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Socialist Party ends membership of the ULA

category national | anti-capitalism | press release author Sunday January 27, 2013 20:51author by SP - Socialist Party Report this post to the editors

The Socialist Party has ended its membership of the ULA. We do so with regret as we initiated the negotiations that led to the ULA and are genuine in our preparedness to work with others on the left in a respectful, democratic and principled fashion.

However some in the ULA, including TDs, have moved away from a principled left position and have ditched the collaborative spirit. Apart from the Socialist Party, the other groups in the ULA have accepted this situation, leaving us with no choice but to withdraw.

These developments decisively undermined the ULA, which was already in a weakened state as ordinary working class people had not joined it in any significant numbers, along with the withdrawal of the Workers and Unemployed Action Group (Tipperary) last autumn. As a result, any potential that the ULA had of playing a role in building a new mass Left in Ireland is now gone.

New opportunities for the political re-organisation of the working class

At the same time, the struggle against the Household and Property Tax emerged as a real challenge to the Troika's and the Government's disastrous policy of austerity.

This struggle, which more than any other issue encapsulates the opposition to austerity, has now reached a decisive stage with the threat of deducting the tax at source from people's wages and benefits. It is clear that a major struggle on the Property Tax will politicise tens of thousands of people and will give an enormous impetus to the political re-organisation of the working class, something that unfortunately the ULA proved incapable of achieving.

The Socialist Party remains committed to building a mass and democratic party of the working class and believes that all who are committed to that objective should register the potential significance of the Property Tax issue.

At the start of last year 30,000 people attended meetings organised by the Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes (CAHWT). 15,000 marched on the Fine Gael Ard Fheis and by the end of the year nearly 700,000 households, 52% of single home owners, had not registered or paid for the Household Tax.

The threat to rob people’s wages and benefits at source poses difficulties for the campaign and for ordinary people, but it has also deepened the anger. If a strong lead is given on the Property Tax there is a real possibility of even stronger protests this year than last.

An aspect of this struggle should be to connect to the widespread mood to punish Labour and Fine Gael. If out of the struggle came the proposal for a slate or an alliance of anti-Property Tax / anti-austerity candidates for the Local and European Elections next year, that would really ratchet up the pressure on the Government, and on Labour in particular.

Such a proposal could gain huge support and could lead to the involvement of thousands of working class people in a political struggle, with the possibility that many working class activists could get elected. Such developments would not only be a massive step towards forcing the scrapping of the Property Tax, but would also represent a big step towards a new mass party of the working class.

Lessons from the ULA's demise

The original idea of the ULA was for an electoral and parliamentary alliance of groups. On the suggestion of the Socialist Party, a membership was established to try to build a more significant alliance.

The launching of the ULA was a positive development coinciding as it did with the imposition of the Troika’s Programme and the looming general election. However, the worsening austerity combined with the abysmal failure of the trade union leadership to mount any struggle against it in the wake of the major public sector strike and mass demonstration in November 2010, dented people’s confidence and there was a tendency to wait and see if the new Fine Gael / Labour Government might be different.

Unfortunately, the absence of industrial struggles or battles against austerity, combined with a feeling that there was no alternative to austerity, meant that working class people weren’t pushed towards getting politically involved and the ULA didn’t grow despite many public recruitment meetings. Overwhelmingly the very limited numbers who did join were already established left activists, so instead of growing, the ULA barely got off the mark.

Last summer sections of the media consciously used Mick Wallace’s tax evasion and Clare Daly’s close political connection to him to attack the Left. This damaged the Socialist Party and the ULA’s standing as principled Left organisations.

The Socialist Party insists that its elected representatives must be politically independent from business or capitalist interests or people who represent such interests, even more so when tax evasion is involved. In this instance, the fact that the Socialist Party was prepared to lose a TD rather than compromise on an important principle meant that we overcame that damage and gained considerable credit among working class people in particular, who strongly disapprove of Mick Wallace's actions.

Political independence of the left can't be compromised

Unfortunately Clare Daly and another ULA TD, Joan Collins, intensified this political connection with Mick Wallace. They co-presented the X case abortion bill with him in late November. Furthermore on 20 December they organised a major press conference with him, and also Independent TD Luke Flanagan, on the issue of alleged corruption among certain members of the Garda in erasing penalty points for traffic offences. These generated significant media coverage.

They consciously chose not to organise on these issues under the ULA banner but instead opted to promote what is essentially a new alliance of parliamentarians who are not of the Left. This was a body blow to the already diminished credibility of the ULA.

Just as damning for the future of the ULA as these actions, was the fact that none of the other groups in the alliance, the People Before Profit Alliance, the Independent / Non-aligned Group nor significantly, the Socialist Workers Party, opposed this approach of supposedly being committed to a left project but in practice contradicting that by organising a political alliance with others in the Dáil Technical Group who couldn't at all be characterised as on the Left.

On 25 November, at the ULA Council, a motion moved by the Socialist Party on the need to end the political connection with Mick Wallace was voted down by all the other groups. In so doing they assisted in the jettisoning of a cornerstone principle for any left organisation, that it must take seriously its political independence from business interests or forces representing business interests.

Around the same time, the “Daly Bill” on the X case was resubmitted for the ULA’s Private Member’s slot on 27 November but, unfortunately, this was done without any consultation and in defiance of a specifically agreed procedure which necessitated discussion and consensus. If the Socialist Party had the opportunity, we were going to advocate that the ULA submit a bill on the X case but that it should be expanded to cater for a risk to a woman’s health as grounds for an abortion, with a view to broadening out the debate and discussion on abortion in the wake of the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar.

ULA at an impasse, but a real basis for optimism for the future

This subverting of democratic procedure undermined the structures and relations in the ULA. Despite the facts, any wrong doing was denied and again unfortunately, none of the other groups made any serious objection to what had happened when it was raised at the Council meeting. These developments destroyed any basis for principled political collaboration and the ULA has been at an impasse ever since.

The ULA is compromised and cannot now be seen as an independent, principled Left alliance nor any longer can there be hope that it could prepare the ground for a new mass workers' party in the years ahead. These are the reasons why, as well as the need to avoid any future damaging associations for the party or for struggles that we are involved in, the Socialist Party is withdrawing from the ULA.

The Socialist Party is open to work with those who remain in the ULA on specific issues, on an agreed basis, both inside and outside the Dáil. However we believe that the key to building a Left alternative will flow from a serious struggle against the disastrous austerity and bailout agenda and in particular from the involvement of thousands of working class people in the battle against the property and water taxes in the year ahead.

Socialist Party members will be among the most active fighters in all aspects of the battle against the Property Tax. As part of that our members will raise in a democratic fashion, locally and nationally, the idea that an anti-Property Tax and anti-austerity challenge in the Local and European Elections in 2014 should be pursued by the campaigns.

Such an electoral initiative, combined with the active struggle against the tax and mass mobilisations against the Government, has the potential to pose a more real and substantial opportunity to build a new mass party of the working class.

Through the establishment of the ULA, initiated by the Socialist Party, an alternative was posed in half the Dáil constituencies in the last general election. We believe that the hopes engendered for a genuine left and socialist alternative which that stand raised, can be surpassed in the months ahead, if the unprecedented opportunity that the next elections offer, is fully grasped.

author by Bill OBrienpublication date Mon Jan 28, 2013 12:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

With the Socialist party leaving the U.L.A which was extremely predictable and wasn't an instantaneous decision, taken on the support of the moment, but a well thought out one. The aftermath of the split will be felt in Donegal more than most places. As some of the older disgruntled Republicans are looking for an opportunity to reclaim their youth, a youth that they misspent in the first place. They have already had Uncle Joe Higgins up to speak there, these Socialist Party sharks will easy devour these old geriatric Republicans who they were seen shaking hands with, at the recent conference in the Red Cow.
Just like the Socialist party these disgruntled Republicans want to put up candidates in the local authority elections on the backs of the Can't pay Won't Pay Campaign. These old disgruntled Republicans are children in the hands of the Socialist Party, they refuse to listen to advice from those who have watched the Socialist Party over decades. How these old disgruntled Republicans can mix with the Socialist Party at this time I don’t know, bearing in mind that the Socialist Party in both Britain and Ireland are supporting the recent the flag-waving Unionists in Belfast, finding all kinds of nonsensical analysis, as to why this section of the working class are supporting fascism and how they are right to support their Britishness. The policy of the Socialist Party is to have Ireland enter a Socialist Federation of the British Islands, in other words, socialism within the Empire.
The Socialist Party will support candidates in the next local elections, they will claim to have been the main force within the Can’t Pay Won't Pay Campaign and even their recent literature is difficult to distinguish, from the literature of that of the campaign. They are despicable unprincipled opportunists and I know that from my trade union days, when they destroyed my Trade Union. At the very beginning of the Can’t Pay Won't Pay Campaign, I was against having anything to do with Uncle Joe Higgins and the Socialist Party, people thought I was of f the wall, but everything I've said it come true. Hopefully those with deaf ears that on occasion, have eyesight now and we'll see everything I said has come through if they don’t its bad news for us all.

author by An Draighneán Donn - Páirtí Cummanach na Poblachtapublication date Mon Jan 28, 2013 13:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

When will people stop wasting their time with a system that was designed, from the start, to maintain oligarchy? Whether it be disgruntled old Republicans, or the camp followers of Joe Higgins or Ciarán Allen, they are doing nothing but giving legitimacy to a system of representation. Representation means the elimination of the Working Class from the political field. What we need is Revolutionary institutions of Direct Democracy.

Related Link: http://soviet.ie/index.php?/forum/30-daonlathas-direach-direct-democracy/
author by Karinapublication date Thu Jan 31, 2013 16:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

really? where?

author by cropbeye - nonepublication date Thu Jan 31, 2013 18:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well said Bill:

author by An Drighneán Donn - Páirtí Cummanach na Poblachtapublication date Thu Jan 31, 2013 18:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

...but it will not be found in groups, like the ULA, that spend all their time petitioning the ruling class. As Lenin put it: They plead and pray so hard to the government, that we cannot but hear their loyal foreheads cracking against the pavement.

author by anonpublication date Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As usual the writers at the WSWS take a critical view of most Socialists and generally Left parties and the former members of the ULA are no exception. In their view they see them all as sellouts to their cause and misleading the masses by diverting their anger into the largely manipulated and fake arena of parlimentary politics where the mainstream media set the parameters of discourse. So for them the collapse of the ULA is not really surprising as they always saw it as a vehicle to control the masses rather than lead them and given it had not attracted many ordinary workers who were previously not involved in politics, for them, shows it was never an attractive option in the first place.

On one level they may be right but on another they are being rather unrealistic about where people are in the level of understanding of the system and even whether they want to fall under the banner of being socialist.

Anyhow for those interested their article is at the link below

Related Link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/02/07/irel-f07.html
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