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The left in the North November 11, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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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?

Comments»

1. sonofstan - November 11, 2016

Left unionism conspicuous by its absence?

The PUP? Not quite a spent force and, in its brief prime, probably more successful than PbP now

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irishelectionliterature - November 11, 2016

The PUP at their height had the same number of MLAs as PBP do now in the North.
I suspect we think of them as more prominent/successful as David Ervine was a prominent figure . They were also prominent at a time when we were much more conscious of The North because of the Troubles, The Belfast Agreement etc

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Joe - November 11, 2016

But PUP probably stood more candidates and had more presence in diff constituencies back then than PbP has now. Basically, PUP stood and got votes in the places where the UVF had a presence. Thus the designation of PUP as ‘left’ may be a tad problematic. Sectarian murder, which the UVF did with abandon, wouldn’t normally be something that leftists would be doing.

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2. dublinstreams - November 11, 2016

is the quote suggesting that the PBP should somehow become a non all Ireland party?

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3. roddy - November 11, 2016

Every time that they were asked to, the PUP gave the DUP a free electoral run.

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4. Peter James - November 19, 2016

A discussion on the way forward for the Left in NI would be welcome but this is not it.

Using an article from the Phoenix, which for the most part reflects SF opinion, as the basis for such a discussion simply invites confusion. You appear to accept the assertion that SF is a left party. They failed to rule out FF as coalition partners last election, they implement austerity budgets handed down by the Tories in NI, and are comfortable raising money from American business at many $100s of dollar a plate dinners in NY. SF also seem to have a problem getting unanimity on Repeal8 (as opposed to ammend). So those SF left wing credentials are a bit tattered. The article you quote describes PBP as “wide eyed optimists” a dismissive tone, intended to indicate that the Catholic working class have nowhere else to go. But that dismissal is nothing as compared to the complete writing off of Protestants.

As late as 1969 the old NILP would win 100,000 votes but was sundered soon after as a result of their inability to have a position on the National Q or repression. But since that time union activity has remained strong and united. Strikes have not been beaten through sectarianism.

Developments in the UK LP will have a big bearing in NI. If the Corbyn revolution succeeds (not guaranteed) there will be enormous pressure on Labour to stand in the North. If not there will be continued need for anti austerity politics.

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5. roddy - November 19, 2016

Corbyn has always been for British withdrawal from the 6 cos and has been a close ally of SF for decades.You are talking bollocks about budgets .The North is given a fixed ammount from London and has to divide it out among the various departments.SF has 3 options -allow total orange rule where every Unionist assembly party is to the right of everything in the Dail, allow unfettered British Tory rule with water charges,bedroom taxes and no hundreds of millions set aside to counter the worst of welfare “reform” or go in there and do your best for your people to counter the worst excesses of unionism and British rule.Unionism votes overwhelmingly far right (the so called “moderate ” UUP stood on a joint ticket with the British tories in 2010 and the PUP give reactionaries a free electoral run.These are the people we share the North with so don’t expect any transformation as long as the Northern state exists.I and hund reds of thousands like me accepted the GFA for the sake of peace but in reality will never accept this state as legitimate.PBP will never get a “protestant” vote because as soon as their position on the crown forces ,historical events like the H blocks or bloody Sunday are highlighted they will be deemed “beyond the pale” .Pretending to be neither “orange or green” and then having Bernadette run your election campaign is winging it to say the least.Bernadette who lamented the ceasefire as “the good guys lost”!

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