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The Household Tax campaign – So, what happens now? May 30, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
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According to the IT:

The Revenue Commissioners last night confirmed that owners of more than 1.53 million homes filed property tax returns before the deadline of 8pm.
Returns have been filed in respect of 1,539,822 properties, and when about 160,000 properties – for which local authorities or housing associations have responsibility – are included, the figure rises to close to 1.7 million.

It’s very difficult to parse the numbers. According to an earlier report:

At 5.30pm, with less than seven hours to go before the original midnight deadline, 1.45 million property owners had completed their self-assessment.

And…

This pointed to a registration rate in excess of 87 per cent of the 1.66 million notifications the Revenue sent out in March and indicates the tax authority has already met its own targets.

I can’t quite square the figure of 1.7 million quoted in the first and the mention of 1.66 million notifications sent out. Are they the same number and where do LA and HA numbers fit in with them?

But anyhow, what do people think of the figures now emanating from Revenue as regards payment levels. Is there any road at all left for the campaign? If so where does it go from here? If not, what happens next?

Comments»

1. CMK - May 30, 2013

‘Returns’ might be all that might the eye. Someone who wrote ‘go f**k yourself’ on the LPT form and sent it back to Revenue is being counted as a return.

There is no doubt that compliance is higher for the LPT than it was for the HHT but the threat of Revenue and deductions at source, tax clearance etc were very skillfully used by Revenue with the assistance of a very helpful and compliant media.

So, it’s a downer, to a considerable degree.

However, all is most definitely not lost.

First, there are still the best part of a half million who still haven’t paid for or registered for the HHT and Revenue will have to go after them. Those who didn’t pay the LPT will still have to be chased and both of those tasks will present considerable logistical problems for Revenue.

Politically, I think many will be asking why the state pushed so hard with the ‘deduction at source’ weapon for the home tax when it takes such a timid approach with Apple, Facebook, Google. Sweetheart deals with MNCs for corporation tax, while never defensible, can be explained away if living standards are being maintained and modest rises are being enjoyed. Trying to explain why corporations pay .05% of corporation tax in a time of vicious austerity which looks like it will never end, and we will have a very stark socio-economic landscape whenever austerity ‘ends’ if it ever does.

There is also the political consequences of this for FG and Labour. The local elections are less than a year away and 100% of the home tax will be due for payment five months before these elections and water charges soon after them. CAHWT has raised, modestly but appreciably, the level of political consciousness in this society and has energized, and probably worn out, hundreds and possibly thousands of activists beyond the political parties/organisations involved in it. It’s no going away and could capitalize at the next local elections.

Taking a hypothetical example: a public servant earning over 65k living in a house valued at 350,000-400,000 bought during the boom, probably paying close to 2k per month in mortgage payments. This person is getting a paycut soon of 5.5% and next year will have to fork out nearly 700 euro in after tax income for the LPT.

I think the LPT has been ‘normalized’ as ‘no big deal’, ‘sure it’s only 150 euro’ etc, but next year it doubles and the year after could increase by 15%, all in a context of decreasing incomes and living standards for the vast majority of workers. So, the campaign might have lost this particular battle but the war will continue and the government shouldn’t get too complacent about it all. They will pay a price for it at the next encounter with the ballot box.

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2. Ceannaire - May 30, 2013

It was a bizarre target for the campaign from the very beginning. This relatively benign manifestation of austerity has distracted the radical left from far more serious victims of austerity and was never likely to be successful.

They should have used the crisis as an opportunity to educate the working class and focussed all resources on the unions, which offer by far the most effective means of direct resistance. Had they done so they would be in a strong position to resist CP2/Haddington Road.

I can only hope that the parties involved finally bow to the inevitable, wind up CAHWT and move on to a more logical course of resistance to austerity rather than delusionally clinging desparately to this lost cause.

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LD - May 30, 2013

Which ‘far more serious victims of austerity’ would that be?

Seems like a strange and false division you’re creating given that almost everyone in the state is affected by the Property Tax.

I suspect your experience in the trade union movement is quite limited if you think that the ‘radical left’ could somehow transform the unions, if it simply focused its resources there. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.

Aside from your other remarks about the value or otherwise of CAHWT, there is an impending battle against the Water Charges that could do with such an organisation. There’s also the local elections in 2014 that many CAHWT groups will be standing in.

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Ceannaire - May 30, 2013

“Which ‘far more serious victims of austerity’ would that be?”

It would include the hundreds of students forced into prostitution to pay college fees which have increased to an amount that makes the household charge look utterly trivial, public sector workers who have seen and continue to be threatened by large effective wage cuts (again to a scale that makes the household shrink in comparison), disabled people trapped in their own homes as a result of the abolition of the travel allowance, older people dying as a result of cuts to the fuel allowance. Those would be some of them.

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LD - May 30, 2013

But all of those people are also surely affected by the home taxes, and will be by the water charges. But anyone who has been actively involved in the CAHWT knows that the campaign is not about a ‘single issue’, certainly not in my experience – it’s about fighting the government’s austerity policies and how best to do that in the absence of any alternative avenue of resistance.

The difference between CAHWT and those other issues you mention, is that there is a more straightforward way of fighting these taxes and precisely because of the numbers of people it involves, more potential to win.

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WorldbyStorm - May 30, 2013

Well, many but not all would be affected. It would be very useful to get some sort of stats on how many remain unaffected.

I wonder though at whether taxes will be the best terrain to base anti-austerity campaigns from here on out given the latest approach re Revenue.

I do agree that the CAHWT is a vehicle more than a destination in relation to austerity as distinct from just the LPT.

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Ceannaire - May 30, 2013

Although I appreciate the need to focus, if it is austerity in general you are fighting, then CAHWT is a misnomer. The “Anti-Austerity Platform” or some title that made the movement’s opposition to austerity clear wouod be preferable, and would draw in people affected by cuts thereby making the movement stronger.

And I am unaware of the CAHWT campaigning against cuts at all. Even given the need to focus, it’s still necessary to make some concessions to other anti-austerity issues that may be harder to campaign upon in the interests of creating a broad-based anti-austerity movement, which CAHWT isn’t.

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WorldbyStorm - May 30, 2013

I take your point re the blurriness re austerity, a visit to the CAHWT website has passing mention with the overwhelming focus being in the tax itself. That said in the context of meetings I’ve attended the broader nature has never been concealed.

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LD - May 30, 2013

Well some in the campaign did argue that it should include austerity in its name in order to broaden its appeal, others unfortunately opposed that idea. Some areas have done this however.

That doesn’t mean that those campaigns should take up every issue, but other issues absolutely, while the main focus would obviously still be the various home taxes, again because they affect so many and as most recent polls suggest are the issues people are most angry about.

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3. John - May 30, 2013

Just because they have a lot of returns does not mean all the returns have being signed by people-as people choose different ways to fight the property tax-some will choose to boycott it-others choose to join the attackthetax campaign and send a return back unsigned-a form thats not signed with someones name isnt acceptence and compliance with the property tax-its likely that hundreds of thousands returns have being made that werent signed-the real question is for those who bought into the promises attackthetax were making get broken what happens from there? its a pity people choose to send back returns unsigned because its a great stick to be used by the government to spin the figures.

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4. Ceannaire - May 30, 2013

“Hundreds of thousands” is a pretty impressive figure and I’m inclined to be sceptical if it’s just speculation.

But even if so, it is still an indictment of the CAHWT that they were so weak even on this extremely narrow issue which they basically threw everything at.

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Mark P - May 30, 2013

How is being overmatched by an extremely effective government scare campaign, based on using the Revenue to terrify people, an “indictment” of the only campaign against any aspect of the austerity agenda that has shown any capacity to involve and mobilise people on an ongoing basis?

What exactly does “focus all attention on the unions” actually mean in this context? Using what mechanism? Does our anonymous friend imagine that “the radical left” are somehow refusing to argue within the unions? The game is rather given away by the alternative proposed: treat “the crisis as an opportunity to educate the working class” by talking about the unions. It’s like a vaguer and less coherent version of the Socialist Democracy grouplets single transferable strategy for every movement, ie to stop doing anything of note or use and put a picket on Liberty Hall instead.

There does need to be a serious discussion in the CAHWT about the way forward, if registration (and then payment) rates are as high as reported. The predictable advice of carping anonymistas who were dismissive from the start without ever having a remotely viable strategic alternative, will hopefully be a very minor part of that conversation.

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Ceannaire - May 30, 2013

The fact that CAWHT is the only campaign to have “shown any capacity to involve and mobilise people on an ongoing basis” owes more to the moribund nature of much of the Left than anything about the strengths of the CAHWT itself.

The resources of such parties as the SP and SWP are limited, and any issue that they choose to campaign on means there is an opportunity cost in terms of other issues. That is why even if, yes, you do put resources into the TUs, the CAHWT represents a lost opportunity of further still resources.

As for an alternative, it seems clear to me that a strike by workers will strike the ruling class where it hurts in a way that merely withholding payment of some money which will just be got elsewhere. Look at the poll tax revolt in Britain to which many attribute Margaret Thatcher’s downfall. The Tories just replaced her and carried on in power, and it’s very difficult to imagine even that eventuating from the CAWHT.

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WorldbyStorm - May 30, 2013

Well, the CAHWT is broader than the SWP or the SP alone, though in fairness the latter has been particularly good in terms of support. But… I don’t know how one would go the route you propose, even if I do agree that the left is weak. Put what into the unions? Money? Personnel? Interesting thought as to whether all the political formations of one kind or another involved in the CAHWT could leverage power in that way. They’re sort of two different areas of operations not least because to generate the sort of outcomes in unions requires years, decades even, not a year or two long period.

The problem has been in some respects the difference between the LPT and the poll tax. The latter was so clearly inegalitarian, whereas after the household charge debacle the govt clearly decided to soften the LPT, introduce a degree of progressivity sufficient to blunt its true nature, shift to revenue as the collection process and so on.

In terms of a strike by workers the problem is which workers? Compared to most unionised workplaces, far too many of which are public sector (in the sense that there’s not enough private sector unionised workers) the CAHWT was a hot-bed of radicalism and energy. A general strike would fail were it called today, or any time soon because too many would ignore it.

I’d be the first to admit I’ve had my doubts about the LPT as the focus, but when one examines the alternatives, and the opportunities of it as a means of concentrating opposition and drawing people in I think it was broadly speaking an obvious place to start from, whatever the future destination.

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richotto - May 30, 2013

I saw posters up advertising an anti property tax meeting in the Plaza Hotel in Tallaght for Wed 29th May. It was interesting that there was no mention of CAHWT and only one speaker mentioned, the Great Leader, Joe Higgins.

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LD - May 30, 2013

There were 120 people at that meeting, you should have gone along.

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Mark P - May 30, 2013

Look, Ceannaire, this stuff is too divorced from reality to even bother dealing with in any kind of detail.

The socialist left would much prefer to be having a transformative impact in the union movement than running a community campaign, but that option simply isn’t open to it. Which is precisely why you have to waffle about “putting resources in”: You have no mechanism to suggest, no way of actually getting any further in the unions than the radical left, with its very limited resources, currently are.

There are only so many people in left activist groups, and only so many of those are in unionised workplaces, and only so many of those have been there long enough to have any kind of credibility on union issues with their workmates, and only so many of those have workmates who are currently likely to be persuadable to take some kind of industrial action and only so many… The socialist left cannot pull a militant union rank and file out of its arse. And most activists on the socialist left are not in a position where they can have a drastically bigger impact in their unions simply by reprioritising or trying harder.

That doesn’t mean writing off the unions, or refusing to work in them in whatever ways are actually open to left activists. Far from it. It’s a question of what forces there available and what options are actually open to them. The degree to which unionised workers stand up for themselves at the moment is not going to be significantly determined by the actions of the radical left, no matter how it chooses to use its limited resources.

As ejh has noted a few times, there are always some people whose response to the difficult situation the left is in is to blame the relatively small number of people who are actually trying to build a stronger left in tough circumstances.

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Ceannaire - May 30, 2013

I think perhaps you read my comment on the need to put money “into” the unions a little too literally. Given the extraordinarily low penetration rate of union membership amongst young people, getting people to join a union at all I think would be a dramatic achievement. Campaigning, leafleting, etc., on the benefits of unions to young people would be a worthy use of resources.

As for your suggestion that I am “blam[ing] the relatively small number of people who are actually trying to build a stronger left in tough circumstances,” I repect the endeavours of people trying to build a stronger left, but that doesn’t mean I can’t disagree about the best way to do so.

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WorldbyStorm - May 30, 2013

I’m 100% with you on greater support for unions and promoting benefits for young people, though that really is a job for the unions themselves more than external parties … Though I could see some benefit for the further left parties in it, but still resources are very limited.

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Mark P - May 31, 2013

Yes, Ceannaire, handing out leaflets asking people to join unions would indeed be a worthy thing to do.

It would not however represent a strategy to fight austerity that would have any noticeable effect at all, given the limited resources of the socialist left, even leaving aside the bureaucratised and unresponsive nature of most Irish unions.

Disagree about strategy all you like, but if you want anyone to pay the slightest attention to your disagreements you are going to have to elaborate a useful alternative strategy. Which you show no signs of doing so far. It’s easy to sneer. It can be quite enjoyable too. Workable alternatives are quite a lot harder.

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5. Jolly Red Giant - May 30, 2013

Let’s be absolutely clear – the level of compliance is significantly higher than for the Household Tax. I sat beside workmates over the past few days trying to dissuade them as they registered online. Their attitude was ‘there going to get us anyway’ – however the most important aspect of it was the sheer anger and resentment that these workers felt at being compelled to pay this tax. The anger and resentment was palpable and significantly sharper than last year over the Household Tax.

The CAHWT (or CAPTA in some areas) has an opportunity to effectively tap into this mood for anger and resentment over the Property Tax and channel into an effective capaign against austerity. Furthermore – don’t forget that the next step is the introduction of water charges. This battle is far from over and the landscape in terms of public perception is changing.

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Pangur ban - May 30, 2013

There is a historical precedent here -after internment in 1971 NICRA launched a rent and rates strike.

It ended up some years later with people paying up plus a 50 p a week admin charge

Bin charges were ‘ protestable ‘ in that bin trucks are large ungainly slow vehicles

The payment of a charge is not protestable more so in the age of the Internet

The government used local authorities as ‘ useful idiots ‘ in the household charge phase in that by self registration the scale of the task was reduced by two thirds

Another question ….how much is the ‘brand’ of the serious left damaged by their association with the motley crew of loons nut jobs and clearly deranged people who took over the campaign in some areas ?

What is the opportunity cost of this as compared to other areas of anti austerity protest.

I know people will say ‘ lessons were learned and people were activated ‘ but that sounds like a series of lines out of yes minister where sir Humphrey explains the various types of excuses to jim hacker

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The Caretaker - May 30, 2013

A more pertinent question would be how much previously inactive people have been damaged by their association with the ‘serious’ left.

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6. Logan - May 30, 2013

It is going to be a problem for the campaign if there is a fairly high compliance rate. The minority who dont can be more easily portrayed as “spongers”, which the establishment will slowly but remorselessly try to do.

What happened with domestic bin charges in Dublin was that at first when they were brought in everybody said that they were an outrage, people who claimed that would never pay them were told “Good on ye..Stand up to the basturds…”
But within a few years those self-same people were saying ..”Well, I know you dont like paying them, but everybody else has to…it is not fair on those who do if you dodge it…” etc.

Also, the urban rural divide can be used ..in the bin charges it was all those people who phoned in to Joe Duffy (or whatever) to say “well, here in Roscommon, we have ALWAYS had to pay to get somebody to take our rubbish, no town water pipe for us, no sirreee…” ( I always wondered why it didnt occur to them to agitate for their Co.Co. to bring in bin collection, but anyways…).

In a group conversation I was in recently where I live in Dublin, when the LPT came up, people bitched for a while about the imposition of it “all for the IMF”, and then somebody mentioned the fact that compliance was particularly bad in Donegal…straight away the conversation moved on to arguing that if Donegal wasn’t paying its “fair share” they damn well better not get any central government money to compensate, etc.

The whole tenor of conversations I have had generally on the property tax, then LPT, (including in my workplace – government employee here), never seemed to follow script one would take from reading Cedar Lounge over the last 18 months. Resistance to it really seemed pretty resigned, to be honest.

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WorldbyStorm - May 30, 2013

That’s a very important point about the divergence between rhetoric and reality. I live in an area where I know there’s an high activism, and yet, in real terms the numbers participating despite considerable effort hasn’t been enormous. The high point was definitely, at least as I see it, just after the FG Ard Fheis last year. From there on it sort of dissipated. And while activists are active, how much purchase that has had on the broader population is difficult to judge.

Another thing that struck me was the number of people who I knew from other campaigns, albeit community and local ones, who sat this one out, both in terms of the LPT and the charge. Just weren’t interested, didn’t want to know, and not from a position of financial security, quite the opposite. I couldn’t fathom that at all.

That could, of course, be resignation, or a sort of low level FF-inclined attitude where the CAHWT etc seemed too ‘political’ (you know the contradiction I’m getting at, we’ve all seen it). And while there is as JRG notes anger and resentment it doesn’t seem to be of a sort that is channeled clearly into constructive outlets. Indeed I wonder too if there’s something about the slow swing back to FF that is also at work here?

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irishelectionliterature - May 30, 2013

Its a strange one, I was initially involved in the campaign locally when it started and dropped leaflets in my estate. I wasn’t in a position to do much more between various family and other commitments. There was also the fact that I was asking people to break the law by not paying.
I argued about it at home but when the date came I ended up paying the thing because my wife was afraid of a fine or that we’d end up in court.
Its one thing protesting against something where there are no direct personal consequences…ie a fine or prison time, as opposed to say protesting against cuts in special needs or a hospital closure.

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Ghandi - May 31, 2013

I think IEL that that was a problem many of us had, in terms of family commitments and trying to earn a living. I wonder how the whole Wallace tax thing fed in, I get a sense of a plague on all your houses. There appeared to be a resignation at the outset that they were going to take it from you anyway, and people have a real objection to Revenue looking into their bank accounts even though they have nothing to hide. As said elsewhere there was a huge differance between rethoric and reality. The PSF position did not help and they were seen to be opposed when in reality they support the tax.

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7. Logan - May 30, 2013

An interesting dynamic there, irishelectionliterature, I would say something similar played out in many homes, with the wife being uneasy about it in some cases, and the husband in others.

Another thing that should not be forgotton is the fact that the LPT targets those least willing to risk things for protest – lower middle class householders. Richer householders do not care either way, and many poorer householders are in social rented or local authority housing, so do not feel the direct sting of it in their pocket.

I get the impression in my workplace that quite a few people who voted for one of the present parties last time (especially Labour) and are very pissed off today, are mainly planning to try and get their revenge in the ballot box….I thought there would have been more activism to be honest.

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WorldbyStorm - May 30, 2013

“Another thing that should not be forgotton is the fact that the LPT targets those least willing to risk things for protest – lower middle class householders. Richer householders do not care either way, and many poorer householders are in social rented or local authority housing, so do not feel the direct sting of it in their pocket.”

Spot on in my opinion, even if not exclusively LMC householders but incorporating parts of th working class too. And it’s not just about a lack of willingness to risk things though that’s it but people battered by falling wages, increasing insecurity and fear of unemployment.

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richotto - May 30, 2013

Thats true and the responsability for the progressive element not being maximized can be partly attributed to the absolutist “not an inch” nature of the anti property tax campaign. The argument against property tax per se seemed increasingly untenable as the campaign went on as it became clear that we could no longer insulate ourselves from the logic that the rest of the developed world recognized long ago. If the rescources of the left were deployed into a campaign to make a property tax as fair and progressive as possible it would have struck people as a far more reasonable and realistic option. A site value tax is my own preference as that could have encompassed farming and development land and encouraged the maximum productive and socially beneficial use of property.

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Mark P - May 31, 2013

Even by the low, low, standards of Labour apologists that’s a remarkably dishonest post.

“The responsability for the progressive element not being maximized”, or more precisely the responsibility for the entirely regressive nature of all of these austerity taxes, rests not with their left wing opponents, but with the neoliberal shitbags who introduced them and designed them. Starting with every member of the Labour and Fine Gael parliamentary parties.

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8. Pete - May 31, 2013

Didn’t think the campiagn would fail this bad at the second hurdle, if the stats are correct. The freeman types and poll tax fetish heads may have damaged the real battle vs water privitisation

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richotto - May 31, 2013

Hey! Please lets get this phoney poll tax comparrisson on a truthful footing for a change. The poll tax in the Uk was an ANTI – property tax from Mrs Thatcher who wanted to enrich home owner interests directly at the expense of non home owners. It very simply sought to replace the existing system of property owners paying on the basis of ratable valuation with a tax in which every individual paid exactly the same whether they owned a house or not. It was nicknamed the poll tax because the only basis for the tax was whether you appeared on the electoral register. Anti property tax “fetish heads” around the world (apart from Ireland) are to be found nearly always on the right like Mrs Thatcher and not the left. The left from reformist to radical outside Ireland recognizes property taxation as highly progressive and equally fundemental to a fair taxation system as income tax is

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Pete - May 31, 2013

Exactly…now what is going to be done about water privitisation

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9. Austerity – Basque Fight Versus Irish Flight | An Sionnach Fionn - May 31, 2013

[…] Country to the austerity policies being implemented in both nations. Where the Irish have adopted a poise of dejected servility the Basques have become ever more rebellious, with a rise in Left and Centre-Left Nationalist […]

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10. Pangur ban - May 31, 2013

This compounded with running an anti-tax campaign with very little political content, that could easily be mistaken for some kind of Tea Party movement.

An interesting quote from cflower on political world

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WorldbyStorm - May 31, 2013

I meant to say in relation to your point above from yesterday about bin trucks being protestable that that is very persuasive. Truth is no one has a clue outside of protests and marches what people would really do when the crunch came. A boycott sounds great and I understand why it was raised etc but totally opaque in terms of managing it as a part of a campaign.

I also think CF ain’t too far out, not in terms of many many activists or their efforts but in terms of the constraints of the campaign. Again look at the CAHWT site and it is low on political content.

Also very telling is the lack of communication from it in the aftermath of the cut off point. That may have changed since but when I looked at it earlier today nothing new. Not exactly heartening for those who haven’t registered etc.

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11. Pangur ban - June 1, 2013

The northern rent rates strike experience is probably one of the reasons why SF hung back in the protest movement

I fell sorry for the poor eejits swept along in the boycott enthusiasm who will now be paying 200 where they could have got away with 100

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12. Pete - June 1, 2013

Yeah that’s why SF held back, you don’t even believe that.

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Ed - June 1, 2013

The Provos screwed up the civil resistance campaign in the North – of which the rent and rates strike was an important part – because they were vain enough to believe that they’d brought down Stormont single-handedly with no help from the street demonstrations, barricades, no-go areas etc. Instead of helping to consolidate the campaign after Stormont fell, they launched a bombing blitz, leading to Bloody Friday, Operation Motorman and the collapse of the civil resistance movement. The rent and rates strike didn’t fail because non-payment campaigns can never work; it was going well when it was part of a broad civil resistance movement, but when the street demos ended and the barricades were taken down, the rent strikers were left high and dry.

This doesn’t tell us a whole lot about the household / property tax campaign in the South, of course. But it’s a bit much to come across such airbrushing of history from a movement that undermined civil resistance with its militarism forty years ago, and today is doing the same in a very different context with its born-again respectable parliamentarism.

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13. Pangur ban - June 1, 2013

The rent and rates strike didn’t fail because non-payment campaigns can never work
And
This doesn’t tell us a whole lot about the household / property tax campaign in the South, of course.

Both of the above cannot be true….or is it dialectical ?

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Ed - June 4, 2013

What on earth are you talking about? You cited the rent and rates strike as proof that non-payment campaigns never work. I argued that the fizzling out of that campaign was part of the general decline of civil resistance in the North after 1972; without street demonstrations, barricades etc., and with a declining number of people supporting the strike, it was bound to fail. In other words, it might have worked, but only as part of a broader movement. I then said that this didn’t provide us with any exact lessons for the campaign in the South, because the circumstances are very different. Where do you imagine the contradiction lies there? It doesn’t exist. Both of the above can certainly be true, and there’s nowt dialectical about it.

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14. CMK - June 1, 2013

Interesting to see the International Bolshevik Tendency coalescing with Direct Democracy Ireland within the CAHWT. I wonder where this will lead…..

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WorldbyStorm - June 2, 2013

Hmmmm… Further details?

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CMK - June 4, 2013

Well, it looks like Direct Democracy Ireland’s local enforcer where I live has acquired The International Bolshevik Tendency as an ally. I don’t know who is worse: the IBT or DDI. The former appears to have adopted a kind of ultra-pathetic KPD stategy which views the SP as the ultimate enemy and is taking a ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’ and hooking up, at least rhetorically, as with DDI elements. Watch this space. It’s very exciting…..

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CMK - June 4, 2013

Actually, I retract that. I was mis-interpretation on my part combined with poor judgement generated by a very heated situation.

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15. Pete - June 1, 2013

Pangur get yer gun bore

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WorldbyStorm - June 2, 2013

Take it easy Pete.

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16. Paddy Healy - June 2, 2013

The CAHWT was seriously damaged by competitive recruitment between the SP and the SWP. When the government brought in legislation to extract the charges plus fines from pay and welfare, they refused to make any tactical adjustment. They were calling on people who were struggling to put bread on the table to leave themselves liable to double the charge. Neither group could be seen to be less “revolutionary” than the other! Myself and others told them that this was a suicide mission but they wouldn’t/ couldn’t listen. We refused to go along with this insanity in Tipperary. Workers and Unemployed Action is actually part of the working class itself. Now the main campaign has failed. Unfortunately,it bears out my contention that competitive ultra-leftism is a huge problem for the left in Ireland and the UK. In the final days of the campaign the competing groups went into open conflict on the issue of standing candidates and ,unbelievably,on whether there should be a motorcade(SP) or a rally “on the streets”(SWP) last Saturday. I hope that the damage to the confidence of those mobilised by the campaign is limited.

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WorldbyStorm - June 2, 2013

A lot to reflect on in your comment Paddy. One thing that strikes me very forcibly, just been saying it over on Political World, is the lack of any communication at all from the CAHWT since the 28th on their site. The clear inference is that a belief that the campaign has failed (and this is in no way to cast aspersions on people involved, sure I’ve been involved in my own line very heavily as it happens), and what then of those small group who have boycotted registration, what happens to them? At the very least some sort of solidarity or guidance surely would be appropriate?

In fairness, and I heard that debate as being slightly different, re motorcade and rally, the motorcade was probably a better idea given the lack of capability to get large numbers into the streets.

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17. Paddy Healy - June 2, 2013

I am not just being wise after the event. In my post “after-Ultraleft destruction” (of the ULA) I said one month ago: “The number of people attending meetings, rallies and marches of CAHWT is dwindling as the two “Marxist” groups advocate policies which are impossible for ordinary people and their dependents to follow. Despite the destruction of the campaign, the two groups will feel justified if they get some recruits out of it and ,if above all, they get more recruits than each other!”
It is true that the rank and file of the SP and SWP are very committed decent people people. This is the trajedy. The SP invested everything in the campaign. On leaving ULA it said: “For the Socialist Party, the battle against the household and property taxes is a priority, and it will take more of our focus and work and as mentioned, in that context we will be diminishing our participation in the ULA. However, in doing this we are not in any way stepping away from the struggle to help to build a new working class party on a principled basis. That is precisely what can happen in an organic way, by fighting on these issues which can potentially bring thousands of ordinary working class people into activity, which is essential if a new mass working class party is to be built.”
It is widely known that many decent SP members are traumatized by the collapse of the campaign. Hence the rescue operation attempted through the Tallaght meeting which,tellingly, was not called in the name of the CAHWT.
The motorcade was, indeed, the most sensible option. But this is in the context in which Worldbystorm correctly puts it-it was not possible to get people on the streets at a time when the demands were in homes and people were facing the requirement to pay up! This was to be the day of the big mass revolt!
This did not stop the SWP from attempting, irresponsibly, to persuade the NO2CrokePark2 Rally in Liberty Hall last Saturday to join a small street meeting at the GPO called by their faction of CAHWT.
The rush to recruit the dues paying members after the debacle could not be delayed!
It is of course important to be considerate of the feelings of dedicated people who have joined these organisations. But it is also necessary to tell the truth. Otherwise the debacles will occur again and again and again and many more decent people will be misled by ultra-left organisations. There are many people still doing very good work on the property tax in Cork, Tipperary, Kildare, Donegal etc.
It is the leaderships of SWP and SP and their”internationals” that have caused the damage.

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18. Paddy Healy - June 3, 2013

I misunderstood a question asked by Worldbystorm in his last comment. He asked “what then of those small group who have boycotted registration, what happens to them? At the very least some sort of solidarity or guidance surely would be appropriate?”
This is indeed a very important question. Connolly said “One must know when to end a strike”. But the plight of those who loyally supported their boycott call does not even occur to ultra-left groups.Not alone is their no change in the message-“continue the boycott” on the CAHWT website. I have now read all the motions tabled for the National Steering Committee meeting next Saturday. There is no recognition whatever in any motion that the boycott campaign has failed. So the isolation of the most determined supporters who are still boycotting does not arise!!!! A similar situation arose at the end of the campaign against the bin charges.
They just walked away without a word to their strongest supporters.
The problem does not arise in Tipperary. In the month of March WUA called 10 meetings throughout the county to explain to people the implications of not registering. Those who wished to register and those who wished to continue the boycott were invited to continue the campaign together through picketing government politicians and local authority meetings etc. Ultra-leftists refuse to shoulder responsibility for leading actual workers particularly when the leaders strategy has failed.

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John - June 3, 2013

I didnt send back the form-not because of the cahwt but because Im against the property tax politically- IM sure there is a lot of people who had their own minds made up regardless of a campaign or no campaign- i agree for the moment the campaign is in a limbo-but at least they tried to do something about the property tax not like sinn fein who sat on the fence from day one.

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WorldbyStorm - June 3, 2013

That’s good John, and from your perspective in a way this discussion is irrelevant, but I think campaigns have a duty of care to those who do follow their chosen strategies and a responsibility on the part of those who are active in them.

I take Paddy’s point re knowing when to end a strike, but given the formations involved and the nature of the exercise I think that’s close to impossible (as I suspect does he), but the sort of effective radio silence is actually worse again to my thinking.

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John - June 3, 2013

I think the campaign should release a statement to people telling people what they plan next-perhaps the reason why they havent done so is they havent discussed what their next plans are- as paddy said they have a committe meeting saturday.

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WorldbyStorm - June 4, 2013

I’m not even suggesting an admission that the campaign has gone off the rails (something by the way that was generally admitted on this thread by most people last week) but instead a communication to those who might be boycotting, even if it were a reiteration of what had already been said. But something, anything, to indicate the campaign still existed, was still aware of what was going on, instead of radio silence.

And while I take your point re meeting at the weekend, even that seems curious given that at this point there are really only a limited number of options as to how things could have gone (ie it could have worked, mass non registration or it might not have) and all of these are entirely predictable months in advance. Indeed to have a meeting over ten days after the cut off point seems remiss.

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19. Paddy Healy - June 3, 2013

John is right about Sinn Féin. That party should have called for non-payment of the household charge. That campaign was very successful. There were 8 TDs at the rally against the charge in the National Stadium-none of them from Sinn Féin.
The Government responded to this with the property tax bill which,inter alia, gave the government power to take the charge plus fines out of pay and welfare. The ground had changed, The SP and SWP refused to change tactics for the reasons I have given in my previous comments. Only Two TDs, Richard Boyd-Barret(SWP) and Joe Higgins(SP) were supporting the suicide course when it failed.

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Mark P - June 3, 2013

Christ what a one-eyed, vicious, pompous, dishonest, sectarian series of rants from the louder and sillier of the Healy brothers.

Not one word of it is worth a considered response.

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John - June 3, 2013

Mark what exactly is dishonest about paddys points about sinn fein? the two protests at the fine gael and labour party conferences last year i didnt see any sinn fein reps marching with people in support-the march in april when the eu finance ministers came over I didnt see any sinn fein reps marching with people that either-furthermore i didnt even see any sinn fein banners on display that day either-sinn feins sign our petition campaign didnt exactly work either- when the campaign against the water charges kicks off Il bet sinn fein will take a similar approach sign our petition against water charges which wont work as big business isnt going to care about some petition.

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WorldbyStorm - June 4, 2013

Mark P, I’ve already had to warn Pete this weekend, and now you, take it easy. Whatever your thoughts about the content of PH’s contributions there is no call at all for ad hominem attacks. Either you engage in an adult fashion here or don’t, at all.

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Branno's ultra left t-shirt - June 4, 2013

So what is the advice of the campaign to those who have still not registered?

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Paddy Healy - June 4, 2013

Argumentum ad hominem is a sure sign of defeat in a discussion.
To Administrator-Is personal abuse permitted on this blog?

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WorldbyStorm - June 4, 2013

No, it’s not – I’ve already warned him of same, though it’s not as if it is any secret as to how this site operates in that regard, and any further examples will result in a banning.

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Pangur ban - June 4, 2013

I think paddy heals analysis is interesting….as to people being left high and dry after the bin tax….is that not the reason why a certain city councillor left the sp?

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20. Paddy Healy - June 4, 2013

There is no change in advice on CAHWT website- despite the fact that those boycotting are now a small minority. Here it is:
“Keep up the Boycott
The first step should be for a huge number of people to boycott the registration process. Ignore the Revenue correspondence. Ignore the registration deadlines in May. Even if they threaten to double your property tax for refusing to register people should still boycott.”

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BB - June 4, 2013

The only way to build a credible and successful CAHWT campaign was and remains to Refuse to Pay and to organise every shred of resistance.

Yes, the state has draconian powers, but do they have the resources to implement them? Maybe they can’t even use all their threatened powers: their resources are not infinite. They now have a new tax requiring vast new arrays of measures and they have to add this to existing workloads.

We just didn’t know what might be the outcome of resistance, but there are at least two other ‘stealth’ taxes in sight (€400 water charge and broadcasting at least €160 in place of TV licence) so a movement – and anger is strongly and widely felt – might have developed and become political, as part of a wider movement against austerity.

Recent reports on Property Tax registrations beg the question why this didn’t happen yet?

First of all, the messages put out by CAHWT campaign were somewhat muddled – boycott the tax, resist the tax, don’t register. Why not put it in plain language and put it out at early stages, which didn’t happen? For example, Don’t pay the home tax! Don’t even answer the Revenue!

Secondly, the policy of retreat by some campaign organisers. Paddy condemns SP/SWP who “refused to make any tactical adjustment.” WUA organised meetings where “Those who wished to register and those who wished to continue the boycott were invited to continue the campaign together through picketing government politicians and local authority meetings etc. Ultra-leftists refuse to shoulder responsibility for leading actual workers particular when the leaders strategy has failed.”

When people see some campaign organisers doing a wobble and failing to conduct the necessary fight back, no wonder many people decided to pay! That was a rational decision. Of course, all the pressure was towards penalties that attach to people irrespective of their ability to pay. And the media onslaught – we’ll get you anyway – didn’t help. Nor did the timid approach of those who failed to argue forthrightly that if enough of us refuse to cooperate with them, they can be tied up in knots and even defeated.

It is one thing to respect the right of people to pay under protest and it is appropriate to invite them to “continue the campaign” as WUA did. But it is quite another thing to send up the white flag in advance (‘suicide mission’).

On the contrary, SP and to a lesser extent SWP called the shots and did the work on the ground, canvassing, collecting funds, organising rallies etc. Due to their efforts the campaign made a strong link to the Austerity drive. People were told that Revenue is collecting this so-called “Local” tax for the Coalition government that tells us the lie that this is for local services. But they are cutting local services and Local Authority budgets. Instead, they are using all new taxes to pay bond-holders and bank capitalists at home and abroad.
They have already cut social welfare and they will cut it again in the next few budgets. And they are savagely cutting the wages and conditions of workers in the public sector. For many of us the biggest attack is the cut in health and social welfare. All these attacks have the same aim—take away as little as possible from the investors. Make the ordinary family pay for the top people.

For the above reasons, the so-called ‘ultra-leftists’ deserve congratulations. So too do the non-party-affiliated activists who devoted their considerable efforts to a fight back.

However, I agree with Paddy that competitive recruitment was a damaging factor in the CAHWT and to a greater extent in the ULA, which has long since been a dead entity. However, let us remember that when SWP organised a public meeting in Clonmel to promote their politics, umbrage was taken. So it seems no left group should hold a meeting in Deputy Seamus Healy’s fiefdom.

Finally, of course it is important to ask, as others have done, what guidance do we offer now to those who continue the fight back? I say we shouldn’t see this as a bleak scenario, but rather as an opportunity, to connect up the anti-tax campaigns and name and shame those that drove these attacks, especially when local elections approach.

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WorldbyStorm - June 4, 2013

A very timely post there BB. A lot to consider as well. Can I echo one point re a confusion over message. I think that was a substantial problem.

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Jolly Red Giant - June 5, 2013

Paddy – Your rant against the SP and the SWP has not just appeared here. I have received several emails from you with the same content. This is despite the fact that I have asked on several occasions to be unsubscribed from your mailing list and have emailed you personally on several occasions asking you to stop sending me emails. I have now unsubscribed from your email list again and I expect my wishes to be carried out.

As you have chosen to ignore my emails and requests for unsubscribing – I will now publicly notify you that if I receive any more emails from you I will lodge a complaint against you personally and against the WUAG with the Data Protection Commissioner for continuing to send my unsolicited emails. I do not want to do this but you are leaving me with little alternative.

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21. The Caretaker - June 4, 2013

CAHWT website has been awful since day one, don’t think it’s high on the priority of the SP members who run it. The Facebook page is much more active but no more heartening, seems to be run by a couple of student lefties from their Mammy’s bedroom.

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Jim Monaghan - June 4, 2013

Don’t tell anyone they might introduce a bedroom tax, like across the water

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22. Regie - June 4, 2013

Paddy Healy comments on the campaign in Dublin are so dated and reflect his obsession with trot watching, a species he was happy to cosy up to until recently. It also reeks of “I told ya so” yet he never spells out his reason for not attending conferences and pushing his line. For your info, over the past several months, local area campaigns in Dublin, free from trot control, have continued to organise meetings/protests/occupations in their areas with real support from householders. Real groups and not paper fronts. Our message has been clear. Don’t resister-Don’t pay. But the final decision will be taken by individual households.We will always continue to support those who did not register-pay because they are our neighbours, our families and our campaign members. We never ran away after the bin charges, so we’re hardly going anywhere now. As for the recent high profile events CAHWT organised, the occupation of revenue and the car cavalcade, both were planned by the north city Dublin activists group which deliberately contains no members of SP/SWP because of their negative behaviour.
Mixed messages,infighting,paper selling etc…, only played a minor role in the campaigns outcome. The reality is that the vast majority of people feared the revenue and their ability to snoop into your affairs..
As for the water tax campaign, it will be more intensive and hands on. Both the household/property tax campaign only really called on people to not register, a passive (although illegal) act. I am personally unsure if the prospects of thousands of people getting actively involved in physically opposing water meters will happen.
Finally, the CAHWT brought together a new layer of activism throughout Ireland. the vast majority of people on demo’s-pickets were ordinary householders. This was perhaps the best success.

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WorldbyStorm - June 4, 2013

“Both the household/property tax campaign only really called on people to not register, a passive (although illegal) act.” That was both the great strength of the household charge campaign and perhaps the weakness of the property tax campaign once the big guns were rolled in in the shape of Revenue.

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23. LeftAtTheCross - June 4, 2013

There seems to be an over emphasis of the linkage between non-registration and the campaign. I’ll give the example close to home here in meath. The revenue’s breakdown shows meath registration at 70%, third lowest level in the state behind Donegal and laois. I know Donegal has a very active campaign but apart from activity in the early stages of the campaign around the jells area realty there has been minimal public activity by our local group and little enough pick-up by people. It’s only one data point but it does point to an uncertain enough relationship between campaign activity and end result. Of course we’d all like to think that the campaign activity does make a difference, but possibly it doesn’t. In other words I’m not sure too many people really care too much one way or the other about the cahwt position on the registration deadline and thereafter, they’ve either paid up or have decided to make their stand, alone or maybe together, but a stand regardless.

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WorldbyStorm - June 4, 2013

A very fair point. And I’d be the first to admit that the effects might be overemphasised by those involved in the campaigns.

A thought and a question strikes me though, even taking that into account the campaign clearly influenced some people and it retains a duty of care in regard to them, and what about the effects of the byelection? Even if not immediate in terms of vote outcome isn’t it possible some of the energy was converted into non registration? Well that and the excellent, no truly excellent, election leaflets. 🙂

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LeftAtTheCross - June 4, 2013

Despite the outstanding election material we failed on that occasion to mobilise the Meath masses. I strongly suspect that SF have harnessed the anti-whatever-you’re-having opposition sentiment in Meath. Their position may be unclear, ultimately, but superficially at least it did the job and aligned a SF vote with opposition to austerity and the home tax. And then there’s the confued mess of DDI. Like it or not, and regardless of how many angels can actually dance on a pinhead, the CAHWT may not actually be as important as its component organisations might like to believe. Maybe I say, I really don’t know.

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24. Alan MacSimoin - June 5, 2013

Five references to “ultra leftists” in Paddy Healy’s posts. Now, I’m not a member or a supporter of either the SP or SWP but I think this description of their policies and strategies is way off the mark. It’s a bit reminiscent of the way Communist Parties used to accuse any socialists they didn’t like of “ultra leftism”.

The ultra-left that Lenin talked about, and which modern ultra-lefts identify with is a movement which all but disappeared in the late 1920s/early 1930s, and which today only survives as extremely small groups in a handful of countries. And I mean extremely small!

Their high point was probably the Communist Workers’ Party of Germany (KAPD) in 1921, when they might have had up to 40,000 members. Prominent names in that tradition, which is identical or very close to “council communism”, would be Otto Ruhle, Sylvia Pankhurst, Anton Pannekoek, Herman Gorter and Paul Mattick.

What marked them out, from what I can see anyway, is a politics based on the expectation of immediate revolution. This was understandable, although hopelessly optimistic, in the few years after World War I and the Russian revolution. They saw the task facing them as dividing the working class along pro- or anti-revolution lines, so they rejected participation in the unions or any other non-revolutionary movement. Instead, they created their own ‘red union’, the AAUD. Today what most characterises their modern followers is a deep hostility to trade unions, to campaigning for reforms, and to the rest of the left.

We don’t have any of them here, at least none that I have ever come across. But in London I have seen them in the form of the International Communist Current. I doubt that they have even twenty members and that would make them one of the bigger ultra left groups.

While I do not doubt the sincerity of most of their members, you could say the SP and SWP do silly and self-serving things. You could, especially in the case of the SWP, say that their default setting is to put petty party building ahead of advancing a broad radical working class movement. They can be irritating and frustrating, but “ultra leftist” I think not.

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