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After the CAHWT June 5, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
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Some time soon, perhaps, it will be time to have an analysis on why the property tax campaign ran into the ground, but that’s another day’s work.

I’ve already mentioned how I think that there is a need for the campaign against the property tax to make some effort to communicate with those who may have taken its advice to heart and not registered. Granted there’s a grace period where the sanctions from Revenue won’t kick in, including reminder letters and warnings, but even so. There may be a cohort, not a very large one – or so it would appear – but one nonetheless who have decided to sit it out. And I say all this as one not merely sympathetic to the campaign, even if critical of aspects of it, but also fairly heavily involved in a specific part of it.

Even so, things move on. The compliance rate?

Local Property Tax returns have now been filed in respect of some 1,517,902 properties — a compliance rate in the order of 90%.

And as one person said to me yesterday, there’s no getting around it, the campaign failed.

The Examiner brings news that:

Cork City Fine Gael councillor Joe O’Callaghan called on the campaigners to follow through on their threat and unveil the candidates they say they will run in next year’s local elections.

“I am sick and tired of their blathering and buffonery,” Mr O’Callaghan said. “Most of these guys have no mandate. I want them and the other loudmouths in this campaign in Cork to stand for election.”

Well… interesting. For some would say that his wish is about to be granted. Indeed some would say this was quite an explicit aspect of the campaign from the off.

O’Callaghan continued:

He was speaking after a group of about 30 anti-property and water tax campaigners heckled Environment Minister Phil Hogan during his visit to Cork last week to announce 400 jobs as part of the national water metering programme.

He pointed to one of the campaigners, who spat at a bank official after the recent occupation of the AIB branch of Cork’s St Patrick’s St, and who was also accused of verbally abusing another Fine Gael councillor, Emmet O’Halloran, as he shopped in the centre with his young child.

A campaign member has denied any knowledge of those events… And:

John Lonergan… hit back at Mr O’Callaghan, accusing him of headline grabbing. “He must be worried about his seat if he is concerned about ordinary people standing up for themselves. He and the others are afraid of their lives that ordinary people are going to take them out of their nice cushy jobs.

Difficult not to agree with him on the following:

“As long as we’re free people, then we’re entitled to say and do what we want, within reason.

“If he and the others can’t handle the heckling and barracking, then they should get out of the job.”

Mr Lonergan said he is one of several campaign members nationwide who are actively considering standing as independent single-issue candidates in next year’s local election.

But let’s go back to the seeming failure of the campaign. This is more in the way of raising a warning flag than a prediction, but I’m wondering how the manner in which the campaign has failed on this issue will play out. There’s been an attitude that the campaign was in and of itself a good thing, but as was put to me, now Labour – in particular – will be able to turn around and say that in the end people ignored it.

Now that’s very similar – perhaps not coincidentally – to the Stephen Collins line we heard at the weekend where compliance with the property tax was interpreted by him as indicating acquiescence with government policy. The two clearly are not the same, but… it’s a clear political attack and it’s fair enough to wonder whether the distinction will be easily combatted. And particularly since to some degree the campaign bet the house on a single way forward, i.e. a boycott, and indeed on the website was arguing – indeed still is since it hasn’t been revised – that the Labour Party was the weak link in the coalition and that the government could be brought down by the campaign.

That hasn’t come to pass, obviously. And the danger is the activity around the campaign is flipped from being a positive to a negative i.e. ‘unrealistic goals’, ‘waste of time’, ‘marched people to the top of the hill’. We can all supply the script.

Worse again, as was put to me, next up will be LP local election candidates running partially against the property tax calling for it to be lowered, etc, etc. It’s all ahead of us.

But it indicates that virtue is not necessarily its own reward, that being right isn’t either, or at least not inevitably. I genuinely hope that people have been thinking about this long and hard, because one successful campaign and one failed campaign doesn’t necessarily add up to a definite gain for our side.

The Examiner report is interesting too, Lonergan is talking about running as an Independent, and I can’t tell you if he would be closer to CAHWT mainstream thinking or not, others will know. But unintended consequence. Consider this quote:

Diarmuid Ó Cadhla, a member of The People’s Convention, who was also part of the protest targeting the environment minister in Cork last week, has said his organisation is also planning to run candidates in next year’s local elections.

What unlikely spin-offs from the CAHWT are contemplating slouching towards polling stations across this land? And what sort of competitive environment is likely to be in place where there may be multiple candidates of varying political provenances all claiming an CAHWT heritage but facing off against one another for seats?

There’s another point too. The ULA was said to be a vehicle unfit for purpose in relation to forwarding a left project. Enormous effort was placed (and very real effort too, I’ve noted previously how the SP was actually very supportive) in the CAHWT. But that too has foundered. Currently there’s a limbo-like state. The CAHWT is defunct, there’s no clear path forward other than making it to the next goal of the locals and the water charges. But if the property tax didn’t work, and didn’t work in a particularly obvious way, then why should a campaign refocused around water charges? And with an history now of failed projects what impact will that have on future projects?

These are hard questions, but they have to be addressed and something very solid and credible has to be placed before people and communities before the next steps are taken.

Comments»

1. tomasoflatharta - June 5, 2013

Reblogged this on Tomás Ó Flatharta and commented:
Let’s Be Honest – unfortunately the boycott of the LPT is defeated.

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2. tomasoflatharta - June 5, 2013

Agree 100 %

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3. Ghandi - June 5, 2013

On the way in this morning I noticed new posters up advertising a meeting by Declan Ganley, the precursor to a new party no doubt. There is no doubt that the Home Tax campaign failed, while on here people may blame internal friction I’m not so sure that the wider public are aware of that. Why was the Household Tax campaign successful and not the Home tax one, Clearly the fear factor and the state rolling out the big guns was a factor. in the first campaign we had a media who (except RTE) supported the campaign and it was a regular topic on phone in shows, we also had the Patricks Day factor, this time round the media were against us. We were defeated effectively from the beginning.

With the Ganley emergence its likely that he will soak up the discontent at the expense of the left, at this point I don’t think that the water tax campiagn will be any different to this one there appears to be an acceptance that thats the way it is. The whole Wallace / Daly matter didn’t help and the “your all the same ” attitude has took hold leading to the return of FF.

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Dr. X - June 5, 2013

Ganley is genuinely sinister, but he’s also too much of a clown to become the Irish Berlusconi. Isn’t he?

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Jim Monaghan - June 5, 2013

The new powers to take the money from salary/social welfare deductions meant that it was lost as is also lost the Household tax. Time to admit this. thee is a touch of Scargill about the place in refusing to accept reality.There will be other battles. Time to get ready for them

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A.O.T.W.K - June 5, 2013

Im agreeing with you about the media being against the campaign, monday 27th may last week on Ireland am they brought a fellow on the show telling people they can fined 500 euro per day for ignoring revenue letters plus fines of up to 5.000 euro, this was repeated across a number of radio stations that day, there was no fines of 500 euro per day or fines of 5.000. the maximum fine was 3.000 euro. as these lies about fines were being spread about there was no opposition spokesperson or CAHWT spokesperson left appear or any show to counteract the lies and tell people the truth about the fines, worse still when these lies dont get refuted people would of believed what they were hearing in the media and felt intimidated.

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4. micheal2og - June 5, 2013

Dr. X, I used to think that. Given our propensity to take any old guff from any old chancer, nothing would suprise me.

Ganley has been activly courting support among the discontented middle class. Even the Co. Cork protesters have him as a guest speaker of choice. Must reread Daniel Guerins’s “Fascism and Big Business”.

Great to see such honesty in comments.

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revolutionaryprogramme - June 5, 2013

On what do you base your comment that “Even the Co. Cork protesters have [Ganley] as a guest speaker of choice.”?

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critical media review - June 5, 2013

It seems to me (and others that I have spoken to) that the campaign was out maneuvered by the state when it bypassed the courts and allowed revenue to collect directly. This was nobodies fault; and it reminds us that the state is a force to be reckoned with. However it does seem odd that the campaign effectively ignored this and carried on the boycott campaign regardless. My own take is that there seemed to be an element of strategy becoming ideology and the campaign backed itself into a corner. The very numerous direct actions around council chambers seemed fairly ineffectual too. Where to next is a very good question especially for those of us in the ten percentile who have ‘followed the party line’ as it were and not registered even with deep reservations to the strategy.

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5. revolutionaryprogramme - June 5, 2013

In Cork it seems there will be some SP, and close associates, standing in the north of the city. The People’s Convention claim to be standing 31 candidates across the city, though it is unclear how real that is. Lonergan is part of the Ballyphehane group that is aligned with Mallow as an anti-party bloc and may stand independent candidates on that basis. There are some other anti-party and pro-standing people in other groups in the city but it is unclear whether they have the weight to actually run campaigns.

What seems clear is that there are going to be a good number of candidates claiming some of the CAHWT mantle standing on a variety of platforms.

This of course places those groups, like Cobh where I am invovled, who are opposed to standing candidates in a difficult position as none of these candidates will be accountable to us but will all be speaking in the name of our common campaign to some degree or other.

There is still a need for a campaign against the water charges and particularly the installation of meters but whether this will be as the CAHWT looks increasingly unlikely.

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6. Ghandi - June 5, 2013

I think that the Ganley factor is very dangerous to the formation of a real alternative, his entry with plenty of funding and a compliant media will give him success. Along with the rejection of politicians and politics in general he will appear to be the saviour, successful business man, sure he’d be able to run the country wouldn’t he?

The opportunity for a solid effective left position to emerge has passed, 5 years into the bailout and we still haven’t gained any meaningful momentum the time is ripe for the Right and Ganley, The left really has to re assess itself if it is to survive and progress and work out why its message is not getting through to people. Does the left even know what its message is.

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Jim Monaghan - June 5, 2013

And the SP had/has a problem with Daly being close to Wallace. Here they will effectively be standing in alliance with good people as well as the opportunists and Gilroy types. God or something that exists save Ireland

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Jolly Red Giant - June 5, 2013

And another one lecturing the SP about what it should be doing – not from any genuine understanding of what is going on and what the SP are actually doing – just for the sake of taking a swipe.

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7. A.O.T.W.K - June 5, 2013

I think some of the reasons why the campaign against the proeprty tax failed, most people I know adopted a defeatist attitude might as well pay it if they are going to take it from source, last year when 700.000 households boycotted the household charge most of them had no involvement with the CAHWT and never went to any of the CAHWT protests, this year with revenue in charge and their powers it w…as made clear a boycott wouldnt be enough that people would have to get involved and protest, when people choose not to protest in any way shape or form and choose to willingly pay theres not a whole lot the CAHWT can do, looking at the recent protests in turkey I cant help but wonder what on earth is going to take for Irish people to wake up and protest in a similar manner in mass numbers.

The comment about water charges, as long as there is no powers for Irish water to take money from source I think people will choose to resist water charges.

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Jim Monaghan - June 6, 2013

On water charges. Having won on property tax, do you think they will not provide the same method of getting payment.

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Jolly Red Giant - June 6, 2013

Possibly – although it would be more difficult for them to adopt this approach. The primary motivation for water charges is a pay per usage basis and to privatise the service. By getting Revenue to collect payment they undermine their strategy. Furthermore, Hogan has already stated that those who don’t pay will have their water supply cut off – this would indicate that they, at least at the moment, do not plan on using Revenue to collect the charge.

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John - June 6, 2013

Is it legal under EU law to cut off water from a household?

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Jolly Red Giant - June 6, 2013

By the way – I would dispute your assertion that they have ‘won’ on the Property Tax – the battle against the Property Tax is not over.

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revolutionaryprogramme - June 6, 2013

Well one might argue that in a strategic sense the PT might get overturned in the future (as per the SP and SF electoral strategies) but in terms of its immediate implementation the government has indeed won.

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Jim Monaghan - June 6, 2013

And the miners won in Britain. Time to move on to the next battle.

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8. RosencrantzisDead - June 5, 2013

It might be worth shifting some of the focus of the campaign from ‘don’t pay’ to perhaps looking at the method of collection.

Abtran have been hired by the Revenue as a private contractor to run the call centre/LPT helpline. Abtran themselves are registered as an unlimited company in this state. This means that they are not subject to the same filing requirements as ordinary companies. Furthermore, this unlimited company is owned by an entity registered in the British Virgin Islands (a well-known tax haven). The Phoenix raises the question in its most recent issue: “Is the Abtran group of companies paying tax in [Ireland]?”

Abtran have also received the helpline contract for Irish Water.

Given the above, it might be worth looking in to whether Abtran is an appropriate partner for the Revenue.

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revolutionaryprogramme - June 6, 2013

The Cobh CAHWT local group agree with this and have unanimously supported my motion for the CAHWT Cork regional AGM and next National Steering Committee:

Cobh CAHWT recognises that workers taking industrial action will be a necessary component of any successful civil disobedience campaign against the Property Tax.

Cobh CAHWT therefore calls on Cork CAHWT to produce, as a matter of the highest urgency, a leaflet aimed specifically at workers in the Revenue and Abtran workplaces calling on them to take industrial action against collection and administration of the Property Tax. The leaflet to include a confidential phone number for any worker interested in taking such action to discuss how to take the project forward. This leaflet to be distributed at the work sites concerned at the earliest opportunity.

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RosencrantzisDead - June 6, 2013

Great stuff. Good work, RP.

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9. Paddy Healy - June 5, 2013

The extreme right always rises up when the left fails to rise to its historic tasks.It is worrying that two CAHWT branches in Cork have accepted an invitation to attend a meeting called by Peoples Convention It is significant that it is the extreme right, UKIP, which is growing in the UK where the main groups on the left are the SP and the SWP. The problems on the left are not specifically or even mainly Irish in origin .We still have time to get our act together on the left but lessons must be learned by all.

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Jolly Red Giant - June 5, 2013

jesus Paddy – its a broken record – get off the hobby horse – you sound like the ranting you used to do when you were back in the LWR – I thought you had got it all out of your system 25 years ago.

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Paddy Healy - June 5, 2013

Bluster is no reply to reasoned argument
There are none so deaf—-

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WorldbyStorm - June 5, 2013

JRG, like I said to your comrade MarkP, if you have a relevant critique of Paddy’s analysis grand, but can we please avoid ad hominem stuff.

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Cass Flower (@cassflower) - June 5, 2013

@Paddy – I’ve said from the outset that this campaign was wrongheaded and a cul de sac – throwing everything at an anti-property tax campaign had to be wrong for the Left and in any case tactically unwinnable in the present economic conditions. Some very useful lessons have come out of this. These “mistakes” were not haphazard. They came out of a class position, and a lack of serious analysis of the economic crisis. It appears that many people on the Left are still thinking there is an upturn around the corner. So, a few one-off vote winner campaigns and wait for things to get better. Not so on the Right, it is all about “restructuring” permanently, in a much poorer Europe so far as it its concerned.

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WorldbyStorm - June 5, 2013

I think there’s a lot in what you say CF. From the off conceptually there’s been some issues with the very notion of an anti tax campaign which pulls in, frankly, all sorts, right left and centre with very disparate agendas (and given its collapse I feel a bit more unconstrained about critiquing that tbh).

I also have to +1 your point about the right. They’re consolidating their position in an already extremely right if centre polity.

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CMK - June 5, 2013

What would you have done, instead? What would the landscape look like if there was NO organised protest movement over the past 18 months?

My belief all along was that there are sections of the keyboard based Left who were hoping against hope that the CAHWT would fall on its ass.

The thousands, and there were thousands, who participated in CAWHT activities, where NOT ONE other single organisation was doing anything on a similar scale, can be written off by this section of the ‘Left’ as dupes who obviously were easily led.

There is one rather mundane element as to why the CAHWT was in difficulty; a reason that will be familiar to any CAHWT activists.

But I think those cracking open the champagne, not suggesting for a second that that is the spirit behind this post by WbS, need to contemplate a few hard facts.

The CAHWT was/and still is, a noble effort run on a shoestring. But if it falls apart, that’s it folks from the Left. The only other ‘Left’ force capable of pushing back, the trade union movement, will not under any circumstances do so. And when I mean under circumstances.

The apparatchiks in the trade union movement will move heaven and earth to forestall any possibility that the unions will mobilise to seriously oppose austerity. With a few honourable exceptions, UNITE who provided CAHWT with assistance, the CPSU and, less so, Mandate, the rest of the union movement doesn’t want to know about fighting austerity.

We’ll get Nevin Institute reports galore and pie-in-the-sky stimulus ideas, in lieu of action, but there will be no resistance to austerity from the trade union movement. Ever. Full stop.

My personal belief is that here in Ireland it is the Far Left or nothing. Given that the Far Left has invested, and possibly lost, in CAHWT, that means, if the CAHWT folds, it will be nothing.

I not so sure Mr. Ganley will make much of an impact or we’ll see a rise in the Right. More likely, we see FF and SF rise in 2016, and Labour and FG rise back from the ashes in 2020.

A society such as ours, which has not experienced any substantial shock (a war, occupation, revolution, all three together) over the past 90 years has developed ingrained habits of conservatism which can’t be shaken by arguments or examples or facts or figures.

People don’t want to know about bank bailouts, don’t really care about emigration (let’s be honest about it, most people, once the plane takes off, could give a fuck), ditto for mass unemployment, ditto for worsening of working conditions.

So long as the elite can guarantee a half-decent living for that 50% or so of voters (who are a small minority of the overall population), forget about their kids or their grandchildren who don’t matter, who are still reasonably comfortable, the elite can sustain itself for at least another 20 to 30 years.

All the while acclimatising the following generations to a harshness that would appal that comfortable cohort now between 40-65 who just want to be left alone to get on with life.

Unless there is a cataclysm, economic or otherwise, in the coming few years we’ve another generation at least of tweedledum versus tweedledee to look forward to, with occasional small scale interjections from the Left.

‘Left Unity’ won’t change that fact, just in case anyone thinks that’s a panacea.

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WorldbyStorm - June 6, 2013

I don’t have time to do justice to your post above, other than to say there’s an lot to agree with (including your point re left unity).

But all that said it points up the central problem for left and far left politics in this state. There’s no clear traction on its own terms.

Even the CAHWT is an hybrid, not a left campaign as such, albeit with elements of same. And unfortunately the far left is in no position to go for state power, in other words things happen around it and to it but rarely by it and – as far as we can see – with no prospect of that changing in the near to medium term future. I think there’s also – an understandable – emphasis on rhetoric. For example I don’t think this government was ever in danger of falling apart due to CAHWT. If anything it seems more solid than it did twelve or eighteen months ago. It’s stuff like that that it feels hasn’t been factored in.

If that is to change then there has to be some sort of reworking of approaches.

Personally – we probably agree on this – I think the one valuable aspect of the CAHWT has been continuity in terms of oppositional approach, however, I can’t deny that it has concerned me more and more in the last few months as it has become clear that the campaign has failed in respect to a boycott that this wasn’t addressed more openly and that the ground was prepared for a shift towards a more clearly overt anti-austerity campaign.

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WorldbyStorm - June 6, 2013

One other thing is that the CAHWT is a tactic, it’s not the left. If it doesn’t function on its own stated terms, doesn’t achieve it’s own stated goals then it’s absolutely essential to analyse and critique why. I think that that model may be broken in some fundamental way, but I’m not sure.

Re parts of the left hoping it would fail… maybe, but in all honesty who would they be given so many were involved from the middle/far left?

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RosencrantzisDead - June 6, 2013

If it is a tactic, then it is certainly right to critique the overall approach and effectiveness of it. By most criteria, it has not been as successful against the LPT as it was against the Household Chagre initially. Sun Tzu’s warning that you should never replicate a victory was ignored and this should be contemplated.

My understanding is that there was a hope the CAHWT would emulate the Poll Tax in the UK and the subsequent damage it did to the government. Why did the same thing not result here? Advances in technology is one of them – computerised systems and sharing of data made it easier to identify property owners and seek to collect tax from them.

The second is that it is a tax attaching to the property rather than a tax on whoever is knocking around in the household – the Poll Tax was based on the latter and it failed in large part because it proved impossible to collect in University towns, who also were the most likely to be radicalised and oppose the tax on political grounds. This then encouraged others to not pay when they saw these people getting away with it.

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WorldbyStorm - June 6, 2013

One obvious difference is that the poll tax affected near enough everyone whereas the property tax didn’t. And of those who it did affect there wasn’t the more uniform antagonism to it (at least to the point of resisting it) that there was with the poll tax, it was a smaller demographic, etc, etc.

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Ghandi - June 6, 2013

While I don’t have time to give CMK a full reply I think their is a lot in what he says. But to answer his first point – what would we have done different, I think we would have done the same. Perhaps we were on one level over confident following the success of the Household campaign, something we did not really push as a success. My comments are more about where we go from here.

But to be fair to all of those involved in the campaign for whatever reasons at least they got up and done something unlike many key board warriors who pontificate (not this site naturally)

I would alos comment that the general comments (CMK) are a fair assessment of the current state of this State.

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Ed - June 6, 2013

I tend to think that cosmic pessimism is as mistaken as cosmic optimism (they can be two sides of the same coin), so I wouldn’t say everything is fucked if the campaign has failed. I don’t think the far left was wrong to put its energy into this issue; it may not have been ideal – a campaign that can only mobilise home-owners leaves out all the people who rent – but you can’t always pick the ideal terrain, and I don’t see what else was happening over the last year or so. Mobilise in the unions, yeah, fine, but I’m not sure what else could be done in that field (you can say more should have been done going back 15 or 20 years to build a network of union activists, maybe so, but we’re talking about what could have been done in 6 or 12 months). I think the left activists gave this issue as much of a progressive inflection as they could have; an anti-tax campaign is always going to be vulnerable to right-wing populism, but it was only in the ravings of Labour Party supporters that this was some kind of Irish Tea Party.

If the campaign has hit a wall now – and it does seem as if that’s the case – it doesn’t prove that the Irish people are inherently conservative or apathetic; the state was able to use its vastly superior resources to side-step the boycott campaign and take the money directly. It looks as if persisting with the boycott was a tactical mistake, although it’s hard to see what else people could have done, other than chalk this up as a loss and move onto the next battle. At least there was a spanner thrown in the works for a while – as with the bin tax campaign, which lost in the end, but at least it put it up to them for a while at the height of the Celtic Tiger. Hopefully it won’t be long before another opportunity presents itself. Remember, before we get too depressed or mawkish about how conservative the Irish are, it could be a lot worse – Italy had the biggest communist party in western Europe barely two decades ago, now the far left can’t get into parliament and the anti-establishment vote has been harvested by a dodgy populist party with a dodgy leader (I dunno what the Irish equivalent would be – Eamon Dunphy getting 25% of the vote?).

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Cass Flower (@cassflower) - June 12, 2013

Contrary to your suggestion, there have been hundreds of protests and actions over the last 18 months, outside of the CAWHT bermuda triangle: many protests against hospital cuts, benefits cuts, anti bond payment protests, anti eviction protests, strikes on pay, occupations on severance monies, solidarity actions on Greece, protest against the “Royal visit”, pro Choice rallies, protests about Magdalen Laundry workers pay etc. etc. etc. cumulatively involving many more people in action tha the CAWHT.

These movements have received at best passing attention from many of the most capable people and groups the Left, who were stuck up the CAWHT blind alley.

Any old campaign will not do. There is a massive battle going on across Europe with capital seeking to regain profit by crushing wages and working class organisation, and also pushing for fire sales of public assets. The Left needs to be exposing this and putting forward a completely different perspective, for social revolution and an economy for the people run by the people.

Your belief that there were “keyboard based leftists” who wanted the CAWHT to fail is relevant how? Everyone here is on a keyboard, yourself included. My view that CAWHT was a very bad political call was based on the wish NOT to see the left fail. More sense in looking for people who promoted the strategy, if you are looking for someone to blame.

Why is there still no serious analysis of WHY the CAWHT campaign has failed, and of the whole approach that led the irish left down that path?

The idea that lack of cash was behind it really won’t wash.
The strength of the working class is in its numbers and abilities, not in its non existent Swiss Bank accounts.

The only people breaking open the champagne over the CAWHT debacle are the right wing parties and the big finance interests they represent.

And really – pick selves up again and dust down, before moving back into gear, older and wiser. This was a serious and unnecessary set back, but not a terminal one.

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10. Pete - June 6, 2013

Bit hysterical there – the Left is not over just because the SP made a few tactical errors.

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Jolly Red Giant - June 6, 2013

You really have to love the naval gazing – the ‘left’ is finished – the CAHWT is collapsing – the CAHWT was a tactic – the campaign is lost – the campaign was wrong in the first place – the working class are conservative – the trade unions are useless – it’s all the SP’s fault.

For the love of jesus – get a bit of perspective – and get off the computers and go and do something constructive.

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revolutionaryprogramme - June 6, 2013

It is pretty clear that the CAHWT had a real potential to create a movement that could have been able to defeat the PT but we failed to do so.

I know through personal experience that the SP were integral to the semi-victory we achieved over the Household Charge. Without the SP the CAHWT would have not been the significant force it was at the height of the strength of the campaign in the middle of 2012.

But I also know that the SP perspective of “its too soon to build local groups (as I heard so many times at national meetings in 2012)” also held back the CAHWT and stunted its growth.

And now we have the SP effectively splitting the campaign over the issue of standing candidates just when we need to be united and organising to fight the installation of water meters.

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WorldbyStorm - June 6, 2013

JRG, go back and read the thread. Only one person has made any statement to the effect the ‘left’ is finished, and even then it was obliquely and it was an SP member!

“The CAHWT was/and still is, a noble effort run on a shoestring. But if it falls apart, that’s it folks from the Left. ”

CMK said that. Of course he doesn’t really mean that the left is over, any more than I or anyone else who has contributed here believes that – he means that in terms of resistance the CAHWT is (has been) important and that if there isn’t continued resistance we’re in deep trouble. But there’s no one here who disagrees with that, certainly not me. So let’s put that misinterpretation of yours to one side.

Let’s also note that you’re responding as far as I can see ot his post which given that he’s not suggesting that it’s all over bar the shouting suggests it might be better to consider what he’s saying which is – as ever – very thoughtful. It’s most unlikely that he’s saying that it’s the SP’s fault, and I certainly don’t think it is, indeed in the OP I specifically noted that the SP went above and beyond the call of duty in relation to resources and effort poured into the CAHWT, vastly more so than others we can all name – and they deserve great credit for that.

Okay, in relation to the rest, of course the CAHWT is a tactic, it’s not the left. It’s a methodology, a tool, an approach. Nothing in the slightest bit contentious there. If it doesn’t work we move on. Or rework it to face the next challenge.

The campaign on the property tax is lost, there’ll be pockets of resistance but Ruth C has very sensibly come out and said the boycott approach is over. And fair dues to her. It had to be said.

As for ‘getting off computers…’. Personally I’ve nothing to be ashamed of. My political activity on and offline is far greater than here, but here is also an outlet and a useful forum for discussion and debate and sharpening mine and I hope others thoughts. I’m certain that’s the same for other people commenting here, and certainly those I know directly who I have seen at CAHWT events etcetera etcetera.

But it does seem at least mildly ironic that you would make such a complaint… while… yes… on the computer!

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Paddy Healy - June 6, 2013

Of course, the left is not dead. Everybody makes mistakes. But a key error was made both by the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party and it was not merely tactical. There is a systemic problem. The SP and the SWP made an error which no sensible adult would make. After the success of the household charge boycott which we all supported, legislation was introduced which authorised the government to take the charge with penalties from pay and welfare without a day in court. It wasn’t as if these leaders missed something. They were told again and again and again that it could’nt work and that it would lead to demoralisation of supporters and activists and that as a result it could be more difficult to mount such campaigns in the future. Why would experienced leaders over 50, some with Dáil seats make such an error? My thesis based on decades of experience and observation is the that competition between these groups for recruits and for dominance makes it impossible for them to objectively assess the way ahead. All real social conflicts involve advances, retreats, side-steps etc. But because of competitive recruitment they can only contemplate going straight ahead even if it is head first into a brick wall. This has been going on for decades in Ireland and the UK. But now it is much more serious because often ordinary people have no where else to look to because of the huge economic crisis. I believe that if the problem is not faced up to and addressed it will lead to further debacles. Continued failures by the left can open the way to the rise of extreme right wing forces. The trajedy is that the majority of activists in these organisations are fine dedicated people. That is why I am appealing to them and to anti-austerity activists in general to seriously reflect on the situation. It must be recognised that the key task at the moment is not recruitment to individual political groups but to organise tens of thousands to fight austerity and to align themselves along a principled left wing path.

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Jim Monaghan - June 6, 2013

Cogent analysis by Paddy

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Jolly Red Giant - June 6, 2013

Outside of the bronken record about the ‘competitive recruitment’ stuff Paddy – you state that the SP and the SWP (who do not actually have the same approach to the campaign) were told – ‘again and again’ – that it couldn’t work.

Now please for my benefit –
1. outline what you proposed that the CAHWT should have done and how much support you got for your proposals –
2. outline what the WUAG actually did –
3. outline how successful the strategy of the WUAG was – outline what you propose to do at this point in time to fight the Property Tax –
4. outline how you would suggest fighting Water Charges –
5.outline what the WUAG intend to do to build the left.

As for your decades of experience –
1. maybe you can indicate how many members the LWR had when it folded and how your role in the leadership of the LWR brought about its demise –
2. maybe you can also indicate the rampant successes of the WUAG over the past nearly 30 years –
3. and finally – how successful has the expansion of the WUAG been into North Tipp.

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WorldbyStorm - June 6, 2013

In fairness, and as something of an outsider to this part of the discussion, the WUAG has had considerable success electorally, numerous councillors and a TD. In terms of organisation it has been able to sustain that electoral success across a considerable length of time. That’s pretty impressive in anyone’s book. To be able to do this in a very mixed rural/urban area is even more impressive.

There’s plenty of small parties on this island who never had that level of electoral or other success.

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WorldbyStorm - June 6, 2013

I guess I should add, again in the interests of fairness, that Paddy has been no slouch politically, I mean putting the LWR to one side this is a person who has been a President of the TUI, active from a further left position across his career, INOU, DCTU exec, etcetera etcetera.

Naturally that doesn’t put his analysis beyond question, sure I’d have differences with parts of it. But…

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smiffy - June 6, 2013

“2. maybe you can also indicate the rampant successes of the WUAG over the past nearly 30 years –”

Brave approach there from JRG, throwing stones from his glasshouse.

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11. Ringacoltig - June 6, 2013

The comments from Cllr. Joe O’Callaghan about “blathering loudmouths” who have “no mandate” are the height of hypocrisy. One need only look at the record of the man, a former ITGWU / SIPTU official and long-time Labour Party councillor and Lord Mayor, who subsequently ran as an anti-immigration candidate before joining Fine Gael. O’Callaghan was elected to Cork City Council in the early 1980s for Labour. In 1991 after being re-elected on a mandate to oppose local authority charges he u-turned “to save the city council from being abolished”. Several people were jailed by the council overt the next few years including two who are now members of the city council and prominent in the campaign against property tax, Ted Tynan and Mick Barry. As reward for his vote, the city council FG/FF/Laboutr pact elected O’Callaghan Lord Mayor in 1995. In the local elections of 1999 O’Callaghan lost his seat. He was soon co-opted back on by his colleagues. He later left the Labour Party and ran as an independent in the 2002 general election (unsuccessfully) on an anti-immigrant platform. Soon he joined Fine Gael and stood without success in his old North Central ward in the 2004 local elections. Despite this he was co-opted for the North West ward in 2007 to replace FGs Colm Burke who became an MEP. In 2009 O’Callaghan lost that seat in North West. Incredibly having been rejected on the city council in two different northside wards he was coopted again in 2011 after the death of Ind (and former FF) councillor Dave McCarthy. Around the same time as his co-option to the council O’Callaghan was rejected by his fellow councillors and TDs nationally when he failed in the Senate election.

For Joe O’Callaghan to talk about people not having a mandate is risible. For him to talk about “blathering loudmouths” is even more ridiculous. He has made his career of shouting down any progressive or left voice whether within the trade union movement from which he has now retired or in local politics.

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WorldbyStorm - June 6, 2013

+1

Essential background info there, much appreciated.

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12. After the Deadline – Night of the Narky Bollixes | Basebenzi - June 6, 2013
13. ranksavagespit.wordpress.com - June 6, 2013

I wrote a long-ish response to this and thought it best to link it not post it. Sound

http://ranksavagespit.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=852&action=edit&message=6&postpost=v2

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John Meehan - June 6, 2013

a good read

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WorldbyStorm - June 6, 2013

+1

Just a slight clarification, and thanks for the kind words, genuinely appreciated, it was never my intention in writing the OP to worry overly much about the CAHWT as was but to consider where next. Perhaps it is inevitable it has gone in the direction it has gone in but even so.

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14. Paddy Healy - June 6, 2013

Boycott IS Over-Official
Reply by Cllr Ruth Coppinger, SP and CAHWT Leader to Query on Facebook
Date: 6 Jun 2013 09:55
Subject: Ruth Coppinger
facebook
Ruth Coppinger also commented on her status.
Ruth wrote: “James, 90 per cent have registered so its not a strategy that can be now advocated. Those of us on Paye will hold out and have it deducted. For self employed, like you, hold out for as long as you feel you can but ultimately the boycott is over.”

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Jolly Red Giant - June 6, 2013

The gloating doesn’t become you Paddy – I thought in the past you were above it.

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John - June 6, 2013

LInk paddy? I checked the CAHWT facebook page i dont see that comment on it.

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15. Jim Monaghan - June 6, 2013

One of the problems with the sects is that when a mistake is made the drawbridges go up.Let us admit that we are not making a breakthrough and try and analyse why not. The Left Forum is part of this reflection.We should try and get something together for the locals and the EU. We can build on the resentment that exists.
Or will we leave it to Ganley and worse to steal a march and create an Hibernian UKIP.A nasty front from the Quinn support people , Youth Defence and allied nuts

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16. revolutionaryprogramme - June 6, 2013

Short of a massive rank-and-file revolt in the public sector trade unions against Haddington Road which results in significant industrial action that spills over into anti-PT collection the campaign against the PT is effectively over.

What should therefore be concentrating minds is how to combat the water charges and particularly the installation of water meters. But instead we have a significant section of the campaign focussing their attention on next year’s elections.

It is hard to see how the CAHWT groups who are standing candidates are going to have the resources, both human and financial, to fully participate in fighting the water charges so those CAHWT groups who aren’t standing candidates are going to have to discuss how we can work together on this – which is already beginning in Cork.

This is compounded by the political problems resulting from some groups deciding to stand candidates.

Candidates running in the name of the CAHWT are going to be seen as defacto spokespeople for the whole campaign when they have no democratic mandate, outside of their own local group, to do so.

The political platform any such CAHWT candidates run on will be decided by just the specific local group and raises the question of how any of us who disagree with elements of that platform, or comments made by the candidates on any issue, will be able to disassociate ourselves from it?

It seems we are all being faced with a choice over which path to take and it is hard to see how the CAHWT can continue as a unitary entity.

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Jolly Red Giant - June 6, 2013

Candidates running under the CAHWT umbrella certainly do have a democratic mandate – it was decided at the national steeriing committee by delegates from all over the country. The fact that some groups may have opposed this move does not negate the democratic mandate that groups do have to run candidates as part of the CAHWT.

Standing candidates in an election next year is a tactic that can potentially undermine the governments austerity campaign. If CAHWT candidates win sufficient votes it can scare the living bejaysus out of government representatives. Furthermore – standing candidates does not in any way negate any campaign against water charges or opposing the installation of meters (and by the way a large percentage of homes already have meters installed – it has been part of the planning process for more than a decade).

RP – You have never been shy about expressing your own political views and I am sure you will have little difficulty in doing so during the election.

Finally – the only people talking about splitting the CAHWT or that it cannot continue as a unitary entity – are those within the campaign who refuse to accept the democratic decision of the national steering committee to support candidates and are willing to split the campaign as a result. No one is forcing any group to run candidates – however, no group should hold a de-facto veto over the CAHWT because they don’t agree with a decision. The responsibility for any such antics do not rest with the CAHWT as a whole or the Socialist Party.

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revolutionaryprogramme - June 6, 2013

JRG,

How about answering my substantive points?

These candidates will, at best, only be accountable to their local group and yet they will appear in the media as de-facto spokespeople for the whole campaign.

How is it democratic for an election candidate to speak in the name of the CAHWT when only one local group will have had any input to their election platform?

How exactly is any activist who disagrees with any element of a “CAHWT” election platform or with comments made by a “CAHWT” candidate supposed to be able to disassociate themselves from that platform or comments?

Any comments I make about the elections will be done in my own name, or in the name of any political party I am associated with at the time. They will NOT be made in the name of the CAHWT.

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revolutionaryprogramme - June 6, 2013

Your comment “and by the way a large percentage of homes already have meters installed” is factually incorrect – or at least the Irish state seems to think so and I think they might know – http://www.thejournal.ie/irish-water-931917-May2013/, http://www.clarecoco.ie/water-waste-environment/water-and-wastewater/domestic-water-metering/, http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/400-water-meter-jobs-set-aside-to-help-cut-dole-queues-29091632.html etc…

Newer houses have been fitted with the right kind of stopcock chamber to allow easy installation of the meter whereas some older houses will need more work to allow the installation of the meter. But that is quite a different thing from saying that the meters are already installed.

We should have built a campaign that really was organised as “a grassroots campaign in every estate and community across the country” and which could have been ready to physically oppose the installation of the meters. While the SP is not to blame for the failure to create such a campaign in most places you clearly did not help with your repeated “the time is not right to build local groups” mantra at national meetings throughout 2012.

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17. Jim Monaghan - June 6, 2013

Can someone explain how we can ensure we don’t have say a load of Finian McGraths elected as CAHWT candidates.Oh or even Wallaces.

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18. ivorthorne - June 6, 2013

Can someone answer the most important question relevant to working class Irish people: Which tiny leftish party should I hate the most?

Answers should include a 50,000 word dissertation explaining why said crowd are a shower of power hungry hypocrites. Bonus points for references to incidents in the 80s that only a dozen people actually remember.

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19. richotto - June 7, 2013

I was always for a property tax and have felt for over 30 years that the only reason we didn’t have one was because FF offered its abolition as a cynical election bribe in 1977 and it duly contributed largely to our 1980s debt catastrophe at a time when the rest of the world was booming.
Anyway once the vested interest aspect of our unique absence of property taxation was overcome by trioka pressure the question became one of fairness, is a property tax fair or not? I don’t see this aspect acknowledged anywhere in the above comments.
A debate was entered into and I think it was clear that the anti property tax spokespeople failed to win any of the set peice discussions. They went in with the old style politics based on opportunism…we don’t want to pay because it costs us…is pretty much the only reason advanced that I could discern. There was an unhealthy reliance on the radical left as the backbone of the anti movement and no debate was allowed to consider whether any form of property tax such as a site value tax could be a good idea.

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Ghandi - June 7, 2013

Thats not entirely true, when domestic rates were abolished in 1977 they were replaced with an increase in VAT (2% I think) which was taken in centrally and distributed to local government. There was no loss of funding to the State. Commercial Rates stayed in place and have risen hugely, to an extent that they are threatening the very viabilty of many businesses.

There has been no reduction or removal of the Vat increase in return for the Home Tax.

It would be a worthwhile exercise for someone to take the average family on the average industrial wage and work out how much of there income is paid to teh state in one tax or another.

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richotto - June 7, 2013

The increase in VAT to compensate for the loss of property tax was from 8% to 15%. The poor without property were in other words hammered in order to reduce the tax bill for those with houses. As any socialist knows VAT is the most regressive tax and outside Ireland among socialists property tax is considered to be among the most progressive of taxes and certainly not to be prioritised for abolotion ahead of tax relief for the poorer sections of society.
The loss of revenue at the time was 600 million pounds per annum from property tax being abolished, far more than could be made up for from the VAT increase. It was set at a level comparable to the UK at the time.
Can anybody point out an advanced country which can afford the luxury of exempting the property owning sector from taxation as we thought we could get away with?

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Ghandi - June 7, 2013

Current VAt receipts from january to end of May €1.5b 7% of that is €105m in a full year/ more that will be gathered under the Home Tax.

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Ed - June 7, 2013

No, they lost because the Troika, the state and the establishment parties (including, of course, the Labour Party) were far more powerful than the radical left, and were able to sidestep the boycott campaign by taking the money directly. All of the arguments, without exception, that were made in support of the charges were dishonest cant; they all ignored the fact that the sole purpose of the tax was to raise more money to hand over directly to pay off private bank debt; and by far the most dishonest arguments were those made by Labour Party supporters, who put up a pitiful show of believing that this was some kind of progressive move to establish Nordic-style public services. They didn’t win because of the intellectual merits of their case, or even because of their technical proficiency in making arguments; they won because of power. I’m sure the CAHWT would have had a very easy time of it if they could call on the state apparatus to back up their arguments with legal sanctions and the entire media, public and private, as a megaphone for those arguments.

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CMK - June 7, 2013

Spot on. I’d just add that the one force who could have tipped the balance, even slightly, the trade union movement, sat on the fence, with some minor exceptions.

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richotto - June 7, 2013

Its purpose is not sinister at all but to raise money like any other tax to keep the state going as all other advanced countries are obliged to. Regardless of the Banking disaster the budget deficit would have been in crisis anyway however the property boom came to an end. The anti side spokespeople in the media never bothered themselves to answer the questions about the public interest and funding the state beyond stating baldly and whenever possible in emotional terms that homes should be exempt from tax. In all other countries property tax is considered as no less legitimate than income tax or VAT. Its only with our gombeen politics with vested interests grabbing whatever they could that it was done away with to win middle class voters over to FF in 1977.

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LeftAtTheCross - June 7, 2013

“The anti side spokespeople in the media never bothered themselves to answer the questions about the public interest and funding the state”

Nonsense Richotto.

Extract below from the Meath-East election manifesto of Seamus McDonagh, Workers’ Party candidate and chairperson of the North Meath CAHWT:

“For abolition of the Home Tax and creation of a fair
taxation system Seamus McDonagh and the Workers’ Party stand for the immediate and total abolition of the home tax, and the reform of the tax system. It is not a “property tax”, nor less is it a wealth tax. It does not address the vast wealth and assets of individuals and corporations which is accumulated in stocks and bonds, pension funds, bank deposits, land banks, commercial property, rental property. It is simply a home tax and tar
gets those least able to pay while super-wealthy get away without paying their share.

While pensioners and those on poverty wages are struggling with the existing Universal Social Charge, and are completely terrified by the prospect of the home tax and the upcoming water tax, we have the situation that in 2009 Ryanair made €3 billion profit and paid no tax.

Seamus McDonagh proposes a number of very simple steps to overhaul and equalise the tax system:

(a) Abolish all the tax loopholes and tax shelters that allow wealthy companies and individuals to avoid tax.

(b) Introduce a third tax band of 50% for any income above a threshold of €100,000.

(c) All income earned in Ireland – wages, fees, dividends, profits or other – to be taxed in Ireland and all income treated on the same basis.

(d) End the legal fiction that allows up to 6,000 of the wealthiest people in Ireland claim “tax exile” status and avoid their duty as citizens.

(e) Introduce a 1% wealth tax on all income over €1 million, which would raise a minimum of €1 billion per annum.

(f) Introduce a Financial Transaction Tax on the hedge funds and shadow banking sector operating from the IFSC, a tax which has already been adopted by the over-whelming majority of EU states.

(g) End the Corporation Tax loop holes which allow multi
-national corporations to channel their worldwide profits through the Irish taxation system and launder the profit with negligible benefit to the Irish exchequer and negligible creation of employment. It is time to equalise the Corporation Tax to average EU levels.”

http://seamusmcdonagh.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/manifesto-final.pdf

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richotto - June 7, 2013

A lot of the above suggestions seem quite agreeable to me but thats for an election with candidates advocating those policies getting a mandate. Most of those boycotting the property/home tax from the evidence would not be willing to endorse the above policies as an alternative. I believe that whatever way the tax burden is distributed elsewhere that two wrongs do not make a right and property owners should be required under tax justice to contribute something as they are in all other countries. Previously income tax and Vat payers were taking up the entire burden as ordinary people here. I found that most unfair on non property owners.

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richotto - June 7, 2013

As I said above even the majority of those boycotting can’t seem to bring themselves to vote for the alternatives suggested by WP and other likeminded parties so why are they being touted as a serious suggestion. In any case I did answer the point by saying two wrongs do not make a right and insofar as ordinary people are liable to pay tax I don’t see why income tax and vat payers cover for property owners being exempted. Any reduction of the tax burden on ordinary people to my mind should be firstly concentrated on the poorer sections of society without property.

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RosencrantzisDead - June 7, 2013

You really know how to move the goalposts, richotto. How does the property tax aid the poor and property-less?

All of the parties involved have been calling for a wealth tax or other forms of taxation. Please try to be honest when you post.

As to the two wrongs not making a right, how is increasing the top rate of income a ‘wrong’? How does that affect the poor and the property-less?

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RosencrantzisDead - June 7, 2013

A property tax would have been useful during the boom as it can serve to depress property prices and, thus, deter speculation in the market. One of the Channel Islands has and has had for some time a 20% property tax which is designed to prevent speculation.

The difficulty with this tax, richotto, is that many people have already paid an upfront tax on property in the form of stamp duty. During the boom, this would have been a very substantial amount. It is also worth noting that this is, in reality, a tax on income since you are going to pay it out of your income and not, say, when you realise the value of the property through sale or disposal. You wilfully ignore this in all of your posts.

It then becomes a question of fairness because the tax is levied on the notional value of your property rather than on your income. So someone on €100,000 per annum who lives in the midlands will pay less (and probably substantially less over the life of the tax) than a person on €30,000 per annum who happened to buy a house in Clontarf c. 1986. Is this fair? I do not think so. It also is more likely to hit pensioners, who are already a group that experience a very high poverty risk.

As to your counter-factual about the deficit, this old chestnut is getting very old indeed and does not withstand scrutiny very well. It can equally be asked whether our deficit would be much more manageable without the bank guarantee (it would). You might also recall that we had to call in the Troika because people would not lend to us. This was, in large part, because the amount we had guaranteed was still unknown and people thought it was going to be incredibly high. Had it not been present, you could argue our current woes would be much more manageable.

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richotto - June 7, 2013

Its true that stamp duty was raising the kind of money that would otherwise be raised by a more conventional property tax but that was an artificial short term way of plugging the gap as we now know. To the purchasers incidentally it would have made no difference what level the stamp duty was as the owners would have adjusted the price to whatever the purchasers could have afforded. If the stamp duty was zero for example the market price would still have been the same and the sellers would simply have pocked the difference.
The point you make on imputed rent in the city verses the country is correct but that
could have been accomodated in a site value system for example that was lobbied for and TD’s like Olivia Mitchell pointed out that inequity. However the anti property tax side were anxious to reject property tax on principle no matter how progressive or regressive. No debate was permitted in the ULA for example before the leaflets went out for distribution. If it is unworkable and discredited as a concept how is it that it is considered acceptable and uncontroversial in so many countries? Like income tax it can be worked on to make sure the burden falls where it should but that requires a fundemental acceptance that property tax is as legitimate as income tax and Vat. Those looking for more equality in taxation should reflect on leaving the field altogether on this issue when they could have influenced a
more progressive outcome.
Apart from the tax justice issue I don’t understand how we could survive long term without revenue from property tax. Even the most prosperous and stable countries have not so far found a way and the priority seems to be to reduce income taxes if an opportunity arises, quite rightly as far as I’m concerned.

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LeftAtTheCross - June 7, 2013

“Apart from the tax justice issue I don’t understand how we could survive long term without revenue from property tax. “

The answer to that was pointed out to you above, i.e. the alternative taxation measures proposed by teh Workers’ Party. If you fail to understand it then that’s a different matter.

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RosencrantzisDead - June 7, 2013

You are raising a straw man here, richotto. No one is saying that the State should not raise revenue (except for maybe some of the Freeman or libertarian types).

They are saying that they should raise it in a fair manner. The Property Tax is not fair and amounts to a stealth income tax. The simple answer is to stop the duplicity and raise income taxes, which would be progressive. But this cannot be countenanced because of the ideological conviction of Fine Gael that low taxes and a easy time for the wealthy is the only way to go.

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richotto - June 7, 2013

As to the two wrongs not making a right, how is increasing the top rate of income a ‘wrong’? How does that affect the poor and the property-less?

The wrongs I referred to are people who are or were getting away with paying their fair share of tax namely the rich and the property owners. Taxing the rich more does not correspond with exempting the property owning sector. It should be happening anyway, not as an either/or option.

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RosencrantzisDead - June 7, 2013

The wrongs I referred to are people who are or were getting away with paying their fair share of tax namely the rich and the property owners. Taxing the rich more does not correspond with exempting the property owning sector. It should be happening anyway, not as an either/or option.

This makes no sense. If property-owners are not ‘the rich’, then surely they are poor (or perhaps middle income). How is taxing someone who is poor or middle income more fair?

Of course, the thing is that often property-owners are rich. Which then brings me back to my original point – raising the level of income tax will catch most of them. You could also restructure the Capital Acquisitions Tax to collect more off those who inherit high-value properties(note that the tax only falls due when the acquisition or disposal occurs). The property tax as presently implemented does neither of these things and both of them can be fulfilled without a property tax.

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20. Pangur ban - June 7, 2013

If cahwt runs candidates issues may arise over funding….who gvets hold of residual funds?
What about cahwt activists who support other candidates ? They may well have views on this
Come to think of it has cahwt ever published accounts?

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21. revolutionaryprogramme - June 7, 2013

So is it time to start thinking about calling off the boycott of the property tax?

Should the campaign really still be advising people to continue the boycott, and face extra penalties being deducted at source, now that the boycott tactic has failed?

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Jolly Red Giant - June 7, 2013

In my personal opinion – no – I will not register and I will make them take the money from my wages – but I agree that the CAHWT should not be recommending that people incur penalties by continuing to boycott the charge.

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Jim Monaghan - June 9, 2013

Yes, it should be called off. This is like Scargill saying victory os around the corner when the strike was collapsing.A leadership should be honest.
There are 100s more battles ahead. And I would add I don’t think the water charges campaign is a runner either.

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22. Paddy Healy - June 9, 2013

It appears that while there was a long discussion on the continuation of the boycott at the meeting of the National Steering Committee of CAHWT,, NO Decision WAS TaKEN to change the position
This means that the current position as set out (still to-day) on NO Household Charge blog holds:
“Keep up the Boycott
With Labour on the ropes, we can deliver the knock out blow to this government’s austerity agenda. A massive boycott of the property tax forms will put the Government under real pressure.We also need to pile the pressure on Labour TDs to force them not to issue the instruction to Revenue to deduct (read: rob) this from wages, pensions and welfare. Get involved in building that struggle today.”

On the other hand campaign Leader Ruth Coppinger speaking to her Friends on Facebook says:

“90 per cent have registered so its not a strategy that can be now advocated. Those of us on Paye will hold out and have it deducted. For self employed, like you, hold out for as long as you feel you can but ultimately the boycott is over.”

At the April 27 CAHWT Strategy Conference a motion to continue full boycott from an SP dominated branch in Cork was passed and a motion to consider ending the boycott from Kimmage/Crumlin was defeated.
That decision of the Strategy Conference still stands though the situation has changed dramatically.

The leadership of CAHWT is abdicating responsibility to give guidance to those who still follow their advice.
.

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revolutionaryprogramme - June 10, 2013

I posed this question directly but there was no decision taken. However it was my impression that a majority of those who spoke were opposed to openly calling off the boycott although at the same time there also seemed to be agreement that we shouldn’t be highlighting it.

In an informal discussion at the end of the meeting Joe Higgins mentioned that it had been announced in the Finance Committee that the government would not be applying the fines to anyone, even those who didn’t avail of the extra amnesty. It would seem they are confident of being able to get most of the remaining 10% through deductions at source and don’t see the need to give the campaign any ammunition by applying fines on those who haven’t signed up by the extended deadline.

To the extent that is correct then I guess for the purposes of optics not having to publicly come out and renounce the boycott has a value, though for every activist in the campaign the recognition that we have been roundly defeated will be crystal clear.

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Paddy Healy - June 10, 2013

Unless a person pays the household charge by July 1, it will become part of a persons Local Property Tax liability at an increased rate of 200euro, up from 140Euro. Fines are a separate matter. If one continues to refuse to pay LPT after receiving a warning fines will be imposed. All campaign supporters are not on PAYE, some are self employed. Should these continue the boycott which has collapsed? Many supporters are working in employments where there are weak trade unions or no trade unions. Should these hold out until their employer receives an instruction to deduct the charge from their pay? Could they be victimised or thought badly of particularly as they will be one of the very few holding out?
The revenue letter and statement on fines is just a lame excuse for not giving direction to supporters.

To fail to give such direction “for the purpose of the optics” or any other purpose is entirely dishonourable

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revolutionaryprogramme - June 10, 2013

I have personally argued that we should openly accept the defeat on the PT and therefore end the boycott as there is no point in people making martyrs of themselves when the PT is now a social reality. If individuals choose not to comply that is of course their personal right but as a campaign strategy for fighting the PT the boycott has been defeated and that should be acknowledged.

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Ghandi - June 10, 2013

+1

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Jolly Red Giant - June 10, 2013

RP – I would argue that the campaign against the Property Tax has not been defeated. At no point was it suggested that the boycott was the be-all and end-all of the campaign. Yes the returns are disappointing and while I expected the boycott rate to be higher – from my own workplace I can see how effective the government’s campaign was. However, this does not mean that the war against the tax is over – the CAHWT won the first battle against the Household Tax – the government won the second battle by threatening to sequester wages. But there are still many more battles to be fought on this issue yet.

The 90% figure is based on the returns – we have no way of knowing how many of the returns are actually registration for the tax.

My experience in my workplace was that when people were registering online there was open anger and resentment at having to pay – far more than last year about the Household Tax. The fact that the government were threatening to take it from wages has really angered many people.

The strategy of using the elections next year is absolutely correct – it could well be possible to tap into the anger and resentment that people feel and deliver a major electoral blow to the govenrment parties. The CAHWT has adopted this strategy nationaloly and it is unfortunately that some groups locally are intent on splitting the campaign because of it.

The strategy of maintaing local pressure on government representatives is also correct. it keeps the campaign in the spotlight – it keeps pressure on local politicians and it paves the way for scaring the bejaysus out of the politicans as the elections get closer.

It was correct to campaign against the Austerity Treaty – the Property Tax is an austerity tax and the basis for imposing this tax was reinforced by the Treaty.

Last point – campaigning on the Property Tax and water charges is not mutually exclusive. In fact one is an extension of the other. The campaign is against attempts by the ruling elites to shift wealth from poor to rich. The fact that people will be billed for water from October 2014 can be used as a campaiging tool from now on and it can be clearly explained that if they get away without any further opposition to the property tax it will make it easier to impose water charges.

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BB - June 10, 2013

I note that the CAHWT website still states ‘Keep up the Boycott’. I note that the Steering Committee failed to take stock and offer guidance to members. Hence, the Campaign has failed. It has effectively ceased to be. In these circumstances, it would be ridiculous not to pay the Property Tax and await the imposition of fines.

Militant individuals were simply used by the Campaign ‘leaders’ and past/present ULA leaders for their sectarian group purposes. The key leaders have each nearly forty years’ experience of angling for sectarian advantage. They can out-manoeuvre any rank-and-file. Sadly that’s the most likely outcome now of the present combination of their sectarianism and refusal to learn anything, in a time of unparalleled opportunities.

Nothing of lasting importance or scale will be built, if these people go unchallenged. Independent activists should confront this openly within our own ranks. The militant potential of the situation will be squandered unless a united party, with anti-capitalist aims, committed to leading campaigns against the system, is built.

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Paddy Healy - June 11, 2013

“Nothing of lasting importance or scale will be built, if these people go unchallenged. Independent activists should confront this openly within our own ranks.”
You never said a truer word BB
Otherwise,what anti-austerity campaign will they destroy next, thus opening the way for right wing populist forces to emerge?

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dilettante - June 10, 2013

“At no point was it suggested that the boycott was the be-all and end-all of the campaign”

Then why the hostility against shinners on the boycott issue?

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WorldbyStorm - June 11, 2013

That’s a very interesting question dilettante.

It’s very very difficult to read what on the campaign site and not see the boycott as really the central element of the campaign – not denying there weren’t smaller actions here and there but that was the tactic for those who were well… boycotting registration etc. That’s what was sought, that’s why when the deadline passed we know that it failed in its single most obvious and stated goal.

BTW, as was put to me the other day, no point in complaining or blaming SF for the failure of the boycott.

People aren’t stupid, they knew that with Revenue in the picture their options were limited to zero. This too is a problem because if they know that but they’re told that somehow something is going to work and it then subsequently doesn’t, in an entirely predictable way, then they can draw certain conclusions. Raising unrealisable expectations can be as bad in its own way as damping down activity. It really is a case, not of giving up or acquiescing to the government, but of finding ways of having short medium and long term achievable goals and going all out for them. Some will be won, others lost, but at least people can feel they aren’t marched to the top of the hill and then once they’re there they’re effectively abandoned.

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revolutionaryprogramme - June 11, 2013

JRG – I realise that it is still possible, at least in theory, to overturn the PT but my point is that as “a campaign strategy for fighting the PT the boycott has been defeated”. We lost – the deadline has passed and the PT is now a social reality.

As regards what the numbers represent I am basing myself on what Joe Higgins reported at the NSC. According to him the 90% refers to registrations and he was also able to provide the breakdown of the methods by which people had paid or agreed to pay. It seems you might need to catch up on your reading of SP internal memos…

In terms of how the PT might still theoretically be defeated I would counterpose a militant class struggle perspective to the SP’s version of SF’s electoralism. This is encapsulated in the Cobh motion:

Cobh CAHWT recognises that workers taking industrial action will be a necessary component of any successful civil disobedience campaign against the Property Tax.

Cobh CAHWT therefore calls on Cork CAHWT to produce, as a matter of the highest urgency, a leaflet aimed specifically at workers in the Revenue and Abtran workplaces calling on them to take industrial action against collection and administration of the Property Tax. The leaflet to include a confidential phone number for any worker interested in taking such action to discuss how to take the project forward. This leaflet to be distributed at the work sites concerned at the earliest opportunity.

I was amazed at the NSC when the SP voted against this motion (thankfully it was passed anyway) – their “reasoning” being, to the extent I understood it correctly, that it was the wrong time to be proposing taking industrial action directly to workers as that would implicitly mean a struggle against the union leadership and there wasn’t a strong enough organised opposition in the unions for that.

With the boycott now defeated the main strategy the SP are promoting is standing candidates in the elections but who are people going to vote for even if they believe in this kind of electoralist strategy? Surely it would be Sinn Fein who at least have a realistic potential of being part of the next government and therefore have the theoretical possibility of putting their promise to repeal the PT into practice – assuming of course that you believe they will really follow through on this promise and won’t drop it, in the name of the “national interest”, as part of the many compromises they will have to make as a junior partner in a pro-capitalist coalition.

I also note that you have still not answered my questions about political accountability that are posed by CAHWT running candidates so I will repeat them:

These candidates will, at best, only be accountable to their local group and yet they will appear in the media as de-facto spokespeople for the whole campaign.

How is it democratic for an election candidate to speak in the name of the CAHWT when only one local group will have had any input to their election platform?

How exactly is any activist who disagrees with any element of a “CAHWT” election platform or with comments made by a “CAHWT” candidate supposed to be able to disassociate themselves from that platform or comments?

I asked these questions when I spoke at the NSC and was also ignored by the SP members there. But repeatedly ignoring these quite reasonable questions will not make them go away.

By unilaterally announcing they were going ahead with the electoral strategy the SP began a process that is going to split the campaign – the history of the workers’ movement will not judge you kindly about this. Just as it will not judge you kindly on your refusal to build on the strength of the campaign at the time of the Household Charge deadline last year by deepening and extending the growth of CAHWT groups in local communities (in my opinion Dublin constituencies and the Northside of Cork city do not qualify as local communities).

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Robert Browne - June 11, 2013

It is a tax on the family whether they have the money to pay or not is irrelevant as far as the government are concerned. Nobody knows for sure how many people have actually registered for the tax because only the government are in control of the statistics. If this tax is not defeated then everyone regardless of age, financial circumstance ends up renting their houses from government The minimum within a few years will be 40 euro a week. Then, there is the water charges. Irish Water from day one is being prepared for sale to hedge funds and multinational corporations. Siemens even offered to install the meters at their own expense, inviting the government to fix up with them later on.

The property tax issue is not over by a long shot as a matter of fact it has not even begun. Sinn Fein say they will get rid of it and I believe them. FF will obey them if it means getting their hands on the levers of power.

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richotto - June 11, 2013

“If this tax is not defeated then everyone regardless of age, financial circumstance ends up renting their houses from government”

If that view is in any way representative among the anti property tax movement its indicative of a mad bunker mentality going on. Property taxes have been levied in all other countries for at least as long as income tax and to a far greater extent. The Council Tax in the UK for example which even hits some non property owners (a part which I think is unfair) averages out at 1200 sterling. Yet property ownership is at a rate 60-70% of houses, considerably larger than 30 yrs ago. Private property ownership is expanding in most European states with higher property taxation than ours.

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23. richotto - June 9, 2013

That about says it. Socialists have been betting everything on a campaign that people put themselves in harms way to defend not a workers cause but a disasterous FF election bribe to the middle classes in 1977. Its bizzare and only in Ireland.

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Robert Browne - June 11, 2013

“If this tax is not defeated then everyone regardless of age, financial circumstance ends up renting their houses from government”

And, your thesis? Sure, they have it every place else and sure is is even worse?

I don’t live everywhere else.

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Cass Flower (@cassflower) - June 13, 2013

It is an echo of nationalism perhaps? Control of land ? It is not a working class issue, comes more from small farmers and petit bourgeois home-owning fetishism. Bizarre indeed. Meanwhile, children of non-home owners are going hungry, the M. Laundry workers remain unpaid, Europe is ablaze and the Irish Left turns its back on all except “home owners” No discussion to be found anywhere on nationalisation of land and housing construction.

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24. Paddy Healy - June 9, 2013

SWP is also failing to give advice to people who continued to support their boycott campaign after the deduction from income legislation was passed. SWP is abdicating its responsibility to those who took their advice.
In its recent newsletter it says:
“The Revenue Commissioners are claiming a 90 percent compliance rate on the property tax and government ministers are suggesting that it will raise more than the projected €500 million a year. The boycott that was urged by the Campaign against Household and Water Taxes campaign clearly, did not take off. (SWP does not point out that it supported this campaign-PH)

The main reason was fear and intimidation. Vast amounts of people left it until the very last moment to register. They caved in because they thought they were alone, as there were not huge numbers on the streets. The government, therefore, won this round – but at a long term cost.”

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25. Paddy Healy - June 10, 2013

This comment is of interest

This comment was posted on the blog Revolutionary Programme since the meeting of the Steering Committee last Saturday. While I reserve my position on some of the issues covered, I think it illustrates the disfunction caused by the competition between SP and SWP.

“The campaign is effectively defeated. Insufficient numbers of people became active in the organisation as opposed to passively boycotting last year and this year when the government changed tack the campaign was too small to be effective.

The campaign was hugely impressive for a time but engaged in frantic activities, whilst the government bided it’s time, that sapped people’s energy and were of peripheral relevance to the issue. Example the crazy decision pushed through by the ULA (socialist party and socialist workers party) to fight an EU referendum campaign. A Summer and Autumn that should have been used to build more local groups, develop democratic structures and deepen roots was instead spent organising mobilisation after mobilisation.

On top of this the Socialist Party and Socialist Workers Party actively worked against the democratisation of the campaign and fought each other for the limelight as the ULA split spilled over into the CAHWT. Fulltime youth members of the parties became virtual permanent members of the national committee, branches that were inaccessible to the public sent delegates to meetings, whole dail constituencies had barely one group for populations of 50,000 or more. To top it all though as the campaign entered it’s most critical phase the Socialist party made a concerted effort to turn the campaign in to an electoral alliance, to replace the failed ULA, with themselves as the leaders. This destroyed the coherence of the campaign as it turned whole areas into a bearpit of factions, driving countless people away from the bickering, divided campaign.

What is a pity is that the SP will learn nothing from this.

The boycott should be called off immediately to spare anyone the extra charges, this will not happen though as non one will want to lose face, so the thing will simply peter out. Rebuilding for the water tax will therefore be all the harder. A split is inevitable and probably desireable so that those interested in building a genuine democratic campaign can get on with it and allow those who wish to play at elections.”

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LeftAtTheCross - June 10, 2013

It seems somewhat harsh to criticise parties of the Left for fighting the Fiscal Treaty referendum. Given the criticism of the narrowness of the single issue campaign against the household charge / property tax, and the difficulty in broadening out that campaign to build class consciousness, combined with allegations of an anti-tax ‘Tea Party’ stance from some quarters on the Right, it would seem to have made sense for the Left not to put every single egg into the CAHWT basket. Whatever about the other criticisms, this particular one doesn’t hold up.

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revolutionaryprogramme - June 10, 2013

LATC, if I understand the commenter correctly I think the criticism here is that it was a wrong decision for the CAHWT, as a campaign, to have actively opposed the Fiscal Treaty. The ULA (SP & SWP) should have opposed the Fiscal Treaty in their own name but the CAHWT doing it came at the expense of the points made by the commenter.

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littlemicky2012 - June 13, 2013

revolutionaryprogramme correctly interprets my remarks

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26. Paddy Healy - June 10, 2013

The blogger is not criticising SP and SWP for campaigning against the ESM treaty referendum. He is citicising them for “pushing through” a decision that the CAHWT, set up on a specific issue, to devote its energy as a body to campaigning against the EMS Treaty

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27. Some internet discussion on the CAHWT and the Property Tax | revolutionaryprogramme - June 11, 2013

[…] The Irish political blog Cedarlounge has seen a discussion on the CAHWT following the large degree of compliance with the Property Tax – https://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/after-the-cahwt/ […]

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28. Paddy Healy - June 13, 2013

Cllr Ciarán Perry (Independent) Cabra, Dublin has called a meeting of the Local CAHWT Branch under the heading “Boycott Over, Campaign goes On” Cllr Perry is a member of the Standing Orders Committee of CAHWT.
Seamus Healy TD (WUA), Tipperary called 10 meetings throughout the County in March last to tell campaigners and supporters that the boycott campaign could no longer work due to the new legislation. He invited those who wished to hold out and those who wished to pay to continue with an intensified campaign of agitation.
The SP and the SWP and the CAHWT, who advocated the continuation of the boycott, have yet to issue any public statement to supporters a fortnight after the boycott collapsed!
The SP line is : “The real issue is where we go from here. Our critics must give an answer”
This is a cynical ploy to cover up their mistakes.
If SP will not engage in a discussion of how we got here or even issue a statement recognising the reality of the collapse of the boycott, how can there be any realistic discussion of the way ahead?
This is just the latest example of bullying of unaligned campaigners by opportunist left wing groups which must be resisted if there is to be any future for an alliance of left forces

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littlemicky2012 - June 13, 2013

Paddy I think you are right that the campaign nationally should acknowledge the defeat of the boycott tactic. I don’t think there is anyway to defeat the house tax now, certainly not through the local elections next year.

Bit by bit the various components of the campaign will make public their belief that the boycott is defeated, but the campaign centre itself will remain paralysed because of the fear of losing face or appearing moderate, when in fact the correct thing to do is acknowledge defeat call off the boycott and not leave people hung out to dry. Try and learn a few lessons while we are at it.

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Jim Monaghan - June 13, 2013

Ah, yes but. Wait for the analysis where the rivals blame each other.The stab in the back just when victory beckoned.
The politics of outlefting each other.

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littlemicky2012 - June 13, 2013

That would be truly depressing. I think there is a legitimacy in a critique of how the various sections of the left engaged or didn’t around the campaign, the tactics they advocated, the work they did or failed to do, their attitude to democracy in the campaign etc. There is also a very great need for a bit of self criticism by the left orgs themselves whether public or private, I would prefer a bit of public self criticism which could help the debate of how we all move forward.

However I think it should be acknowledged by all concerned that the real defeat of the campaign was a result of insufficient numbers becoming active in the campaign as oppose to passive non payers. The left does not shoulder responsibility for that, some yes because of things left undone or half done, but by and large most people effected by the tax hoped that someone else would sort it out for them.

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29. Jim Monaghan - June 13, 2013

Cause and effect. Perhaps the reason the number of activists fell off was that they knew it could not be won when the government played its trump card of deductions from salary/social welfare. But how could you say it was lost. The outlefting mentality and the cynicism underlaying it is so powerful. When people drop out because of disagreements on the prospects on anything they usually go home. And why, because they will be accused of lacking faith in the proletariat whatever.
The rise of FF means that the system is very safe. They have an alternative if the electorate gets fed up. Calls for the government to be brought down are simply the call of the seriously deluded.
The SPs ( and they regard it as the property of their sect) is fairly well lost. I regret this, but it is simply a fact. They are not even attempting to put together an alliance to fight for it’s retention. The local seats of the far left, they will be lucky to retain what they have.
I can see the response. Jim is so negative. Like the Donald Sutherland character in Kelly’s Heroes they really try and convince themselves that there will be a bridge.
Let us start from the grim reality. Retaining the bridgehead of the 5 former ULA TDs will be hard. Putting up a candidates in the locals in sufficient numbers and with enough supporters would be a huge achievement.
But no one is even talking about this.
The residential property tax is a Troika victory. Water will go the same way. The elections are what really count.

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revolutionaryprogramme - June 13, 2013

I’d argue that trying to rebuild a campaign with a concrete commitment to the democratic structure based on functioning local groups that the CAHWT had in theory is what really counts.

The decision to stand candidates has only encouraged the disintegration of the campaign that we are currently experiencing.

There are going to be choices for all of us to make about which path to take in the campaign against the water charges and that will likely manifest itself in differing organisational frameworks.

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30. Jim Monaghan - June 13, 2013

I refer above to the SP’s EU seat.

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31. Who Left Unity where ? - July 16, 2013

Socialist Party have called this meeting immediately prior to CAHWT conference on Saturday. Unique on the Irish Left , they will deal with the split before the meeting. I like their modern thinking.

Dear friend,

The Dublin West campaign is hosting a meeting of all who support an electoral challenge to the austerity parties in next years local elections. We understand that a number of campaigns have discussed this initiative in their respective areas and many have agreed in principle to stand a slate of anti-austerity, anti-property tax candidates.

We see this meeting as an initial discussion about progressing the election challenge and investigating the basis for pulling together a nationwide slate in as many areas as possible. The meeting is open to all who are supportive of this initiative and will take place at 11am, in the Teachers Club, Parnell Sq, Dublin and will finish in time for the National Steering Committee which will start at 1pm. We hope to see you there

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32. Jim Monaghan - July 16, 2013

” We hope to see you there” With lots of exceptions eg Clare Daly, Pauline Collins, the SWP. Too many to list only SP supporters and non political people. are really welcome.

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33. Paddy Healy - July 19, 2013

Stoneybatter CAHWT does the honourable thing.
In a statement issued by Alan Mac Siomóin it has stated: “The boycott is over. Because of the huge numbers who felt they had no choice but to register for the Property Tax there is no point in continuing the boycott. Our advice is to pay now and avoid penalties.”

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34. D_D - March 15, 2014

This from Alan McSimoin in ‘Resistance’:

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35. delfield kitchen equipment - April 16, 2014

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37. Charles V. - July 12, 2018

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