbyn, by the way, have been supported by Labour Youth in Ireland and have both spoken at Labour Youth events in Ireland in recent years.

“Take for example the issue of coalition. A small minority voted at Labour Party conference against the deal with Fine Gael at the last election, but even this minority did not oppose acting as a prop for another right wing led government. Their opposition was on the grounds of a preference for Fianna Fail, or a tactical preference for deciding on a coalition partner after rather than before the vote. There was no current of opinion opposed to right wing coalition on principle at all.”

I spoke at the conference opposing the pact. Despite the recollections of your SP comrades on Indymedia at the time, I did not express support for coalition. I have outlined the coalition policy of Labour Youth, which I was involved in proposing, in two blog posts at http://thelooneyleft.blogspot.com/2007/05/labour-youth-on-coalition.html and http://thelooneyleft.blogspot.com/2007/07/more-on-labour-youth-and-coalition-and.html .

In essence, it recognises the nature of the electoral system as being geared towards coalition governments, and therefore supports coalition but only as a leading party and on our terms. You’ll lash me out of it – or at least some of your colleagues might – of course, for supporting ‘coalition with right wing parties.’ Most would lash me out of it for being a pie in the sky leftie eejit. Not sure which I prefer.

“If the Labour Party is to be seen as an opportunity for a left wing alternative in Irish society (let alone “THE opportunity”), it would first have to be the case that there is “a left wing alternative” within the Labour Party itself.”

Firstly, regardless of whether you or I think it, the Labour Party IS viewed as this by many voters. I know because I meet them and talk to them.

Secondly, I believe in it, and that is why i am putting myself forward for election – though of course, as some of your colleagues have pointed out, that’s a nonsense and I’m a careerist!

And thirdly, there is a left wing alternative in the Labour Party itself. And just because we’re not left wing enough for you, and because we don’t sell newspapers, or have paid staff, or operate like Militant – and because we don’t have the formal organisation of Labour Left, or the ability to form that yet – doesn’t make it false. There are many on the left in the Labour Party, there is considerable informal linkage between those people, and there now needs to be a push to mobilise to unite these people in a more productive way.

“And all bullshit aside, you know and we know that there isn’t one and that there never will be one.”

You know that in the same way I *know* that St Pat’s will never again win the FAI Cup. Every time I’ve hoped for it, it hasn’t happened. Every time I’ve been there – two finals and a replay – they’ve let me down. It’s been 47 years in a small league. So I’m resigned to think that we’re doomed to failure, forever.

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9. Mark P - October 16, 2008

Yes, by the way, I am in the Socialist Party.

“I think *we* count for something, but perhaps that’s misty-eyed sentimentalism on my part?

Yes. It is.

We don’t go around with badges proclaiming our political self-definitions, but my point of view there are plenty of what I perceive to be socialists in the Labour Party.

I would take issue with the term “plenty” in this context, although I’m sure I’d also take issue with your perception of what a socialist is too. But more fundamentally, the problem isn’t that the few self-proclaimed socialists fail to wear badges proclaiming your political self-definitions but that you don’t differentiate yourselves in any substantive way from the bulk of your right wing party colleagues.

As Benn said, just like the fact that there are Christians in the church, there are socialists in the Labour Party.

Quite aside from the fact that Benn was talking about a party in a different country, Benn is 192 years old and can be forgiven for failing to reassess the situation around him. You don’t have that excuse.

Given your own politics, I am sure that you count very few indeed of those within the socialist rubric, myself included. Most of the time I have ever heard speak of ‘good socialists in the Labour Party’ from those elsewhere on the left have been in attempts to recruit!

I didn’t use the term “good socialists in the Labour Party”. In my view the small rump of remaining socialists in that party would be better described as “bewildered” than good. As for recruitment, the Labour Party these days would be one of the last places I’d look for recruits for a socialist organisation. There are only a few thousand paper members left, a small fraction of that number are remotely active and most of those are cynical careerists, right wingers, seriously confused or some mixture of the the three. It’s not exactly promising territory.

As regards conferences, let’s take the last conference by means of example… Not substantial enough to affect the kind of political changes necessary.

Not substantial in any way shape or form. Keeping the term “democratic socialist” or the party song around has more to do with the age profile of the Labour Party and a touch of nostalgia than anything else.

Tell us though, what concrete policies did these socialists put forward that were substantially to the left of the policies of the right wing leadership and how much support did they get? The answer of course is that they put forward almost nothing because the support they would get consists of almost nothing.

I spoke at the conference opposing the pact. Despite the recollections of your SP comrades on Indymedia at the time, I did not express support for coalition.

And you’ve just told us that you yourself support coalition with the right wing parties! So, taking your “correction” at face value we had a huge majority for a pact with Fine Gael, a small minority for linking up with Fianna Fail, a smaller minority for picking between the two after the election and… one person who wants to pick between the two when the Labour Party is a bit bigger. Nobody at all who opposes coalition with right wing parties on principle. But let’s forget principle for a while – get back to me when a substantial current within the Labour Party supports even your watery proposal. I think I’ll be a long time waiting.

Firstly, regardless of whether you or I think it, the Labour Party IS viewed as this by many voters.

I can safely say that I have never once in the last ten years met someone who was voting for the Labour Party because they were under the impression that Labour represented a radical alternative vision for Irish society. If I did meet such a person, I think I’d be so taken aback that I wouldn’t even know how to respond to them.

Secondly, I believe in it, and that is why i am putting myself forward for election – though of course, as some of your colleagues have pointed out, that’s a nonsense and I’m a careerist!

I don’t know you and have no reason to assume that you are insincere.

And thirdly, there is a left wing alternative in the Labour Party itself. And just because we’re not left wing enough for you, and because we don’t sell newspapers, or have paid staff, or operate like Militant – and because we don’t have the formal organisation of Labour Left, or the ability to form that yet – doesn’t make it false. There are many on the left in the Labour Party, there is considerable informal linkage between those people, and there now needs to be a push to mobilise to unite these people in a more productive way.

The problem isn’t that the Labour left doesn’t sell newspapers or organise as Militant did. I wouldn’t expect reformists to organise along our lines. But when there was a reformist left of note in the Labour Party it did have its own organisations and institutions.

Now there isn’t enough of a Labour left to support any kind of infrastructure, whether that’s committees on particular issues, conferences of the Labour left, caucuses in branches, organised campaigns to get motions passed, groups of left wing TDs along the lines of the Campaign Group, campaigning groups like the British LRC, discussion bulletins, radical magazines, think tanks, anything really. It doesn’t have any well known spokespersons and doesn’t have anything much to say. It has no alternative vision, no alternative programme and no institutions to support any alternative it could develop. Even the nearly obliterated British Labour left still has a small amount of this kind of thing remaining. But not its Irish equivalent. There is no Labour left as a current. Just a few atomised leftovers.

You know that in the same way I *know* that St Pat’s will never again win the FAI Cup.

A better parallel for the kind of optimism untethered to reality that you are peddling here would be a Pats fan down the pub telling people that someday they were going to win the Champions League.

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10. Ian - October 16, 2008

I find it interesting that Quinn is castigated as Blairite for saying the union leadership are too cosy with FF. The Trades Unions leadership are the Blairites.

Quinn said:

“On the other hand, the members of those trade unions do not give sufficient votes to Labour Party candidates in return for the Labour Party’s support.”

Why don’t these trade unionists vote Labour? Ask them. They’ll probably say they don’t buy us off with enough cash or that Labour are too left-wing.

Honestly, some of the comments posted here can’t see the trees for the wood.

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11. Mark P - October 16, 2008

I forgot to mention one point:

Tommy Broughan should have been a candidate for the leadership

1) But he wasn’t.
2) And he wouldn’t have been a serious candidate.
3) And he isn’t significantly to the left of Gilmore, Quinn or Rabbitte.

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12. WorldbyStorm - October 16, 2008

I sort of agree with you Mark P up to the point where you argue about opposition to coalition government with a right wing party being a principle. It can’t be, not least because there are different sort of right wing parties and some might be very negative indeed and worth the pain of a coalition to keep them out. That said I’d strongly argue for a coalition of left forces much as Mick Taft has sought and the Irish Left Review. But what’s the principle at stake here? I can’t think of one. On the other hand I *can* think why it’s bad tactics in almost all situations.

Above and beyond that I think its unhelpful to characterise Labour as a centre or right party or pretend they’re not leftwing. One could argue that it’s actually all too characteristic of the contemporary social democratic (sort of) left. It’s wishy washy in its leftism but there are genuine differences between them and Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

As for Quinn’s comments, well almost beneath contempt frankly. The sheer nonsensical aspect of it proven by the reality that most union members vote for (and presumably a greater number within the TU movement are members of) Fianna Fáil. I don’t think the link does them any harm at all, quite the opposite and frankly I’ve never in all my years in politics heard it brought up as a serious reason why Labour or Labour policies were ‘wrong’…

Mind you this is the same R. Quinn who was recently musing on matters Islamic – eh?

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13. garibaldy - October 16, 2008

Ian,

Is that what he said? As I read the article, he said that they try to foist overly left wing positions on the Labour Party. Not the same thing.

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14. WorldbyStorm - October 16, 2008

MarkP I’m presuming that you’d find a stronger “reformist” left in Labour no more more palatable than the absence of one…

Ian, I don’t think Quinn’s argument is from much of a left of FF position, and it’s hard to see how he can justify shedding the union links – which have a visceral historical reality to them – simply because FF is more ‘successful’…

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15. garibaldy - October 16, 2008

This absence of a strong left in the Labour Party I think is reflected in the blogosphere. Think about the number of left-wing bloggers producing interesting and coherent analyses, and then wonder how many of them are in political parties. Granted, many of them are ex-members of (sometimes several) parties, but that proves the point. In the past such people would have been active in a party political way, and now aren’t. This makes the far left far smaller, but has clearly hit social democracy very hard too. That is not so much the fault of the parties involved, though clearly they all have their own failings, but a reflection of the prevailing culture.

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16. Ian - October 16, 2008

Garibaldy,
No that’s not what he meant at all. He reckons the unions call on the Labour Party to back them in their dealings with the government, which most (though not always) Labour does. Take Social Partnership, irish ferries etc. Labour always sided with the unions. On occassions like major commuter strikes, Labour has held back. I would say Labour backs them more often than not.

Yet when Labour needs the unions to return the favour – once every 5 years in a general election, they give Labour lip-service support but they all vote FF. Why? Because even when Labour is asked to back the unions, its only so they can gain leverage over FF. When trade unions vote in elections, they reward their FF paymasters.

Where do Labour gain? We get blamed for the couple times we dont help them yet they never vote for us. Labour as a party is in a lose-lose. That’s what Quinn said.

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17. Ian - October 16, 2008

WbS. I don’t think he called for the link to be broken. He called on them to back the Labour Party, to match their votes with their rhetoric. If anything, he’s calling for closer links.

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18. Mark P - October 16, 2008

MarkP I’m presuming that you’d find a stronger “reformist” left in Labour no more more palatable than the absence of one…

Actually I would welcome the growth of a reformist left almost anywhere.

I do think, however, that the growth of one within the current Irish Labour Party is all but precluded. If I’m proven wrong on that (and I’m pretty confident that I won’t be) I’d be in favour of reassessing my view of the Labour Party more generally.

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19. garibaldy - October 16, 2008

I wonder how much of a lose-lose the Labour Party would be in if the unions cut the political fund off. I think overlooking that seems to miss the main benefit of the link. Doubtless there are far too many trade unionists who vote FF, but the leaderships can’t force them to vote a certain way.

I’m not sure it is a call for closer links. A call for obedient trade unions maybe. And the unions might be in a better position to complain about the return on their investment. The government has to negotiate with the unions. It can happily ignore the Labour Party.

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20. WorldbyStorm - October 16, 2008

That’s fair enough MarkP. So would I. And I share your pessimism.

Ian, the language seems to suggest that the destination isn’t greater support or closer links but a divorce. He may not want that but the way the issue is phrased seems to lead inexorably in that direction. In other words, the links aren’t to our liking or benefit so although we’d like them to be closer we don’t expect them to be and it might be better if they went away.

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21. Omar Little - October 16, 2008

I looked at the book today, its in Waterstones in Dublin. The piece by Quinn is a remarkably bad potted history of the Labour Party and the entire book isn’t great.

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22. WorldbyStorm - October 16, 2008

Must do likewise Omar…

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23. Garibaldy - October 16, 2008

Cheers for the info Omar. I had thought it might be a serious piece of political analysis, but more fool me.

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24. magic_norhan - October 16, 2008

Garibaldy – The income from Trade Unions as an overall percentage of Labours income is actually very small – something like 2 or 3%

WBS

You ask after your opening paragraph “what is the significance of this?” – It is actually quite siginificant in the current climate for labour – Last November the party set up a “21st Century Comission” to examine in detail the party and reccomend improvements – the Commission is being chaired by Greg Sparks and was charged with reporting back to the conference that we are having in Kilkenny in November – however the commission cannot agree on several issues and it would seem that one of these is a proposed break in the trade union link

My computer keep s crashing as I write this so I’ll come back to it tomorrow but have a look at Mark Henessys Irish Times articles from the last 3 saturdays

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25. Garibaldy - October 16, 2008

Cheers for that magic. I guess then the symbolism is more important (although that would change should the loss of seats in either Europe or the Dáil come about on a significant scale I would imagine). A Labour Party without any links to the trade unions would be a very strange beast indeed, and unthinkable in most parts of the world.

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26. CL - October 17, 2008

The leader of the Labour Party’s 21st Century Commission, Greg Sparks, is a business partner of Declan Ganley.
At a time when really existing capitalism has dealt a body blow to the outmoded ideology espoused by Sparks and Ganley, the Labour movement needs to focus on what is its historical mission-the protection of working people from attempts to commodify their labour power. And an essential part of that struggle is to expose Sparks, Ganley and their ilk as regressive charlatans.

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27. Garibaldy - October 17, 2008

Good info CL. A bit disturbing that a business man would be running that commission.

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28. CL - October 17, 2008

And don’t forget the McEvaddy’s
“The fundraising was completed in recent days, with the majority of the money coming from clients of FGS. The accountancy firm will manage the development of the site, which is being bought by a consortium led by aviation entrepreneurs Des and Ulick McEvaddy.”

FGS is Sparks’ company.

http://archives.tcm.ie/businesspost/2008/08/03/story34911.asp

“However, Ulick McEvaddy doesn’t confine his interest in politics to Fine Gael. On a Wednesday evening, if she is around, he will have a drink with Mary Harney. And he has always had time for Charlie McCreevy who has always believed that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil should, because of their common economic interests, amalgamate.”
http://www.independent.ie/national-news/brothers-with-altitude-400889.html

Why would Greg Sparks want to weaken the Irish Labour movement? Maybe Eamonn Gilmore could explain?
Or maybe its just that the political economic interests Greg Sparks serves coincide with the class interest of his business partners.

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29. Missing, inaction… the Independent left in the Dáil. « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - October 17, 2008

[…] Féin in some sort of working alliance, and even elements of Labour [mind you, reading Garibaldy’s piece here you’d wonder about that – or perhaps it works the other way and a more centrist Labour party […]

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30. Joe - October 17, 2008

Where to start. The unions are so tied in to the social partnership process that they are as closely linked to FF as they are to Labour. And the reality is that none of the 3, as far as I can see, are opposed to the creeping privatisation of public services which is continuing and increasing under the current government.
There might be a future for links between Labour and the unions if they put together a coherent argument and campaign for keeping public services especially health and education in public ownership and reforming them to make them BETTER public services. And if the unions then refused to enter into any social partnership which allowed for continued privatisation.
But the reality is that the people in charge of the unions and Labour, by their actions, have shown themselves to be happy with the privatisation agenda.
Hence the need for a new party of the left. Sigh.

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31. ejh - October 17, 2008

It’s not going to happen though., And I’ll tell you why (he said, leaning back, adding more brown to his bitter) because all the people who would do it aren’t going to do it. Because we’re too old and we’ve spent too long telling people they should stand up against this and that and they’ve never done it. So we’re like James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams, aren’t we? “Go away, you’re from the Sixties!”

Sigh….

….I dunno, where did it all go?….

….anyway, what are you having? Going to the match tomorrow?

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32. Garibaldy - October 17, 2008

EJH,

pessism of the intellect, optimist of the will

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33. ejh - October 17, 2008

Optimism* of the what?

[* ¿Qué?]

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34. Garibaldy - October 17, 2008

Did I mispell will as well as optimism?

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35. ejh - October 17, 2008

No, you failed to explain the concept.

I didn’t even notice the misspelling, it must be Friday afternoon.

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36. Garibaldy - October 17, 2008

When in doubt EJH, I shall cut and paste from Wikipedia. Its entry on Optimism includes the following:

“A number of scholars have suggested that, although optimism and pessimism might seem like opposites, in psychological terms they do not function in this way. Having more of one does not mean you have less of the other. The factors that reduce one do not necessarily increase the other. On many occasions in life we need both in equal supply. Antonio Gramsci famously called for “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will”: the one the spur to action, the other the resilience to believe that such action will result in meaningful change even in the face of adversity.”

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37. ejh - October 17, 2008

No, optimism I know about. I think I remember it from my youth.

It’s will that baffles me.

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38. Garibaldy - October 17, 2008

Too many Nietzscheian (probably misspelt) and Hitlerian overtones, eh? I guess that the word “agency” hadn’t come into vogue then, in English or Italian.

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39. Hugh Murphy - November 27, 2008

If Ruairi Quinn thinks that trade unions are hurting the labour party then he shouldn’t click on University Blog on Academic Tenure in Ireland: are Jack O’Connor and Siptu Corrupt.

After reading the comments on this site he may well believe that Trade Unions are a liability to the Labour Party and even more right wing.

Hugh Murphy

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40. smiffy - November 27, 2008

He shouldn’t click on that blog, regardless. Nor should anyone. The owner of the site is a demented, self-important, crackpot (even for a blogger!).

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41. NollaigO - November 27, 2008

demented, self-important, crackpot (even for a blogger!).

Cé hiad atá i gceist ?!

Contributors to this board excluded, smiffy?!

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42. Hugh Murphy - November 27, 2008

Why dear smiffy why do you rant so…? Is it because the person in question has stood up to O’Connor and Siptu.

And I don’t mean myself.

He’s provided a link to indymedia where I’ve written about O’Connor’s antics and how he and Siptu are betraying Larkin and Connolly. Surely academics are allowed to read the Truth about the slavish demeanour and mentality of the so-called trade union movement in Ireland without being labeled a “demented self-important crackpot”.

Actually, those words adequately describe your hero – Jack O’Connor. He should be renamed the grand old duke of york for leading his members up and down the hill of Strike Action so often. Although, I suspect dear smiffy, with your employers attitude that your consider this a victory – and the workers are fooled again.

Smiffy dear, your talents would be better served if you exposed the Stalinist collaborators in Siptu and Ictu – but then again, how could you, it would only upset the employers. SORRY Partners!
What a joke! Even you smiffy, if you have any connection to the real world must now realise how the workers have been conned.

Not so long ago the employers war-cry was “We can’t pay more money because we must remain competitive” NOW “It’s we can’t pay more money because we must remain in business”.

THIS, after cowardly and ’employer friendly’ trade unions kept workers working for buttons while the employers made BILLIONS of euros.

Grow up smiffy! Read my many articles on indymedia and learn that the real culprits for keeping the working class in subjection is subservient trade unions – and their well paid leaders.

Or… are you one of the well paid…? At least the person you chose to denigrate has the courage to use his own name.

Hugh Murphy

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43. smiffy - November 27, 2008

NollaigO – definitely not! 😉

Hugh Murphy – QED.

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44. WorldbyStorm - November 27, 2008

Guys, I’m not going there… 🙂

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