Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Helena Sheehan Leaves the Labour Party

with 5 comments

Here is a very welcome statement from Helena Sheehan (copied from her facebook page).

I do not however agree with supporting Michael D Higgins in the Presidential Race – in other blogs I have argued that the radical left should try to convert the presidential election into a proxy referendum on ECB / IMF Reverse Robin Hood “stealing from the poor, giving to the rich” menu.

http://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2011/05/31/meanwhile-back-at-the-presidential-election-campaign/

More recently Robert Ballagh has promoted a similar strategy, but has made it clear he will not himself be a candidate :

http://www.independent.ie/national-news/robert-ballagh-rules-out-running-for-president-after-talks-2830674.html

Time to leave the Labour Party

by Helena Sheehan on Wednesday, 27 July 2011 at 14:57

It is time to draw a line under my 30 year membership of the Labour Party. It is past time actually, as I have not been active at branch or constituency level for the past 15 years. There were many reasons for this, including the demands of my academic job. I did remain active politically, but not in a way that was so focused on the Labour Party or even electoral politics. I recognise the importance of electoral politics, but it has never been the area in which I felt I had a particular contribution to make. During the years of Labour Left, of which I was a founding member, we tried to create a deeper political intellectual culture in the Labour Party. Once this ended, I didn’t see so much of a role for myself. Nevertheless, I remained.

A turning point for me came during the period leading up to the last election when the Labour Party resolutely refused to look left or to address any alternative to coalition with Fine Gael. The attitude expressed to other left parties appalled and angered me. One TD on RTE called them a ‘rag bag’. During the election I did all in my power to convince people to vote left, whether ULA, WP, SF, LP or independents. I voted accordingly myself. I do not find much of what the Labour Party is doing in government to be defensible. I cannot even see how Labour is protecting working people from the worse that Fine Gael might do without them, the only argument that had any traction among those on the left who supported Labour. A central question for me is: In whose class interests is the state being run? We live in an oligarchy, not a democracy. There is a global and national elite that is demanding intensified redistribution from below to above. Labour is colluding in it. I support the opposition.

I formed many fine relationships in my years in the Labour Party and hope to continue on good terms with the party and its members. I support the Labour candidate, Michael D Higgins, for President. I intend to continue to be politically active. My loyalty is to the left, which includes the Labour Party, and I intend to use such energy and influence as I have to promote the left unity and particular left initiatives, including demonstrating against the current government.

Written by tomasoflatharta

July 27, 2011 at 8:34 pm

5 Responses

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  1. Wow!

    There will probably be few leaps like this. But can the ULA reach out to Helena and others like her, if there are others?

    Des Derwin

    July 28, 2011 at 1:52 pm

  2. Well, by my count, we’ve now gone from approximately 50 left of center members of the Labour Party nationally to approximately 49.

    I’m glad to hear of Helena’s resignation.

    Mark P

    July 28, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    • +1

      WorldbyStorm

      July 28, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    • Mark P,

      I’m surprised you have anything good to say about an “ageing Stalinist” as you have categorised (ex) WP / CP members in the past 🙂

      However, like yourself, I view her resignation as a positive.

      LeftAtTheCross

      July 29, 2011 at 11:35 am

  3. Helena is a very genuine activist and some of her writings on Ireland are incredibly insightful. I wonder if the handful of other left-wingers in the Labour Party will follow suit and cease tipping at windmills?

    Budapestkick

    July 28, 2011 at 7:56 pm


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