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Where now for the ULA? Saturday 2nd February,Teachers Club, Parnell Square, Dublin January 30, 2013

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Politics, The Left.

Where now for the ULA?

Meeting with

Joan Collins TD
Clare Daly TD
Cllr Declan Bree

Saturday 2nd February, 2pm to 6pm, Teachers Club, Parnell Square, Dublin.

Following on from discussions amongst non aligned members* of the ULA it was decided to have a full and open meeting between non aligned members and supporters of Joan Collins, Clare Daly and Declan Bree about how we can take the ULA project forward together. On the day the three public representatives will outline their proposals for doing just that.

This is a very important meeting for for all non aligned members to attend particularly in light of the current situation within the ULA. We would encourage everyone who can attend, for all or part of the day, to do so.

The non aligned have an email discussion group if you would like to be added email rdlp715@gmail.com to request to be added.

*Members of the ULA who are not members of the founding groups.

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1. Liberation Jumpsuit - January 30, 2013

It would be nice if Mick Wallace could also give his view – whether people like it or not he is a player in the ‘ULA’ future

revolutionaryprogramme - January 30, 2013

I don’t see why. Wallace is only indirectly involved – to the extent that some in the ULA, namely the new Daly/Collins bloc, are willing to form a political alliance with him.

Liberation Jumpsuit - January 30, 2013

How a tax cheat and worker exploiter can be involved in any manner at all leaves a big question about the politics of the Daly/Collins bloc – I also get a laugh out of Ming as much as the next man but there’s a another joker in the pack – I need a few stiff whiskeys if I was a a political meeting with them.

Dr. X - January 31, 2013

Ming’s just a bog-standard rural independent, underneath the hippy exterior. Jackie Healy-Rae with a spliff, basically.

Jim Monaghan - January 31, 2013

Agreed. He would destroy the bogs as well.

2. Joe - January 30, 2013

Declan Bree. Forgot about him.

3. Julian Assandwich - January 30, 2013

Certainly looks like an interesting afternoon. Where the Left goes from here will probably take a few such afternoons, but it’s very positive these are happening.

Tawdy - January 30, 2013

I agree with the positive attitude. I`ll reserve any opinion until I hear what the plan is.

Julian Assandwich - January 31, 2013

Looks like people are free to go along and contribute to formulating the plan if they’d like.

4. Forbolg - January 31, 2013

It’s just too depressing to analyse. We are all complex humans and I would prefer to remember her decades of dedicated struggle.

5. revolutionaryprogramme - February 17, 2013

After yesterday’s meeting of the ULA non-aligned I have decided not to join the proposed United Left grouping. My reasons for making this decision are outlined on my blog – http://revolutionaryprogramme.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/why-im-not-joining-the-proposed-united-left/

Mark P - February 17, 2013

I often don’t see eye to eye with you on political issues, RP, but I think you’ve done the left a small service here. By putting very clear motions to the ULA independents you have forced a milieu which specialises in a certain artful ambiguity to clarify where they stand on key issues.

Those “independents” who are forming a group with Collins/Daly have explicitly voted in advance that the TDs should not be accountable to the group, that alliances with Wallace and Flanagan are acceptable, and that the TDs have more rights than the other members. I’m sure that most or all of them would prefer otherwise, but when it gets right down to it, they have no bottom line at all. Remarkable really, given the obsession with structures above all else in that milieu.

It is predictable that little discussion of the politics of the new organisation took place other than to clarify that it would not be a revolutionary group.

WorldbyStorm - February 18, 2013

Thanks for that. Your response is very very thought provoking.

WorldbyStorm - February 18, 2013

My comment was intended for RP.

6. D_D - February 18, 2013

It is touching to behold the new warmth from Mark P to RP on the occasion of RP’s condemnation of his fellow ‘adversaries’ the ULA nonaligned. RP’s blog statement has one or two (one large) misunderstandings of the position of the ULA nonaligned majority. And where our positions are less inaccurately reported they are ascribed to bad faith. My reply is on RP’s blog.

RP’s stock denunciations of “outright opportunism” and “skin deep” adherence “to basic socialist principle” are cheer-led by Mark P’s stock-in-trade snideness in decribing the ULA independents as “a milieu which specialises in a certain artful ambiguity” and thus also ascribing bad faith to positions that are merely different.

Rather than being artful our meetings are open to all nonaligned members of the ULA where each has a vote. There was really no need for the Socialist Party to artfully send a cub reporter to the joint nonaligned-Daly/Collins meeting on February 2nd.

The litany with which Mark P premises his conclusion that we “have no bottom line at all” is a fevered fiction.

There was no decision to give extra rights to TDs. If you are referring to the failure of the Motion which read:

“This meeting of the non-aligned members of the ULA consider the TDs of any future “United Left” organisation to have no more rights than any other member of that organisation”,

rejecting a declaration that they have no more rights does not confer any extra rights. The majority felt that this was unnecessarily aggressive to Joan Collins and Clare Daly.

The meeting did pass the following:

“Elected representatives shall be accountable to national conferences, Branch Councils and the Steering Committee”

which some felt to be unnecessary as it is agreed that a Council of Branch delegates should be the key decision making body anyway and should meet every two months.

The meeting also passed the following in relation to working with others, including any TDs outside the UL and ULA:

“Initiatives for common work on single issues, or with other political forces outside the bloc or the ULA, shall be discussed and agreed upon by the BC [Branch Council] or SC [Steering Committee] as appropriate and shall endeavour to involve as many forces of the socialist left as possible”.

There is common ground throughout the Daly/Collins grouping and the ULA nonaligned that Mick and Ming will not be part of the new group.

A more careful reading of RP’s statement would indicate that the politics of the new grouping were indeed discussed and the discussion was one of the things that impelled RP to stay out. In any case there is agreement among the nonaligned and the Daly/Collins circle that the politics of the new group, should it materialise, will be based on the founding statement of the ULA, a statement Mark P once supported.

Mark P might be confusing a concern for internal democracy with an obsession with structures.

revolutionaryprogramme - February 18, 2013

I don’t think I did misrepresent the difference in political approach between myself and the other non-aligned at Saturday’s meeting but perhaps I could have been clearer in my original blog post.

I have replied to Des’ comment on my blog and think our exchange has helped clarify the core of the difference – which interestingly I think he actually shares with the SP in terms of method.

I do stand by my use of the phrase “outright opportunism”. How else to describe a decision to vote for opposing any on-going political alliances with bourgeois forces as a matter of principle while in the next breath refusing to apply that in the concrete case of Mick Wallace?

Mark P - February 18, 2013


1) Anyone who thinks that Joan, Clare and Dermot will be accountable to the three dozen of you in the Teacher’s Club is on the face of it so naive that I can only assume bad faith. But, let’s clear this issue up: Do you actually, personally, believe that these public representatives will be accountable to and will faithfully represent policy as decided by this new little group as a whole?

2) As it happens though, I don’t ascribe general bad faith to the Teachers Club milieu in terms of its politics but instead a vagueness, an ambiguity, which is at times a reflection of a genuine lack of clarity and at times is merely useful.

3) While we are clearing things up, is it the position of the independents who are planning to join Clare and Joan’s organisation that public representatives must advocate the policies decided by the group as a whole? If this is not a bottom line, it seems to me that it is hard to dispute my statement that there is no meaningful bottom line.

4) Can I also assume that RP accurately described the hilarious decision to piously vote against alliances with capitalist politicians. And that this was indeed then followed by a vote to exclude the only actual political alliance with actual capitalist politicians which is is on the agenda from this prohibition? This strikes me as so patently ridiculous as to be be beyond parody, and again more than justifies my remark about there being no bottom line.

I do however love the disingenuous part of your response where you “clarify” that Wallace and Flanagan won’t be joining your group, as if that, rather than the ongoing political connection between these two TDs and your two TDs was the issue at hand. You know, the ongoing political connection you voted was ok?

5) You are correct that I thought and think that the ULA statement was just about acceptable as a basis for collaboration with other less radical forces which absolutely refused to accept anything more left wing. That unfortunately was a reality of the ULA. It was not the Socialist Party’s political framework, but a lowest common denominator between us and others to our right.

6) A careful reading of RP’s comments reveals that the one political issue clarified in detail was that this new group would not be revolutionary in nature or orientation. Personally, I welcome that little bit of clarity. Perhaps Ireland’s rather anomalous situation where there is no reformist force between the revolutionary left and the neoliberal mainstream will be ended if this group goes anywhere.

WorldbyStorm - February 18, 2013

That’s interesting about No. 6 to be honest.

7. D_D - February 19, 2013

Mark P: “I do however love the disingenuous part of your response where you “clarify” that Wallace and Flanagan won’t be joining your group, as if that, rather than the ongoing political connection between these two TDs and your two TDs was the issue at hand. You know, the ongoing political connection you voted was ok?”

Ah, this “ongoing political connection”. Which takes no organisational form, was never voted as OK (where did you get that notion?) and resides at least as much in the new mythology and demonology of the Socialist Party as it does in reality. Well, Mark P, if the Socialist Party/CWI can survive JOINING A GROUP with Tommy Sheridan and actively promoting him as a leader I reckon these two TDs and those around them can survive the possibility of perhaps some occasional cooperation on single issues with Mick and Ming, and others too of course.

revolutionaryprogramme - February 19, 2013

Des is correct. There is no ongoing polticial alliance with Wallace & Flanagan that I am aware of.

Though given the repeated single issue connections with these two it does of course remain a potential worry in terms of political appetites – which is why I proposed my motions.

And it was such a disappointement that the majority of the non-aligned buckled at the idea of taking a principled position against such a potential ongoing alliance. The only possible reason I can think of being that they didn’t want to offend Daly & Collins but that only makes sense if it is feared that alliance might be a bit more than just an abstract potential.

pat - February 19, 2013


How many alliances on ‘single issues’ with the same non-left forces will it take before you accept that there is in fact an on-going political alliance with those forces?

If cooperation on single issue, after single issue, after single issue with the same people (instead of people who are actually on the left) is okay for you, so long as it’s not voted on as a formal organisation, then I think this is another example of the artful ambiguity that Mark referred to.

It means it can, and most likely will, go on indefinitely and you can be happy so long as it takes no “organisational form”. Meanwhile as far as everyone else is concerned, Joan, Clare, Mick and whoever else will be seen as the alliance, not the members of the United Left.

RP’s motion may have tackled this problem, but it was voted down.

But clearly such alliances are acceptable as far as you’re concerned, and BB too. It’s a very bad starting point for a left organisation in my opinion. How you can compare cooperation with people on the right to cooperation with Tommy Sheridan, who for all his faults is solidly on the left, I really don’t know.

eamonncork - February 19, 2013

In fairness, as someone who has no axe to grind on this one, it seems patently ludicrous to say that in effect there will be no alliance with bourgeois politicians except with the ones you’re actually in alliance with. Or to argue that you’re not in alliance with Mick Wallace, you just happen to agree with him on a series of single issues. That’s sophistry and people on the outside will see it as such. You may not care about people on the outside but in the end they’re the ones who will elect left alliance public representatives and support campaigns.

WorldbyStorm - February 19, 2013

That’s a fair point EC, but it’s worth noting that if the issue of alliances or whatever is problematic now, then it’s a bit difficult to square with the situation in June/July of last year when the MW issue hit the headlines and the media charges of political closeness were described by some – even then and taking into account the tax issue – as ‘gossip’, ‘smears’, ‘tabloid press attacks’ and ‘Wallace’s alleged links to the left’ and ‘his supposed association with the left’.

Given that Wallace had played a major role – and a creditable one too – in the effort on X legislation prior to then and there’d been no problem expressed then at his work with JC and CD it’s difficult to know what exactly has changed in the interim, I mean that was a very very high profile issue – then and now – and not a whisper of discontent over his participation.

pat - February 19, 2013


I’m not sure I follow you. The issue of political alliances with broader forces, i.e. forces to the right of the ULA, coming at the expense of building a coherent left grouping (which it inevitably did), was always problematic for the ULA. Certainly as far as the Socialist Party was concerned and there was more than a whisper of discontent. This was the case from the get-go, with the launch of Enough! and was a problem throughout with 3 particular TDs orientating to independents in the Technical Group.

As for Wallace, the connection to him, whether real or perceived, obviously became a lot more damaging after the tax scandal.

WorldbyStorm - February 19, 2013

Then there seems to be two strands to this. I don’t see any evidence that JC and CD are building alliances with ‘forces’ to the right of the ULA though they’ve obviously worked on two issues with MW and LMF. But that doesn’t seem to be an alliance as such, and they’re also clearly enough under what remains of the ULA banner.

re Wallace, my point is that during that crucial period before CD left the SP but after the tax issue broke the rhetoric about him didn’t seem to be as strong or concerned as it now seems to be – indeed it was all about how the media was smearing the SP etc and generating attacks on the left.

And it does raise the question is it about Wallace as a tax evader, or is it about Wallace as a centre leftist. And if it is the latter then why wasn’t that a problem when the X Legistlation was being brought forward and if it was why did we hear no complaint about it expressed publicly and why was someone else more palatable to work with not found?

My point here isn’t to damn the SP, it’s simply to suggest that there seems to be a bit of an inconsistency in regard to the issue of supposed alliances that are problematic now as distinct from supposed alliances back in 2011/12 which weren’t (it’s also worth noting that the issue of potential bankruptcy became public in May of 2011, long long before the other issues).

revolutionaryprogramme - February 19, 2013

I don’t want to argue on behalf of the SP but for my own part I would make a distinction between a bourgeois figure joining a united front campaign which is otherwise running on a principled basis and particpating with them in a generalised on-going political alliance which poses a general solution to societies problems.

Hence my motions which tried to make it clear which kind of joint activity with bourgeois populists I think is unprincipled.

pat - February 19, 2013

Surely it can hardly be interpreted as a favourable view of Wallace in any way, if media portrayals of links to him are seen as smears.

But smearing and attacks on the left, Clare and Joe in particular, separate to the Wallace issue also happened around the same time. We in the Socialist Party, with the exception of Clare Daly perhaps, condemned Wallace in the strongest terms during the period your talking about.

Yes that was in relation to the tax scandal. A scandal that exposed Wallace as being corrupt and politically toxic. Being a tax cheat is a lot worse than going bankrupt in fairness. What we said at that time was basically stating the obvious, things we didn’t think many would have a problem with, certainly not on the left. When it turned out that there were divergences on these issues within the ULA itself, we had to state things a bit more clearly.

As I indicated above, the position of the Socialist Party from the beginning of the project was that all activity inside and outside the Dail should have been done, as much as possible and where possible, by ULA components working together to carve itself out as a coherent left group – separate to other forces in the TG, especially those not on the left (which would include MW & LMF).

This was undermined from the off by the launch of Enough! and on other occasions subsequently. This was a problem, and it was raised as a problem – in the ULA and with Clare in the Socialist Party on a number of occasions.

We didn’t approve of how the X bill was introduced and that was raised with Clare who accepted our criticisms, at the time (that’s one reason, among many, why no complaint was made publicly). It wasn’t even the case that someone “more palatable” had to be found, it could have and should have been a ULA bill exclusively.

WorldbyStorm - February 20, 2013

Pat, it might be worth your while looking at the statements subsequent to the revelations about MW’s tax status but before CD departed and consider if they were indeed framed in the ‘strongest terms’. If one compares and contrasts with the current rhetoric one can see a significant distinction.

Re the disapproval of the CD X Bill. Well, look, I don’t doubt your sincerity, but given that there was nothing public about it it’s hard to take that as gospel. Any more than if the circumstances were reversed you’d take what I said as gospel. I’m simply not going to factor in anecdote in that context. And I’m sure you understand why.

But frankly, given the statements subsequent to CD’s departure it’s hard to understand if this was a matter of principle why a public statement wouldn’t have been made.

8. BB - February 19, 2013

Mark P: your judgements about the ULA non-aligned and Collins/Daly group are unfortunately tinged with swaggering and mudslinging. The devil is in the detail and you do not have that knowledge. In truth, the process of establishing a United Left organisation is evolving. Seasoned activists are seeking to address the ULA democratic and accountability deficiencies. They will make an appraisal of this process when it is finalised.

RP: I regret your disappointment that the majority of the non-aligned voted against your motion re Wallace and Flanagan – a “position against such a potential ongoing alliance”. The reason was partially pragmatic as you suspect, not to unnecessarily offend Collins and Daly. But it was also principled. When an opportunity arises to co-operate with other forces, it must be judged on each occasion. What is the objective here? What is the issue and is it worthy of support? We are not in favour of tying our hands in advance. Should we be unhappy with any subsequent developments, there are mechanisms for challenging them in an internal regime.

The non-aligned have long since sought a dynamic and inclusive internal political life. That is why it adopted a policy of giving tendencies a right to exist. To their credit Collins/Daly conceded this too. The purpose was not to have the far-left “tolerated”, as suggested by you. It was to facilitate a scenario of fraternal debate on tactics and strategy – a tolerance of dissent without being paralysed by it.

revolutionaryprogramme - February 19, 2013

BB: I could understand your argument about the motion ruling out on-going political alliances with Wallace & Flanagan if it weren’t for the fact that only a minute or so before the meeting had overwhelmingly voted in favour of a motion ruling out ANY on-going political alliances with bourgeois forces.

The only possible principled argument for then not voting for the motion applying this concretely in the case of Wallace & Flanagan would be to say that they were not covered by the term “bourgeois forces”.

No-one made this argument at the meeting.

You are saying that sometimes it is ok to form on-going political alliances with bourgeois forces and sometimes is it not. Each case must be judged on its own merits – that it is a tactical question.

This is in complete contradiction to the first motion which ruled out ANY such on-going political alliance as a matter of principle.

My use of the word “tolerated” to describe the existence of self-describing revolutionary tendencies in the United Left was in the context of the clear perspective outlined at the meeting that the programme of the UL must not be revolutionary. It is aimed at “broader” layers and therefore MUST have a “broader” (i.e. non-revolutinonary) programme. In such a scenario the word “tolerated” might be a bit polemical but it does capture something of the reality of how any such revolutionary tendency would be viewed.

pat - February 19, 2013


Why in your opinion would Joan and Clare have been offended by RP’s motion?

This compulsion to tip-toe around political issues says a fair bit about the fighting spirit of the ‘seasoned activists’ involved.

9. D_D - February 20, 2013

Too right WBS. And it wasn’t just on the single issue of abortion that it was once OK to work with “bourgeois forces” and “those not on the left”:


WorldbyStorm - February 20, 2013

The Buswell’s Eight – happy days.

Joe - February 20, 2013

That’s a great photo. The Buswell’s Eight. What came immediately to mind to me is another great photo, in Deadly Divisions. Of a bunch of young and happy good mates in Long Kesh in the seventies. In the following years, most of them were involved in killing each other in internal INLA feuds.
Sweet Jesus help us all.

revolutionaryprogramme - February 20, 2013

Why the quotation marks for “bourgeois forces”?

Are you denying that this would accurately apply to Mick Wallace?

I don’t understand the SP to be arguing that there is principle being broken by working with Wallace or other bourgeois populists in any single issue campaigns. If so then they are wrong.

What I think the SP are arguing in relation to Wallace is that this became wrong to have him involved in any single issue campaigns after the revelations about his tax affairs became public.

That is a purely tactical decision based on an assessment of the damage caused by his involvement and it is quite different from the issue of joining up with him, of any other populist bourgeois elements, in an on-going political alliance that poses a general solution to societies ills.

eamonncork - February 20, 2013

I can’t believe anyone is seriously arguing that Mick Wallace is anything but a liability to any left wing campaign after the revelation about his tax affairs. Just for good measure he threw in a classic businessman style attack on the Left for criticising him, ‘what do these boys know about employing people.’
RP has maintained a consistent and principled criticism of the SP in relation to the party’s attitude to the ULA yet he sees the problem with Wallace. To put it bluntly it makes his allies look like a bunch of hypocrites.
Could someone actually make a reasonable argument in favour of a continued association with Wallace?. And not the Lowryesque ‘the media have it in for him’ argument. James Reilly has got the same kind of stick and Ann Harris in the Sindo actually praised Clare Daly for standing by Mick Wallace and criticised the SP for not supporting her in this.
It is thoroughly bizarre that a continued association with Mick Wallace seems to be a bottom line for Clare Daly and Joan Collins. And saying, ‘why be fixated on this, on with the campaign,’ isn’t much of an answer either, especially when you’re passing motions saying ‘no to alliance with bourgeois politicians, except for Mick Wallace.’
I still can’t see any sense to the thing. Unless people are making the ‘he did a lot for us in the past, we won’t abandon him now’ they find unforgivable in relation to SF and Sean Quinn.

WorldbyStorm - February 20, 2013

EC, I think you’re right (and I’ve a lot of time for RP’s position, which I agree is consistent and principled throughout), there are obvious problematics in the relationships described above. Indeed in the long run I think people will find the whole thing hard to fathom.

But… my interest in this is not to exculpate MW, but to get some understanding of the way in which events have been interpreted on this thread in light of positions and statements made on the whole matter. It seems to me that – perhaps understandably – political calculation played a much stronger role than is being admitted and that there’s few involved in all this who can claim the moral high ground, particularly at this remove (bar perhaps RP!).

pat - February 20, 2013

It is ok to work with non-left forces on single issues, it’s not desirable and when you’re in an alliance that is trying to carve itself out as a principled left separate to the populist forces in the TG for example, it’s actually quite counter-productive.

In broad campaigns of a mass character, like the CAHWT, we on the left don’t even have the choice about who we work with. That is until the campaign takes a decision about things like that, which the CAHWT did in relation to Wallace, which Clare Daly continues to defy – speaking alongside him in Wexford at meetings of the dissident LG group, at the expense of the genuine campaign in Wexford.

But the odd single issue is one thing, actively seeking to promote populist, capitalist forces like Wallace on issue after issue is another thing altogether, especially when the group you are part of (the ULA in the case of Joan and Clare) is officially opposed to such an approach.

10. King Alpha Plan - February 20, 2013

Was this picture taken before it was common knowledge that Wallace cheated his workers pension and sick payment fund and was a multimillion tax defrauder? Also on ‘bourgeois forces’ what about plain nut bag possible extreme right forces. I see that Dermot Connolly and Daly have both been working with Ben Gilroy (he of Direct Democracy, Sean Quinn is an Irish hero fame) – if ever the word opportunist was of use its in describing Daly – my advice (as a non-political party member) would be steer well clear of this grouping – or next you’ll be quoting the constitution as a sacred text.

eamonncork - February 20, 2013

Say hello to Prince Far I for me.

D_D - February 20, 2013

It was taken at the end of 2011, I think. When was it known that “Wallace cheated his workers pension and sick payment fund”?

What did Ming do that he could be an ally, on a single issue, of Clare Daly and Joan Collins (and Joe Higgins) then but not now?

eamonncork - February 20, 2013

I’m a fan of Ming who regularly gets accused on this site of being a right winger on somewhat flimsy evidence. I don’t think people should have a problem with him forming an alliance with the Left. But I think people who complain about ‘Ming and Wallace,’ are just throwing Ming’s name in there so they don’t get accused of fixating on the permy one.

11. D_D - February 20, 2013

RP et al,

Re. working with “bourgeois forces” and, even, on-going alliances with…

Have you heard of the All-Russian Congress Of Soviets Of Workers’, Soldiers’ And Peasants’ Deputies?


The Military Committee of the IRB which planned the Easter Rising and which James Connolly joined in January 1916?

eamonncork - February 20, 2013

RP said his problem is nothing at all to do with ‘bourgeois forces’ it’s presumably to do with Wallace’s status as a tax dodging millionaire who was awarding himself and his son big pay rises while leaving workers high and dry. I’m sure he’s heard of the Military Commitee of the IRB, most of us have. But you still haven’t given a reason why it’s so vital to maintain a connection with Wallace.

revolutionaryprogramme - February 20, 2013

My problem is actually exactly with Wallace being a capitalist. It is of course possible for individual capitalists to betray their class and come over to the side of the working class but Wallace hasn’t done that in my understanding.

I oppose the idea of an ongoing political alliance with Wallace, or any other capitalists, no matter how squeaky clean they may be in terms of bourgeois law or even general morality.

It is a class issue which flows from the basic Marxist principle of working class political independence.

revolutionaryprogramme - February 20, 2013

As far as I aware the All-Russian Congress Of Soviets Of Workers’, Soldiers’ And Peasants’ Deputies excluded capitalist politicians.

As far as I am aware Connolly did not join the IRB and the Easter Rising was instigated by a joint military committee between the IRB and the ICA, which Connolly was a member of. I would agree that the IRB would seem to fall within the category of “bourgeois forces” that I have been using.

However just as I do not consider it to be a breach of principle to participate in a single issue campaign with bourgeois forces, I do not consider it to be a breach of principle to participate in a technical military bloc with bourgeois forces.

This is not to say that there may be other reasons for refusing to participate in such campaigns or blocs but these would be at the level of tactics rather than principle.

What I oppose is ongoing political alliances with bourgeois forces where there is a shared programme for general social change.

The conflation of these different types of political/military activity would seem to only serve the purpose of allowing the possibility of participating in such ongoing political alliances with bourgeois forces or at least reducing the decision on participation to the level of tactics rather than principled opposition to it.

12. Jim Monaghan - February 20, 2013

I see Des’s point. But I would say that the Soviets were representative bodies. And in the context of the Soviets there were no deals with say the cadets. There must have been a few. Mind you I now think it was a pity that a left government with the Left SRs and left Mensheviks could not have been formed.
Easter. Hard to describe the IRB as bourgeois.
I have no problem with an anti tax or pro abortion campaign being as broad as possible. But it is when it starts in a political coalition direction I get worried. It is not just the odd seconding of a Bill that Wallace is involved. It is an ongoing thing. I think he is worse that Finian McGrath who I cannot abide for his deal with FF.
When the dust on abortion settles it will be about the economy. The left must have a program which is different from the Poujadist Wallace/Quinn stuff. And I can see a populist rightwing thing where it was the banks and Dublin 4 who destroyed the Quinns and Wallace and “real” FF.
A mess on the left. We don’t need opponents we can destroy ourselves unaided

revolutionaryprogramme - February 20, 2013


There was a voting deal made by the Bolsheviks with the Cadets within one of the Duma’s due to convoluted electoral college process. In my understanding this did not constitute a breach of the principle of working class political independence because it did not involve presenting any kind of joint programme to the working class.

I will bow to your greater knowledge of Irish history but my understanding was that the IRB did indeed include outright bourgeois elements and this was one of the reasons why the ICA was separate.

It would seem we agree on our concern over participation in ongoing political allainces/coalitions with these kind of populist capitalist politicians.

Jim Monaghan - February 20, 2013

The IRB were petty bourgeois to use the definition. The second Sinn Fein built in part on Griffiths party did have bourgeois elements. More importantly in the absense of a Connolly the ICA and the direct workers movement for all practical purposes conceeded the national liberation struggle to Sinn Fein and the IRA.
I don’t have a problem with deals such as the formation of a technical group. It is not a poltical thing or a governmental alternative.

D_D - February 20, 2013


Just to clear things up, and in allowing for broad co-operation on limited issues I may have bent the stick to ward off a new and an old puritanism. The ULA nonalaigned considering a new group with the circles around Clare Daly, Joan Collins and (yes) Declan Bree are very keen to establish the parametres of any on-going political alliances. There is a real worry about an informal push that could be construed from the several media materialisations of “The Buswells Four”.

These concerns have to a great extent been addressed by the TD’s ‘side’. No one has proposed that Mick and Ming be part of an on-going political alliance and there is common ground throughout the Daly/Collins grouping and the ULA nonaligned that Mick and Ming will not be part of the new group.

Nevertheless to make provision for continuing concerns the nonaligned adopted the resolutions they did last Saturday, to add to the safeguards already in the ‘TD’s’ own written proposals. The Motions may not have been worded as some wanted but they are substantially aimed at the same problems. Some Motions adopted:

“This meeting of the non-aligned members of the ULA believe that any future “United Left” organisation must oppose any on-going political coalitions, not just governmental, with bourgeois forces.”

“Elected representatives shall be accountable to national conferences, Branch Councils and the Steering Committee”

“Initiatives for common work on single issues, or with other political forces outside the bloc or the ULA, shall be discussed and agreed upon by the BC [Branch Council] or SC [Steering Committee] as appropriate and shall endeavour to involve as many forces of the socialist left as possible”.

These are fairly strong aren’t they? Perhaps too strong for all appetites. We shall see. The ULA nonaligned do not want to be opening the ‘Irish Times’ to read about new alliances they are implicated with.

It may be worth reflecting on the circumstances around the “Buswells Four” appearances. There seems to have been a series of unfortunate events which led to initial plans for having a bigger range of TD’s behind the penalty points and the Hall cases beng truncated, coincidentally enough, to the “Buswells Four”. Now some will say that this is justification after the fact, but the events are either true or they are not. The very least that can be said is that the provision of an explanation of a contingency (‘there was to be lots more TDs involved’) is not an entrenched defence of an on-going alliance.

(BTW Jim, in December 1917 the Left SRs entered the Soviet government, taking the commissariats of justice, land, and communications and entering the supreme military council and the Cheka. They later resigned their positions in protest at the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.)

Jim Monaghan - February 20, 2013

I wish the new formation well. Hopefully Collins/Daly move/stay on the right tracks. We really need a left pole of attraction. When I see FF being t some degree successfully rehabilitated, I despair. In other countries the bourgeoisie have to replace discredited parties, here we just need a year or two before being fooled again.The concern about Wallace is genuine and will haunt. To think I was worried about an alliance with McGrath.
On the ifs of history. If only the alliance with the left SRs had lasted and the left mensheviks had broken with the right. The base of the revolution narrowed too much and the advanced element of the class was destroyed. If only the SWP had stayed with the earlier Cliff and had not adopted an almost Stalinist type of Democratic Centralism. As did the American SWP and most Trotskyist groups.
Many are calling for collapse of teh government. But then an election and what, FF/FG, FF/Labour, FF?SF or whatever.
The reason there is not more protest is because we do not have a Syriza which could form a government. People say why have a new government which does the same. And FF will call for a modification of the residential tax as a populist way back to power. Look what they did with land annuities.

Jolly Red Giant - February 20, 2013

Some elements within the IRB were reactionary in character – but that is beside the point – it was an unadultrated nationalist force. Connolly was wrong to join the IRB and, when he had decided to participate in the Rising, was wrong not to have the ICA operating independently of the IRB.

Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - February 20, 2013

are we seriously comparing mick wallace to tom clark?

Jim Monaghan - February 20, 2013

A recent bio and a collection of his letters shows a quite complex person. Tom Clark was a great revolutionary.

D_D - February 20, 2013

Are we seriously comparing Mick Wallace to Eamon Ó Cuív?

Jim Monaghan - February 20, 2013

A sort of Sean O’Casey line of sitting on sidelines.

13. King Alpha Plan - February 20, 2013

What about Ben Gilroy? During the glorious stage of the Russian Revolution Wallace would have been killed fighting alongside the White rearguard in the forests of the Urals.

D_D - February 20, 2013

Heuston, do we have a troll?

14. King Alpha Plan - February 20, 2013

No, it’s a straight question concerning contacts with Ben Gilroy and such avowedly non-Left groups

15. The Caretaker - February 20, 2013

I think the question re involvement with Gilroy is valid as well.

16. D_D - February 20, 2013

Another troll? What’s exactly are you talking about re Gilroy?

From a report on journal.ie yesterday:


New political party

Daly also refused to deny outright that she is forming a new political party with Joan Collins saying “[It's] been our desire to see the United Left develop.”

When asked if that would mean a new party separate to the United Left Alliance with both TDs as the founders she replied “What do mean by new party as such?”

“We want to work to develop the idea of a broad left alternative,” she said. “Which was really [why] the United Left Alliance came together.”

“The experience has been that maybe the radical left groups have tended to try and concentrate on building their own forces rather than building the bigger project. So we think the bigger project needs to be built.”

“We do want to register the banner of the United Left and go out and build it in the way that it was supposed to be built when the alliance got together at the last election,” she said.

17. The Caretaker - February 20, 2013

No, was just surprised to see Clare Daly sharing a platform with a freeman nutjob like Gilroy is all.

Mark P - February 20, 2013

I should point out that a couple of ULA independents, (or perhaps I should say former ULA independents?) objected elsewhere to my remarks above about this particular milieu specialising in a certain artful ambiguity and them ultimately having no bottom line.

Their complaint was quite different to that of those here who are largely concerned with protecting that ambiguity. They felt I hadn’t taken into account the significant drop in size between the first “independent” meeting to discuss the Collins/Daly/Connolly proposals and the most recent one. And that consequently I wasn’t taking into account that many of the people who went to the first one do have a bottom line when it comes to things like TD accountability and informal but ongoing alliances with Wallace and Flanagan. Which is why they weren’t at the second meeting. So to that strand of ULA independent, I offer a sincere apology for confusing their approach with that of some others.

By the way, D_D’s lengthy comment above about the coincidental nature of the Buswells 4, is a true classic of its type. It’s a line of argument that nobody, not even the person advancing it, can possibly believe. As for the part about how “there is a real worry about an informal push that could be construed from the several media materialisations of “The Buswells Four” amongst those bits of the ULA independent milieu still in negotiations, you couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried. This “worry” has apparently been “addressed” by one half of the Buswells 4 saying that the other half won’t actually be members of this new group, something which wasn’t at issue in the first place!

And then to further emphasise how strong and serious this concern is… he lists Revolutionary Programme’s motion on alliances with “bourgeois forces”, without mentioning that RP’s motion clarifying that the Buswells 4 lash up is just such an alliance was promptly voted down by these same people. To borrow EamonnCork’s point above, this is the sort of thing that gives sophistry a bad name.

18. D_D - February 20, 2013

As Mark P’s second two paragraphs in his last post are a sneer each it is very difficult to argue back. What do I do? Curl my lip higher?

I have no idea what he is talking about in the first two paragraphs. All strands of the nonaligned were represented at the second meeting. There were a large number of apologies from people who could not attend. Is Mark P saying that people with a bottom line stayed away rather than come and vote for the bottom line Motions?

Mark P continues to ply the fervid fantasy in his first post about what was decided at the nonaligned meeting on Saturday. Even though I have twice quoted the actual Motions passed. No offer of “a sincere apology” there, only brazen repitition.

RP himself has since clarified again (I think) that “the Buswells 4 lash up is just such an alliance”. Not! RP said above, “There is no ongoing polticial alliance with Wallace & Flanagan that I am aware of”. RP was concerned that “the repeated single issue connections” are a potential worry in terms of political appetites”, and that remains a worry throughout the nonaligned. Hence the Motions agreed on Saturday.

Jolly Red Giant - February 20, 2013

DD – you can call it whatever you want – the fact is that Clare Daly and Joan Collins are both in favour of a ‘broad movement’ (not necessarily the ULA) that includes ‘progressives’ – people that they would include Wallace and Flanagan among.

Furthermore, at every opportunity, Clare Daly name drops Wallace in what is a clear attempt at his political rehibilitation after his tax dodging exploits were exposed (and his offensive dismissal at providing any account of his tax dealings with the people who elected him).

The two prominent issues that Clare Daly and Joan Collins have been involved in over the past few months – the abortion legislation and the penalty points issue – were not approached on behalf of or as part of the ULA – but in conjunction with Wallace and Flanagan. There was no need for this to happen – in fact it went against decisions made by the ULA Steering Committee – Dlay and Collins made a conscious decision to include Wallace and Flanagan to the exclusion of the other representatives of the ULA.

Be clear about this – irrespective of what the ‘non-aligned’ want or what was decided at the meeting last weekend, Daly and Collins will continue to do their own thing, they will continue to work with Wallace and Flanagan, they will continue their efforts to rehabilitate Wallace and they will ignore whatever few independents the continue to associate with them. At this point Joan Collins, Dermot Connolly and Clare Daly are focussed on the next election and on ensuring they have footsoldiers for the slog. Don’t be surprised if Clare Daly gives you a call in May of next year to go to Swords or Balbriggan to canvass for some ‘independent’ who will be used as a stalking horse to create a situation whereby the Socialist Party loses it council seats north Dublin.

Finally – a word of caution – there are undoubtedly further skeletons in the cupboard and the establishment are biding their time before using them. At some stage in the future these skeletons will emerge and Collins and Daly will be damaged politically by them. At that stage there will be little

Ed - February 21, 2013

“Don’t be surprised if Clare Daly gives you a call in May of next year to go to Swords or Balbriggan to canvass for some ‘independent’ who will be used as a stalking horse to create a situation whereby the Socialist Party loses it council seats north Dublin.”

It does seem a bit much for JRG to be making this argument. So far as I’m aware, there is an already-existing plan for the SP to run a candidate against Clare Daly, and for the SWP to run a candidate against Joan Collins. These plans were announced when all concerned were still under the ULA umbrella. Either it’s wrong to run candidates against left incumbents and risk splitting the vote, or it isn’t. Sauce for the goose and all that. I think it is wrong, in all cases, and I’d oppose it in all cases, including the possible one that JRG gives above. Does JRG agree?

19. D_D - February 21, 2013

“the fact is that Clare Daly and Joan Collins are both in favour of a ‘broad movement’ (not necessarily the ULA) that includes ‘progressives’ – people that they would include Wallace and Flanagan among.”

References please.

Under no circumstances should Socialist Party (or SWP) candidates run against sitting ULA representatives. Or the other way round. If there is an existing SP councillor in a ward and they are standing again it would be, in my view, a grievious blow against any hope of left unity to stand against him/her. With CAHWT candidates entering the stage there will obviously be a need for negotiations and agreements all over the country.

Skeletons in the cupboard? And you bring over Tommy Sheridan. Give us a break.

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