[Marxism] Paddy Healy on the ULA debacle
lnp3 at panix.com
Sat May 4 07:27:17 MDT 2013
From: Paddy Healy [paddy.healy at eircom.net]
Sent: 02 May 2013 16:43
To: paddy.healy at eircom.net
Subject: After Ultraleft Destruction-The Way Forward
From Paddy Healy 086-4183732
My Political Position-----Paddy Healy
The position I outline here is my own position only. It is based on my
experience as a left-wing activist at national and international level
over 50 years. It is my personal response to current disunity on the left.
There is a broad spectrum of political analyses in Workers and
Unemployed Action. We are united on the basis of our constitution and
rules, nothing more, nothing less.
Competitive recruitment between the Socialist Party and the Socialist
Workers Party has destroyed the ULA and is now narrowing the Campaign
against Household and Water Taxes to such an extent as to make it
ineffective. The number of people attending meetings, rallies and
marches of CAHWT is dwindling as the two “Marxist” groups advocate
policies which are impossible for ordinary people and their dependents
to follow. Despite the destruction of the campaign, the two groups will
feel justified if they get some recruits out of it and ,if above all,
they get more recruits than each other!
Competitive ultra-leftism is now becoming a huge destructive feature on
the left and a large obstacle to politically reorganising masses of
ordinary people on a principled political basis and a serious obstacle
to organising effective campaigns against austerity. I believe that I
have an obligation to explain to left-wing political activists why these
things are occurring and how these obstacles may be overcome and to
generate a discussion on the way forward.
The Roots of The Problem
I touched on the roots of the problem in a footnote to my original
document (I have appended it below). Trotsky founded the Fourth
International in 1938. The defining class battles in the past 70 years
occurred during the second world war and its aftermath and during the
fall of Stalinism in Eastern Europe. Political currents are not
revolutionary just because they say they are or because they use Marxist
terminology or even because they have developed a comprehensive
political programme. Indeed all currents have many committed and able
members. It can only be concluded that they are revolutionary if they
pass the test of history and continue to contribute to the achievement
of workers liberation.
Before his assassination, after the war had broken out, Trotsky wrote a
document entitled the “Fourth International and War”. While it was
correct to designate the war as inter-imperialist and accordingly the
revolutionaries were required to oppose the war-mongering of their own
capitalists, nevertheless the revolutionaries should be in the trenches
with the workers and should not personally evade conscription.. Normal
agitation would be inadequate in war time and the Trotskyists should be
prepared for armed action in appropriate circumstances. This advice was
disregarded by the Trotskyists, notably in the UK and France. Leaders
spent the war safe from conscription in Ireland and the Isle of Man.
Even after the Nazis had taken over in France and set up a puppet French
government the French Trotskyists did not change their abstentionist
position. Nazis were rounding up Jews, trade unionists, Gays and
transporting them to labour camps and extermination camps. There was
virtually no Trotskyist participation in “La Résistance” in the face of
There was a major revolutionary heave of the working class throughout
Europe as the Nazi regime and its puppets crumbled. Because of huge
errors the Trotskyists were totally marginalised in this surge. They had
not been in the trenches with the workers and they had not participated
in the armed struggle against the Nazis in France and the Balkans. The
Fourth International broke up into competing sects largely confined to
The working class surge in the UK resulted in the “war hero” Churchill
being ousted by the Attlee led Labour Party. The Trotskyists were
completely marginalised and confined to intellectual circles because
they had not been in the trenches with the workers who were now surging
forward. Crucially the entire left of the trade union movement fell into
the hands of the Communist Party who had been in the
trenches,particularly after the collapse of the Stalin-Hitler Pact.
(This happened in Belfast also where the CP became dominant due to
absence of the British or Irish Labour Parties)
The international surge led to a major revival of Labour in 26-county
Ireland and the development of Clann Na Poblachta .
Interest in Trotskyism did not substantially revive on the left until
the Hungarian events of 1956.
During the late fifties and sixties each Trotskyist sect either
developed or hardened their view that they were the sole inheritor of
the revolutionary heritage of Trotsky. Each saw itself as the one true
church outside of which there was no socialist salvation!
Almost all Trotskyist currents expanded membership in the late sixties
and seventies in the context of student revolts , opposition to the
Vietnam war and the suppression of the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia.
A successful revolution against Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe is a
key plank of the Trotskyist programme of world revolution. This took a
huge turn in 1980 when the Polish regime was forced to allow the free
trade union Solidarnosc to organise following a workers revolt. What
followed is history including the fall of Stalinism in the Soviet Union
and Eastern Germany. Crucially, the outcome was not a victory for
workers power but for international capitalism.
This was a huge setback for the international working class. (SWP UK saw
it as a replacement of one form of capitalism by another). The victory
of the right in eastern Europe politically strengthened capitalism world
wide and gave rise to new attacks on workers all over the world and the
reinforcement of Thatcherism/Reaganism and neo-liberalism (extreme
Were the Trotskyist currents able to give strong support to the workers
revolt in eastern Europe and make serious efforts to lead it along the
path of workers democracy? We all did some things. For example, the
League for a Workers Republic of which I was a leading member sent
computers and printers to the Polish shipyards and transported them to
there in person. Solidarnosc reps spoke in Ireland and were received by
Clonmel Trades Council and Clonmel Corporation. Doubtlessly other
currents did similar things.
But the reality was that the Trotskyist currents were largely
irrelevant. Apart from a handful of émigrés in Paris there were no
Trotskyists in Eastern Europe. Above all, not alone was there no
Trotskyist leadership of a single large western trade union but the
Trotskyists were not serious contenders for leadership in a single
one-and it was forty two years since the founding of the Fourth
Solidarnosc was driven to the right by Western Trade union leaders,
above all by the leadership of the American AFL/CIO and the American
Federation of Teachers. (when I was sent as President of the Teachers
Union of Ireland as fraternal delegate to AFTCongressin 2005, I refused
to take part in a “Celebration of 25 years of Solidarnosc” at a fringe
event) European Social Democracy also played a significant role.
Seeing that the revolution in Eastern Europe was a huge crucial and even
defining part of the Trotskyist Programme one might have expected that
all the currents would come together, pool their resources, and give
maximum support to the progressive elements in the developing revolt.
Nothing of that kind of any significance occurred. Their main
preoccupation was to use East European activists to help themselves
recruit in the west. (There was a row between SWP UK and PCI(France)
when Lambert (PCI Leader)“poached” Edmund Baluka (Szechin Shipyard)
from Cliff (SWP Leader))
The failure of the Trotskyist currents to organise clandestine work in
Eastern Europe over 30 years since the second world war was inexcusable.
It meant that they did not take the Trotskyist programme seriously and
it raises serious questions about their internationalism.
The weak position in Western trade unions was a product of the second
world war debacle. This was compounded by failure to admit and attempt
to rectify the error and the resulting prioritisation of
conflict/competitive recruitment with other Trotskyist currents.
THE WAY FORWARD
This is not a matter of apportioning blame to individuals or to
The reality is that all of them failed historic tests which had huge
negative outcomes for the international working class. The first failure
facilitated the decapitation of the post-world war revolutionary process
by the Communist Parties, particularly in France and Italy. The second
failure in Easten Europe facilitated the strengthening of world-wide
capitalism against the working class.
This means that none of the currents have any revolutionary authority
and continue to be seriously disfunctional. It means that none of the
currents are “the one true church” . They cannot admit this or address
their own history because they believe they “are the one true church”
and failure to make the “the one true church” dominant through
individual recruitment will be the death of the revolution according to
each of them. They are in a vicious circle from which they cannot
escape. The belief that the dominance of your own current is a
prerequisite for a successful revolution can justify all manner of
behaviour. For example, if your rivals are dominating the ULA, it is
your duty to sharply factionalise against this even if this disrupts the
regroupment generally. Hence the SWP internal bulletin of Feb 2,2012
quoted in my earlier document. Hence the failure of the SP to call for
the resignation of Mick Wallace because it would reduce ther domination
of the ULA by alienating Clare Daly TD.
The deadly rivalry between Trotskyist currents has particularly negative
consequences in the current world situation of capitalist crisis.
Because of the demise of the Communist Parties the Trotskyists are no
longer a left opposition to Stalinism in the workers movement. The
social democrats have been severely weakened in many countries including
Ireland. This means that genuine principled socialists have to take
responsibility for the fate of the working class as a whole and
therefore for the rapid political regroupment of whole layers of
workers. This must take priority over individual recruitment to
individual groups. Until political currents accept this they are an
obstacle rather than a help.
In the absence of a recognised and proven revolutionary international
leadership, we must do all we can where we can. We must all be committed
to political reorganisation at national level and to co-operate with
like-minded people who give priority to this project. On the other hand,
we must seek out all opportunities to create a revolutionary
international. It is important to remember that all new internationals
involved a coming together of political formations which had already
existed from a number of countries.
There are many groupings and individuals throughout the world which
share some of this analysis.
Socialist Party Withdraws from ULA—my earlier doccument 19/01/2013
Rivalry between Socialist Party (SP) and Socialist Workers Party (SWP)
Ends ULA Project.
Towards a New Way Forward
The Socialist Party has effectively withdrawn from the ULA. It has also
vetoed the registration of the ULA as a political party. (It has
formally withdrawn since-PH)
Prior to the withdrawal of WUAG from the ULA, I predicted that the
rivalry between the SP and the SWP , which had already seriously damaged
the ULA, would intensify and would kill off the organisation as a
credible left alternative. WUAG had already concluded that the
activities of the SP and the SWP had made impossible the task of
politically reorganising workers in a mass way through the ULA. As such
reorganisation is the core objective of WUAG, that organisation
withdrew. It will now seek to carry out this mission on a national basis
in alliance with like-minded individuals.
The effective break-up of the ULA is a set-back for the left which must
be overcome as quickly as possible. This document is a contribution to
the necessary discussion. As similar problems are occurring in other
countries, it is to be hoped that this document will make a positive
contribution to a more general international discussion.
After a brief ceasefire between the two groups after the withdrawal of
WUAG, the contention between the SP and the SWP has now reached maximum
intensity. Unfortunately the contention has now reached new heights also
in the Campaign against Household and Water Charges. This can be seen
from the SP statement on its website in which its effective withdrawal
from the ULA was announced and from the proceedings of the recent rally
(Jan 12, 2013) of The Campaign against Household and Water Charges1.
In the course of the statement dated Dec 14, 2012 the Socialist Party said:
“The Socialist Party has major problems with the political positions and
approaches being adopted in the ULA at present. We have communicated to
the Steering Committee that we don't see any real or productive basis to
pursue our serious concerns in the ULA at this point, particularly given
the positions argued and adopted by the different elements at the last
Council meeting. ------
For the Socialist Party, the battle against the household and property
taxes is a priority, and it will take more of our focus and work and as
mentioned, in that context we will be diminishing our participation in
However, in doing this we are not in any way stepping away from the
struggle to help to build a new working class party on a principled
basis. That is precisely what can happen in an organic way, by fighting
on these issues which can potentially bring thousands of ordinary
working class people into activity, which is essential if a new mass
working class party is to be built.”
The Socialist Party has also informed the ULA that it will not be
attending meetings of the ULA leadership body known as the Steering
Committee. The Socialist Party has veto powers on that Committee.
Presumably, it has decided that decisions taken by that body are of no
further concern to the SP or alternatively that the residual Steering
committee will be unable to take any decision in its absence!!
Given the level of betrayal carried out by the Labour Party in the
Budget, the building of a mass left alternative is more urgent than
ever. In its statement the Socialist Party says that it is not “stepping
away” from this objective. But, clearly, it does not see the ULA playing
a role in this. Clearly the formulation “diminishing its participation”
is merely a cover for abandoning the ULA which effectively now no longer
exists in its original form.
The SP believes that the building of a mass left alternative will occur
“in an organic way” through the Campaign Against Household and Water
Charges. That is the meaning of the sentence in their statement: “That
is precisely what can happen in an organic way, by fighting on these
issues which can potentially bring thousands of ordinary working class
people into activity, which is essential if a new mass working class
party is to be built.”
The CAHWT is their replacement for the ULA as a field for recruitment
As the government has made a non-payment campaign against home tax
impossible through deductions from pay, benefits and grants and trade
union leaders are blocking industrial action, the SP (and the SWP) is
driven to proposing unofficial industrial action in a situation where
all the evidence is that this is impossible at this time1. There is a
danger that the disfunctionality associated with the SP/SWP rivalry
could drive the CAHWT and with it the entire left along a suicidal path.
This turn by the SP is a huge error. Political reorganisation of workers
is now not only necessary but the ground for it is uniquely favourable.
This is clearly shown in recent opinion polls. “The essential rejection
by 44 per cent of the electorate of all current possible political
permutations is also indicative of a strong level of latent support for
a new political party.” (Sunday Independent January 13).
As trade union leaders make it impossible for workers to organise to
defeat their enemies by industrial action/demonstrations etc, entire
sections of workers are driven towards political reorganisation. That is
the fertile ground which now exists and it is being abandoned in
practice by the SP and the SWP in favour of individual recruitment to
their own organisations.
The three founding groups of the ULA were WUAG, SP and People Before
Profit Alliance which includes the SWP. The decision of the SWP, in Feb
2012, to prioritise recruitment to the SWP rather than to the ULA or
even to People before Profit has effectively split People before Profit.
Joan Collins TD did not attend its most recent national conference and
Eddie Conlon, a member of its leadership, resigned from the organisation
in advance of the conference. The SWP position was set out in a leaked
internal bulletin3 dated Feb 2, 2012.
The same internal bulletin ( issued before the Mick Wallace matter arose
and before the resignation of Clare Daly TD from the SP) announced that
the ULA had already collapsed.
Clearly the SWP had abandoned the strategy of building a mass left
alternative through the ULA (if it were ever genuinely committed to the
project) several months before the SP came to the same conclusion.
Why? Why? Why?
At a time when working people are facing the most intense attacks on
their living standards for over 60 years, most genuine left political
activists, trade union and community activists and people of good intent
will be scandalised by the divisions and the attendant acrimony on the
left. It is scarcely believable that at a time of greatest opportunity
and greatest obligation to working people that the SP and the SWP would
prioritise domination over each other rather than the building of a mass
I believe that I have a duty to explain the roots of this debacle in an
attempt to ensure that it does not recur. The work of building a mass
left alternative on a principled basis must continue urgently without
the SP and the SWP unless and until these organisations demonstrate in
practice that they give priority to politically reorganising whole
sections of workers over recruitment to their own organisations.
The SP and the SWP are part of separate international political currents
each headquartered in London. Because the two organisations are biggest
in the UK, the rivalry is particularly intense there though it exists in
several countries. The two international currents are two of the many
fragments of the Fourth International founded by Leon Trotsky which
broke up during and following the second world war. The founders of
these currents had made disastrous political errors2 in the war years
which isolated them from the workers movement particularly in France and
the UK. (I can discuss this further with those interested)
For many years, I have held the view that the main objective of these
organisations is to become bigger and more influential than each other.
Despite their protestations, all other objectives take second place.
Prioritisation of individual recruitment to competing political sects
makes objective analysis of the political conjuncture or realistic
assessment of the mood and orientation of workers impossible. Above all,
each must be more “revolutionary” than the other. This leads to totally
wrong decisions at best and, at worst suicidal policies for the genuine
left. It makes entirely impossible the incorporation into the genuine
left of layers of the workers springing into new political life. This is
not just an Irish phenomenon but an international phenomenon.
Let us look at developments in the ULA in 2012 and attempt to understand
them from the above point of view.
Before the Wallace admission on tax evasion, the SWP had decided that
the ULA had collapsed and priority should be given by their members to
recruiting to SWP rather than to ULA. (See extract from leaked SWP
Internal bulletin pasted below)3. SWP members were to publicly criticise
their allies. Up to that period the ULA had been relatively successful
having elected five TDs and having held a successful conference. It was
clear that the ULA hadn’t collapsed. Why then did SWP make this “turn”?
Because the SP with two TDs had come to publicly dominate the ULA with
Joe Higgins taking leaders questions, this was perceived by SWP as
giving SP a major advantage for growth and recruitment with SWP playing
second fiddle. Given the long history of in-fighting in the UK, this did
not look good from SWP HQ in London! Irish leaders of the SP could be
much more effective in assisting their parties in other countries
including the UK, to recruit members based on their “success” in the
ULA. In order to set up the ULA, it had been agreed by the SWP that
decisions would be taken by consensus as befitted an Alliance. But now
the SWP launched an aggressive campaign to outgrow the SP. Consensus
decision making, they said, must be replaced immediately with one person
one vote! This opportunist policy took no account of the fact that the
ULA was an alliance of three separate political parties. According to
SWP, there could be no waiting until serious political differences4 had
been resolved in fraternal internal discussion before a single united
party could be formed based on “one person-one vote”. SWP was fully
aware that any such decision would break up the Alliance. This cynical
policy was designed to appeal to the many new inexperienced people who
had joined the ULA and hopefully strengthen the SWP in its rivalry with
the SP. Given the history of the SWP in this and other countries, it was
widely understood that there was no possibility of the SWP carrying out
majority decisions with which it did not agree as was also the case with
the other two components because of unresolved political4 differences.
The SWP position was a cynical ploy to further recruitment to the SWP at
the cost of disrupting the ULA. The aggressive promotion of the SWP had
already, at that stage, caused serious tensions within the People Before
Profit Alliance. These were further exacerbated when the SWP
unilaterally announced, without consultation even with People before
Profit, that Clr Brid Smith (SWP and PBP) would stand in the same
constituency as Joan Collins TD (PBP) in the next general election!
In the early days of June 2012, Mick Wallace TD publicly admitted that
he had intentionally withheld VAT collected from house buyers from the
It was clear to WUAG that the greatest possible distance should be put
between the ULA and Mick Wallace.
On the following Saturday at a meeting of the Steering Committee WUAG
proposed that ULA call on Mick Wallace to resign from the Dail. The WUAG
view was that Wallace was not a fit person to be a public
representative. I explained that ULA campaigns in defence of public
services and in favour of tax equity would be irreparably damaged by any
association with Wallace and that the entire ULA project would be
damaged as a result. The SP announced that while we should condemn the
actions of Wallace, it would veto any attempt to call on him to resign
from the Dail. I spent some minutes attempting to persuade the SP
representatives in a fraternal manner that this would prove to be a
disastrous decision which they should change. The SP cited the
democratic rights of constituents as justification for the intended
veto. The meeting was informed that WUAG would be calling for the
resignation of Wallace in its own name in any event on the following
day. Other Dail deputies had already called for the resignation of
Wallace. Anything less than a call for his resignation would be
interpreted by workers as “being soft” on Mick Wallace and tax evasion.
Why would any sane socialist organisation take a soft line on the
continued membership of the legislature by a capitalist builder who had
publicly admitted not passing on VAT on the sale of houses to the
Revenue? Incredibly, the real agenda of the SP was to retain a dominant
position over the SWP within and outside the ULA. The SP had two TDs and
the SWP had but one. I believe that the Socialist Party took the view
that if the SP called for the resignation of Wallace that Clare Daly TD
would leave the Socialist Party and that this would reduce the SP to one
TD, the same as the rival SWP. The SP decided to take a softer line in
order to maintain dominance over the SWP within the ULA. ULA TDs had
called for the resignation of Michael Lowry TD. Why not Mick Wallace?
Of course Clare Daly left the SP shortly afterwards in any event.
Because of the position taken by the SP at the Steering Committee Clare
was able to explain on television that she did not call for the
resignation of Mick Wallace because the Socialist Party had not called
for his resignation!
The SWP had turned the second annual conference of ULA into a “bear
garden” in pursuit of their campaign to set aside the Alliance and
replace it with a unitary organisation based on one person-one vote
though serious political4 differences between the components had not
even been discussed let alone resolved.
WUAG decided that the opportunist policy of the SP on the Wallace issue
and the virulent factionalism of the SWP if allowed to go unchecked
would fatally damage the ULA as a vehicle for the creation of a mass
left party on a principled political basis.
Consequently, in an attempt to retrieve the situation, WUAG tabled two
motions for the ULA Steering Committee. The first proposed that the ULA
call on Mick Wallace to resign from the DAIL as it had proposed when the
Wallace issue first arose. The second proposed that the SWP withdraw its
internal bulletin of Feb the second which announced that the ULA had
collapsed and that the other components should be criticised publicly.
In a rare show of unity, the two motions were vetoed by the SP and the
People before Profit Alliance including the SWP!!! In a cynical
manoeuvre, the SWP representative proposed that there be a three month
moratorium on publicly criticising each other. An unaligned delegate
quite tellingly asked: “Why only for 3 months” He had summed it all up.
The ULA is now in complete disarray. The lesson is that it is impossible
to attempt the political reorganisation of Irish workers in alliance
with the SP and/or the SWP unless these organisations fundamentally
change their approach. Each will prefer that any regroupment be damaged
rather than allow its rival to out-grow it. Out-growing their rival is
their over-riding priority.
There are of course periods in political life when left wing
organisations should give priority to recruiting individuals. In quiet
periods, that is all that can be done and it should be done in order to
prepare for times of political crisis. The problem arises when
organisations prioritise recruitment to their own political
organisations at all times including periods such as the present when a
major breakthrough is possible and necessary at a mass level.
Seamus Healy and his colleagues has been working in South Tipperary for
25 years. It is the only constituency where a working class based
political organisation has replaced the Labour Party as the main
political organisation of workers. The SWP has been active in a number
of provincial centres for at least as long without success. Though they
have had many dedicated and capable members in these centres they were
unable to make a significant impact. The problem was at Dublin/London
leadership level not at local level.
There must be a new and early attempt to reorganise Irish workers. The
rivalry between the SP and the SWP and the related prioritisation of
recruitment to their own sects makes it impossible for them to make a
positive contribution to the political reorganization of entire layers
of workers at present.
I am not suggesting that the door should be closed to political
alliances of left-wing organisations in future. But any future alliance
must be subject to two preconditions.
Firstly, it must be on a principled political basis. Above all,
participants must rule out coalition government with capitalist parties.
Secondly, and crucially, all participating groups must place the
political reorganization of entire sections of workers above recruitment
to their own organisations.
I understand that a new initiative will be launched by WUAG in the near
I will not be entering into further public political discussion on these
matters. I am of course available for further discussion with
individuals including the many well intentioned members of the SWP and
I will be devoting my time to politically reorganising actual groups and
layers of workers. That is the task of the hour. The failure of the ULA
initiative must be quickly overcome. There is no time to lose. Otherwise
the Irish workers will pay a heavy political price for the failure of
Paddy Healy, former Member of Steering Committee, ULA 01/01/2013
1 The rally was well attended by approximately 450 people of whom at
least 200 were political activists. Speaking queues were hogged by SP
and SWP activists. The SP advocated mass rallies “of at least 30,000”
and unofficial workplace walk-outs. Not to be outdone, the SWP advocated
“shutting down the country” through unofficial strikes. While these
events are very much to be desired they bear no relation to the current
mood among workers. Because of the demoralising effect of the
treacherous activity of the trade union leadership in recent years,
workers have not staged spontaneous walk-outs even when their pay has
been cut! This will, of course, change in the future. But it is a
suicidal error to base immediate tactics on a change that has yet to
2 Before his assassination in 1940, Trotsky has written a document
entitled “The Fourth International and War”. In this document he warned
that peacetime agitational methods (strikes, demonstrations etc) were
insufficient in a situation of war and occupation. If the workers were
in the trenches, it was necessary for the revolutionaries to be in the
trenches with them irrespective of the revolutionary attitude to the
war. The British and European Trotskyist leaders ignored this advice.
Safe from conscription, some spent the war years in neutral countries,
including Ireland. After the war, the British social democrats had no
difficulty in marginalising those who were not in the trenches. Many
workers had been wounded themselves or had lost relatives. The French
Communist Party had no difficulty in marginalising those who had not
participated in underground armed struggle against the Nazi occupation.
The Trotskyist movement broke up into several sects. The sects were
revived after the war under the leadership of those responsible for the
war-time debacle. There was no admission of mistakes. This meant that
the membership was largely confined to the intelligentsia and isolated
from the working class.. Factionalism and rivalry became the main reason
for existence of each sect. Unfortunately this position continues to
this day ( Pierre Broué,Trotskyist and Lecturer, University of Grenoble
has written on the history of the Trotskyist movement during the war.)
3 Extract from SWP internal Bulletin Feb 2, 2012
*United Left Alliance*
The space that the ULA should occupy is now the realm of Sinn Fein
spokespeople. The weakness of the ULA is a product of the sectarianism
of the SP and the conservatism of Joan Collins and the Healy group. On a
steering committee of 6 we have one representative and all proposals we
put forward over the last year are vetoed. We suggested a common ULA
strategy for the household campaign but this was shot down as the other
components would rather not be tied to the SWP but would rather side
with the anarchist/eirigi elements of the left who are more than happy
to cooperate when it comes to marginalising the SWP. The SP’s formalism
will be the subject of an article produced by the PC to explain their
We are going into the open with our critique of the state of the ULA.
This involved pointing out the others political positions. Putting down
motions at ULA branches for action e.g. to support the Right To Work
demo on April the 14th. By building an open and democratic ULA on the
ground in key areas we can prove in practice the poverty of the SP’s
political positions. The steering committee want to suggest adding
‘independents’ to the committee but this is just a sop to democracy.
Instead of one member one vote and a delegate based leadership structure
we end up with the insane: the semi-anarchist ‘independent’ in the ULA
and the reformist on the right of the ULA can represent one another? So
heterogenous elements with no shared platform can be represented by one
The long delayed conference will now take place on April 21st with a
separate meeting for independents- we should demand that this separate
meeting report back to the main conference and that there has to be a
vote on any proposals that are put forward.
The NPA in France has declined from 10,000 to 3,000 members because of
the logjam at the top. Instead of open votes they have ‘platforms’ who
each put forward a proposal and opposing proposals are amalgamated. So
one faction says ‘we are for the veil ban’ the other says ‘we are
against’ and you try to formulate a position that encompasses both!!
This destroys the ability to take any action.
In summary: Kieran Allen’s document on the ULA will be published soon
and we should already be open in our critique of the reasons for the
collapse of the ULA. We should put down proposals for action in ULA
branches- especially the protest at the Labour Conference (this had been
planned by SWP as a non-ULA event led by SWP only without consultation
with SP or WUAG( PH))
4 Political Differences.
There are serious political differences on a number of issues between
the 3 founding components of the ULA. For example the SP is opposed to
the ULA organising in the 6 counties, capitulating to Unionist pressure.
Indeed a leading member of SP attempted to prevent trade unionists
living in Co Tyrone being admitted to a rank and file trade union
network. Following this incident, WUAG found it necessary to declare
that any attempt to prevent those living or working in the six counties
from joining the ULA would be a red line issue for WUAG. While the SWP
is technically in favour of the ULA organising on an All Ireland basis,
in practice it agitates there in a largely partitionist framework . It
has never raised a northern issue on the Steering Committee of ULA. In
my opinion, it merely declares that it is in favour of the ULA being
organised on an All Ireland basis in order to out-recruit the SP among
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