Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘Socialist Party’ Category

With all guns blazing: change and permanence on the British left

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With all guns blazing: change and permanence on the British left

Alex Callinicos: “The involvement of revolutionary socialists in a broader political project that finesses the issue of reform and revolution has, of course, been characteristic of various relatively successful radical left projects in continental Europe, as well as of Respect in Britain in the mid-2000s.”

Well, yes. Relative to the “revolutionary organisations”.

AC: “Such projects depend on both their ability to regroup the existing radical and revolutionary left, and the effective challenge that they are able to mount to mainstream social democracy-or, as it is more accurate to describe it these days thanks to its capitulation to neoliberalism, social liberalism.”

Well, yes indeed, both. ALL the existing radical and revolutionary left?

AC: “But Left Unity is precisely not such a regroupment. A tacit presupposition of the project is the exclusion of both the SWP and the Socialist Party. This is justified by appeal to the negative experiences of previous efforts to develop a radical left coalition, notably the Socialist Alliance and Respect.”

Well, yes, and…


A reply from Richard Seymour here:

Posted by DD

Written by tomasoflatharta

February 6, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Ten Marks Out of Ten : Statement by Six Pro-Choice TD’s Who Will Vote No to the Government’s Pathetically Weak X Case Legislation

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Ten Marks Out of Ten : Statement by Six Pro-Choice TD’s who will vote No to the Government’s Pathetically Weak X Case Legislation

Statement – Abortion Bill – 10 July 2013 – immediate release

See also :

Pro-choice TDs say they have been forced to oppose abortion Bill because it criminalizes women and is unnecessarily restrictive

Bill will not prevent another death like Savita Halappanavar

Restrictions will cause doctors to delay terminations – putting women at risk

Pro-choice TDs this evening declared their intention to vote against the Fine Gael – Labour abortion Bill.

Clare Daly said:

“In the absence of a referendum to repeal Art 40.3.3 of the Constitution – for which we call – we were willing to support legislation in line with the X Case Ruling of 1992. This Bill however, will put more obstacles in the way of access to life-saving abortions than are required by the Constitution.

This legislation is happening in the wake of the sad death of Savita Halappanavar. Yet the Fine Gael – Labour Bill, by defining and giving legal protection to ‘unborn human life’ from the moment of implantation until delivery, will not prevent similar deaths. It will make terminations illegal during an inevitable miscarriage while there is still a foetal heartbeat. If a woman gets an infection in such circumstances, doctors will have to delay a termination until her life is at risk. This was what happened to Savita Halappanavar – and the same could happen again under this Bill.”
Read the rest of this entry »

Ireland’s Banking Fiasco, Midnight Parliamentary Madness, A Government in Free Fall…..and Mass Media Self-Delusion

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Many media commentators predicted a popularity boost for a struggling Government because of extraordinary events this week.

They seem to be singing from this Labour Party Leadership Circular to its councillors :

“Farewell to Anglo!
Last night’s legislation brings an end to Anglo Irish Bank and the Irish Nationwide Building Society. These two institutions, names that will live on in ignominy, are forever associated with the recklessness and greed of a tiny clique that brought this country to the edge of financial ruin. These banks, the people who ran them and the golden circle around them were at the very roots of the crisis that has caused so much distress to the Irish people.

In liquidating this institution, we are doing what should have been done on the night of the blanket bank guarantee.

This is another step forward towards the day when we can finally face forward as a people, when the past can finally recede into the distance and when Ireland and the Irish people can see the future that they truly deserve”

This text was apparently put into the public domain by Labour Party Fingal Councillor Cian Ó Ceallacháin, who dissents from the austerity dogma promoted by his party leadership.

Opinion Polls in the last few months have been grim reading for the parties leading the current coalition government, Fine Gael and Labour.

Labour Pains in 2013 Opinion Polls

There is one fundamental reason for the fall in Fine Gael and Labour Party ratings : Mssrs Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore are continuing to carry out the policies of the previous Fianna Fáil / Green Party Coalition.

The scale of the FF/GP fall between the General Elections of 2007 and 2011 was spectacular :  the two parties won 84 seats in 2007 but collapsed to 20 in 2011 – a staggering loss of 64 TD’s, reducing the Green Party Dáil delegation from Six to Nil.

Opinion Polls began to register this electoral earthquake after a 2008 all-night Dáil session which gave birth to the Brian Lenihan inspired “bail-out”, shoring up the Bust Anglo-Irish Bank and ushering in a programme of austerity, cuts to public services, privatisation, and tax increases.

Fine Gael and Labour this week staged a re-run of Brian Lenihan’s all-night Leinster House Show, once again rushing through a complex piece of financial legislation connected with the financial crisis.

Will these parties follow the electoral example of Fianna Fáil and the Green Party?

Since the Savita Halappanavar Scandal, the opinion poll ratings of the government parties have gone into free fall.

An opinion poll published in today’s Irish Times confirms the trend,with major losses predicted for Fine Gael and the Labour Party.

Adrian Kavanagh has done his usual excellent number-crunching giving this predicted result if a General Election was held tomorrow :

STATE  FG 42  FF 51  LP 15 SF 26 Others 24

Compare this with the 2011 result

 FF 20
 LP 37
SF 14
Others 19

In other words, Fine Gael and Labour will lose a staggering 56 seats if these numbers are right.

In fact losses for the Labour Party will very probably exceed the catastrophic defeat predicted above :

Adrian Kavanagh says that “actual Labour seat numbers could well be lower than the numbers predicted here” :

Labour’s declining support levels (down eight percentage points on the party’s support levels in the 2011 election) translate in a further significant drop in the seat estimates allocated to the party in these latest poll analyses. The party’s support levels are now on a par with the levels earned by the party in the 2002 and 2007 general elections though its seat estimates here are lower than the seats won by that party in those contests due to (i) the increase competition levels offer by Sinn Fein and other left-of-centre political groupings and (ii) the impact of the boundary changes associated with the 2012 Constituency Commission report which are seen to more adversely effect Labour than another of the other parties or political groupings. It is interesting to note also that, with the exception of Galway East, most of the rebel Labour TDs would appear to be based in constituencies that this analysis suggests the party would hold seats in at an election based on national figures akin to these poll support levels. If these deputies were to remain outside the party fold to the point of running as independents the actual Labour seat numbers could well be lower than the numbers predicted here.

Web Link :

actual Labour seat numbers could well be lower than the numbers predicted here

Going into the detail, the following words jump out at readers interested in boosting the electoral fortunes of an anti-capitalist / anti-coalition alternative :

Boost for small parties

However, the appeal of other small parties and Independents has grown considerably since the last Irish Times poll, with a fifth of all voters now supporting this category.

The level of support for this group is particularly pronounced in Dublin, where 32 per cent of voters say they would support this category.

This is a far higher level of support than any of the political parties managed to attract and indicates that there could be many more Independents and representatives of small parties in the Dáil after the next election.

Web Link :

Support for Others at 32 Per Cent in Dublin

The others group is a mix of left and right, but in Dublin it is primarily an anti-coalition left vote.  When that vote came together in 2009, Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party won one of the three Dublin Euro-Parliament Seats.

The trials and tribulations of the faltering United Left Alliance project are being exhaustively discussed on this blog and other places.

The events of this week, and the electoral and opinion poll data above, show very decisively that, the anti-coalition anti-capitalist left must get its act together – or – in Bernadette McAliskey’s recent words at the 2013 Bloody Sunday Commemoration in Derry – “we are in for one hell of a hiding”.

The Socialist Party leaves the United Left Alliance

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Socialist Party leaves the ULA

by Henry Silke

Last Saturday the Socialist Party (CWI) posted an article on their website announcing the end their membership of the United Left Alliance. This was one of the least surprising political events of the Irish left as the Socialist Party had been steadily moving away from the alliance for over a year.

The SP have given two reasons for leaving the alliance firstly it’s unhappiness with ex Socialist Party TD Clare Daly’s continued political relationship with Mick Wallace, a left leaning populist who became embroiled in a tax evasion scandal. Clare Daly had been closely allied to Wallace in the promotion of an abortion rights bill and most recently in the exposure of a practice where privileged members of society were being cleared of driving charges, something brought to the TDs, by whistle blowing members of the Irish police force. Clare Daly herself had resigned from the Socialist Party (and re-designated herself as a ULA TD) some months ago citing the Socialist Party’s lack of enthusiasm towards building the ULA. Read the rest of this entry »

Baseline Benefits are under attack: ULA statement | United Left Alliance

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Jaws – the Austerity Treaty

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Written by tomasoflatharta

May 28, 2012 at 7:42 am

ULA Public Meeting : NO To Austerity, Build a Radical Alternative – Tuesday April 24 @8.00pm, Teachers Club, 36 Parnell Square

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United Left Alliance

Dublin Central Branch

Public Meeting

NO To Austerity, Build a Radical Alternative

Tuesday April 24 @8.00pm, Teachers Club, 36 Parnell Square

Speakers : Joe Higgins TD, Joan Collins TD,

Sheila Judge (DEIS campaigner)

Boycott the Household Tax

The Campaign to boycott payment of the Household Tax has won magnificent support. The anger expressed at meetings and protest shows people are prepared to face the government down.

The United Left Alliance (ULA) fully supports the Campaign. Our members, councillors and TDs support the boycott of the tax and stand with those resisting the charge.

Labour & Fine Gael Bail Out Bankers

Labour and Fine Gael promised to stand up to the EU-IMF. Labour even threatened to ‘burn the bondholders’. Now they have made a conscious decision to bailout bankers and speculators and every dirty trick in the book will be used to threaten people to force them to pay this unjust tax.

VOTE NO to Austerity Treaty on May 31

Austerity is being imposed to pay off the gambling debts of the banks. The government wants to enshrine these policies in the Constitution by signing up to a European Treaty that will restrict the ability of states to fund public investment to create jobs. The passing of this treaty will lead to ever more cuts in health and education and more misery for the majority of people. It must be opposed.

Wealth Tax Will Fund New Jobs

The ULA is opposed to all forms of austerity:

making ordinary people pay for a crisis that was not of their making. Ireland is not broke and austerity is not inevitable. The richest 5% have a combined wealth of €219 billion. A wealth tax on these resources and a refusal to pay bank debts could generate billions for a programme of job creation.

Build A Radical Political Alternative

The growing opposition to austerity must be linked. The ULA believes it is time to build a radical political alternative. The ULA stands for the creation of a new party for working people that stands for democratic public ownership of the resources of the economy that can guarantee a decent standard of living for all. It does not believe that there is a just or sustainable solution to the current crises based on the capitalist market and bowing to the power of speculators.

We believe there needs to be a wide debate, involving all those groups and individuals opposed to austerity, about the best way to build a new organisation to represent working people, the unemployed and the marginalised.

Come to the Public Meeting, join the debate and get involved in the fightback.

The ULA, formed in November 2010, is an Alliance of People Before Profit , the Socialist Party and the Tipperary Workers and Unemployed Action Group. It has five TDs, an MEP, and councillors throughout the country. It is now building branches in all areas to provide active opposition to the austerity policies of the government.

For more information contact Donal at 087 7552559 or Colm at 087 2947100

United Left Alliance at

Debate on the United Left Alliance – Proposal for a Branch Delegate Council

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We continue the discussion on how to take forward the United Left Alliance (ULA) with this contribution from Henry Silke (Dublin Central ULA Branch)

Proposal for a Branch Delegate Council

by Henry Silke (Dublin Central ULA)


There is some frustration in the ULA on a several fronts: one has been the lack of cohesion of the organisation, with the component parts continuing to act separately; a second has been the lack of representation of members who are not aligned to the founding groups; and finally a general lack of development of branches and structure. The steering committee of the ULA has proposed a number of policies to deal with these issues. Firstly it has proposed to give non-aligned members representation (on the steering committee) which is a very welcome step forward. It does remain problematic in that it only gives non-aligned members an annual vote on representation (at conference) with no detail on how the representatives may stay in contact (if at all) with their constituency. The Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) opposes this and are instead calling for a one person one vote annual conference where a steering committee (and I presume policy and strategy) would be voted on. This too is problematic for reasons already attested by Conlon and Young (see below), the main problem being that it could lead to passive if not active divisions and an alienation of the non aligned membership. Moreover even if a simple one person one vote conference did work without leading to a fight for delegates between the SWP and the Socialist Party (SP); it remains again only an annual vote without recourse, something which does not move beyond passive concepts of democracy where members are given a voice once a year. On a more long-term structural development the steering committee has also established a sub-committee on the structural development of the alliance and it is with this in mind that I have formulated this proposal. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by tomasoflatharta

March 9, 2012 at 6:12 pm

‘”The ULA badly needs a ‘third force’…”

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There has been little enough feedback on the 24th January article Where to now for the ULA? by Eddie Conlon and Brendan Young. But better quality than quantity. The quality of this response from John Cane prompted Tomás to invite it up as a guest post. Tomás would not use all the terminology, like “democratic centralism” or “Leninist”, in the same way, but let’s not quibble.


It seems to me from your analysis that both the SWP and the SP have proved incapable of changing their spots – and that they are not going to anytime soon. They are both irredeemable “vanguardist” groups and thus must always put “party-building” first.

I would think this is a major problem for the “non-aligned” groups and individuals in ULA due to the combined weight of the SWP and SP in the organisation (though, of course, I understand that they rarely operate in concert). Frankly, I don’t see any chance of progressing the ULA “project” (of establishing a viable “revolutionary/reformist” grouping in Ireland, as I understand it) as long as it is being driven by the politics of either or both of these “vanguard” revolutionary groups.

The ULA badly needs a “third force” to counteract and challenge the SWP and SP. This can, surely, only come from organising the “non-aligned” groups and individuals on a separate basis within the ULA, to pursue separate goals (when necessary), by separate means (when necessary) – all within the ULA framework, of course. It’s a good step forward to see a separate meeting for the “non-aligned” at your forthcoming conference.

In my opinion, the sooner a new “third force” begins to define itself the better. It should have a name (how about Independent Left?). It should agree on why it thinks it needs to be separate (the rejection of “vanguardism”?; the rejection of “democratic centralism”? ; the rejection of “revolutionism”?). It should decide how inclusive it wants to be (surely very inclusive i.e. anyone not in “parties” or groups espousing the above).

The new grouping (“tendency”?) would, I think, only be able to challenge the SWP and SP (never mind supersede them) if it actively seeks to become a pole of attraction both to those inside the current ULA (i.e. all “non-aligned” and disillusioned SWP and SP members) and, critically, lefties of all stripes outside the current ULA (i.e. disillusioned LP members, groups like Plan B and Occupy, and local-based organisations).

One specific problem in establishing “Independent Left” is, perhaps, the existence of PBPA (especially the “Crumlin group”). It seems to me that there is no point to the PBPA as it stands now. If it is effectively controlled by the SWP then all “non-aligned” groups (including “Crumlin”) and individuals should simply leave it and join Independent Left if they wish to.

All going well (!), the great majority of currently “non-aligned” groups and individuals in ULA would see the value of setting up and working within an “Independent Left”-style “tendency” along the lines above and, this accomplished, it’s hard to see how SWP or SP would have any other option than to accept it as a “third force”. If they didn’t, they would have to fold the whole ULA “project” (and be seen to be doing so). “Independent Left” is, after all, an entirely legitimate exercise in left political plurality (in contrast to the “democratic centralism” of both SWP and SP). As such, its establishment, if conducted openly and fraternally, would be hard for even Leninists and Trotskyists to oppose.

If you could get away with all this, then, I would think you’ll be well on the way to “building” a viable “revolutionary/reformist” left ULA grouping in Ireland (though not a “new mass workers party”, I think!). Perhaps something along the lines of the old SLP and other “Two-and-a Half International” groupings, with “Independent Left” providing the essential (and hopefully, before long, dominant) broad, pluralist, non-vanguardist input.

And even if you don’t get away with it, well, would you be any worse off? There’s no future much for the ULA “project” as it stands now.

22nd February 2012

Written by tomasoflatharta

March 7, 2012 at 12:36 am

Why this really is an Austerity Treaty

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