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Speaking of British Labour and the WP July 10, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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From The Lost Revolution: The Story of the Official IRA and the Workers’ Party by Brian Hanley and Scott Millar (published ten years ago next month!):

In 1982 Clann na h-Éireann had begun pursuing a strategy of establishing itself as a left faction within the British Labour Party. Any Clann members who were not already in the Labour Party now joined; the eventual aim was to have activists elected as councillors and even MPs. This was seen as necessary because the WP’s opponents were already organized within British Labour. The increasingly active Labour Committee on Ireland was seen as a ‘Provisional/Trotskyite’ group; the best organized left faction within the Labour party, the ‘Militant tendency’, was Trotskyist, and therefore also beyond the pale, despite being seen by the WP as having a ‘reasonably correct analysis of the Provos’.[1] There was general WP support for Neil Kinnock’s efforts to combat the Militant tendency after he took over the leadership of the Labour party in 1983.[2] Another rival lobby group, the Campaign for Labour Representation in Northern Ireland, supported the extension of the British Labour Party to Northern Ireland. Clann felt that BICO were providing the ‘direction and dynamic’ for this group and extrapolated from this a view that Jim Kemmy was ‘already organised’ in British Labour while ‘we are not’.[3] Clann lobbied strongly to prevent Gerry Adams, who was addressing a fringe meeting at the 1983 Labour conference, from being allowed to enter the main body of the event.[4] As for delegates who had attended the Sinn Féin MP’s speech, they were described in Workers’ Life as ‘ghouls or voyeurs who would equally be at home with the Yorkshire Ripper as they were with Adams’.[5]

A major part of the activity of the Campaign for Peace and Progress, as the Clann grouping inside British Labour was called, was to oppose motions calling for British withdrawal from Northern Ireland. As Seamus Collins recalls, ‘We would oppose things like Troops Out very successfully around Birmingham. A lot of English people would be shy until a big booming culchie voice got up and then they would think, well, if an Irish person opposes it, we can too.’[6] Harry Barnes, MP for North-East Derbyshire, was a sponsor of the campaign and Clann supporters were elected to Labour Party offices in Birmingham, Wolverhamption and Reading.

[1] WL, Aug 1983

[2] WL, Dec 1983

[3] British Labour Party and Ireland: a Strategy for Progress. Clann [1982]

[4] Fortnight, February 1984

[5] WL, Nov-Dec 1983

[6] Seamus Collins

Comments»

1. EWI - July 10, 2019

Well, well, well.

Also, wasn’t aware that Jim Kemmy (he of UL business school fame) was associated with BICO.

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WorldbyStorm - July 10, 2019

Ah yeah – that weird lash up between the SPI, BICO and Kenny

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John Goodwillie - July 10, 2019

Wasn’t really that weird. Although coming from different positions, they shared in practice a view of Protestant workers not to be coerced, which allowed them to co-operate in the DSP. If I understood it correctly, the BICO believed that the national struggle was not progressive and the SPI that it had been progressive but had been completed successfully.

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WorldbyStorm - July 11, 2019

Agree completely re their meeting of minds on north but wouldn’t the very almost Stalinist SPI – and BICO too come to think of it – have been offputting to the fairly anti- Stalinist DSP?

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2. roddy - July 10, 2019

They were totally unsuccessful.They only had the support of a few non entities.Tony Benn described them as having a totally bizarre position on the national question.

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3. Seamus - July 10, 2019

My understanding is that Clann na hÉireann is now defunct.

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WorldbyStorm - July 10, 2019

I’d imagine you’re right, much like the US organisations. I’ve a feeling that they all faded out in the 90s. Or would it have been earlier.

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