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Left Archive: The Maynooth Model: Building a new relationship between the Labour Party and the Communities we live in – Maynooth Branch, Labour Party, c. 1987 February 23, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Labour Party, Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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mayno LP

To download the above please click on the following link. MAYNOOTH DOC LP

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

‘…in co-operation with trade unionists, ensured that if the Council cut off people’s water for non-payment, they were re-connected with the day’ is but one interesting quote from the above document.

Many thanks to a regular reader for scanning and forwarding this remarkable document to the Archive. In eight pages it sets out a plan for engaging communities by the Labour Party. Published by the Maynooth Branch it takes lessons it believes are relevant from the experience of that branch and attempts to apply them to the broader Labour Party.

It is quite an elaborate production with cartoons (possibly sourced from Private Eye), photographs and images of the cover of documents issued by Maynooth Labour Party.

The document is divided into short sections, including; The Maynooth Branch, Beginning at the Beginning, Recruitment, Working in the Neighbourhoods and so on. It emphasises ‘Community Participation’, which includes involvement in Community Councils and Charity Walks. Interestingly it also highlights ‘Community Participation III: The Anti-Charges Campaign’:

When Kildare County Council established local service charges on water and refuse collection, this provided the Branch an opportunity to mobilise people around concrete political goals.

The Branch set up the ‘Maynooth Residents Against the Charges’ inviting all residents to an initial meeting to set up a Co-ordinating Committee.

And it notes that ‘in co-operation with trade unionists, ensured that if the Council cut off people’s water for non-payment, they were re-connected with the day’.

And that section has the following:

Whether it is long-term or ad hoc campaigns (e.g. anti-extradition referenda, a Land Tax campaign), that’s where Labour should be.

It is interesting to reflect upon how approaches like this laid a broader sentiment in regard to charges on water and refuse collection.

The leaflet concludes by noting:

Let us be clear: our socialist p;politics is not about people consuming our press statements, leaflets and public meetings bloke a better brand of soap. It is not about offering people some far-off better future. It is about intervening today in their lives – whether in the community, the workplace, the schools and hospitals – struggling with them to resolve their everyday problems. It is about getting people to participate in organising against their own oppression and for their own freedom. In this way, people will join with us to create a socialist future, every step of the way.

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Left Archive: Northern Policy Statement – Adopted by Annual Conference, Wexford 1972, The Labour Party January 26, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Labour Party, Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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To download the above please click on the following link. LPNORTHPOL1972

To download the above please click here:
LPNORTHPOL1972 PM

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to Peter Mooney for donating this document to the Archive – one of many from his collection that are being reproduced here.

This document, published in 1972 by the Labour Party outlines their approach to Northern Ireland. It states on page 2 that:

The establishment of an all-Ireland Socialist Republic is the fundamental objective of the Labour Party. National Unity, is therefore, a basic objective of the party. As stated in the Party Constitution, the Labour Party affirms that the national territory consists of the whole island of Ireland, its islands and territorial seas; and it accepts as part of its immediate programme the work of securing social justice and equal opportunities of fall citizens in accordance with the declaration of Democratic Principles embodied in the Proclamation of Easter 1916.

It also argues that:

Whereas other political parties in the Republic aim solely at territorial unity, the Labour Party goes further and aims at the creation of a socialist society in Ireland and the uniting of the Irish people as complementary objectives.

It also as one of its Principle’s posits that:

The Labour Party is convinced that peace and better understanding between the communities is a necessary precondition of rate achievement of both socialism and eventual unity. It therefore repudiates unequivocally any attempt to achieve a United Ireland, ‘socialist’ or otherwise, by force of arms.

And intriguingly it also argues that:

The Labour Party differs from the other forces and national a parties engaged in the struggle for national independence in that it is a democratic as well as a socialist party, totally committed to democratic methods. For that reason it rejects any attempts at usurping by violence the democratic parliamentary processes which are based on the authority of the Irish people.

There is much more, including support for a Bill of Rights and calls for the removal of security from the Stormont Government.

Left Archive: SPECTRE: Interviews with I.R.A. and Mr. Corish, UCC Branch, Labour Party, November 1967 October 27, 2014

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SPECTRECOVER

Many thanks to Jim Lane for forwarding the following to the Archive.

To download the above please click on the following link. SPECTREJLGO

Click here to go the Left Archive.

This publication, 24 pages in length, was produced by University College Cork Branch of the Labour Party in 1967. It covers an eclectic range of topics including an interview with the then leader of the Labour Party, Brendan Corish.

The Introduction notes that:

If it should happen that the Labour Party does not remain true to its Socialist principles – the principles of Karl Marx and James Connolly, if on coming to power all it does is to impose State Capitalism, if it changes nothing, nothing happens, then all the efforts and hopes and dreams of the New Left will have gone for naught. There will only be more terrible bitterness and sour disillusionment. There will be very little left to stop the ‘rising flood of nihilism’.

The interview with Corish is of particular interest. He is asked his views on a range of topics including the Common Market (‘I regard it as a rich man’s club’), Vietnam ‘I don’t know much about the NLF’) and ‘Relations with the East’ (‘I have little sympathy with Communism. None, I might say’).

Another piece is entitled ‘The I.R.A. Speaks’ and consists of an interview with ‘Cork Spokesman of the I.R.A.’. This too is of considerable interest. It notes that the objectives of the IRA are:

To attain the unity and independence of Ireland and to establish a Socialist Republic as outlined by Connolly and Pearse.

The anonymous member when asked what has the IRA been doing since 1962 and the end of the Border Campaign suggests that:

At local level the I.R.A. is doing very much the same as it did before the Campaign started, that is organising, training and recruiting, with of course the added knowledge of active service conditions and requirements gained during the Campaign. At top level much more than this is been done; one example is that political education is now part of the training programme of every Volunteer.

And in answer to the question ‘Within SF there seems to be an attempt at formulating some sort of Socialist policy. is there a similar attempt within the I.R.A? What is your idea of Socialism he states:

I have previously stated that political education is now essentially part of the training course of all Volunteers. Our idea of Socialism is basically cooperative ownership of the means of production and marketing as well as control over all lands, mineral wealth and capital.

Also included are articles on the Vietnam War and the marches against same in Cork.

Left Archive: Northern Ireland: A Marxist Analysis – Militant (Dublin) [then part of the Irish Labour Party] October 1988 September 22, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Labour Party, Irish Left Online Document Archive, Irish Militant.
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MILITANT 1988

To download the above document please click here: MLITANT 1988 GO

To go to the Left Archive site please click on this link.

This is a Northern Perspectives document from Militant written in Belfast by Peter Hadden. Any clarification of its provenance would be very much appreciated. A relatively long form publication, produced as a series of bullet pointed paragraphs, it provides a useful snapshot into the thinking of that formation during that period.

In relation to the analysis it argues that:

Over the 20 years of the troubles in Northern Ireland, the analysis and perspectives of the marxists have been strikingly confirmed. While every other tendency within society has been caught entirely unaware by these events, the marxists have been able to explain the fundamental processes at work. In this laboratory of social ferment the superiority of marxism over all other modes of thought has been demonstrated. It has been the victory of scientific thinking over empiricism, of ‘foresight over astonishment!’

And it continues:

Twenty years ago a revolutionary opportunity existed in the north. The crimes of the reformists and the stalinists, together with the infantile ultra-leftism of some of those involved in these events, combined to allow this opportunity to slip by. By the early 1970s, the working class paid for these crimes and errors in the form of intense sectarianism reaction. In 1975/76 the working class intervened to halt the drift to all-out sectarian conflict. For a period of years class issues came to the fore. Again these opportunities were squandered by the rotten role of the trade union leaders in particular. The aftermath of the hunger strikes of the early 1980s, coupled with the industrial and political defeats suffered by the working class in Britain, prepared the way for a new period of relatively mild reaction. In this context the 1985 signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement provoked a fierce sectarian backlash, depend the reaction and further set back the Labour movement. The result of these decades of reaction nd missed opportunity has been the entrenchment and reinforcement of the sectarian division. The tasks of building a revolutionary party and accomplishing the socialist revolution have been complicated and made much more difficult.

It states:

After twenty years of failed bourgeois initiatives and ‘solutions’ and particularly after nine years of the crude methods and crass errors of the Thatcher government, the prospect of even a temporary accommodation within the north has receded out of view. The social and economic crisis of capitalism in the north has now produced a complete paralysis in the political thinking of the bourgeois.

A new political initiative such as devolution, an assembly or convention is unlikely for a further period…while now less likely than ever it is not entirely excluded that an accommodation might be reached between the Unionist and SDLP leaders and elections held to some new local parliament… Such a result would be very difficult to achieve and liable to fall to pieces at any moment during its conception and establishment. NO matter what the subjective wishes of the SDLP and Unionist politicians, the basis for power sharing has been even further eroded by the sectarian reaction of recent years, and by the emergence of SF as a political force. Even if established a new local parliament would solve nothing.

And further:

Unable to advance towards even a temporary political settlement, the ruling a class are thrown back to military means. Repression is the distilled essence of their policy. Everything else having failed the Tories have greatly stepped up the use of repression. A continuation and intensification of this policy is the most likely scenario for a further period.

Though:

At some stage the ruling class will be forced to recognise the dangers of continuing with a purely military holding operation and be forced to attempt some new political initiative. In the sudden lurches of the bourgeois from political military methods and back again, from concession to repression, is expressed their total impotence in the face of this national conflict of their own past making.

Further on it argues that:

That SF can remain as an electoral force be accuse of the lack of any alternative to give expression to the anger of the Catholic workers particularly on the issue of repression. Because of their sectarian appeal and outlook they can achieve nothing. At best they can become the majority party of the minority, although this is not the most likely perspective.

And it argues that:

A section of the Provos have grown impatient at the lack of success of their strategy of a war of attrition stretching over ten, twenty or more yeas. This, together with the fact that the organisation is now equipped with large quantity of highly sophisticated weaponry – makes an attempt to dramatically escalate the military campaign,m the most likely immediate prospect.

There is much more, including the belief that a mass labour party may emerge ‘late in the revolutionary period’, but it concludes:

The objective situation is still difficult and may even deteriorate in the short term. However it is a contradictory situation. Despite the sectarian violence, the class issues are never far from the surface… this work is a preparation for the major struggles of the future. At some stage the movement will return to the traditionalise of 1907, 1919 or 1932. The ability of the marxists to intervene in and play a leading role in these events depends on the work of developing cadres being successfully carried out in periods such as now.

Left Archive: 1980s Socialism or Catastrophe – John Throne, ‘Militant’ Perspectives Pamphlet, Militant Tendency/Irish Labour Party, 1982 September 16, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Labour Party, Irish Left Online Document Archive, Militant.
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MILJOHNTHRONECOVER

To download this file please click on the following link:MILJOHNTHRONE

This document was issued by the Militant Tendency/Irish Labour Party in the 1980s and was written by their then member John Throne. It’s an useful document because it outlines the position of Militant at that point and its perspectives on contemporary and future developments (For more on John Throne this piece written by Conor McCabe and an accompanying series of interviews with him conducted by Conor is an essential resource).

The Introduction considers matters in a clearly Irish context, encompassing the 70 years from 1916 through to the early 1980s, and in particular more recent developments.
It argues that:

The organised working class is the greatest power in society. This was demonstrated in the mass demonstrations and general strikes on the PAYE issue. This great power must be mobilised to take control of society. The commanding heights of the economy, the banks, finance houses, and all major industry must be taken out of the hands of the profiteer and speculators. Nationalisation of these decisive levers of the economy under workers’ control and workers’ management would make possible a socialist plan of production to end unemployment and homelessness, reduce the working week and raise living standards.

He also asserts that:

Only socialist can end the poverty, insecurity, violence and repression of Irish society, North and South. Only socialism can end both sectarian and poverty ridden states North and South and unite the Country. The working class has the power to bring about socialism. What is demanded is that the leaders of the labour and trade union movement must raise the banner of socialism and organise to change society.

And he says:

This means an end to the policies of trying to patch up capitalism and the policies of collaborating with big business or its political representatives. On the trade union front, national wage agreements must be rejected once and for all.

On the political front, Coalition or any type of parliamentary alliance or agreement of any kind with the big business parties of FF and FG must be rejected by Labour. Labour must put forward its own socialist policies and stand alone and fight to win support for a majority Labour government pledged to end capitalism.

The pamphlet is divided into various sections, starting with “1970s – The Labour movement is thrown back”, “Southern Ireland 1922 − 82, 60 years of capitalist failure”, “1980s political and trade union perspectives – instability, polarisation & the growth of Labour”. There’s much to reflect upon, particular in the latter two sections.

It is perhaps worth quoting extensively from the conclusion, for that encapsulates the arguments made in the preceding pages. Throne writes:

The 1980s will be the most explosive decade in human history, both nationally and internationally. The crisis in the world economic and political systems is developing to new heights and threatens mass unemployment, a return tot he conditions of the last century, and in the longer term of 15 to 20 years, the spectre of nuclear war and the destruction of the human species.

At the same time the working class is more powerful than ever before. It is far and away the greatest power in society. What is needed is the development and a correct perspective and programme in the mass organisations of the working class and the forging of a determined leadership based on clear policies of rate establishment for a socialist society nationally and internationally.

It argues that:

It will be by intervening in the struggles now opening up in society and at the same time learning the lessons of the past, that determined, clear sighted, Marxist leadership will be developed. This pamphlet is a contribution to the discussions that are now opening up in the trade unions and the Labour Party as to the way forward for the labour and trade union movement.

And:

The period ahead offers two clear alternatives. Mass poverty, starvation and nuclear annihilation if capitalism and stalinism continue, or an end to poverty, want insecurity and the threat of war on the basis of the working class taking power and establishing a world federation of socialist states.

Left Archive: Speech delivered by Pat Upton, Irish Labour Party T.D. at the Tom Johnson Summer School, June 1998 April 15, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Labour Party, Irish Left Online Document Archive, Irish Politics, The Left.
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UPTON

To download the above document please click on the following link: scan0001

Many thanks to Irish Election Literature for this document which is a very useful document that in a few short pages offers an insight into the thinking of some in the Irish Labour Party in the late 1990s. It consists of the text of a speech given at the Tom Johnson Summer School. In it Upton who was Teachta Dála for Dublin South–Central outlines his vision of a “New Labour” for the 21st century. Notable is the manner in which it draws upon aspects of the then victorious British Labour Party under Tony Blair in terms of positioning and language.

A few short quotes will suffice to give a flavour of the text:

When Labour gets out of touch with reality it allows its enemies and the enemies of a decent society to grow. There is an obligation on Labour to remain strong and relevant to fight the growth of fascism and its attendant chaos.

The public have, to a large degree, stopped behaving as citizens and now behave as consumers.

It is important to deliver what is promised. That is what consumers expect. That is what they experience in other aspects of life be it with the travel agent or the supermarket.

In practical terms Labour needs to define where the individual’s rights end and responsibilities begin. It is not tenable to continue the illusion that one can have rights without responsibilities.

Labour & past promises April 8, 2013

Posted by Oireachtas Retort in Irish Labour Party, Irish Politics.
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It’s a tough time for Eamon Gilmore.

His record as Labour leader in Government is well covered but there are a few holes in received analysis. One of oddest being his time at Iveagh House going remarkably undocumented.

Bruton & Coveney each have lead big ticket trips to China. Varadkar travels the world with a shillelagh under one arm and Gilmore? Took a backseat to Kenny & McAleese during high-profile visits, offered very little on events North Africa and now provides very cagey cover for Shatter and other events in North Africa.

He has extended condolences to Social Democrats in Norway, made some noise on the EU boycott of illegal Gaza settlements, pushed for the return of misappropriated aid in Uganda and of course launched the Global Irish Economic Forum –

Where jobs are concerned, anything goes

says he regarding Denis O’Brien’s involvement.

Fine Gael have repeatedly run rings round their partners in the rare good news stakes but on the day to day workings, Enda’s shunting of Gilmore out of the Eurozone spotlight probably best captures the coalition dynamic. The total ceding of this territory mirrors the perception of Labour’s handling of power, giving rise to Sinn Féin dubbing the Tánaiste “Rollover Gilmore”.

It was the most bizarre call having already waved off Finance. At least Spring had the North.  There were other avenues of entry, ready-made in some cases. For instance did you know Foreign Ministers met regularly in 2012 to discuss not just the banalities of banks and bailouts but the future of the European Project. Much talk of closer integration, defence and indeed ‘European Government’. For all the uncertainty, blueprints are being trashed out.

Gilmore’s counterparts in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain presented their conclusions to José Manuel Barroso last Summer and much of it seemingly made it into the Commission President’s State of Union speech last September.

Irish input?

Not until the next coercive referendum campaign my friend.

However even on the internet we can offer a modest contribution against the denigration politics. Not in defence of the Tánaiste but something that has bothered me about critics. It is a credit to Ireland’s media that Eamon Gilmore and the Labour Party are beaten daily with not only commitments they failed to honour but chiefly the big promise same journalist savaged him for at the time.

Gilmore’s Frankfurt’s way comment was in response to then ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet pronouncing

Our message to the Irish government is apply the plan. The plan comprehends a number of measures concerning the economy and reshaping of the banking sector. Our message remains: Apply the plan

There appears to be an amnesia about eyebrows raised at the time or indeed a collective dishonesty since. Everyone from the necessary cheerleaders to Vincent Browne took aim at Gilmore and for many the mere threat of rocking the boat, deviating from the agreed script tenuous as it was, raised enough backlash to see him deny backtracking on the pledge within four days. Did he not understand the damage these remarks could do to rebuilding the Country’s reputation?

Frankfurt’s way or having it both ways?

The blanket focus on election promises on promises is very odd though isn’t it?  Do election campaigns really have that much of an impact on intentions? Did 2011?

It’s an extremely narrow way of framing politics and suggests something very strange in the professionals’ view of voter engagement.  The focus on more ambitious claims have of course kept debate away from what Labour maybe, might, possibly be able do in Government. The daily return to headline election promises have steered pressure clear from areas like say collective bargaining  – something they may not be too keen on in recent weeks but you get the idea. The big Frankfurt stick keeps eyes off the Health Service and other measures some at home might not be too keen on if Labour had the inkling.

The last FG rally before polling contained all ultimately hollow words and bombast of the Labour camp. In efforts to emphasise a prowess in Europe and edge with Merkozy they made a very big play of Enda Kenny’s Vice-Presidency of the EPP. Neglecting of course to mention he was one of several because they was never challenged to do so. Nor did this supposed advantage come back to haunt the Party following several empty handed summits. Indeed on Senior Bondholders, during the campaign Fine Gael declared

Should some credible, combination of these options prove not (sic) be available from Europe, the next Government would — in order to restore its own credit worthiness — be left with little choice but to unilaterally restructure of (sic) the private debts of those Irish banks in greatest need of recapitalisation

Before even forming a Government but only after polling Enda Kenny conceded burning senior bondholders was off the table. Just shy of one billion is winging it’s way to lucky speculators today btw.

Labour support in any case remained fairly static in the immediate run up when these promises were made.

What is rarely discussed in place of the neat box of promises is Labour’s performance 2008 – 2011. Both Gilmore & Burton were very effective at getting under the skin of the Fianna Fáil while articulating the anger of the country.  The scalp of John O’Donohoe, “economic treason” and the golf at Druid’s Glen. His stock, enough to cause a meltdown in Fine Gael, was considered the Party’s greatest strength . Such effort was made to avoid outlining any policy (perhaps something they should have stuck to in hindsight) because Gilmore was the policy.

Now it seems the gale is blowing in the opposite direction and he has become the lightening rod for ire. 2010 was spent aiming to translate his popularity into seats. A strategy worth remembering for anyone hoping a change of Leadership will suffice.

Left Archive: Documents from the 1984/1985 British Miners Strike and support work in Tallaght, Dublin. March 25, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in 1984/85 Miners Strike (UK), Irish Labour Party, Irish Left Online Document Archive, The Left.
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AGENDA

Cover of THE MINER
Many thanks to former TD and Labour Party Cllr. Eamonn Walsh for donating this range of materials to the Archive (and to Eoin Breathnach for scanning and forwarding the documents).

To download the above and other files please scroll down this page.

This is an unusual but important addition to the Archive. It consists of a range of documents, pamphlets, newsletters and other materials relating to the British Miners Strike of 1984 and 1985 (IEL added this to the Left Archive here on the same topic). This pivotal industrial action excited both solidarity and activism across the United Kingdom and further afield as evidenced here.

In this selection of materials are papers relating to the visit of striking miner’s partners and children to Tallaght in August 1984. The seven day visit included visits to the Mansion House in Dublin for a Lord Mayor’s reception, a meeting with the Chair of Dublin County Council, meetings with Tallaght Community Council, trips to Mosney Holiday Camp, Cantrell & Cochrane and Portmarnock racecourse.

There is also a leaflet from the striking miners explaining their action, an edition of The Miner – the publication of the miners – and a document from ‘Barnsley Women Against Pit Closures’.

In total it builds into a picture of local support around the issue and in a way which perhaps other documents in the Archive tend to lack, offers a sense of life at the time for working people. This is of particular value both in political and social terms.

Eamonn Walsh adds the following overview of the materials, and makes an interesting comparison with the events of 1913.

“The most memorable event in my political career was my involvement with a project to assist the women and children of striking miners in the 1980’s in Barnsley and alleviating the struggle with thatcher’s regime.

A group of Labour Party members in Dublin south west got together to collect money, every Saturday night in pubs to assist the miners in their struggle. When we had a sizeable sum collected we decided that a holiday in Tallaght for women and children would be the best way to use the collection.

An interesting story emerged during one of the sports day we organised, when presenting trophies to the Barnsley children, one of the women recognised the three castles, the arms of Dublin, and said that she had seen these three castles on a memento on a mantel piece in Barnsley. After further research it transpired that children from Dublin brought it with them to Barnsley when they were being looked after during the 1913 lockout in Dublin following their evacuation… history then repeating it self in Dublin.

I am very proud that I played a leading role in that epic struggle of the Barnsley miners.”

Today’s struggle by myself & many others from within the Labour party with our present government, shows the need to demonstrate more than ever labours core values and beliefs in order to protect ordinary families that are under attack.

Eamonn Walsh

Former Labour TD and Councillor and member of the Labour Party for 34 years.

To download the above documents and other files please click on the following links.


Fundraising Letter

Fundraising letter

Handwritten notes of schedule

Hand notes of schedule 1984

Typed up Schedule for Miners

Schedule for miners typed up – page 1
Irish Times article

Miners information leaflet

Miners information leaflet outside

Pamphlet against pit closures

Pamphlet against pit closures

Public Meeting notice – Trader’s Pub

Public meeting notice – Traders Pub

Record of Food and Drink bought

Record of food & Drinks bought front
Hand notes thanking fundraisers…

Hand Notes thanking Fundraisers in Traders Public house

Hand notes thanking fundraisers in Traders Public House

Letter of Thanks to Traders

Letter of thanks to Traders fundraisers

Sticker Sheets

Stickers sheets – Dig deep for the miners

The Miner 1984

The Miner 1984

Left Archive: The Achievement of Socialism, Brendan Halligan M.E.P., c.1983, Irish Labour Party October 29, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Labour Party, Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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To download the above file click on the following: The Achievement of Socialism

Many thanks to Michael Taft for scanning and forwarding this document to the Archive.

This document was a pamphlet written by then Labour M.E.P. Brendan Halligan in 1983. It was written as an outline of a possible way forward for the Labour Party in a context where it had been in coalition with Fine Gael previously. It is based on a presentation Halligan made to a Dublin Regional Council symposium in June of that year on the future of the party. Although 23 printed pages it is quite short and can easily be read at one sitting.

The Preface outlines the reasons for his writing the pamphlet. He starts:

The Labour Party is under threat of electoral extinction.

And continues:

Over the last thirteen years the party’s share of the vote has been halved, its socialism diluted, its ability to develop policies destroyed and its membership decimated.

He argues:

The main cause of Labour’s decline has been its permanent commitment to coalition with Fine Gael. Arguably it is the only reason.
Like manny others I did not always think so. But I do now. The socialism of the Labour Party and its commitment to coalition are inextricably bound up with each other. In present circumstances they are mutually exclusive and the argument that coalition is purely an electoral tactic and essentially has nothing to do with socialism has been proven disastrously wrong by the experience eof the past decade and a half.

Some of what he writes has a particular resonance in the years subsequent to its first publication. For example he references Brendan Corish’s assertion at the 1967 Labour Party Conference that ‘the Seventies will be Socialist’, and notes that…

…today no [Labour] Party leader could proclaim the future to be socialist, no matter how distant the time horizon. The disappearance of a vision in which Labour plays the key role in re-arranging irish political forces is a psychological reality which we all instinctively recognise. It is the true measure of our decline, more accurate than any statistical analysis of our electoral fortunes since then.

Interestingly he also argues that ‘things can only get worse’, in particularly due to ‘the state of Exchequer finances’. And he argues ‘it is quite immaterial that this was caused by the 1977 Fianna Fáil Election Manifesto and the budgetary policy pursued by that Government up to 1981. What is material is that the present coalition has committed itself to eliminating the current budget deficit of one billion pounds in 1982 prices. This can only be achieved by raising income taxes to that amount (the equivalent of increasing income tax by another 60%), or by cutbacks in current expenditure (the equivalent of the entire health service) or by some horrendous combination of both’.

And he continues:

It is obvious the LP cannot avoid the political odium which will attach to these policies. In essence, Labour will preside over the dismantling of the social services it did so much to create…the semi-state is being prepared for dismemberment… by the time they have completed their cutbacks in the social services and the state sector they will have earned life membership of the Thatcher/Reagan Club.

Halligan considers the problems implicit in coalition with Fine Gael and notes the problems of being unable to forge a separate identity. He also noters how this impacts on the ability of the LP to fend off others on the left because of a gap which opens there due to their participation in government. He specifically references the threat of the Workers Party in this respect. Later in the pamphlet he puts forward a number of actions that he believes are necessary for the Labour Party to undertake in order to rework its identity, these being in the short, medium and long term.

It provides an interesting counterpoint with the Labour Left document posted in the Archive some while back. For those curious as to Halligan’s career subsequent to this, wiki provides some background.

Left Archive: Realignment in Irish Politics: The Socialist Challenge (Labour Left’s Submission to the Labour Party’s Commission on Electoral Strategy), Labour Left (Irish Labour Party), 1986 September 17, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Labour Party, Irish Left Online Document Archive, Labour Left (Irish Labour Party).
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To download the above document please click on the following link:Realignment In Irish Politics lower res

Many thanks to Michael Taft for this pamphlet.

This is the first document from the Labour Left, a key group within the Irish Labour Party in the 1980s and one which had considerable support within the party. It is important to note that Labour Left was distinct from Militant.

The Introduction, written by Frank Buckley, then Chairperson of Labour Left, notes that the Submission ‘is the culmination of nine months of work and widespread discussion among the broad Left of the Labour Party and constitutes a detailed, concrete strategy for all socialists and progressives to rally behind in order to create an independent, socialist Labour Party.

It continues:

We have attempted to… elaborate general principles and provide illustrations, not so much as hard proposals, as examples of how the principle can be applied. This is especially the case in the areas of trade union and corporate links, political education, financing and public relations.

In other areas we have put forward specific propositions around which the principle would be unfulfilled. This is the case in the areas of electoral strategy, party democracy, organisation and policy making. Taken together the submission aims to clearly put forward a Left critique and programme, one which can unite all sections of the LP and activists outside the Party.

And it argues that:

The main contention of the submission is quite simple: by per suing an independent, socialist strategy that unequivocally champions a politics of working men and women Labour can, in a period of 15-20 years, be on the verge of precipitating a left/right divide in irish politics. This has long been the goal of progressives (and even conservatives). To realign political competition in Ireland must become the overriding objective of Labour and socialists. Unless this occurs, socialism will remain off the agenda.

It also states that:

[the LPs’ work in building a mass following] must be predicated on a political programme that actively seeks to unite all sections of the working class and progressive in a broad alternative alliance to he present conservative front of the two (now three) right wing parties. In this context, it becomes even more imperative that the Party constitute an Independent, democratic and campaigning organisation to bring about that unity and cohesion.

The contents of the magazine include pieces on the ‘Conservative Electoral Consensus’, ‘Realigning Irish Politics’, ‘Activating a Campaigning Party’ and ‘Democratising Socialism’. Interestingly there is little or no mention of rivals on the left. Also absent from discussion is the impact of Republicanism and the conflict on the island on left politics.

There’s a somewhat negative tone to the pieces. For example, ‘Conservative Electoral Consensus’ ends on the notes that ‘Many have rationalised Labour’s minority status: small industrial base, strong church influence, an irredentist conservative population. All these attempts to explain Labour’s failure have failed for that failure is, ultimately, Labour’s own.’

There’s also considerable emphasis on the ‘New Republic’ approach of the late 1960s, which is characterised as ‘a strategy of polarisation – no coalition, no minority support for either conservative party’. More contemporary events have a certain resonance in regard to this, ‘This strategy was directed specifically at FG which was considered redundant, a party of ‘ranchers and bankers’, a political dinosaur. Labour would overtake FG as the main political opposition. The conservative elements of FG would merge with FF transforming it into an amalgamated ‘Tory Party’. Irish politics would then polarise into Labour/FF divide.’

But as the article notes ‘Far from being redundant FG was beginning to renew its historical project by incorporating the liberal middle classes under the Just Society grouping. While this remained a fringe, it allowed FG to broaden out from its farmer base and set the foundations for its own ‘modernisation’ in the late 1970s.’

And it continues:

A second flaw in this strategy was the assumption that FF would easily be transformed form its populist broad class ‘national’ project with deep roots in the working class to a class based conservative party. This was a fundamental misreading of FF’s essence. Indeed the red smear campaign showed FF was more conscious of the vulnerability of its working class support than Labour.

More material from Labour Left has been donated to the Archive and will be posted over the coming months.

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