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people before profit forum

category national | anti-capitalism | feature author Wednesday January 25, 2006 12:08author by Cathy Swift - People before Profitauthor email Catherine.Swift at nuim dot ieauthor phone 086-0679708 Report this post to the editors

new alliance of left wing community activists

From the newswire: The following represents a report on a public meeting held in Dublin 13th/14th January.

The first public workshop of the People before Profit Alliance / Davitt League Alliance was held in Cassidy’s Hotel (on the evening of Friday 13th January) and the Teachers Club (Saturday 14th). Chairing the Friday night session, Dr Michael Punch of TCD announced the aim of the group — which is to provide support through collaboration for individual grassroots movements and to increase political space for the views of community activists.

The speakers on Friday night provided insights and experiences from two campaigns: Rita Fagan on regeneration in St Michael’s Estate, Inchicore; and Vincent McGrath as one of the Rossport Five (jailed for their refusal to guarantee that they would not protest against Shell plans in Mayo).

McGrath argued that while safety had been the original focus of local dissent, the information that has since been unearthed has changed the debate entirely. It is now known that, beginning with a deal made by Ray Burke against civil service advice, Ireland has given away control over its gas fields to private oil companies and has retained no state interest in this sector. There is no guarantee of secure supply into the future - an issue that has been in the news as a result of Russian threats to cut off supplies to the Ukraine. Irish gas will be sold to Irish citizens at the full market rate with Norwegian citizens, through their state company Statoil, reaping the profits. The Rossport campaign is now devoted to repudiating this give-away of Ireland’s natural resources and, following the example of recent change in the United Kingdom and Venezuela, renegotiating a deal with the oil companies to ensure a degree of State interest and some security of future supply.

In speaking of the St Michael’s Estate campaign, Rita Fagan placed it in the context of ongoing efforts in Dublin to transfer land (currently occupied by public housing) into the hands of private developers through the use of PPPs (Public Private Partnerships) and the destruction of old established communities which this entails. In particular, she drew attention to the huge amount of detailed local work which had been put into a collaborative community plan for St Michael’s Estate over two years. This ended abruptly in September 2004 with a letter from the Department of the Environment (then headed by Martin Cullen), tearing up the previous arrangements and insisting that PPP development was the only kind that the government was now prepared to endorse. Through the collection of 3000 signatures and extensive lobbying by the community over the last eighteen months, what is now under negotiation is a proposal that the new developments at St Michael’s will retain 150 local authority houses and 70 for first time buyers. However, many other PPP development of Dublin public housing estates are currently in the pipeline and without support and campaigning, it is not clear what percentage of public housing stock will be contained in these.

Eamonn McCann stressed that all campaigns represented a fight against the abuse of power and that “we’re all fighting for one another”. He illustrated this inter-relationship with the story of Bishop Berkeley, an eighteenth-century Derryman whose interest in education and free speech led to his name being used for the foundation of Berkeley College in California. The reputation of the college for liberal thinking and left wing values led in turn to it becoming the centre for beatnik culture celebrated by Alan Ginsberg’s “Howl”. Subsequently, during the Free University movement of the sixties, Berkeley College students erected a sign: “You are now entering Free Berkeley”. It was this sign which provided the inspiration for the famous placard in the Bogside: “You are now entering Free Derry”. McCann also drew attention to the lack of political support for the seventeen families whose houses are to be destroyed to make way for the new runway at Derry demanded by Ryanair, and to the fact that advisors to the British government on current plans to slash the numbers of civil servants in the North are drawn from the very companies who expect to benefit from such privatisation.

Speaking from the floor Richard Boyd Barrett drew attention to the victories which various campaigns had won over the last year: the reversal of the repatriation of their fellow-pupil Kunle by the Palmerston Community College; pay for the Gama workers; the freeing of the Rossport Five; the Save Our Seafront campaign in Dun Laoghaire; and the Irish Ferries marches. This sparked a debate about the nature of victory and to what extent one should celebrate achievements which might fall short of original aims. It was agreed that arguments were won on the basis of the quality of information provided and that attempts to restrict the flow of public information (through restriction of the Freedom of Information Act and the recent attack on the Centre for Public Inquiry) should be resisted.

Saturday morning saw further discussion of social housing issues. Andrew MacLaran of TCD provided an analysis of changes in urban governance over the last twenty years. This could be summed up as the adoption of a business ethos replacing older notions of community welfare and privatisation of public assets through fiscal incentives and joint ventures. This resulted in situations where planners, paid for by the public purse, were in effect acting to facilitate private companies. Investment was largely geared to ‘selling the city’ to such companies through chasing high-profile events, such as the Olympics and by way of “tarting up” public spaces – as in the replacement of the original trees on O’Connell Street by “controlled cubed lollipop sticks’.

Little or no public debate takes place about the sell-off of public land and amenities which can be involved: it is not clear that any valuation of the land at Fatima Mansions was undertaken before the PPP arrangements were entered into, while estimates for the value of St Michael’s Estate in Inchicore varied between 80 million and 130 million euros. (In this instance, it was initially proposed that 80 units of social housing would be built on land valued at 80 million.). This lack of transparency is further illustrated by the fact that whereas there are precise figures available for expenditure on Social Welfare, the State has no record or even estimate of the cost to the public purse of the various tax incentives for inner city development in recent years.

Also vital to discussion of these regeneration schemes is the displacement of the inner city communities involved. A feature of the proposed new PPP arrangements is that social housing will be limited to a maximum of 50% of any estate and it is not at all clear where future council tenants may expect to be housed.

These latter points were reinforced by speakers from the floor citing parallel developments in the Poppintree estate in Ballymun, in Clanbrassil Street and in Rathgar. The rebuilding of public swimming pools with private apartments (rather than social housing) above them; the replacement of such public amenities by private fitness clubs with restricted access for locals; the knock-on effect for small businesses which find it more profitable to sell their inner city shops for development and relocate to industrial suburbs on the outskirts of Dublin were all alluded to. In addition, the replacement of family homes by one and two bedroom apartments makes many inner city schools unviable in the long term. Attention was drawn to the fact that these issues are not being articulated by any of the Irish political parties in the Dáil; that there is little attempt to evaluate the efficiency or the value of PPP arrangements in the media and that, increasingly, Dublin City Council are refusing to provide information which would enable others to fill this void. Moreover, the real debate on social housing is being disguised by the government’s use of the new term: “affordable housing” which is never defined and the cost of which to the individual purchaser is only rarely specified. It was noted that while the improverished Irish State of the 1950s was able to afford public housing amounting to 50% of all new housing stock, that figure had fallen to 7% in the Celtic Ireland of 2004.

John Bissett of Rialto drew attention to the umbrella organisation Tenants First which seeks to disseminate the experiences of individual council estates undergoing regeneration. He stressed the need for all participants in community partnerships to clearly identify the grounds on which meetings were held and the extent to which such groups are empowered to make binding agreements. He drew attention to the fact that Dublin City Council and their officials are frequently merely a buffer between communities and the real decision-makers. Groups which had engaged in good faith in consultative processes have, on occasion, had their many hours of work disregarded on the basis that outside bodies, such as the Department of Finance, would not endorse the agreed arrangements. It was important that local groups evaluated their experiences and the extent to which their voice was heard in the final shake-out so that others could appreciate the value of co-operation in such endeavours.

Attention then turned to the value or otherwise of community activists getting involved in electoral politics. Des Bonass of ATGWU drew attention to the lack of public control over their politicians. The forces causing politicians to act were the concerns (in no particular order) of big business, multi-nationals, the media and the civil service. Despite the ubiquity of the statement “We have a mandate from the people”, politicians such as Michael McDowell and Mary Harney had the power to produce sweeping changes on the basis of a mere 2% in public support. In contrast, the widespread popular support for grassroots movements such as the Anti-War campaign or the anti-Nice vote were frequently ignored. A system in which politicians are largely drawn from a small caste of celebrities, sportsmen and the extended families of existing TDs means that electoral politics is limited to the pursuit of power rather than to policy debates.

Community activists should concentrate in the first instance on spreading their message in left-wing movements and must avoid compromises which ignore the aims of their associates working in street politics and on the ground.

Richard Boyd Barrett of Save Our Seafront took a more historical perspective, arguing that the mass movements of the 1960s had encountered a neo-authoritarian backlash in the 1980s and 90s. More importantly, such social movements had often faltered at the point of their maximum popularity because they lacked political answers and politicians to articulate their demands. Comparisons could be drawn with present-day movements such as the Anti-War rallies which, despite massive popular support in Britain and the United States, failed to find support in mainstream politics. Even the Liberal Democrats of Britain, who had taken an anti-invasion line on the Iraq war, are now refusing to call for British troops to return home. The need for such popular movements to find political expression is beginning to be recognised in countries such as Germany with the formation of the Links Partei, in Italy with the Rifondazione Communista, with the Left Block in Portugal and with Respect in Britain.

The lesson to be drawn is that broad movements should never be collapsed into political parties but that links can and should be drawn with political parties who are willing to support their aims.

Dave Lordan from the floor pointed out that the experience of SWP candidates standing in the local elections in 2002 had proved valuable in enhancing the credibility of a radical programme of action in his local area. Journalists and others recognised the names of the people involved while other local politicians were conscious of the possibility of losing future votes. It was agreed that if community activists were to be elected, they should follow the example of Joe Higgins in agreeing to take only the average industrial wage, that measures should be taken to ensure that representatives would report back on a regular basis and that mass public meetings should be held in local areas to facilitate the expression of new issues and concerns.

Summing up, it was agreed that the weekend had proved both enjoyable and productive and that similar meetings would be organised by the People before Profit Alliance on other topics such as Health, Waste/Incineration, Transport and Migrant Workers in the near future. The question of electoral activity would also be revisited. In the meantime, efforts would continue to establish contact with as many campaign groups as possible. The website www.people_beforeprofit@yahoo.ie is due to go live shortly and will include information on the various topics covered as well as a list of TDs addresses and emails. Lobbying, attending events where prominent politicians are speaking, disseminating information through street stalls and supermarkets, petitions, rallies, press releases and letters to both politicians and the media have all proved successful tools for individual campaign groups up till now and it is hoped that all these methods can be successfully deployed into the future.

author by swppublication date Mon Jan 23, 2006 20:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

wouldn't be the same richard whose in the IAWM and a leading member of the SWP. Why is it he never mentions his party colours, or anyone else in the swp for that matter, are you all embarrassed? A little honesty please!

author by SWatcherpublication date Mon Jan 23, 2006 21:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dave Lordan correctly points out that

"...if community activists were to be elected, they should follow the example of Joe Higgins in agreeing to take only the average industrial wage, that measures should be taken to ensure that representatives would report back on a regular basis..."

I find it ironic that the SWP in Britain don't ask either of these things of Galloway

author by YETIpublication date Mon Jan 23, 2006 21:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Cathy left out that the conference was organised by the SWP. Keiran Allen's phone number was listed as a contact for the event. Rich boy was "speaking from the floor" but he was a listed chair of one of the sessions. People Before Profit/ Davitt League (or the PD's as I'm going to refer to them in future) is just another front so the SWP can put up candidates in 2007.

author by .publication date Mon Jan 23, 2006 21:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

how many attended?

author by Caitlin - Code Pink Women for Peace & Social Justicepublication date Tue Jan 24, 2006 08:03author email codepinkireland at gmail dot comauthor address Irelandauthor phone Report this post to the editors

Can someone explain them to me please? What's the significance of the political party affiliation of persons attending the "People Before Profit" symposium? Is there a problem with members of SWP helping out the People Before Profit/Davitt League? If so, just what is the problem here?

Or is this just more "People's Front of Judea" versus the "Judean People's Front" splitting of hairs?

Related Link: http://codepinkireland.blogspot.com/
author by ipublication date Tue Jan 24, 2006 09:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Good report, well done. Thank you for putting it up on IMC - the wire is a bit sparse on news these last few days.

author by Dan - nuns against celibacypublication date Tue Jan 24, 2006 10:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thanks for the report Cathy. Nice to see something well put together like that on the wire. And I agree with Cathy that the witch-hunters brigade ought to find something more useful to do with their time and ours.

author by Michael R.publication date Tue Jan 24, 2006 11:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If the left / those with a social consciousness do not unify to some degree we are all f**ked. The sectarian left which has been so self-defeating in Ireland, and many other countries, to date, must end. Let us follow the path being paved out by such continents as South America. The Right, Capitalism and those who advocate Profit before People are beginning to creak at the seams.

Only last night I was standing in a bus shelter in Dublin and there was a big bustop advert saying "Replace Capitalism with something nicer.......Any Suggestions?" No the advert was not by some "subversive" lefty group whom the government through Dublin City Council are trying to stamp out through banning postering in the City. The advert was by the "Irish Times". Let us take advantage of this shift in public consciousness. Let us act and move, decisively and with unity, NOW.

(redjade get a picture of that advert and put it up here!! Its near XtraVision on James St. but no doubt there are many others around the city)

author by Stating the Obviouspublication date Tue Jan 24, 2006 12:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

People Before Profit/Davitt League is an SWP front.

This is why the bleeding obvious high profile of the SWP is important.

It is why SWP officials have already approached people in one rural constituency to contest the next election on behalf of People Before Profit.

It is why the contact name for the organisation is Kieran Allen.

It's not particularly relevant what name they have for the organisation, it's designed to be controlled by the SWP and in practice will be.

This is not to suggest there are not genuine people in it. As a genuine person previously drawn into an SWP front I can assure you a lot of people get into it with the best of intentions but eventually it goes the way of all fronts.

author by Caitlin - Code Pink Women for Peace & Social Justicepublication date Tue Jan 24, 2006 13:53author email codepinkireland at gmail dot comauthor address Irelandauthor phone Report this post to the editors

I had hoped by alluding to the extreme factionalism in "The Life of Brian" that I just might succeed in exposing the utter futility of such factions. The PFJ, JPF, et alia were so busy hating one another that they forgot just who the "enemy" was. It's hysterically funny in the film, but it's dreadful to witness off-screen. "Rome" did not tolerate fissiparousness, and neither do the kleptocrats who are privatizing everything they aren't blowing up. They mightn't call themselves "Rome" anymore, but "divide and conquer" remains amongst their most effective tactics.

I'm glad you clarified some things for me, Stating the Obvious. But I still don't understand why it matters whether or not "People Before Profit" are a 'front' for SWP. Is that a bad thing? And if so, then why? Is Kieran Allen a dark overlord of the universe or an evil genius bent on world domination? I don't ask those questions in a lame attempt at humor or to marginalize you because there are people on this planet who are "bent on world domination", e.g. PNAC.

I think the point I was originally trying to make was stated far better by Michael R:

"If the left / those with a social consciousness do not unify to some degree we are all f**ked. The sectarian left which has been so self-defeating in Ireland, and many other countries, to date, must end. Let us follow the path being paved out by such continents as South America. The Right, Capitalism and those who advocate Profit before People are beginning to creak at the seams."

He's so correct. And if we don't hang together, rest assured we shall all hang separately--by the neck until dead.

Related Link: http://codepinkireland.blogspot.com/
author by ReSect Watchpublication date Tue Jan 24, 2006 14:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Interesting points that you make on factionalism and all that but what do you of a puported left wing group holding a conference in a Fianna Fail TD's hotel and it being non-union.
Don't you think that to be a bit Pythonesque?
And I would imagine that when it comes to the SWP that if we hum it you will burst into 'Always look on the bright side of life' (Pity they didn't mention that to Gorgeous George - don't you think?).

author by seanpublication date Tue Jan 24, 2006 14:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

good report.
I think the PBP is really a good thing. i read in the paper there were around 100 people there.

author by raypublication date Tue Jan 24, 2006 15:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Caitlin you seem to be unaware that the SWP is one of the factions that were parodied in the Life of Brian .You correctly identify " the utter futility of such factions" ,but are not the first to have done so.
People who have don't think of Kieran Allen as a dark overlord , but as an extreme sectarian - somebody who puts the interest of his party above the interest of the many good causes that his party espouses . If you find it hard to believe that Kieron is an extreme factionalist , as an experiment ,ask him sometime what he thinks about indymedia . Ask him why the SWP central committee has issued an edict forbidding its members from posting to this site.

author by Dave - swppublication date Tue Jan 24, 2006 16:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Ray you're living in a fantasy world. The swp are not 'extreme sectarians'. We work with numerous activists and organisations in a range of campaigns- for which we are called all sorts of other names by the way (Reformists, class traitors, bureaucrats etc).
Kieran is a well repected trade unionist in UCD to take one example and in that capacity works alongside dozens of others who , I am sure, know as much about the world we are living in as you do.
Nor has an 'edict' on swp members posting to indymedia ever been issued. ( what pub corner did you hear that one in?) Personally I often post and so do other members. I'm sure swp members have different opinions about indymedia. Personally I admire it and consider it groundbreaking and would encourage everybody involved in the social movemnts to contribute to it. What I do find tiresome is the continous (mostly) anonymous abuse and slander posted about the swp (and not only us) by people who seem to have no positive contribution to make to indymedia or anything else.

author by pujfpublication date Tue Jan 24, 2006 16:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I for one Im delighted about the PD Aliiance and wholeheartedly support there committee which will be listed below any minute now.

author by Xpublication date Tue Jan 24, 2006 16:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Good to see the supposed “Swp edict” is not true. I do think it vital however that the Swp take a back seat in this alliance. In order for it to grow and fully develop this is the way it has to be. And in any case no one group should dominate it regardless or use it as a front. The Swp, hopefully not, but may have to indeed be the driving force behind it but must not be its leaders. This is the only way it will grow.

It would be fantastic to see the Socialist Party get on board. Any SP heads out there care to comment?

And also for anarchist groups to get involved. Or is that asking too much? : )

Besides as many community groups, individuals etc. etc. that is physically possible to get involved.

The system must change. Ireland must change. The World must change. It can be done.

author by hs - absolutely personal capacity (sp)publication date Tue Jan 24, 2006 17:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In the report we are given a number of names , and in the report it makes out these are all members of diverse organisations. (and doesn't tell us their party alliance) Giving the impression its a big alliance, when in fact anyone with a little experience knows they're all in the swp. Whats the problem with this? one is that it is blatantly dishonest .
(Of course it may have been a mistake if the speakers didn't introduce themselves, but if the writer is in the swp it's worse.)
And secondly it means that the swp will most likely control the organisation, but at the same time won't admit to. They have a record of organising paper branches in campaigns so they can have delegates. So people do have a right to be suspisious.
And if you are going to release dishonest reports like this you shouldn't be suprised if they are recieved as suspisiously. As for the SP getting involved, I doubht it. But if PBP grew to be a genuinely open and democratic alliance it could happen. First step honest reporting please.

author by Cynicpublication date Tue Jan 24, 2006 17:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Any chance that "X" will admit they're a member of the SWP? The last mindless sloganeering line makes it pretty clear that they are. It should be chanted over a megaphone. Next! Time! Use! Exclamation! Marks! Comrade!

Anyone that's seen the complete hames the SWP has made of the IAWM and the Globalise Resistance fronts will be aware why having an organisation that sneakily attempts to steer organisations with "interventions from the floor by Richard Boyd-Barret" will understand why no one with any interest in making a positive change to the Irish political landscape will have anything to do with them.

author by Michael Rpublication date Tue Jan 24, 2006 18:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

hs,

You say that:-

"As for the SP getting involved, I doubht it. But if PBP grew to be a genuinely open and democratic alliance it could happen."

Do you know why the SP will probably not get involved? Would you personaly like to see them involved?

I think it would be a HUGE move if they did get involved. If for no other reason it would act as counter balance in case any such "front" was to emerge. But besides that it would greatly increase the potential of the alliance to have the energy and resources of the SP behind it. Don't wait for it to "grow to be a genuinely open and democratic alliance". Make that happen NOW. Get involved from the start and make it happen. Party politics must be put aside. The Left in Ireland needs some sort of Alliance to have any chance, even if that Alliance be loose.

Things can change fast but it will need fast actions.

author by hspublication date Tue Jan 24, 2006 19:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I said I doubht it, going by my general reflections of opinion within the party. Its by no means anything definite (you note I said personal capacity) I haven't discussed it with anyone. But on past experience nobody likes dealing with the swp, and even if the party leadership agreed that the party should join I wouldn't see to many volunteers. But we've a branch meeting tonight so i'll see what people think.

The swp comes out with these sort of things quite regularly and they usually dissappear after a few months or even sooner. This is why I can't see anyone wanting to get involved. But if I'm wrong (as I can't see the future) we could change our mind.
My own personal view is it sounds like just another front so I wouldn't be too bothered about it. And the tone of the article and its little omissions points that way.

As you say the resources of the sp with be great for the pbp alliance. But on the other hand we don't want to destroy a good name thats been built up over years (and long before I joined). The swp opportunism can be quite dangerous. Look at whats going on with their sister party in England.

Incidently I see the campaign for an independent left as a much more serious development for the irish left.

author by hspublication date Tue Jan 24, 2006 19:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

anyway the party couldn't really take such a radical change in direction (ie an alliance with the swp without taking it to conference,) and thats not till easter.

author by Michael R.publication date Tue Jan 24, 2006 20:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thanks for your response hs. Bring it up at the meeting anyhow and see what they gotta say.

Your point:-

"The swp comes out with these sort of things quite regularly and they usually disappear after a few months or even sooner"

My point:-

Get involved and help to ensure this one does not disappear!!! If you worried about your name, which is obviously a very fair point, you could pull out at any time you wished.

Best regards and good luck at the meeting tonight, whatever ye discuss. It’s all good!!

author by SWatchpublication date Tue Jan 24, 2006 21:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The SWP are oppurtunists. They have a long record of abusing wider groups in Ireland and internationally, it is intimately linked to what they are, it is part of their political make up. Look at the IAWM, they regularly packed meetings with delegates from 'paper' groups, we can all remember 'Doctors and Nurses against war', 'candle stick makers agianst war 'etc. In globalise Resistance you will find a similar story. Across the water the SWP also have a long history of this. They abuse campaigns, they don't let them develop, they dont even want them to develop, they see them as a method of recruitment. The SWP are inviting the SP anarchists etc in not because they are genunie about building a left group but because they know they wont go near them. It allows the SWP criticise other lefts for 'sectarinaism'. If the SP, WSM, ISN etc joined the SWP would not like it as this would mean competition for recruits and a challenge to the undemocratic tactics.

In saying all this, I see no problem with party's launching broader groups as such. It can be quite an important thing to do. In the past the SP launched the 'Tax Justice Alliance', in Britain they have launched 'Campaign for a New Workers Party'. The Collins/ISN/WUAG groups is also an example of a broad group. The difference though is that the SP, ISN, WUAG etc are genuine (whether you agree or disagree with them) about wanting to see these groups develop and take on a life of their own. The SWP don't have the same outlook, they cynically just see it as a recruitment toy for them to play with.

My advise to anyone that is genuine in Davitt League/PBP is to learn the lessons that the rest of the left has learnt.

author by Dave - swppublication date Tue Jan 24, 2006 22:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Its nice to see hs contribute to the debate. However before lecturing the rest of us on honesty he should consider reading the original article this thread was supposed to be about- until it was derailed by typically anonymous trolls. According to hs the speakers at the meeting are 'all in the swp'.
In fact, out of all the speakers mentioned only 3 are in our party. Myself, Richard and Eamonn.
Richard is mentioned as a rep for save our seafront because he is the openly elected chairperson of that campaign.
The meeting wasn't about Trotsky's legacy, it was about political campaigning.
Incidentally SOS is one of the largest and most successful community campaigns in the country, having defeated the DLRCOCO's attempt to privatise a large section of
Dun laoghaire Seafront by mobilising thousands of local people in opposition. SOS is a thriving alliance of socialists and community activists- some are greens, some labour, some republicans, some unaffiliated. I believe it is in its own way a model of the type of new left that is so necessary- one where factional infighting and egotripping is put aside in favour of concentrating on coming to agreement about practical ways to fight back and mobilise the potential of the majority to transform the world, here, there, and everywhere

You can ask the survivors of Bloody Sunday about Eamonn's campaigning credentials

All the others are, as far as I am aware unaffiliated politically.
Its a small point but one that illustrates the blind prejudices that I feel inform the rest of the learnt off slogans that hs and some others seem to believe pass for analysis.

As for the proof that we are 'undemocratic' etc etc
Well for the anonymistas it always seems to be a case of throw the mud first and find the evidence later, fitting the facts to suit our prejudices etc which is witchhunting. pure and simple
Not that we are perfect or ever will be. But who is?
Not that we haven't ever fucked up, but who hasn't?

But I don't want to be involved in a bunfight with hs or anybody else. I'm 30 now and, I think, nearly over my need to prove myself by running down others.
There is an opportunity now to build a network of committed campaigners to the left of the fake alternative of the coalition seekers. It seems obvious that, across the globe, all of those who are seriously intent on social change are seeking to work in alliance with like-minded others. I think if we forgot the bullshit and got stuck into building a united organisation of some description- and unity isn't some happy clappy jingle but simply, and I think unarguably, the most effective way of mobilising the largest amount of people. And its numbers that we really need to bring change. We'll never get them if we all sit on our high horses accusing everyone else of being the baddy. The swp wants unity. We are willing to work with anybody else who is fighting for social justice. We already work positively with numerous activists.
But regardless of what anybody else decides to do we'll be pushing ahead with our campigning for unity and change alongside those many others - a lot of them outside the ranks of the the Bachelors Inn illuminati - who agree with us on the need for a new left.


There is more detailed discussion of left unity and strategies for change from our point of view at
http://www.swp.org.uk/resources/istbulletin7.pdf

Related Link: http://www.swp.ie
author by Cathy Swift - People before Profitpublication date Wed Jan 25, 2006 01:53author email catherine.swift at may dot ieauthor address author phone 086-0679708Report this post to the editors

Reply to questions posed and comments made on people before profit report
The interest in the People before Profit report is great and I hope that those who've expressed interest may be able to attend the next meeting which is on Waste and Incineration (Are our current arrangements working? Who profits from them? etc.) It'll be held in Dublin towards end of Feb but I will post details as they get finalised. In answer to the questions posed by commentators:

- The Richard Boyd Barrett mentioned is indeed a member of IAWM and SWP - I used the SOS affiliation as People before Profit is a coalition of community activists and that seemed the most relevant of his various hats.

- The meeting was not organised by the SWP although some People before Profit activists are in that party. Kieran Allen's number was used as a contact: so too was mine. I have no party affiliation.

- I haven't inquisitioned the speakers to ask them about their political beliefs but as far as I am aware, Dave is right in saying that 3 out of the 10 speakers I quoted were members of the SWP.

- We have an acting steering committee of 10 at the moment who are all people who volunteered to help organise the meetings at the first People before Profit meeting. Again, I know that there are 3 people on that steering committee who are SWP members - are the political affiliations of the others of equal interest? I can only comment as one of the other 7 - I haven't noticed either horns or hooves on any of the SWP people and they don't dominate the meetings. (These have so far been limited to discussing world-shattering points like magic markers, posters, venues and times.)

- Forgive me for being pedantic but if this is a front for the SWP and the SWP have forbidden posting to this website, why would I have posted the report?

As author of the report on People before Profit, I'm very happy to answer any question I can about its content or its implications. As a group of community activists, we want to collaborate with as many people as we can from as wide a background as possible. The whole idea behind this coalition is to try and help strengthen individual campaigns by collaborative support. We are also very conscious that individual campaigns have generally amassed a great deal of pertinent information about their particular issue and its implications for current political life in Ireland and we hope to help disseminate that information on as wide a basis as possible. I should say, however, that since I'm not a member of the SWP, perhaps comments about that party, its history, aims, motivations and aspirations are better addressed to its members as the people most likely to know the answers you are seeking?

The Waste and Incineration meeting is intended to be the first of a series of similar information/discussion evenings - others being planned at the moment include the role of women in 21st C Ireland, Transport (and tolls), Privatisation of Health and Migrant Workers. The reports on the meetings will be posted on the group website www.people-beforeprofit.yahoo.ie as well as in as many media outlets as possible.

Cathy

Related Link: http://www.people_beforeprofit.yahoo.ie
author by Davy Carlin - Street Seenpublication date Wed Jan 25, 2006 11:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It is good to see you engage on Indymedia and that the SWP are now moving to the -voiced accountable and democratic way of working - and of Grassroots community Networks - something the SWP had at one time in the past been against - but I and others had pushed on with nevertheless.

Just to clear up a few points -

Quote - 'Nor has an 'edict' on SWP members posting to Indymedia ever been issued. ( what pub corner did you hear that one in?)

Again if this is the case - then it is good to see -as when in the SWP I indeed had been 'told' not to write on sites such as the Blanket and ' very strongly advised' not to write on the 'Sectarian swamp' of Indymedia'

And as for -

'As for the proof that we are 'undemocratic' etc etc
Well for the anonymistas it always seems to be a case of throw the mud first and find the evidence later, fitting the facts to suit our prejudices etc which is witchhunting. pure and simple'

Well I will not go into that - again - but a link to my recent article will suffice.

The reality is that a lot of people do have a problem with the SWP methods of old - which are usually pushed by the longest term members as they find it hardest to break from such habits. Many activist non anons have been burnt by working with the SWP - through seeing such – and having felt the brunt of - their ways of working.

That is the reality - and I had said to your SWP leadership {while in the SWP} many moons ago, to deal with the reality and it will see us move forward, if not, then we will at best stand still or more likely move back

Of course there are the anons Dave but I am sure you are savvy enough Dave to know that many many genuine activist have raised and do riase similar concerns

If though there are genuine attempts by 'younger' and more 'reality headed' activist to genuinely work with others then who knows? { I will say though from my own experience I can see no way the SP will work on a new left with the SWP for many many moons to come - as I had told the SWP leadership many many moons ago already.

If the SWP are stating that they are starting to work this new 'accountable, democratic grassroots network' way of working - then only time will tell.

I would say, once again, do not write of concerns raised by genuine activists or attempt to brush them under the carpet - as the SWP up here have found to their determent.

If you are to work as you say you are working then it should start by addressing concerns if raised by genuine activists.

I to think the coming together of a new left is important and I am, as are others, watching developments closely both in Ireland and Britain - and if something genuine arises, then I for one will put my back actively into building and calling for support for it.

I do not see it in the SEA or the global thingy the SWP in Belfast set up {called a conference and talked about all these mobilisations and actions etc} and has now seemingly disappeared after the meeting. {Another concern, in real terms, that has been raised as above}.

Similar a lot of activists do not as yet see such positives in the PBP - as the SWP's recent history of course, still, makes many wary. {And as I said time will tell re - genuine workings}


For me of course I would lend support to anything that moves the left forward - but would be very very wary of some who talk the democratic and accountable talk but still - as yet - have not shown - that they walk the democratic and accountable walk. D

Related Link: http://davycarlin.allotherplaces.org/?m=200601
author by Deja Vupublication date Wed Jan 25, 2006 12:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

To a certain extent, if People Before Profit was an SWP front and was effective I can see the point one person makes that what's the harm.

The reality is first of all, one of perception. Even if it isn't a front (And I am convinced that it is and find the suggestion that it is not utterly ludicrous) it is already perceived as one.

The SP will not get involved in an organisation they see as an SWP front. Sinn Féin would run a mile from anything the SWP control. I can't see Labour or the Greens falling over themselves to get involved. Does anyone see the WSM taking part?

Without another substantial political bloc in it, the SWP as an organised grouping with its members adhering to the party line will come to dominate the group, even if they have a minority of positions. Thus, EVEN if it is not a front (I say again HAH!), it will become one because of the refusal of other parties and organisations to get involved leaving the SWP dominant.

This by its nature restricts the potential for growth for People Before Profit, it restricts the organisation's skills base to the SWP and whoever they can tie into it and it restricts its reach outside of Dublin. It also means that elected representatives with whom the organisation might seek to work will instinctively distrust it.

The perception that an organisation is an SWP front is akin to the kiss of death for any long-term success and thus IS an issue for the new alliance.

Dave makes the point that the SWP is not sectarian. I'm not going to get into that, but I hope SWP members and activists realise that as a group, you are not trusted to work honestly with other groups and parties. That this distrust is widespread and deeply held and that you must at least open your mind to the possibility that it is in some way your responsibility, either wholly or partly.

author by Dave - swppublication date Wed Jan 25, 2006 13:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sinn Fein, Labour and the Greens have all indicated their willingness to go into coalition with right wing parties.
The whole point of Pb4P is an alliance that specifically rejects coalition or co-operation with the right wing
That's the real reason they won't be joining. Though I am sure PB4P would certainly work with these parties and members and supporters of them on the many other issues where we can find common ground

The wsm is an anarchist organisation which
specifically rejects electoral politics. Many in PB4P see running in elections as an option. So that would preclude them, wouldn't it?

I think over time the SP could be won to working in a broad left alliance, but accept the reality that this currently runs counter to their strategy here in Ireland, (though strangely not in brazil, scotland, Germany etc) though as has been often reported and debated on indymedia this splendid isolation has led to huge controversy in and around the Irish sp in the last couple of years.

Not that I am questioning the genuineness of anyone who is involved with any of the above organisations commitment, or indeed their honesty, or that they have all made a contribution to fighting for social change, merely pointing out the tactical differences which presently preclude organisational unity.



The swp works with numerous activists in a range of campaigns
Every one of our branches is involved in broad campaigns on a host of issues- community based, national campaigns, anti-war etc etc etc. In the course of these campaigns we work with people from a array of political backgrounds. There are often differences of opinion withinn campaigns but these are most often resolved amicably. This is just fact. So the idea that nobody trusts us, or nobody is working with is is nonsense, pure and simple. In the course of a week I would personally work positively with dozens of people who are not in the swp- in my trade union, in housing and anti bin tax campaigns, in save our seafront, in anti war work and so on). Some of these are politcially affiliated, most of them are not. The idea that these people are all neophytes who simply have not yet discovered my evil brainwashing cult intentions is just laughable. Their heads are all screwed on at least as tightly as those belonging the the anonymous internet inquisitors.


The accusations of dishonesty etc are nearly always made by people and organisations who see themselves as political rivals. Again the vast majority of accusations are made anonymously, and in my opinion anonymity doesn't deserve a reply. (take the chestnut about the contact numbers for example- nearly every political campign thats covered on indymedia has a contact number of somebody involved in a political organisation but swp members don't waste everybody's time accusing campaigns of being fronts because organised activists are involved in them)
But no-one would deny that an organisation like the swp that has existed for thirty years, and is always trying to effectively partake in the social movements, has had some problems, or that it takes time and effort to adjust to changing political realities, or that we have occassionally, and even betimes consistently, been over zealous, clumsy or downright obnoxious. I'd say we've even been completely wrong on occassion. But you know, forgive us our sins, you perfect priests of the revolution.


It is also true that the swp has consciously made a turn to working in community politics. We believe that's where the real radicalisation is taking place at the moment. But we've only had the membership to be able to meaningfully engage on the ground in communities for few years anyway.Put simply the more we work on the ground in communities the more ovious it becomes to us that this is a valuable way to mobilise people, and also one which in the current climate is capable of achieving the victories that are so desperately needed to raise peoples confidence in their ability to change their world.

When I got involved in radical politics my head was full of big words but i hadn't a clue how to organise for change in the real world. I've learned a lot from being involved in various campaigns over the last few years. An organisation like people b4 profit allows me to share that experience and learn from the experience of others, without expecting anyone to sign up to a fully worked out ideology. I think that's a valuable and worthwhile project and I'm going to make it my business to try and make it work and i'll work with anybody else who wants to do the same.

Related Link: http://www.swp.ie
author by Deja Vupublication date Wed Jan 25, 2006 14:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I work with the SWP on campaigns. I am on friendly terms with a couple of SWP people and I respect a number of individual activists. I do not trust the SWP one iota however and this is based on lengthy personal experience.

This is not a contradiction. The SWP exist. They work on a lot of campaigns and so it is inevitable that they will work with other parties. To assume because parties and organisations work with you they trust you is simplistic at best, dishonest at worst.

If the SWP does not recognise the level of distrust towards the organisation, EVEN if it believes it to be completely unfoudned, EVEN if it believes it is not responsible for any of it, it's actually in a lot worse state than I thought it was. Hell if you're the Dave I think you are, I'VE worked with you positively. That doesn't mean I trust you or your party.

I assumed the distrust was recognised and explained away internally. If it's not even recognised it brings into question the SWP's grip on reality, let alone its political analysis.

On the point of posting annonymously, as the SWP are well aware people identifying themselves on this site can be used against them if they are civil service employees, as I am. For the record I also posted on this thread under stating the obvious.

As for other groups tieing in you explain why you don't believe they would fit into it. Fair enough and a valid point. But do you not accept that even if those differences are real (And in the case of the Anarchists since no decision has been made on electoral politics they're not) the fact that the gut reaction of all those parties is that this is an SWP front is an issue you have to deal with?

Has anyone in the SWP ever sat down and wondered, just for a few minutes, why there is the level of resentment to the SWP, completely out of proportion to its size, influence or ability, on the Irish left and wondered if maybe, just maybe, you are in some way responsible?

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Wed Jan 25, 2006 15:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Deja VU - some good and essential points raised, as I, and others, had raised before, more especially your last point.

Dave -

Not to sure Dave if you have read my points as above?

But on your further points -

Quote - 'It is also true that the SWP has consciously made a turn to working in community politics'. 'We believe that's where the real radicalisation is taking place at the moment'

Eventually!!! - and as I said above I had raised this many a year ago, when radicalisation was happening.

Quote ''When I got involved in radical politics my head was full of big words but I hadn't a clue how to organise for change in the real world. I've learned a lot from being involved in various campaigns over the last few years. An organisation like {} allows me to share that experience and learn from the experience of others, without expecting anyone to sign up to a fully worked out ideology'.

Good to see Dave - those words came out of my mouth several years ago but the SWP leadership then - just stared blankly at me., muttering something about the Vanguard and leading the Proletariat etc, with the use of big words to this day I probably still would not understand - Indeed gobbledygook of no practical relevance.

As for your other points refer to my post above about democracy, accountability, and grassroots activism etc..

author by Anarchist - Grassroots Dissentpublication date Wed Jan 25, 2006 15:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

All the best to the new group,I will be pleasantly surprised if it doesnt turn out to be another SWP front,the Davitt League being suddenly hybridised arouses justifiable suspicions.

author by Interestedpublication date Wed Jan 25, 2006 16:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Great to see this being discussed on Indymedia, and in an adult like way. Many thanks Dave, as a member of the Swp, for engaging in this site. More engagement is needed. Of course there will always be trolls throwing in comments but there are also serious people on this site with questions and criticisms of the Swp that need to be addressed and answered. If the Swp, or any other party, group or individual for that matter, has nothing to hide it should be fully able to engage on this site and defend itself, trolls or no trolls. This site has huge readership and readers and the public at large deserve this information. The site also acts as a litmus test for democracy, openess and transparency.

I wish People Before Profit every success and will throw my energy behind the project as well. The name and the idea is excellent. Hopefully as many groups and individuals as possible will get involved. The Swp must not try to turn this into a front or dominate it, if it really wants it to grow. And I will roar like a beast if it does.

author by sean - swppublication date Wed Jan 25, 2006 16:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

just a quick comment. I think that the pbp is extreamly important and exciting for the left and its prospects in resisting the neo liberal onslaught. However i do also agree that the swp cannot simply see this as a "front" and must approach it, as has been done so far, through the spirit of working with others, broadness and and a willingness to allow it to have its own independent life, instead of sustitutionalism in regards to the movement. Experience has showed that campaigns have worked best this way for the movement as a whole.

author by hspublication date Wed Jan 25, 2006 17:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dave its not about "growing up" as such. Its about your reputation, the first and only time I worked closely with the SWP was during the housing campaign, and you were involved in that too, you know how badly that went and how badly activists were treated. There were paper branches, invented delegates and all the rest. You were involved in that too so know excatly how it ended. So I won't go into too much detail. I was out of the country after for a few years, but all I hear after, globalise resistance, the bin tax, the IAWM all seemed to continue this practice of paper branches and swp delegetes, and this is one reason I think its essential we know who is who. I am sorry I am suspisious but its because of my own direct experience. As for your ideology point nobody claimed to be perfect revolutionaries again it's your reputation not your ideology. Just because the swp has moved away from past idelogical positions doesn't mean you are easy to work with. Its always been the swps Practice that most people have had trouble with.

Cathy I can absolutely accept you are not in the swp and probably you think we're all mad for giving out to you for not naming party affiliations. But the reason is the fear of packed meetings, fake branches. And if all the delegetes from paper branchess are in the swp, its pretty certain they'll be voting the same way. Call us paranoid but its from experience. In future when you write reports such as this if you name someone as prominent as Richard without saying he's in the SWP you'll get the same cynical reaction, which people will zone in on and can derail your actual article.

I wish you the best of luck but i won't be joining unless I am convinced it isn't another temporary campaign or front.

I wasn't aware that PBP is also an election pact, that would take a very serious move for the SP to get involved in. And not something the party itself would have to decide collectively, and in all honesty. I don't see it happening. The party does have a name now and not something to be thrown away on what could be another temporary front.

author by Dave - swppublication date Wed Jan 25, 2006 17:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

On the issue of anonymity. I accept your excuses but it doesn't stop you announcing your political and/or ideological affiliation. Its also fairly convenient for you that you can throw shite and not have to be responsible for the mess you make.
i don't accept that most of the anonymistas work in the civil service. Maybe it's their mammys and daddys they're afraid of.
btw i also work in the public service but no-one is going to force me into hiding
on the issue of trust i think we can seperate out two seperate aspects.
Do campaigners i work with generally trust me to
deliver the leaflets
turn up for the actions
accurately represent the agreed policy of the campaign publicly when i am speaking on behalf of that campaign
i think the answer to this is yes, otherwise joint work of any kind would be impossible
do they trust/believe in/agree with my general political outlook and organisational methods:
probably not, otherwise they'd be in the swp

On accepting responsibility just a couple of other points. The swp certainly accepts that a part of the bad will against is our own fault.
We have been naïve, over zealous, and committed all sorts of political sins in our long history.
How many times have we stood at the edge of a demonstration in our long black coats hawking our paper like a line of mechanical crows?
How many times times have we stood up one after another at a meeting to say exactly the same bloody thing without any of the flair or imagination required to inspire people?
How many times have we talked at people instead of talking to them?
We have sometimes lived up to our caricature and we hold our hands up about that.
But we are not the only people on the far left who have made these kind of sectarian errors and we do listen to and respond to criticism.
We have also never been lacking in courage or commitment and we have always stood on the side of the exploited and oppressed and done a lot of good in the process.
And there are other factors involved. The only rational position, taking into account the history of the last 200 years of struggle, is a radical distrust of political parties. In this regard the swp has to live with the legacy of others betrayals- the stalinist regimes, the social democratiuc parties etc
And a lot of the shit that is thrown at us is just sectarian mudslinging.
The swp are also well aware that our relative size, political experience, and organisational coherence can work against building broad campaigning groups. It can lead to accusations of domination and simply to people feeling that their contribution isn't valued
We want people before profit to work on its own terms as an alliance of left wing community campaigners and we certainly to not want to ruin it by an over heavy prescence. We are actively encouraging non-swp people to take the lead in people before profit.
We don't know what people before profit is going to do or how it is going to develop. We want that to emerge from debate and engagement and we truly want to be very much a minority in a much bigger and more vibrant left. Unity among the left that wants to be united is already leading to that process of growth and enrichment in many parts of the world. We think the same thing can happen here if we take the leap that is being taken elsewhere.

Ps as for the housing campaign. I thought it went rather well- essie keeling is still living in Tom Kelly's after all. As for paper branches
Hs- you personal experince surely has more to do with your political affiliation than reality
The swp absolutely does not accept the portrayal of our actions in sp documents

author by dave - swppublication date Wed Jan 25, 2006 17:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The housing campaign in Rathmines was a success. Essie Keeling still lives in Tom Kelly Flats.
The 'reputation' you refer to I presume is the one that makes its appearance in various sp documents. The swp disputes and absolutely rejects the portrayal of our actions and methods in these documents. We are not the only ones who disagree , for example, with your analysis of the bin tax campaign.
There are plenty of stories about people being pissed off working with the sp. Maybe you should look over your own shoulder before casting stones?
All that shouldn't stop people who call themselves socialists finding some, even minimal, way of co-operating in the interests of our class.

author by Deja Vupublication date Wed Jan 25, 2006 17:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hmm, so now I'm a coward for not revealing my identity. What a useful contribution to the discussion.

For the record I am a former member of the Labour party and left shortly after the DL merger both because of opposition to the merger and because of a change in professional circumstances. I am not a member of any party at the moment but voted for Sinn Féin in the general elections and Joan Collins in the Locals.

To be honest I don't have a lot more to add as in your post you at least acknowledge that some of the source of the distrust to the SWP comes from your past actions and equally I'm sure some of it comes from sectarianism external to the SWP.

I will say that I don't wish People Before Profit any ill as such, but I simply believe that unless the SWP can clearly demonstrate it is not a front organisation for the development of their party it will not go very far. How the SWP could do that, I honestly don't know. But if people are distrusted, maybe they just need to prove themselves.

author by dolepublication date Wed Jan 25, 2006 17:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Why are we always so quick to scrutinise any new group? Regardless of the political affiliations of any individual members, such a group created to represent the people, (god knows the government don't) should be broadly supported with no, 'but eh isn't yer man with that other crowd?' It is hard enough for groups such as People before Profit to get off the ground without academic wannabe hacks finding minor points on which to quibble about. If we scrutinised the government so well maybe we wouldn't need such groups.
Instead of debating the issues raised we see an argument about the SWP. C'mon.

author by hspublication date Wed Jan 25, 2006 18:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Good to see you see some of our problems with the swp in the past. But the bin charges and IAWM weren't in the far distant past. So it can't be brushed away.

When I mentioned the housing campaign i dragged it up because it's my own personal experience and can back it up completely. When I said the campaign I didn't just mean the occupation but the entire campaign and the 20 or so activists that spent a good year or more organising week in and week out and how they were treated with utter contempt. The campaign was origanally supposed to be organised by 3 people, grace, dave and eamon. If you remember this was ignored (dave never was included in decision making) so the rathmines people who were meeting weekly and had an organisation asked to change to a delegate structure. Expecting one or two from the northside. The swp turned up with six people! All from such and such a branch of the housing campaign which of course had no membership. Dave you were around for this and you know it happened. And I also remeber very well some of the attitude expressed towards the activists.
The essie occupation was wonderful but remember the campaign was going for a long time before that and after. I'll be the first toadmit i was very green going into it but the whole thing taught me quite a few lessons.

You can put it down to political affiliation if you like, but in the end thats just brushing the problem under the carpet.

IFyou want to convince us to get involved you'll have to convince us without simply writing our experiences off. You'll have to convince me personally that more would be done within this alliance than what we do here as a party. After all the SP has been involved in community politics for years.
But especially that people (including us) will be treated with respect. And our opinions will be taken seriously. And that doesn't mean agreeing with everything someone says and going off and ignoring it afterwards.

Trust is very important and has to be earned. Like you say the swp has been around 30 years so don't expect everybody to change their minds about you overnight.

But like I said before if you do organise this campaign in an open, democratic and honest way people will join.

author by hspublication date Wed Jan 25, 2006 18:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Goes alot further than the socialist party opinion of the swp. For example i recently discovered the grassroots alliance came from people disillusioned with globalise resistance and the swp, so you can't put it all down to us. As I said before the housing campaing wasn't just about the occupation, it actally had quite a life away from that. But thats the problem, you forgot about the rest of it.

I can absolutely recognise people have had problems with the sp. i can even say we've had internal problems with people leaving over the bin tax. Alot disagreed with us over our position on shannon airport, (which was strange)
But I don't think we've been accused of inventing paper branches - feel free to let us know

But dave you want us to join you, so you are the ones who will have to convince us (A) you're serious (this time) and (B) you'll be open and democratic and (C) i'm afraid yes you're politics . we do watch what goes on within the wider IS family and the kind of political positions you're taking.

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Wed Jan 25, 2006 18:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Good and open debate - this is Indymedia at its best.

Dave and Sean {SWP} fair play to you for your approach to this debate. Your approach here in the last posts has been honestly refreshing to say the least. I have nothing but respect for that.

As I said, for many genuine activists it will be a case of - time will tell, but on engaging with both of you, and if your words are genuine, I would indeed have no probs working within a campaign that works 'as you say it does'

People are though genuinely wary Dave and Sean {look at IAWM, Bin tax etc in recent times even}- and they have been burnt many times before that, so you can expect such points raised.

Your honesty though Dave on SWP past issues, I commend and respect - and it seems to come from a heart of fire. To you therefore, in that regard, I say, from one activist to another – Respect. Comrade.

I hope that it is not in a to distant future when many more of us can work together - and If you work as you say you are to work well it shall do well.

But, as stated, one always needs to address issues that genuine activist raise as they are not simply cannon fodder and have a right to be heard and not ignored, dismissed and simply lectured to.

All the best {ATB}

Davy Carlin

author by hspublication date Wed Jan 25, 2006 18:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

just to get away from us cynics bithcing, why don't you write a report when you have time of how you're organising the campaign and coming to decisions etc. For example will it be in one man one vote situations in a hall or by a delegate system, whether it is loosely organised or a federation etc. And the type of decisions you're making. is there going to be a central commitee etc. It could be a good point of discussion on the future as I think we've made our points on the past and our suspisions quite clear.

author by Doubting Thomaspublication date Wed Jan 25, 2006 18:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dave sounds very reasonable but at the end of the day it all depends on what Kieran thinks and I've heard him within the past month and he just doesn't sound that reasonable.

author by Paulpublication date Wed Jan 25, 2006 18:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Has someone not already mentioned a "steering committee"? Sounds like typical SWP approach to organising.

author by Cynicpublication date Wed Jan 25, 2006 18:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Unity on what basis? Unity even if there is a fundamental disagreement on how to proceed? Unity with an organisation that sabotaged the Bin Tax campaign by not taking part in the blockades? Unity with an organisation that seized control of (and destroyed) the IAWM by packing meetings with delegates from freshly minted branches?

Those defending the idea of what PBP is supposed to be should consider that it can't work if the SWP is not seen to be firmly controlled. At the moment you appear to have no idea of what they've got up to in the past. Don't just dismiss the criticisms as "sectarianism", there's truth to them.

author by johnpublication date Wed Jan 25, 2006 18:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

apparentlly there is a steering commitee and it consists of 70% none swp. What more do you want. no swp.

author by Very Cynicalpublication date Wed Jan 25, 2006 18:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

'apparentlly there is a steering commitee and it consists of 70% none swp. What more do you want. no swp.'

Yes. No SWP would mean theres a much better chance of the organisation being democratic. Are you sure that its 70% non SWP? Maybe they are keeping a low profile like RBB. In the opening article it wasnt even mentioned that RBB was in SWP, Goebells would have been proud of that.

author by Paulpublication date Wed Jan 25, 2006 19:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Regardless of the makeup of the steering commitee, what about this as a method of (democratic) organisation? Bearing in mind some of the stuff the SWP pulled in the IAWM. Surely there are other more democratic and egalitarian ways of organising than this favoured approach of the SWP. Someone mentioned delegates wanting to be used in another campaign, what about this as an organising tool?

author by Cathy Swift - People before Profitpublication date Wed Jan 25, 2006 20:34author email Catherine.Swift at may dot ieauthor address author phone 086-0679708Report this post to the editors

As somebody coming to this from a non-political background, the comments are extremely interesting, not to say enlightening. In answer to the question - how are we organising the People before Profit campaign - the answer is that at the moment - there is no campaign as such. What we are trying to do is to contact individual community groups and ask them whether they are interested in making presentations on their issue which we then discuss. The meetings are organised so that we have a number of different speakers on a similar topic so that factors of general relevance can emerge. We then discuss what, if anything, the people present at the meeting can do to help the individual campaigns? Nobody is mandated to do anything in particular so there is no question of one man, one vote or a delegate system. If someone as an individual comes away enthused by a particular issue or campaign, we can help by providing contact numbers etc if we have them. Its all about spreading the word about the various campaigns so that, as a nation, we gain more knowledge about the various issues which people are involved in and which are often not discussed in mainstream media.

On the question of the steering committee - its role so far has been to suggest venues for meetings and the nature of the website; we have also discussed how we should group the various campaigns that we know about into sessions and we have pooled our collective information re contacts and information about various individual campaigns.

The steering group is also interested in getting in contact with people who might be interested in setting up local People before Profit meetings. As a non-Dubliner myself, I am very conscious that there is no point in a coalition of community activists which seeks to centralise every discussion in the capital. At the moment, we don't have enough links to set up large discussion meetings around the country but that is what we would be aiming to do in the future if the People before Profit idea gets off the ground. For the moment, however, the majority of people who are expressing interest seem to be located in Dublin so we're having our meetings there and us poor culchies just have to travel.

In addition to putative groups outside Dublin, there are various groups within Dublin as well - Indymedia has posted a link to a report on ones in Ballymun and Dun Laoghaire. At the general meeting on the 13th/14th Jan - some members of these local groups came along to some if not all of the sessions. I understand the Dun Laoghaire group is going to discuss a report from the general meeting compiled by one of their members. Again, however, this is simply spreading the word about the issues raised - there is no question of delegates.

Would anybody have contacts or names of people involved in waste and incineration issues who might like to give a presentation at the next meeting? You could contact me via my mobile or email if you don't want to post them.

Cathy

author by hspublication date Wed Jan 25, 2006 21:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

thanks for the reply, obviously you're just getting going with the campaign and holding meetings at the moment. But for the future Dave mentioned putting forward candidates in the elections, and the swp have been pushing for a left electoral alliance for some time now, first with the irish socialist alliance and in the north s.e.a. So this is most likely where they would like to go with this campaign. But if you're going to put forward candidates for elections with a political program there'll need to be some sort of decision-making process. And with the election of candidates there would have to be accountability. Looking at our nearest neighbour we can see what can go wrong when candidates are picked without accountability. At the moment you are simply organising meetings, but before winning wider support I think you’ll need to think about a program and a process to make decisions on that program.
Political parties traditionaly do this in delegate conferences, alliances me be put together by delegates from a number of parties.

author by seanpublication date Thu Jan 26, 2006 00:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

well said cathy. the campaign seems to be going great. on the swp stuff, judge them on your experience of them. an anti neo liberal alliance is the big thing that is missing in ireland. It is of great importance that we challenge neo liberalism NOW. and as was said, that has to be done in the spirit of openess and accountability. the experience of respect in britain the left party in germany ect show that there is a great space for this. however the big brother disaster shows that this must be more than a one man show. it must be based on real activists and campigns rooted in communities and workplaces.
if its sucsessful, i dont see any reason why it cant stand people in the elections, political representation is needed, but that something the group can decide itself in time.

author by Rossporterpublication date Thu Jan 26, 2006 11:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

According to the report and comments from people here the Alliance has NOT made a decision as to whether to stand in elections or not.

Since it has not decided whether to contest or not it surely can have put no structure in place to choose a candidate in a democratic fashion.

Since no structure can be in place, when Kieran Allen approached Mark Garavan of the Shell to Sea Campaign and asked him to run in Mayo at the next general election on behalf of the People Before Profit Alliance before Christmas, was he acting outside of the group's structure? Did anyone else in the group know about it?

Or was this the SWP simply trying to do an end-run around accountable democratic decisionmakinig in the hope it could be presented as a fait accompli to the rest of the campaign.

Garavan refused point blank btw. Something about not wanting to be used by any political party, including the SWP. A curious explanation given the Alliance is so obviously not a front.

author by Doubting Thomas - Ex-SWP (Ireland's largest left wing group)publication date Thu Jan 26, 2006 11:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As I said earlier in the thread it's all well and good, Dave coming on here and sounding reasonable and the non-SWP people saying we're not being used but these people are only the 'monkeys' and Kieran is the 'organ grinder'. With reporting like this no wonder Kieran hates Indymedia, you just can't scheme the way you want to, eh Kieran?

author by Michael R.publication date Thu Jan 26, 2006 11:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Many thanks for your replies Cathy and I encourage you to keep posting reports and articles on this site and examine the feedback (taking into account that the anonymity & total openness of the site means that there will be a certain amount of anonymous trolls throwing in unhelpful comments of dubious nature).

The site is read by about 120,000 different readers a month (as measured by unique IP addresses). See:-

http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=71247

I totally endorse what Sean is saying.

Regarding politics - unfortunately politics will always be politics - be it right or left - and humans will always be humans. The desire for votes will always tinker with the human soul and so often leads to the means becoming more important than the ends.

If People Before Profit is to stand candidates at some stage in the future then I think these need to be non Swp candidates. Similarily a large portion of the leadership needs to be non Swp. Any chance the Alliance has of growing will be scuppered withoug this. It will simply be seen as a front for the Swp and any chance of getting other organizations and parties involved will be gone. I am a strong supporter of the Swp and think they have done HUGE work for the left and for just causes in Ireland & abroad - but they have their own party and must stand their own candidates and have their own leaders behind the flag of their own party.

I will check to see if I have any contacts of people involved in waste and incineration issues and will pass them onto you if I do.

I wish you and everyone else involved in People Before Profit the best of luck and encourage ALL to get involved, regardless of the past.

And to again endorse what Sean was saying "an anti neo liberal alliance is the big thing that is missing in Ireland". Hopefully this Alliance can finally be it.

author by .publication date Thu Jan 26, 2006 11:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Cathy wrote:
- Forgive me for being pedantic but if this is a front for the SWP and the SWP have forbidden posting to this website, why would I have posted the report?


That is the exaxt reason for swp use of fronts, to decieve the public. As for swp forbidding, if you dont mind, posting on this site. That shows their attitude to cooperation!

The people dont know whats good for them so they need the"vanguard" swp to tell them!!!!!!!

Keep trotting out the bu****it, if youll pardon the pun!

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Thu Jan 26, 2006 12:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Doubting Thomas -

'Dave sounds very reasonable but at the end of the day it all depends on what Kieran thinks'

That is very near the Mark - I would have no truck with Kieran given both my experiences when a member of the SWP PC and that towards my leaving. - which seen undemocratic and unaccountable actions.

Saying that, I would though have respect for other SWP individual members - including on the PC - as I have said before.

Of course SWP members have to follow everything that comes from the SWP PC to the letter - but that does not stop one working with their members.

The way I see it - and wrote it - is that, yes, work within campaigns `but know' what to expect of them.

On elections – of course this has all to do with the SWP and elections – that is so so obvious – ‘Representation of the Movement’ as handed down from the British SWP CC – for the Irish PC, as always, but to follow..

Therefore everything will be done to cobble together people to stand. I'm not saying though that Representation of the Movement in itself is not a good thing.
.

I will say though if above Rossporter's points is true then Kieran will have made it even more questionable to the 'right to be doubters' that this indeed could be, yet again, another SWP front – and if so it will not be touched with a barge pole by genuine activists – and will go nowhere

Will look into more -

As I have always said - some can never learn or change - Sigh - D

author by Cathy Swift - People before Profitpublication date Thu Jan 26, 2006 14:29author email Catherine.Swift at may dot ieauthor address author phone 086-0679708Report this post to the editors

As I mentioned, People before Profit has now held two public meetings and is planning more. The issue of electoral politics was discussed at the last one (see report above) and it was agreed by the meeting that this topic should be revisited at a future meeting as it is obviously complicated and requires more discussion. So what I say here on this issue is my personal take on an evolving situation and should not be taken as reflecting an agreed consensus or a plan of campaign.

The primary purpose of People before Profit is to dissemminate information about individual community campaigns and to offer collaborative support. Some individuals within it see electoral activity as a good method of advocacy - because such activity helps attract more attention to the cause. (They would cite the great success of Joe Higgins and his ability to highlight issues such as the Gama workers from within the Dáil as an example of this.)

If one decides to go down the road of electoral politics, however, one has to decide whether one is running as an individual on a single campaign or whether one has a position on a whole raft of issues (When Kathy Sinott ran for Munster MEP for example, she was asked to make her views known on a variety of things outside the disability campaigning for which she was most famous.)

As an Alliance, therefore, we can support those individuals who wish to go down the road of electoral politics by discussing a raft of issues. This helps those who wish to stand to clarify their own thinking on issues they perhaps haven't thought about as yet and may help to provide them with detailed information which they might not have. If it emerges that the people in the Alliance share a closely similar perspective on a wide variety of topics, than in the future the question may arise - should we form a political party and push the agreed positions as a unit? At the moment, however, we don't know whether we share a similar perspective so any question of campaigning as a political party would be premature.

To illustrate where we're at currently:

Supposing a general election were called in the morning, I would imagine that somebody like Richard Boyd Barrett would stand for Dun Laoghaire as an SWP person. Supposing I was to stand (this is purely theoretical, you understand) as somebody who is not affiliated to a political party, I could stand as somebody with a certain profile in local heritage politics but I can also clarify my philosophical position more fully by saying that I am also a member of People before Profit Alliance which has expressed views on community action, public housing, PPPs etc.

In answer to the Rossporter's question, therefore, an invitation to stand for People before Profit therefore is a request to know - would you be prepared to take part in our discussions about what we hold in common ? If you find yourself in agreement with the majority of us, would you be willing to declare yourself to be somebody who shares the ideas of the People before Profit Alliance? or to put it another way: Do you, as an individual campaigner for a specific campaign, see any merit in exploring areas of possible mutual interest with other individual campaigners fighting on other campaigns ?

So far, it does seem to many of us who've taken part in the discussions to date that the more one learns about other campaigns, the more the same issues come up: lack of democratic accountability, the lack of a role for a community voice, the over-whelming seeking of profit over quality of life etc.etc. On the other hand, we have by no means reached a concensus that we have an agreed solution to these problems. Of course, if all it took to achieve that was two meetings - the world might be a lot nearer Utopia than it currently is!

Cathy

author by hspublication date Thu Jan 26, 2006 17:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thanks for the response cathy its very informative. Obviously you are early on in your organisation and I wish you the best of luck. But you must be sure to form some sort of accountable structure if you are going to be involved in campaigns electoral or otherwise. (and this has nothing to do with the swp, any campaign has to have the input of it's membership) . you will also have a hard time attracting and keeping activists if they have no input into decisions or positions in any campaign. The SWp are aiming for an electoral alliance i think, which is perfectly honourable, recent articles in socialist worker and on their website and even comments of their members in this debate point that way. The problem with structurelessness (is that a word?) is you have no comeback if your representative (whether electoral or any campaign) does something you disagree with. Or decides to go off on solo runs, George Galloway is an extreme example of this, but it's hard not to use it! For myself without any structure or accountability I would find it hard to get involved especially as it means i have no structured input in the decisions. But I'll watch out for your progress and hopefully it'll work out.

author by Michael R.publication date Thu Jan 26, 2006 17:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

So does that mean if there are "structures and accountability" you will get involved hs?? : )

author by anonarchistpublication date Thu Jan 26, 2006 18:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A new environmental forum has been set up to unite communities fighting against industrial pollution, incinerators and mobile phone masts.

The Irish Environmental Forum will include more than 20 different groups from around the country.

Its new chairwoman, Independent MEP Kathy Sinnott, said the environmental movement had been hampered by the lack of a national voice.

Related Link: http://www.breakingnews.ie/2006/01/26/story241759.html
author by hspublication date Thu Jan 26, 2006 18:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Stranger things have happened Michael, like I said I worked closely with the swp once, i work with anarchists and i'm in a party. But I WON'T get involved in anything unless there is democracy or accountability. Why don't you introduce structures and shame me into the the alliance! ; )

author by Michael R.publication date Thu Jan 26, 2006 19:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Democracy & Accountability - Im with you all the way there hs. I will do me best! Nice to talk to someone reasonable on this site.

author by Cynicpublication date Thu Jan 26, 2006 19:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"In answer to the Rossporter's question, therefore, an invitation to stand for People before Profit therefore is a request to know - would you be prepared to take part in our discussions about what we hold in common ?"

I don't see how you can translate "are you prepared to stand in electons for PBP?" into "would you be prepared to take part in our discussions". Sounds like Kieran Allen is out trying to establish himself as the point man and to have individual candidates feel a sense of obligation to him. It also sounds as though you (Cathy) were aware of this even though there is no agreement to even stand electoral candidates.

author by Pete - nonepublication date Thu Jan 26, 2006 19:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Im in favour of left wingers working together rather than fighting but can anyone explain to me, as objectively as possible the diffrence between the three main groups on this question of left unity. By those I mean:

The Socialist Party

The SWP/People Before Profit

The Healy-Collins initiative/Campaign for Independent Left

Id like to know if there are real differences between them and whether these groups work together or are they hostile to each other. This may sound naive but like a lot of people who read indymedia Im not familiar with every little twist and turn of left wing politics.

author by Dan - ISN (personal capacity)publication date Thu Jan 26, 2006 21:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I know it probably all seems quite obscure for the uninitiated, but I'll try and explain a little, without slagging people off.

The SP, the SWP and the CIL all say that they're in favour of launching a new left-wing party (although they don't necessarily agree about what that party should be like - the SWP tend to hold Respect in Britain up as a model, other people on the left are very skeptical about Respect).

It gets a little complicated then. The SWP say they want to start working with everyone else on the left right now. Unfortunately, most other groups on the left have had bad experiences of working with the SWP in the recent past in various campaigns and alliances (check in the Indymedia archives for trouble in the IAWM, for example).

This doesn't mean we wouldn't be willing to work with them under any circumstances, but I think most people who've been around a while are reluctant to get into an alliance with them until they've seen some evidence that things are going to be different. It would certainly be helpful if the SWP were willing to say that they were wrong to do certain things in the past.

The position of the SP and the CIL probably seems very similar at first sight. The SP say that they want to see a new left-wing party launched, but that the conditions aren't right at the moment.

The people involved in the CIL would agree that the conditions aren't right to set up a new party right now. But they do think that it's a good idea to start putting the idea around as much as possible, and have made some efforts towards doing so (public meetings, leaflets etc.).

So far the SP have said they won't be taking part in the CIL initiative, saying that they don't think it will strike much of a chord. They're entitled to make that choice, although I'd prefer if they saw things differently. At the moment, their sister party in Britain is taking part in an initiative for a new workers' party that looks quite promising.

One thing that I personally would like to see coming out of the CIL is a much more concrete idea of what a new left party would actually look like, what its structures and programme would be. The idea has been floating around on the radical left for a good while now but it's still fairly vague.

Anyway, to answer your question about whether left groups work together, this all relates to something quite ambitious, ie combing all our forces (and hopefully a lot of new people) into one organisation with a common programme. Left groups have been quite happy to work with each other on campaigns of all sorts (for example, I'm currently working on something with two members of Labour Youth, even though I can't stand their leader and there's absolutely no way my organisation could unite with their organisation).

Hope this makes things a little clearer. I know this stuff probably seems a little baffling from the outside, and the language used is often very off-putting

author by Evopublication date Thu Jan 26, 2006 21:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Whats the CIL and whos involved? Is it a new party?

author by Danpublication date Thu Jan 26, 2006 22:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It's not a new party, it's the "Campaign for an Independent Left", which pretty much does what it says on the tin. You can read a little more about it here:

http://www.irishsocialist.net/cil.html

author by Luxemburgpublication date Thu Jan 26, 2006 23:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Campaign for an Independent Left is an alliance of three left organisations and a number of independent leftists. The component groups are:

The Tipperary Workers Action Group is a group of community and trade union activists based in South Tipperary, especially the town of Clonmel, led by Samus Healy TD. The TWAG has five councillors and a strong record of community activism. Healy stands out amongst independent TDs, even those who purport to be leftwing, for being opposed to coalition with right wing parties.

The Community and Workers Action Group grew out of the Anti Bin Tax Campaign in Crrumlin/Drimnagh/Greenhills areas of Dublin. Although its most well known figures are former SP secretary general Dermot Conolly and Dublin City councillor Joan Collins, also a former SP member, it is a mixed bunch including former Labour and WP members as well as many new community activists. Its a broad church with a strong local base.

The Irish Socialist Network is a democratic marxist organisation based in Dublin (mainly Finglas) and Belfast. Originally formed by ex WP/DL members it now counts former members of the SWP and the well known anti war activist and historian Fintan Lane amongst its members. The ISN has a strong campaigning record, including the Anti Bin Tax Campaign in Dublin and Anti-Water Charges Campaign in Belfast, and a reputation for involvement in direct action tactics. Its non-hierarchical internal structure has influenced its antagonism to Leninism and a tendency to work with libertarian/anarchist groups and campaigns such as the Grassroots Gathering.

Independents involved in the CIL include Roseanna Flynn, a leading member of Residents Against Racism and Des Derwin, Vice President of Dublin Council of Trade Unions.

author by hspublication date Thu Jan 26, 2006 23:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

just to add, that the different left parties have managed not to stand against each other in the last few elections, so the vote iteself hasn't been split. So its not that votes were lost by candidates standing against each other. Some believe though that a united list would make a bigger impact, others don't. (or at least not now)The Socialist Party has also built up a bit of a name for itself so we understandably would be wary of losing it for any sort of political adventure. (imagine how the left groups in Respect are feeling after the Galloway fiasco!) For this reason for most in the party any alliance would have to be federal. The general concensous in the party at the moment (as far as I can tell) is that any new list or greater alliance would make little difference and most people don't seem to excited about the idea. those supporting an general left list or alliance are definitely a minority. There is also an argument that a failed alliance could dissillusion a lot of activists if it goes down badly. Personaly I would definitely vote for anyone in the CIL group but I would be more wary of the SWP and it would depend on the candidate.

author by Cathy Swift - People before Profitpublication date Fri Jan 27, 2006 01:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Like the previous commentator who asked the question, I greatly appreciate learning more about the various groupings and their different perspectives. I'm coming to this debate simply from the experience of a particular campaign and what I have learnt from that.

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by the need to have structured imput and accountable structures ? The very fact that the question is raised seems to me to be narrowing the potential of People before Profit by providing an impetus which pushes it towards a clear electoral position and a perceived need to be involved in "a campaign". What sort of campaign? On what issues? Speaking purely personally, I don't know more than a handful of the perhaps 200 people who have attended part or all of the meetings we have had so far and "know" in this instance simply means that I recognise their faces. I certainly can't envisage agreeing to a platform at this stage _ I'd want to hear an awful lot more views on all sorts of things before I'd think of signing up to join any party-like structure. Even in the course of reading these comments my view of what is going on both within our meetings and outside them has been altered.

But these caveats don't seem to me to be particularly relevant to a simple process of hearing more about individual campaigns and discussing them. I can see great benefit to me as a person and to campaigning activists as a collective in increasing the sum of knowledge about specific issues. The key word here for me is Alliance - I can ally myself with others in the quest for information (and even experiences) without committing myself to further a single united position.

On issues such as the anti-Nice vote, people from all sorts of different perspectives discovered that they shared scepticism about the model of European integration which they were being given by mainstream politics. As far as I know, nobody said, "We can't call for an anti-Nice vote because we don't know enough about the other parties/people who are against Nice (or "we can't call because we know all too much about the others, their history and their suspect motives.") Surely its the rights and wrongs of the specific issues which should be our key concern, rather than the fallibilities of others?

In short and without wanting to sound flippant - whatever peoples' experiences of other political parties on the left - would they consider their sins against democracy greater or lesser than, say, McDowell's recent antics?

author by Michael R.publication date Fri Jan 27, 2006 15:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Its certainly good to hear all this talk about unity on the left - and for once it don't seem to be too sectarian! Of course there will always be complications and human failings, as with anything in life, but the left in Ireland seems to be slowly (albeit very slowly) getting there.

Was coming to work this morning and there was a sole campaigner marching up and down outside the Life Building on Abbey St. Could only read a bit of his big placard from the Luas "Gardai investigating Gardai.......". Seemed to be some type of protest against the Gardai and abuse of power. It takes a lot to stage a protest like that all by yourself and it can have a huge impact as has been proven right around the globe.

Knit everyone’s grievances, struggles and protests together, both nationally and internationally and boy do you have a movement then. That is certainly one of my life ambitions. Could do with winning that bleedin 150 million tonight to help realize that ambition!

author by hspublication date Fri Jan 27, 2006 15:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hi Cathy, as a group sharing information obviously you don't need any structures or accountability. But I think the swp for one see the campaign going in an electoral direction. If you look at their website at:

http://www.swp.ie/html/leftunity.htm

You can see the whole process and their thinking for the last number of years. The swp you must remember have launched the initiitive. Whether or not others within pbp agree with them (on electoral politics) is another matter but you can read here in black and white what their general idea is. Its also not their first attempt. Again nothing wrong with the idea in itself, although they don't seem to have made their intentions clear to yourselves. And the fact that they are already recruiting candidates for elections in the name of Pbp is dubious if they haven't got agreement from others involved to do so.

This is an example of what i mean by accountability and structure. Recruiting candidates before you've even collectively decided to run in elections means no one else involved had any say in the matter.

For structure and accountability its up to yourselves, but you should be asking who chooses candidates and program. Or will they just be presented. What kind of structures could you have, some examples are simple one man one vote in a big hall. But this method is open to manipulation as a group can pack a single meeting and take over. Another is every group involved to send a representative or two with proposals, the reps agree on whatever and report back to their groups, which have to back the agreement. This i think is the simplest and most effective for a loose alliance.

As for endorsing candidates or supporting each other, like you say why not. But what if one group within the pbp endorses someone you fundamentaly disagree with (in your name) without even asking you? And to be perfectly honest without structures it will probably happen.

Nice is an excellent example, you say can't we all agree to be anti nice? well Justin Barret was also anti Nice, but on a far right anti immigrant platform (he was the one with the millions of red and black posters). We agreed with him on voting no. But what if because of one issue he took on the endorsement of pbp. Not that i think he'd be given it. But without any form of decesion making process or structure he could call himself pbp.

Its a bit more than old sins of the left. But Why should anyone involve themselves in something without being allowed to take part in the decisions? and decisions will be made we can be sure of that. Its import to know by who, why and when and whether ourselves if we joined pbp could have any input.

At the moment all we are hearing is pbp is just a number of groups exchanging ideas, so thats great and fair play to you for doing so. But if you do decide to go in a deeper direction ie. electoral politics or campaigns, whether they be rights, enviormental or whatever. You will need structures.

I believe the intention of the swp is for pbp to go in that direction and it's for this reason i said i wouldn't get involved unless it is democractically organised. I would say ask all the difficult questions, its not being silly or over the top. it just means we can be sure any alliance we give our hard earned time, money and energy will listen to what we say and make sure we as individuals can take part in making decisions being taken in our name.

author by Joe - WSM 1st of May (personal capacity)publication date Fri Jan 27, 2006 16:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I thought I'd throw in a few sort of neutral comments on this. Sort of because as an anarchist I'm not going to get involved in any of the three broad left initatives because they are all strongly inclined towards electoralism.

PBP
PBP is a pretty typical 'out of the box' SWP initiative. Like most of these the SWP is the only significant organistion involved and as usual it holds 30% of the steering committee. Anyone who understands democratic centralism understands that in this context this should be enough for them to win any important vote but give the appearance of not being fully in control. Like most SWP initatives PBP has a steering committee but no policy as decided by the membership - this is the most effective way for the SWP to dominate decision making without having the danger of policies it might disagree with imposed on it. Also like most SWP initiatives a couple of independants have been primed to insist on its independance - such people tend to feel very used and abused once things come to an end.

Key test of independance : PBP making decisions that go against core SWP policy.

Socialist Party
The SP has a long standing position of wanting to form a new workers party that will be considerably broader than the SP. Unlike the SWP this is a genuine intention (SWP initatives tend to exist only a long as is needed to hoover up whoever is recruitable). But they reckon that right now with a low level of militancy in the working class such an initative would not attract significant forces but just regroup the left. The SP has a well developed machine and a good reputation (in limited areas) so risking this for an alliance that wouldn't amount to much doesn't make sense. It has to be said though that its probable that any alliance the SP would construct in the future would not include the SWP or any groups of similar size to the SWP .

Key test of independance : There isn't one as the time isn't right but if it was a willingness to include groups of a similar size to the SP like the SWP.

CIL
By far the most genuine of the broad intiative - a good indication is that the three main groups involved are all of comparable size. But it is not clear what holds them together beyond a similar community based strategy and a commitment to electoralism. Mind you in terms of genuine openess this can be regarded as a strength rather than a weakness. Also I'm pretty sure that while they might accept the SP getting involved they would not be at all keen on the SWP getting involved.

Key test of independance : It's pretty much a Ronseal group (does what it says in the tin), the real question is could it move from CIL to IL by creating a common program - if and when it thinks the time is right.

Anarchist blurb
The real weakness of all three projects is that they are repeating for the 500th time a strategy that has consistently failed the left - everywhere - since the electoral success of the German Social Democrats at the end of the 19thC. Such electoral groups can be militant and grassroots while small and irrelevant but once they gain significant electoral support the dynamics of parliamentarianism has always seen control going over from the grassroots to the TD's and a move from setting a radical agenda to following the latest opinion pole. None of these groups have indicated how they would avoid this trap although the ISN may have some unpublished theories on it - as its core is ex WP they have already seen it happen at first hand.

Anarchist alternative
Build a coalition that rules out standing for election from the start. In a very limited way the Grassroots Gathering demonstrates that it is possible to do this and still have an impact on struggles. But as anti-electoralism is a pretty shocking idea in Ireland its hard to see it get beyond the limited number of libertarians.

author by hspublication date Fri Jan 27, 2006 16:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

for the swp. They are quite willing to drop core priciples for even minor electorial gain. Respect dropped a whole load of them.

quick one on the sp, is that we stand candidates on a platformist basis, ie not to take part in government but to use the seats as a platform to encourage and support workers taking action themselves, ie gama.

Why don't you give some more details about grassroot s and what it does to add to the debate.

author by Joepublication date Fri Jan 27, 2006 16:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Note the test was that they lose a vote on a core principle not that they make the decision to give it up (or indeed as with Respect vote against it themselves).

Someone else recently posted a history of grassroots to indymedia - I don't want to derail this thread which is really about electoral alliances.

author by hspublication date Fri Jan 27, 2006 16:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

the thread is really about pbp which is not officially an electoral alliance, and the debate gone onto different left or community alliances, not electorial ones (although most are). Heres a link to thegrassroots history

http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=73804&search_text=grassroots

author by PbPpublication date Fri Jan 27, 2006 17:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There has been some coverage of the People before Profit Allliance in Daily Ireland

http://dailyireland.televisual.co.uk

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