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Could The Socialist Party electorally destroy The SWP ? December 18, 2013

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Politics, The Left.

There was a very interesting comment (amongst others) that caught my eye from que on the Brid Smith running for Europe thread

Would it not actually make sense to stand against people like Barrett and other lead SWPers and well bluntly take them out.

It would he hard politics but real politics as well and why would it be particularly stupid. Yes there might be a few finger wagging recriminations on this site and the inter-web and the wider left might tut tut but none of that would make it a stupid decision.

To what purpose is the creation of a plural far left if the only effect is to later see an outfit like the SWP come along and target your sitting MEP…….

……. Don’t electorally destroy them because they are ideologically different but they should be electorally destroyed because their silly games are utterly destructive. Drive over and drive on.

The answer to the post heading is no, at least at local elections level…. but The SWP will have a huge electoral challenge to hold on to a Dail seat at the next General Election and The Socialist Party standing against Boyd Barrett would certainly further hinder his chances……

The SWP and the Socialist Party both have significant challenges going into the next General Election If we look at the situation at the moment…… the SWP are far more vulnerable than the Socialist Party to not quite Electoral wipe out but certainly having no TD, which would be to say the least a backwards step for them.

After the 2011 General Election The Socialist Party were in a very healthy state. Paul Murphy as MEP for Dublin and all the benefits to the party that entailed. In the Dail were Joe Higgins and Clare Daly. The party’s coffers would have benefited, more staff, a bigger media profile and also they were in a position to play a prominent role in the various Referendum that have come since.
Since then Clare Daly has gone [edit – see comments] and Paul Murphy will have a very tough fight to hold on to his MEP seat, not helped of course by Brid Smith standing.
Now next years Local Elections may produce candidates capable of winning Dail seats but as it stands Joe Higgins is still their best bet for a seat. However they also have one or two other people that may be in a position to take seats.

After the 2011 General Election The SWP/PBPA had Richard Boyd Barrett and Joan Collins elected. Boyd Barrett has a huge challenge to hold on to his seat as Dun Laoghaire will now have 3 seats available as Sean Barrett is the Ceann Comhairle. Sinn Fein will be likely to run in Dun Laoaghaire the next time too and take votes from Boyd Barrett. A Socialist Party (or AAA) candidate might win a few hundred votes to add to the pressure on Boyd Barrett.

Joan Collins will surely be gone from PBPA come the next General Election to stand as United Left with Clare Daly.
So we are left with just Boyd Barrett and hence the efforts to improve the profile of Brid Smith.
Dublin South Central where Smith intends to run has lost a seat. It currently has Joan Collins, Catherine Byrne of FG, Aengus O Snodaigh of SF , Eric Byrne amd Michael Conaghan both of Labour.
In 2011 Joan Collins got 0.77% of a quota, so with one less seat it equates to 0.61% of a quota, so she is by no means certain of a seat. Smith running could end up taking them both out, especially with a resurgent Sinn Fein vote.
Its a similar situation in Dublin Mid West where Gino Kenny would be the next most likely of the SWP/PBPA to claim a seat, its an area where Sinn Fein have no seat and will surely target as they missed out narrowly in 2011.
The benefits of having a TD are many. Regular slots on various media outlets, staff in the Dail, funds for full time staff at party offices, printing allowances and so on. The SWP wont be broke but it would be quite a setback for them to have no TD especially having been used to having one. Were he to lose his seat Richard Boyd Barrett would be in the same unelected limbo that Green Party leader Eamon Ryan finds himself in now…..
The Socialist Party having a TD or two would make them the first place for the media to turn to for a Left voice and although the MEP seat is likely to be lost they would still have access to the trappings of having a TD or two.

In the Local Elections the PBPA had 5 councillors elected in 2009 of which four were SWP seats.
Brid Smith should hold her seat in Ballyfermot Drimnagh but there are other Left candidates in Paul Shields of PBPA, Louise Minihan of Eirigi and Brian Stafford of United Left. Sinn Fein will also be looking to win back the seat they lost when Louise Minihan defected.
Gino Kenny should hold his seat in Clondalkin too.
Hugh Lewis in Ballybrack should hold on also.
In Dun Laoghaire it will be interesting to see how Melisa Halpin and Karl Gill fare, they should hold on to the seat won by Boyd Barrett in 2009 but you would have to wonder how much of that is a personal vote.
Some others in Dublin such as Tina McVeigh would also be hopeful of winning a seat.

I’d argue that the SWP/PBPAs biggest electoral problems will not come from The Socialist Party but from Sinn Fein, especially if Sinn Fein keep their current support levels. That is at Local Elections and at Dail Elections too.

For next years Local Elections Adrian Kavanagh has a list of Left candidates up and there are quite a few places where various Left parties are all fielding candidates


1. Jolly Red Giant - December 18, 2013

In all honesty I would have to say that this is a nonsense thread.

The Socialist Party does not have any interest and no intention of ‘destroying the SWP electorally’. Despite the whatever issues the Socialist Party might have with the SWP and its approach it is far better to have SWP representatives elected than right-wing hacks from the establishment parties.

A couple of further points that need to be nailed from this nonsense –

1. The Socialist Party does not have any plans to run a candidate in Dun Laoghaire.
2. The Socialist Party does not receive any money related to Clare Daly’s Dail position.

Lastly – the Socialist Party is currently attempting to build a broad alliance of activists under the umbrella of the Anti-Austerity Alliance. It is not possible to predict how successful the electoral challange of the AAA will be next May but it is hopeful that it will succeed in getting a significant number of candidates elected in the local elections. The response at the doors and in the communities has been very positive to date. Indeed the Socialist Party has set aside previous plans for candidates in order to facilitate AAA candidates and has encouraged non-Socialist Party members to stand as AAA candidates in areas where the Socialist Party currently has sitting councillors.
The objective of trying to build the AAA is to provide a political platform to intervene into upcoming struggles against austerity. I cannot speak for other areas but certainly in my local area the response to the AAA has been more positive than the response to the launch of the ULA three years ago. There are more activists joining and unlike with the ULA where it was an element of the existing left being involved, the AAA has attracted quite a few people that have not previously been involved in political activity.
The intention of the Socialist Party at the next local/European elections will be to attempt to build the AAA on the back of the election campaign and then move the outcome towards furthering the development of the AAA in the run up to the next general election. The Socialist Party would welcome the assistance of other left groups and individuals in this endeavour. The Socialist Party is not remotely interested in doing anything related to the electoral destruction of the SWP (such a development would not be in the interests of the left).

This thread should be sent to the zoo – or at the very least – the title should be changed.


WorldbyStorm - December 18, 2013

I won’t speak for IEL, but isn’t the point of the thread to simply to use the comment as a starting point to work whether it would be feasible for the SP to electorally remove the SWP and from there what is the current balance of forces, etc. It’s not meant to be proscriptive… ie that the SP “should” remove the SWP.

Of course no one expects the SP to do any such thing.


Jolly Red Giant - December 18, 2013

No – the thread is utter rubbish and could be described as nothing more than a sh*t-stirring exercise.


WorldbyStorm - December 18, 2013

Not really, IEL is riffing on a comment, taking it seriously on its own terms and then running with it. As you’ll notice he actually comes out with the balance of forces seeming to be positive towards the SP which is presumably a good ting.

As for shit stirring, why so (and in the context of the SWP’s activities even if it were it would hardly register)? This is a site about Irish politics, this is the sort of ‘what if’ that is good for people to think about.

Actually there’s a broader strategic and principled issue as well on this as to what and how should be the response of left parties to the activities of each others and that’s a debate well worth having.


irishelectionliterature - December 18, 2013

Apologies over getting the Clare Daly thing incorrect.
The title may have been misleading but I was looking at that question raised by que…. and trying to develop on how its the SWP that are incredibly vulnerable…… and while the SP could take them out it really would be Sinn Fein that would do it.

Surely part of The SWPs tactics are not just to give Smith a higher profile (because they are desperate to hold on to any possible chances of a Dail seat, one they started on the road to in 1997 and took 14 years to get a seat) but also to take out Murphy and any advantages the SP have in having an MEP.

Its fairly clear too that the SWP are more than prepared to take out their one time ally Joan Collins also.


Jolly Red Giant - December 19, 2013

I don’t know what the actual motivations are running Brid Smith in the Euros – I can surmise what they might be but I cannot see inside the head of Kieran Allen and RBB.

It could be that the SWP feel they can ‘take out’ the Socialist Party.

The point I am making is that the Socialist Party have absolutely no interest, intent, motivation, desire, discussion, calculation etc in remotely considering such an objective with the SWP.

If you look at the shambles the leadership of the SWP have made in the UK over their recent internal conflicts you will see that the fallout from such developments has had a significant impact on the wider left both in terms of the revolutionary left and on the way activists view left organisations.

The Socialist Party has no desire or interest in seeing the same thing happen here through any electoral difficulties the SWP might experience.

Now you could be correct that RRB might be in trouble in DL – personally I think Gilmore is in much bigger trouble (or will be in a couple of years) – and it seems that the SWP are intent on Brid Smith winning is DSC even if they have to take out Joan Collins to do so – but this electoral vunerability that you see would be detrimental to and impact on the wider left if it were to pan out.

Just as an aside – the SWP may have started on the electoral path 14 years ago – but I don’t think they began looking at elections in a serious way until quite recently.


que - December 19, 2013

Thanks JRG 😉

That’s the spirit of engagement.

There is no shit stirring here. No outbreak of war will be triggered by careless words.

Its just a post and thinking this is going to stir anything – emotions or shit is to lose perspective.

Its a website not the national broadcaster.

A damn fine website but you know pinch of reality.


que - December 19, 2013

I think there might be some interesting things to draw out of IEL’s point that SF is more likely to pose a threat to electorally damage SWP than the SP (who have clearly no real desire to do so) but of course they are in different places the SWP and SP. SP is a bigger more established beast and playing a bigger game . But maybe the SWP have thought this through and see the strengthening of the SP and the strong rise of Sinn Fein and have thought to themselves they really need to make a move here because the space for growth is becoming restricted.

My sense is that the SWP maybe more factional and scrappy in its motivations rather than deeply strategic but I can see IEL’s post a hint at why they might reason their recent choices were in their interest.

I do though have a question as to whether they are that strategic or would they in any case proceed as they have. However maybe in this instance there is some strategy to carve out space before it closes down.


2. small but important correction - December 18, 2013

“Since then Clare Daly has gone (although the party still get some Dail allowances for her)”

In fact the Socialist Party gave up that allowance when Clare Daly left.


3. dilettante - December 19, 2013

It would be interesting to have one Trotskyist operation (self-proclaimed – disputed by others – and all the usual caveats – no judgement intended here) establishing itself as a dominant “left” force and as a pole of attraction to the rest further left on this little island of ours.

If there’s not a willingness to work together then probably one of the two will “win” – eventually.

It’s more likely that the SP could “win” such a battle (which would probably be better for the rest of us – we all have our horror stories of trying to work with the SWP).

We know that the SP and SWP are aware of this.
They have chosen their tactics and created their fronts to try to achieve this objective.

The question for the rest of us is do we try force a process of cooperation between the “evil twins” (copyright Mark P) or do we assist a process of fratricide (benevolent as it may be).

Potentially a very interesting thread.


WorldbyStorm - December 19, 2013

That’s it in a nutshell. I’d also agree with your thoughts as to a potential victor were it ever to occur and the general analysis of why that might be no bad thing. In a way the reality is that this is happening in slow motion as it were anyhow as the two parties attempt to grow, it’s even the logic of there being more than one party.


4. Jack Jameson - December 19, 2013

Everyone is talking about ‘Bríd Smith the SWP candidate’ when she’s been announced as the People Before Profit Alliance candidate.

Are the SWP and People Before Profit now synonymous?


dilettante - December 19, 2013



irishelectionliterature - December 19, 2013

Yes there’s no longer any other part of the ‘Alliance’


Jack Jameson - December 19, 2013


At least the SP fights elections under its own name.


dilettante - December 19, 2013

Yes Jack.
And the SP is also planning to fight the next local elections as the AAA.


dilettante - December 19, 2013

Correction: “as part of the AAA” (is what I really meant to say)


sonofstan - December 19, 2013

Of course you did….


5. exceedingthequota - December 19, 2013

Reblogged this on Exceeding the Quota.


6. people beyond sense - December 19, 2013

I for one hope to see the day when the SWP is just a comic but also horrific memory – and the many good people trapped in it a freed from that very sick organisation. All success to the SP wielding the ice pick true and hard.


7. Jim Monaghan - December 19, 2013

As we sit and watch with horror and bemusement the paralysis caused by the collapse of the ULA and the decision of the SWP to stand Smith, perhaps we could look at who might gain. I expect Sinn Fein to stand in all constituencies. I figure like the Workers Party after the collapse of the SLP they will gain most out of the self destruct button being pressed.
“Vote Sinn Fein, we are serious, we can make a difference, we are the real alternative, the trots are only messers, we stand a chance of being a real alternative to the Troika parties”
I could go on.
Who might lose seats. Well it is not sure that Ruth C will keep Jo’s seat, Collins and Daly are not sure things, and BB has a mountain to climb in the 3 seat Dun Laoghaire constituency. Yes, the next 2 elections could be Sinn Fein’s to lose. And that is what FF think too. Notice how their attacks are against SF not the left minnows.SF has a machine and dedicated workers.


littlemicky2012 - December 19, 2013

I concur Jim the real winners here are SF, they are perceived as the left alternative and as serious. Perception is everything. SP/AAA will lose the MEP seat and make minor gains in the locals, SWP/PBP will make minor gains in the locals. However at the next general election the big story will be SF and the rest of the left will be also rans. This will be especially so as there will be a number of ex labour candidates that will soak up some of that floating left vote. I don’t think the ULA could have gone any different given the politics of the SWP and SP. Yes the SWP are a disaster for the left, but the SP run them a close second, recent example their behaviour in the CAHWT.

I think this fixation with electoralism as a substitute for actual politics will take a while to play out. But as the left parties become more and more reformist, people interested in revolutionary politics will look elsewhere and maybe some new less sectarian and self absorbed formations will emerge.


CMK - December 19, 2013

That point about the SP and the CAHWT you raise is laughably inaccurate. If you are close to the CAHWT you’ll know exactly what the SP have done for that campaign – if you don’t, then I suggest you get someone, who you obviously know who is still involved, to update you. Indeed recent developments in the CAHWT have compounded the sectarianism of the SWP in running against Paul Murphy.

By the way, best of luck finding those ‘revolutionaries’ out there……


littlemicky2012 - December 19, 2013

I was active in CAHWT and am very aware of the SP’s behaviour in the campaign, which in no way takes from the ridiculous current manifestation of the SWP version of the effectively defunct CAHWT.


8. Jim Monaghan - December 19, 2013

American references here, but you should see the point. “An old revolutionary walks across the Brooklyn Bridge one day, and he sees man of a similar age standing on the edge, about to jump.

He runs over and says: “Stop. Don’t do it.”

“Why shouldn’t I?” he asks.

“Well, there’s so much to live for!”

“I’m just so depressed, I’ve been a communist all my life and the revolution seems as far away as ever”

“You’re a communist?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“I am as well!! Did you originally join the Communist Party USA?”


“Me too! Did you join the pro-Trotsky Communist League of America in 1928, which later merged with the American Workers Party to form the Workers Party of America in 1934?”


“Spooky, Me too! After the WPA was expelled from the Socialist Party of America in 1936 did you then go on to join the Socialist Workers Party USA and the Fourth International?”

“I did actually…”

“Me too! In the 1940 dispute did you side with Cannon or Shachtman?”


“Me too! In 1962 did you join Robertson’s opposition caucus, the Revolutionary Tendency?”


” Holy shit! And of course like me you were expelled and went on to join the International Communist League (Spartacist).”

“Well … that goes without saying!”

“In 1985 did you join the International Bolshevik Tendency who claimed that the Sparts have degenerated into an ‘obedience cult’?”

“No way!”

“Nah, me neither. In 1998 did you join the Internationalist Group after the Permanent Revolution Faction were expelled from the ICL?”

“Yeah! I can’t believe this! Maybe I won’t …”

“Die, counterrevolutionary scum!” his erstwhile saviour screams, and pushes him off the bridge”


RosencrantzisDead - December 19, 2013

Is it really a bad thing if the world has one fewer Spart?


9. Johnny Forty Coats - December 19, 2013

Given a choice between the dull, plodding workerism of the SP and the frenetic band-wagon hopping campaigns of the SWP, I would find the former less repellent. But these differences are largely superficial: more a matter of style than of substance.

The similarities between the SP and SWP are more fundamental. Both groups are doctrine-based sects. Neither group can be described as an open, democratic, pluralist organisation. Neither group is an organic growth, formed and shaped by Irish conditions: in effect, they are to the Irish left much as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons are to Irish religion. Their struggle to be top cat in the Trotskyist alley won’t even merit a footnote when the political history of this period comes to be written.

Unless a new broad-based party of the left emerges in the next couple of years, Sinn Féin will dominate the space to the left of Labour for the foreseeable future. In my opinion, only the left-wing independents in the Dáil have a sufficient profile and credibility to build such an alternative – perhaps as a loose coalition of constituency-based organisations to begin with.


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