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Report from The United Left Alliance supporters meeting on Monday January 10 January 11, 2011

Posted by irishelectionliterature in ULA.
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For anyone interested, A report from Last nights meeting of the United Left Alliance in Dublin can be found HERE

The ULA are holding their launch meeting in Cork (poster here) on the 12th January 2011 in the Metropole Hotel on MacCurtain Street

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1. L. Aughable - January 11, 2011

So, “the left” puts its energy into getting between “5 to 7 TDs”. Are these TDs going to be able to offer an explicit guarantee that they will not support any government which does not default?

Even more importantly, are these 5 to 7 TDs just going to get to give a two minute tirade to an empty Dáil late at night a couple of times?

I can see the point of taking a purely electoral route if there were some chance of at least holding the balance of power (it worked out brilliantly for the Greens after all), but all this seems to be offering is false hope.

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CMK - January 11, 2011

So, what do you propose then? If the ULA and its tactics constitute ‘false hope’, what do think would represent ‘real’ hope? Armed Revolution? A general strike that succeeds in ushering in socialism? Continued apathy and paralysis on the left?

There are going to be a couple of struggles in the next Dáil term which will have greater chance of success if there is a cohort of ULA TD’s to articulate demands and defend those engaged in struggle. The IMF has, for instance, mandated water charges by 2014. Would it be better to face into that campaign with or without TDs who supported resistance to these charges?

Maybe we should all just face the fact that FF/GP did the best they genuinely could and that FG/Lab will do the best they can under difficult circumstances. As thinking otherwise, and trying to act otherwise, is to engage in self-delusion and ‘false hope’.

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2. L. Aughable - January 11, 2011

Workplace occupations coupled with a general strike seem like the only possibly hopeful tactic for anything other than implementing the IMF strictures. Articulating demands is pointless when those demands are _well known_ and are _being ignored_ and will continue to be so unless some willingness to actually struggle is shown.

Your salaried representatives can squawk in the Dáil all they like, it’ll make eff all difference unless there’s a concerted effort to actually resist this stuff. The cynical apathy with which you can actually dismiss the idea of a general strike as being the first thing to organize is one of the reasons why “the left” remains deeply unpopular: you’ve already quit.

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CMK - January 11, 2011

Hold on a second. I don’t for a second deride the notion of a general strike. Bring it on! I’m all for it. Let’s have one soon, it’s long overdue. What I’m dismissing on your part is your contention that whatever the ULA achieves electorally equals ‘false hope’. If there were 5-7 TDs advocating that workers build towards a general strike the latter would have more chance of actually happening than if there were 166 TDs virulently opposed to the general strike, as is currently the case.

I can’t see why the Left can’t focus on electoral activity through the ULA AND work in the unions, in communities etc. The left has no chance if it can’t get beyond either/or thinking in this area.

But I’d fully support a general strike, I also want the ULA to get 7 TDs.

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que - January 11, 2011

In order to facilitate a strike they would need elected TDs.

As corny as it sounds TDs are representatives of the people. 10-15 k vote for them. If you have 10 Joe Higgins in the Dail then that would strongly compliment the call for a strike.

Not least because you could say well 150-200k people agree with us.

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Jim Monaghan - January 11, 2011

How is workplace occupations etc.excluded by ULA. Joe Higgins as a EuroMP has supported every struggle by workers using his position to help, encourage and bring support.
In Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Boyd Barrett with incredible energy is a feature at every manifestation of a fightback.Are you saying they are going to retire to the Dail. If so that is nonsense.
ULA if hopefully it developes will fight on all fronts against the IMF/EU dictats.
Bringing the struggle and its demands to as many doorsteps as possible is where the struggle is at the moment.

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3. que - January 11, 2011

I agree with CMU Aughable. What do you want of them. Yes they might end up talking in an empty Dail but they would be there as representatives of the people (as real reps not self-annointed reps) and could begin to really agitate to change things.

If the belief that being in Leinster house is a false hope then it is no less a false hope than the belief that the Left was making headway over the previous years outside it. It wasnt.

If you want to change this state then you need to have authority derived by electing people at General Elections. You can tie that in with different approaches but if getting people elected to Leinster house is critical.

The ULA is a very worthwhile initiative by the further left and I wont knock it (and I’d be the first to do so If I thought otherwise).

The only mistake I would see the ULA making would be if it were to split following a general election result not to its liking.

The ULA deserves to exist a bit longer than that and while I might disagree with them on some points I applaud the initiative

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L. Aughable - January 11, 2011

You can already see that CMK derides the idea of a general strike: it’s fairly obvious that s/he believes that the best that can possibly happen is electing a few TDs who will be powerless in the likely FG/Lab coalition. So, having poured scorn on the idea of actually creating a situation where the government has no choice except to lean to the left we’re left with a protest vote. Inspiring. Not. Practical. Not.

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CMK - January 11, 2011

No, I don’t think electing a couple of TDs is the best that can possibly happen. You obviously believe we’re in pre-revolutionary times and a general strike, a campaign of workplace occupations and, BANG!, we’ll have the socialist republic under workers control in six months, tops. The only things stopping this inexorable process, presumably, would be if the ULA did well in the next GE!

Are you actually living in this country? Do you have any grasp of just how much work the Left will have to do to make even incremental progress? The ULA doing well will be a good start; a general strike would be another good step; reforming the unions back into fighting organisations is another step. All of these will take time, energy, effort, dedication, toughness and will ask a price of all those who engage in a fightback. Arguing that electoral activity is ‘false hope’ is just self-indulgence at this point in time.

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que - January 11, 2011

Thats on the money.

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que - January 11, 2011

sorry re double post but…

I think that there is an important point being demonstrated here.

There is the belief by some on the Left that the left are the real representatives/champions of the Working class. (what I referred to earlier as ‘self-annointed’ representatives).

This contention that the Left represents workers is disproven by election after election. Fianna Fail actually represented the working class the most.

Now thats different to representing the interests of the working class the best. The 2 are not the same at all but I think some of the Left has acted as though they were.

If getting people elected to Leinster house does nothing else than prove for the first time that the further left is actually the real representatives of the Irish working class as chose by Irish workers then thats a huge improvement over the current situation where the Irish left claims to be representing Irish workers but instead only argues a position favourable to Irish workers.

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4. que - January 11, 2011

The general strike option is only an option if you have people of sufficient standing to lead it. A demonstration of what sufficient standing might be is getting elected to L. house.

That a general strike and workplace occupations are regarded as options is what the ULA needs to move away from.

Thats why I think its a good initiative by the further left to form the ULA. It shows they recognise that the tactics previously used by the Irish further left were failing badly and a new approach needed to be taken.

An approach based on a clear understanding of whats realistically achievable.

Sorry but i believe that workplace occupations and a general strike are completely unrealistic as options for the Irish left at the moment simply because if you cant get people to vote for you in a GE in great numbers then your not going to be able to get them to step out with you either. A Gen. Elect. is at the least a demonstration of popular support.

T

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5. Chet Carter - January 11, 2011

I am greatly encouraged by reading the report from the ULA meeting on Monday. All the speakers seemed to display a degree of maturity in acknowledging the differences between the groupings present but expressed a willingness to work together.

It is self evident that have a grouping in the Dail that can challenge the neo liberal consensus of FF, FG and LAB is in itself a good thing.

Advocating general strikes and hoping that world revolution is on its way has no relevance to todays working class. It’s not glamorous but you will only engage people through issues that affect their day to day life – jobs and pensions, council services, health, their children’s education, etc.

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ejh - January 11, 2011

I’d query “only”. It’s never “only”.

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6. Jim Monaghan - January 11, 2011

A general strike. I am all for one if I could get enough support. Building the ULA is one way of raising consciousness so that a demand like that is not utopian.Are you saying that no other demand is worthwhile this side of a general strike.
Maximalism is still alive if not DeLeon.Laughable in more ways that one.

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L. Aughable - January 11, 2011

“Building the ULA is one way of raising consciousness so that a demand like that is not utopian.”

Please explain further. I’m genuinely not seeing it. We go out and canvas people on the doorsteps saying that if you vote for ULA you can get probably 7 TDs that support your position. We don’t expect them to be able to actually affect government policy, but ah sure you’ll have a voice in the Dáil. Then when the rest of the bond crisis hits in March/May and we have another “all is changed, changed utterly” situation with Greece and Portugal defaulting even more cuts will be instituted in Ireland and no chance of renegotiation. Only _then_ do we start to say this is where we dig our heels in?

Do you really think that consciousness is built by avoiding the central question: that is Are We Going To Do Anything Other Than Talk?

De Leon? Big Bill Haywood you certainly ain’t.

I can see my comments are way out of the general trend of this blog, so I’m not going to post any more. I will invite you however, to take a look at this thread 6 months from now and decide whether energy would have been better spent on electing candidates or convincing “todays working class that their day to day life – jons and pensions, council services, health and childrends education” are only going to be protected if they engage in a general strike.

It’s got to be either a massive defeat for most of us or else a massive defeat for capital. There’s no safe road.

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WorldbyStorm - January 11, 2011

Don’t stop commenting L.aughable. I think it’s important to get all left viewpoints. In fact it’s precisely because your views might be outside the general trend that they’re important. But I’d also argue that it’s optimistic to think the prospects for a general strike are good.

I know I’ve said it before but in the early mid 2000s I spent three or so years getting a union together in a group of companies. That was simply to ensure that national wage agreements were implemented. They hadn’t been in ten years or so. So that was something that people were entitled to, and yet it took years to break through the fear of losing jobs, of the unknown, etc.

And that was at a time when we had much much lower unemployment, where many of those being unionised were central to the company and couldn’t easily be replaced.

So when I hear about general strikes I map that experience onto that workplace and thousands like it across the country and I think… nah, no way. It just won’t happen. Not in six months, possibly not in six years.

Now the fear is even greater of redundancy/unemployment, wages have already gone down, etc, etc. The private sector is in any event inhospitable territory for unions at the best of times.

Okay, that’s the private sector. What of the public? I’ve worked on contract in the public sector in the last six years. There the situation isn’t much better. Sure, it’s unionised but activism is low, people don’t want to put their heads above the parapet. They too are afraid of redundancies, etc. And after the last two years there’s also a sense that any action they take will be pissed on by the media and a further wedge will be driven between public and private.

The ground isn’t fertile. At all.

And the idea that one can convince the working class of its own self-interest seems to me to be a dubious proposition.

Or put it another way hard enough to get people to go for industrial action well short of a strike for the conditions they were entitled to, to get them to go for a political strike (which is what a General Strike is)? All but impossible.

And that’s why in fact the idea of getting reps elected is crucially important, because every Joe Higgins, or Tony Gregory or whoever can become a focus, someone inside the system who can provide support, sometimes in going to prison have an exemplary effect to actions outside and… most important it’s achievable.

And then as the ULA or whatever gains credibility the chance of getting others involved, of building up connections between strikes, activism, etc becomes much greater.

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Mark P - January 11, 2011

“Only then do we say this is where we dig our heels in”…

Your entire line of argument is based on a misconception. Voting for the United Left Alliance is not put forward by groups like the Socialist Party or SWP as an alternative to “digging our heels in” but as a useful supplement to it.

I have no idea if you are an anarchist, but your approach is distinctly reminiscent of anarchism’s inability to understand the distinction between standing in an election for tactical reasons and standing in an election as an alternative to taking other forms of action.

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Pope Epopt - January 11, 2011

It would be a shame to see you go, L. Aughable, and I can understand your frustration with the limited initial objective of some Dáil representation.

But we really aren’t yet in a situation where sufficient number have little enough to loose to demand more and be willing to risk more. I suspect this point might happen sooner than some here predict.

I can’t see where capitalism goes from here as the debt mountain falls apart, all kinds of resource issues are pressing harder, more of the self-identified middle class fall off the cliff, while capitalist politicians have willfully forgotten the value of social democracy as a safety valve.

So it things may come to a head during the lifetime of the next Dáil and having voices there could well be an asset.

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WorldbyStorm - January 11, 2011

Well I did say six years but I agree this is a time of extraordinary volatility if not a revolutionary moment. I think that as each successive budget cuts deeper well see some sort of a shift, and that’s assuming all else stays static and as you point out that is unlikely. So the chances for significant change could well increase rapidly as you say in a short time.

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Chet Carter - January 12, 2011

Ouch, I find it fascinating that quite a lot of socialists have contempt for the concerns of working class people. And the far left wonder why no one listens to them. I think L.aughable should keep posting. I need to know when his world revolution happens so I can get rid of my Merle Haggard albums, stop washing, start walking a dog on a string and listening to Crass.

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Jim Monaghan - January 12, 2011

Chet
I agree. One thing about canvassing people learn to translate socialism into the language of ordinary people. Too many oleftists talk as if everyone was au fait with the original german of the Grundrisse. We learn to say spade rather than agricultural implement.

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7. Jack Jameson - January 11, 2011

Whatever its many faults and shortcomings, should the Left just leave the Dáil to conservative careerists to make the laws?
TDs’ messages get heard – Tony Gregory got media time because he was a councillor and a TD, not because he was a socialist and RTÉ et al were hungry for ‘balance’.
A raft of left-wing/Sinn Féin TDs would give a progressive platform a higher profile and increased credibility.
It’s not all we might want but it’s a start.

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8. Jim Monaghan - January 11, 2011

Surely to get a general strike or anything else you have to canvas people whether in the workplace or the doorstep.
I have no prediction machine for 6 months time. I would guess that the crisis will deepen and workers need organisation to start and get a fightback. If that is a weak response things will get much worse.This is what has happened here becuase of the ICTU etc.ULA is a start initially on one front. No one in it regards electoralism as the only front. Whether it is in a trade union, community whatever the fight has to be fought.
ULA is not the be all or end all but an initiative that has a possibility of galvanising some struggle, hopefully a lot.
Safe road. Who said there would be a safe road. A road wothout struggle a reformist road. What do you mean. No one in the ULA has said that there is an easy option.
And by the way a general strike would not be enough to effect a total change and defeat capital completely. General strikes with weak leaderships have been defeated. History tells us of one across the water.
So tell us from time to time the response you are getting when you tell people that any other demand or activity outside a general strike is a waste of time. Oh save it for 6 months time. On Big Bill ( a friend of someone I have researched, Tomas O’Flaherta,T.J. O’Flaherty, brother of the writer Liam.)
For better or worse I am not a worker leader of the same stature, I just do my best and encourage all who are fighting the good fight likewise.

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WorldbyStorm - January 11, 2011

Serious question, how many general strikes in recent times have worked?

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fergal - January 11, 2011

The wave of general strikes and protests that brought down the Eastern Europe dictatorships in the late 80s,early 90s

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WorldbyStorm - January 11, 2011

Yes, that’s true. Is that analogous to our current situation though? Might have some similarities in five years time.

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LeftAtTheCross - January 11, 2011

Until we get to the point that people are clinking their keys in their hundreds of thousands outside the Dail night after night, as they did in Prague 20 years ago, until that level of dissatisfaction with the system exists within society, is it premature to talk about transformation of the political & economic system? It didn”t happen easily or quickly there, nor will it here either. But I do think we’re on the road towards it, which is the upside.

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9. Pope Epopt - January 11, 2011

Thank you Tomás for the report – for what it’s worth the ULA seems to have a realistic view of how worthwhile getting a block or TDs elected could be as a first step.

Before we deride it, recall how effective Joe Higgins was when he was in the Dáil at getting positions other than those drummed into us by the media across. 5 or even 7 more could command a useful set of resources and profile as a result of being there.

I’ve also been heartened by the lack of sectarianism so far.

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WorldbyStorm - January 11, 2011

That’s how I feel, JH in the Dáil was an important asset to the left. And to echo Mark P above, it’s not a replacement, it’s an addition.

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10. anon-anon - January 12, 2011

I sympathise strongly with the dissenter’s voice in this discussion. However, I can identify two solid reasons why I think the ULA is relevant and ULA representation in the Dáil is necessary. I live in the back of beyond. So, when it comes to a Socialist perspective, there is none. The party I’m committed to voting for has sincere individuals with some/others with a good degree of class knowledge. The ULA will, imo, act as a goad to keep this party focused on working class issues. (I might add that I also need a good kick up the arse once and awhile about class issues, so am not throwing stones at anyone else.)

Secondly, the left needs to begin to change the pattern and message of social dialogue in Ireland.

When I reflect upon Doherty’s (SF) speeches and local working people’s reactions to it, I don’t get the vibes of the great orator and a sudden understanding by working people of the financial/economic warfare being waged against them. It’s much more basic. People reacted favourably because for once someone with access to a public stage got up and said the elites, who keep telling us how great and infallible they are, are neither great nor infallible. The emperors have no clothes. An Irish politician didn’t waffle, and told some home truths.

The ULA can take advantage of the rare opportunities that the MSM affords such events. Any political formation needs a public podium in order to communicate in our increasingly fractured societies.

I only see this a minor and first tenative step in a increasingly concrete struggle that has many twists and turns to come. Ain’t no yellow brick road before us.

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sonofstan - January 12, 2011

Excellent comment

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11. John O'Neill - January 12, 2011

With a bit imagination 5 to 7 TDs could achieve a lot in the Dail that can raise workers understanding of the capitalist system – look what Joe Higgins achieved alone. The could be a spanner in the works. A call by 5 to 7 TDs in the Dail for a general strike would be carried by the media and taken seriously by the TU leadership as they would have to answer to their membership why they aren’t agerring to the call.

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D_D - January 14, 2011

Hi John. Good to see you the other night. I for one would be glad if the ISN were considering linking to the ULA. Are you thinking yourself of running again in Finglas? I know that in an already complicated constituency the building workers’ stand has complicated things further. They are not in the ULA, as far as I know, but are obviously close.

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12. Terry McDemott - January 14, 2011

Very snide and sneering feature on the ULA in the latest Phoenix.

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Mark P - January 15, 2011

Phoenix consistently covers the socialist left from the perspective of a slightly dim and particularly self-aggrandising Provo. It often covers Labour from much the same angle, but not as uniformly.

In fact, its longer articles about the socialist left are so repetitive that I sometimes wonder if they are simply cutting and pasting whole chunks of them from the last time around. They did a profile of Boyd Barrett a couple of years ago too, and that one was just as sneering and childish.

That said, this issue of Phoenix wasn’t a total loss, bringing my attention as it did to meetings between the SF leadership and Ben Dunne, and to Dunne agreeing to donate money to them.

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RepublicanSocialist1798 - January 15, 2011

Well a good bit of it is true.

Particularly regarding the respective components of the ULA’s attitudes towards republicanism.

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Budapestkick - January 15, 2011

You mean the fact that we’re not republicans? Well I suppose we’ll just have to live with it somehow.

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Mark P - January 15, 2011

That the Socialist Party and SWP aren’t republican organisations is hardly in dispute. The gloss put on this fact by the Phoenix, that this is evidence of some great moral failing reflects the usual Provo’s eye view however. As does all the rest of the sneering.

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RepublicanSocialist1798 - January 15, 2011

The problem is as the magazine states quite clearly is the respective organisations lack of comprehension of “national and Republican impulse that exists at the base of Irish society”. Loved the way the article subtly mentioned Militant Labour’s rather unfortunate lack of similar hostility to the British Army in the North that they gave to the Republican Movement.

Now for something completely different: have ye been in talks with any other Left indo’s (Ming Flanagan and Catherine Murphy are other one’s I can think of). Also why do you reckon Bree got cold feet at the last minute?

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Mark P - January 15, 2011

Of course you “loved it”. It reflects the kind of gibberish Provos who imagine themselves to be left wing like to comfort themselves with.

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RepublicanSocialist1798 - January 15, 2011

And of course you hated it because it did speak a good few truths about your organisation’s shall we say “dalliances with the enemy”.

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Budapestkick - January 15, 2011

“national and Republican impulse that exists at the base of Irish society”

What absolute, esoteric, ahistorical, mystical gibberish. We don’t allow our politics be determined by mysterious ‘impulses at the heart of Irish society’. I have to say I’m absolutely amazed to see that kind of nonsense outside of a John Waters article. Perhaps you could tell us more of these impulses? Can they be detected by the naked eye? Is some sort of apparatus necessary?

As for that pathetic lie about the Militant’s lack of hostility to British imperialism, this can easily be dispelled by a quick glance through:
1. https://cedarlounge.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/militant-1972-jan.pdf
2. https://cedarlounge.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/militant-no3-opt.pdf
3. http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/9881/23-06-2010/bloody-sunday-innocent-protesters-murdered-by-the-british-army-in-1972

Though RS98 doesn’t seem to be too concerned about whether his accusations are based on fact or on the belief that anyone who doesn’t have a portrait of Pearse in their living room is some sort of crypto-imperialist.

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Mark P - January 15, 2011

Hate it? Not in the least. Just as when Varadkar, Deasy and that Labour councillor were flipping their lids about the ULA menace, it’s good to see the Provos a bit rattled. The last time Phoenix did a hatchet job on Boyd Barrett, it was after O’Broin got himself crushed by the PBPA in Dun Laoghaire.

As for “dalliances with the enemy”, I fear your imagination is running away with you.

Anyway, shouldn’t the piece about Ben Dunne’s meeting with the SF leadership be of rather more interest to you then the doings of the allegedly fractious and irrelevant socialist left?

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Budapestkick - January 15, 2011

OK then RS98 tell us about our dalliances with the enemy. We’d be most interested.

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Budapestkick - January 15, 2011

And with that, he falls silent.

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ejh - January 15, 2011

Well, this bodes well

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Mark P - January 15, 2011

Not in the mood for a 50 comment rehearsal of the traditional row about Republicanism and the socialist left then, ejh?

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RepublicanSocialist1798 - January 15, 2011

Sorry to keep ye waiting there gentlemen. Was getting a bite to eat.
Budapeststick: Those articles were interesting reading by the way.

I don’t find it esoteric, ahistorical or mystical. Citizens are motivated by the desire to serve their fellow citizens, their community and their country. What I find gibberish and nonsensical is going about firmly and resolutely committed to a theory that ignores logic and common sense and try to apply it to the real world.

Those articles were interesting by the way and enlightening to a degree. However certainly in the 80’s and the 90’s Militant had utmost distain for the troops out movement and were virtually silent regarding the Gibraltar three and other actions committed by the British. (though I’ll happily stand to be corrected like Militant’s policies in the 70’s) An amusing article from the SP is regarding the Orange Order and the Ardoyne marches:
http://www.socialistpartyni.net/statement-a-analysis/northern-ireland/391-riots-expose-reality-of-sectarianism-
Here instead of offering any sort of credible solution (rerouting the good damn march out of the area) you reaffirm the right of the O.O. to march, bemoan the influence of dissident Republicans and the fact that there isn’t any mass party of the working class in your own image and make.

Mark P:
Regarding Boyd Barrett, he’s a good campaigner and worker in his area ergo the resulting large mandate from the people. On calling the Phoenix magazine crypto provo; why did they publish that story about the Ben Dunne donation if theyre so up SF’s ass according to you? (For the record I find it distasteful that a donation was solicited from Dunne)
I doubt SF are riled about the formation of the ULA. More the merrier. Also the ULA aren’t in the mix in many of the constituencies SF are targeting (bar two: Dublin South and Cork North Central). On a very good day for the ULA they will get five seats. At the moment its looks like three.

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RepublicanSocialist1798 - January 15, 2011

And yeah that’s my last comment because I’ve read that bit on that “Formation of the ULA” article. One comment on the IRSP and the whole thing completely goes off tangent.
Nothing’s going to change; I’ll probably go on believing ye to be a section of the British Left and crypto imperialists while ye shall consider me either a bloodthirsty Provo apologist.
The most important thing is that we’ll be all happy in our own ignorance.

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Mark P - January 15, 2011

I didn’t call Phoenix “crypto-Provo”. I said that it’s coverage of the socialist left, and to a lesser extent Labour, generally reflects the sort of opinions a slightly dim and unusually self-aggrandising Provo might hold. As a whole, the magazine is more friendly to SF than to any other political party but it is not simply a partisan publication.

As for whether SF are riled, they certainly weren’t pleased when Boyd Barrett squished O’Broin underfoot, and that preceded the last hatchet job Phoenix carried on him. SF don’t fear being eclipsed by the ULA on the national stage, but they do have a (tactically perfectly reasonable) problem with the idea of a relatively substantial force to their left. On a larger scale, SF present much the same problem to Labour – Gilmore doesn’t fear SF overtaking his party, but presumably he’s not best pleased about having a relatively substantial force on his left flank, competing for votes they might otherwise hope to take for granted.

And anyway it isn’t as if SF, with it’s 5 TDs is quite such a strong position that it wouldn’t notice competition in a “mere” two constituencies.

I’m not particularly interested in a bad tempered rehearsal of the regular national question argument this evening, but I am a bit curious about your distaste for the approach to Dunne. What do you think this approach signifies about SF and its leadership?

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RepublicanSocialist1798 - January 15, 2011

I’m looking into the matter. The article was a bit vague in certain aspects (date of the alleged meeting for example). I wouldn’t be that surprised if there was a correction and clarification about it in the next issue (the magazine has gotten it wrong a good few times. there was a similar charge laid against Moan Burton and her alleged connections with horse racing Ireland. Next issue there was an apology and statement saying that Burton had nothing to do with H.R.I.)
Besides the obvious ethically questions raised it’s retarded even talking to a man who was the subject of the McCracken Tribunal and who willingly assisted Michael Lowry in evading tax.
I personally believe he’s outlived his usefulness and it’s time there was a change.
Oddly enough his presence doesn’t seem to be damaging the party’s standing in the south so far. Though it’ll be interesting to see what he’s like in the Dail.

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13. D_D - January 14, 2011

Very interesting report on Laois/Offaly from Eóin Breathnach this morning over on Indymedia.

http://www.indymedia.ie/article/98461&comment_limit=0&condense_comments=false#comment276775

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14. LeftAtTheCross - January 14, 2011

Are these people leaving Labour due to political differences, for example on the issues of centre-coalition with FG or left-coalition with SF? Or have they somehow embraced the SP or SWP worldview overnight? Or are they careerists whose ambitions have been thwarted and are looking for a new route to electoral success? I don’t think anyone here will be crying over Labour losing people to the further Left, but at the same time the latter does need to keep electoral opportunism in mind. There was plenty of negative comment about ex-PD Mae Sexton joining Labour, for example. Same rules apply here I presume.

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15. Terry McDemott - January 14, 2011

Why don’t the WP get off the fence on this matter and add another left-strand to the ULA?
Or is the WP’s inability to say anything about social partnership (because of a few officials who like their jobs) the real reason?

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LeftAtTheCross - January 14, 2011

The question of the ULA was raised at the WP Dublin region election meeting last night. The answer given was that the WP wasn’t invited to participate in the initial discussions between the SP / PBPA / TWUAG, from which emerged the ULA as a fait accompli, and that at this relatively stage in the run up to the elections it’s unrealistic to expect the WP to simply sign up to the pre-prepared ULA platform.

It was also mentioned that WP will be asking people to vote for “parties of the Left” and this of course implicitly includes the ULA.

Obviously there are differences between the various Left traditions. Someone like Garibaldy could give a more definitive view on this, but I get the sense that the WP views the ULA as a positive development, and that post-election there could be a bit of “wait and see” in relation to how the ULA develops. If it gains in cohesion and critical mass then there’s probably a better argument for other groups such as the WP, CP, ISN to get involved.

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pat ennis - January 14, 2011

The CP and ISN barely exist, an individual joining the ULA could have as much significance.

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LeftAtTheCross - January 14, 2011

I don’t know if there’s a bit of a snide to tone to that remark but I would have thought that it would be quite a big thing if the divisions arising from Lenin’s succession could be overcome. Of course phrasing it in that way makes it reek of the same type of historical irrelevance with which those on the Left view the civil war differences of FF / FG, the Tweedledum / Tweedledee accusation. Obviously there are major divisions on the Left which will require work if they are to be overcome. It’s somewhat disingenuous to slag off the WP or anyone else for not getting involved in the ULA, given the historical left-sectarianism in play. But hopefully the current circumstances will lead to more cohesion there. The prospect of bigger fish to fry is maybe a positive distraction from past differences. The WP has shared platforms with the SP and others on recent protests, so there are visible signs of co-operation. On the ULA involvement, it would have been a big ask of the WP to come on board after the fact if that had happened, so throwing around digs about cushy union jobs isn’t really a very helpful confribution to the debate is it?

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roasted snow - January 14, 2011

Could I ask, have the ULA made any statements about WP participation or asked them to get on board? Also will the ULA run candidates against WP candidates or Erigi or the ISN if they were to field candidate/s? The latter two of course gaining some deserved attention for the 1% Network.

If it was to emerge that the ULA leadership (Is there an elected one?) did not plan on including any of the above three then I think it might be difficult to explain to a voter what the term United Left means? Memories of the Socialist Alliance / Respect versus Scargill’s SLP come back here from the late 90s, 2001 and 2005 in the UK.

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neilcaff - January 16, 2011

“If it was to emerge that the ULA leadership (Is there an elected one?) did not plan on including any of the above three then I think it might be difficult to explain to a voter what the term United Left means?”

I very much doubt many voters will be asking that question at all. As for your crack about an elected leadership of the ULA I’d like to give you the benefit of the doubt but I suspect you are being disingenuous. The ULA is not a political party like the SP or SF or Labour. It is a coalition of different groups who are standing on a common program. The leadership, if you can call it such a thing, is comprised of nomnated reps from the constituent organisations.

This ractice is perfectly democratic and normal in the labour movement. A god analogy would be a joint strike between SIPTU and Unite branches. They will act together around a common program, in this case a set of industrial demands. Both sides will nominate representatives who will act to co-ordinate the action. It would be utterly absurd to suggest that SIPTU members should vote for for the Unite reps and vice versa. It would also be absurd for the two branches to merge simply around the current industrial issues when there were other issues of difference outstanding. (By the way on a total side note if you think left sectarianism is bad you ain’t seen nothin’ until you’ve seen trade union sectarianism)

Of course the a political project does have differences from a temporary industrial alliance. There is a membership register for example, which is a kind of half way house between something that is purely an alliance of different political groups (the purest example of this would be a Dáil Technical Group) and a membership based organisation with different trends within it. There is an understanding among all the constituent organisations that at some point the ULA will become more permanent arrangement. Were this to happen then of course the structure of the ULA would have to change. But at the moment the balance is more towards a structure to accommodate groups which up until only 4 months ago were completely separate and at times antagonistic.

To suggest otherwise is either naive or, as I suspect given you seem to be fairly knowledgeable about the left, deliberately mischievous.

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Mark P - January 16, 2011

“I very much doubt many voters will be asking that question at all.”

You must know some strange voters. In my experience, the very first question people ask on the door is “but what about Eirigi?”

Every door.

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16. Jim Monaghan - January 14, 2011

I agree let us leave the digs aside. Anyway differences should be debated on policies.
But I would urge the ULA and WP to come tio an arrangement. The WP has some support around I would guess Dublin and Waterford.It has activists and could be a real asset to the ULA and the broader anti-coalitionist left. Ok they were left out of the initial agreement but I would think the programme is fairly ok for them to sign up.
I think a strong anti coalition left in the new Dail could make a real difference. So it is important that all anti coalitionist be in the same camp. Even at this alte stage a discussion between the relevant people could soert out any residual problems. All that is needed is a little good will. I say that as someone who would not be regarded as in any way friendly to the WP.But we have a real problem with neo-liberalism. I won’t speel it out to those who already know this all too well.
So ULA, , ISN and CPI, please find a room and have a chat, if the SWP and the SP can do it so can anyone.

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LeftAtTheCross - January 14, 2011

I don’t know if there is or has been a dialog between the WP/others and the ULA (or its constituent parts). Perhaps someone who has been in the fray over the years, and is in tune with the political nuances, could lift a phone and make contact with influential comrades in the various organisations?

The up-coming conference “New Political Possibilities in Ireland for all Left-Wing Parties in Partnership with Civil Society” could provide a venue for some back-room get togethers later this month.

I wouldn’t expect such a process of dialog to complete before the election, as organisations on all sides will simply be too distracted by electoral campaigns in the next couple of months.

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Pope Epopt - January 14, 2011

I can understand why the WP wouldn’t want to go in with a fait accompli in terms of the ULA programme, LATC. But like Jim I’d like to see them contributing their activism in Dublin and Waterford, if they can come to an accommodation even at this late stage. And I still doubt there will be an election before April, whatever creature heads up FF, so there may be quite a bit of time.

That being said encouraging people to vote for a ‘party of the left’ is helpful. Does that extend to recent converts to social democracy like SF ;-)?

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LeftAtTheCross - January 14, 2011

Pope, I’ve nothing more to add about the WP and ULA myself, I’m just a recently joined and lowly foot soldier, the strategising is done elsewhere obviously. Clearly there are “synergies” which could be exploited to the benefit of the broader Left. Jim has pointed to the need for goodwill. I’ve made a case for patience. These are all necessary qualities in any relationship. To be discussing marraige vows at this stage may simply be premature. Some courtship and a first date might be more appropriate. And a matchmaker to broker the initial introductions perhaps.

On voting for SF, obviously the historical relationship between the WP and SF is far from amicable, and the question over their split personality on different sides of the border cannot be ignored, part of a government implementing austerity there, campaigning agsinst it here. SF weren’t named in the “vote for parties of the Left” ststement, although I suspect it could happen especially in rural areas where one may have to look pretty hard for any sign of a Left party. So in the absence of anyone better, a vote for the LP or SF may be the personal statement of choice on the ballot paper, where the alternative is FF/FG.

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Ghandi - January 14, 2011

“Does that extend to recent converts to social democracy like SF”

my view would be NO

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LeftAtTheCross - January 14, 2011

my view would be NO

+1 (speedy public statement of support for the orthodox WP line!)

The questions around voting for SF were discussed a couple of months back:

https://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/that-sunday-business-post-poll/#comment-81289

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Budapestkick - January 15, 2011

On the WP I can’t comment except to say that there are people within the ULA who want to see them involved.

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Jack Jameson - January 15, 2011

Jimmy Kelly and Unite the Union include Sinn Féin in their recent call for people to ‘Vote Left’:

“Workers should use their vote in the upcoming general election to bring about a left-wing government for the first time in the history of the state,” said Jimmy Kelly, Regional Secretary of Unite the union.
“The Left has never been stronger. Recent polls put the combined strength of the Labour Party and Sinn Fein at 40 percent. This is substantially higher than either of the right-wing parties.
“With the support of other left parties and progressive independents, a Left government is now distinct possibility…
“While competition for votes and seats between Left parties is to be expected, we should remember that progressives have more in common with each other than they do with either of the civil war parties…”

http://www.unitetheunion.org/regions/ireland/news_from_ireland/unite_calls_on_workers_to_vote.aspx

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17. roasted snow - January 16, 2011

Wondering will the ULA be sending comrades along to support the peaceful protest outside the Criminal Courts of Justice in defence of the Anglo Irish Accused on Tuesday morning?

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pat ennis - January 16, 2011

No

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