The left in the North November 11, 2016Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
An intriguing overview of Gerry Carroll MLA, for PBP, in the Phoenix recently. Not quite glass half full, they acknowledge his work ethic and effort. And the not uninteresting point that there’s potential for two PBP seats in West Belfast. If cards are played right. They also suggest that PBP’s alignment with the Brexit/Lexit side may have done them few favours – though whether it ‘exasperated voters’ in the North I will leave to those closer in to assess.
Still, a very very interesting point made in the course of the piece is the following. Noting that SF received the bulk of his transfers, the SDLP a good 25% and a mere 1% went to unionist candidates it argues:
PBP’s status as an ‘all-Ireland party’ is enough to put off protestant workers and the truth is that even in 21st century Ireland, there is little support for left-wing politics among the struggling unionist working class; so PBPs ambition to united workers through shared economic consciousness is fanciful. Working class support for socialist in the north still comes, in bulk , from Catholic communities dan the slight drop in SF support doesn’t mean that people are suddenly on board with PBPB’s wide-eyed, non-sectarian vision.
Whatever about PBP, and that’s a discussion perhaps for another day (one can see the history of the WP as another example of where a tension between functional all-Ireland party structures, and history, served to prevent it from making any serious inroads at all with unionists and the latter and political direction served to cut it off from nationalists in the long run), it is without question that the ideological and political impoverishment of unionism is such that left unionism is conspicuous by its absence as any force at all. Indeed one could argue that nationalism is actually more open, albeit in a rather marginal way to the left of social democracy. And it is surely notable that, whatever about the details, the largest formations, the dominant formations in nationalism and republicanism are at the least rhetorically leftish whereas by contrast those of unionism are anything but.
I suppose the reasons for this are well-rehearsed and yet it is strange and fairly depressing. It’s not that there’s no rupture from this. Alliance is, in ways, an alternative, but it is not left. Indeed one could argue that the very fact of its liberal ‘centrism’ underscores the reality that unionism runs in a rightward direction rather than a leftwards one. How to combat that is a frustrating question, isn’t it?