Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

ULA must build campaigning party: Eddie Conlon

with 5 comments

Article by Eddie Conlon, non-party steering committee member of ULA and PBPA,  in Resistance (published by Irish Socialist Network), No 14, Autumn 2011.

ULA Must Build Campaigning Party

The United Left Alliance offers real potential for building a radical force on the left which has significant social weight and can mobilise wide layers in struggles against austerity and for socialism. The election of five TDs was a real breakthrough. As was the organisation of the national forum and the coming together of the left to organise a significant gathering of trade union activists into the Trade Union Activist Forum.

Although there was great momentum after the election, this has dissipated somewhat. This can be linked to the low level of social struggles in society and the failure of the union leadership to mobilise against austerity. Many people do not believe that there is a real alternative.

But that does not mean that we should sit back and do nothing. There can be no doubt that there is a layer of people who want to commit to the ULA and get involved in the project of building a new radical polotical force. What is less clear is that all the constituent groups are fully committeed to building such a force at this time. If the ULA is to develop, those groups need to build it as a priority.

The real potential of the ULA has yet to be realised. The key task now is to turn the ULA into a fighting organisation which will lead campaigns and provide a forum for developing political ideas. The work in the Dáil needs to be balanced with real activity on the ground. There are a number of simple things which must be done:

1. Branches must be established in every locality with regular meetings incorporating political discussion and campaigning activity.The membership drive should aim to recruit 1,000 people before the end of the year.

2. The leadership need to be broadened so that new members are represented on the Steering Committee. This has been agreed in principle. Communications also need to improve with regular bulletins incorporating decisions and discussions of the Steering Committee.

3. The ULA needs to build united campaigns which are open to all. This means facilitating all those who want to fight on the issues without demanding they join the ULA and recognising the role of other political forces and tendencies. But the ULA must clearly play a leading role and make the arguments for building a new political force. Engaging in an open and friendly dialogue with activists is the best way to win them to the ULA project. Currently the ULA is working towards a major demonstration prior to the budget. This must be built on as broad a basis as possible.

4. Build towards a national conference in the New Year.

Immediatley the Dublin West by-election presents a great opportunity to regain momentum for the ULA. Ruth Coppinger has a great chance of winning. There should be the widest possible mobilistaion of ULA members and supporters to ensure that she does. This would be a concrete expression of the capacity of the ULA to work in a united way.

Eddie Conlon is a member of the ULA and PBP Steering Committees.

Written by tomasoflatharta

November 28, 2011 at 12:56 pm

5 Responses

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  1. I feel that amongst all the things ULA i and should be is the natural party for solidarity campaigns. I think of Palestne but there are many others. The conference should have a workshop on this.
    I would like to see some existing camapign fronts such as the antiwar one absorbed into ULA.
    The non ULA anti-coalition left CPI, WPI and Eirigi. We should continue to reach out. A bigger ULA in the locals could have an impact.
    Oh I am writing this as a comment. I feel no reason to write a full program. By and large I agree with Eddie.
    On the North I am on the same wavelength as the Healy brothers

    Jim Monaghan

    November 28, 2011 at 1:10 pm

  2. For some reason my open office won’t load the doc correctly. Any chance of embedding a screenshot of the text? I’m sure ISN(/Eddie Conlon) won’t mind if there is a link and correctly accredited/fair use applied.

    Julian Assandwich

    November 28, 2011 at 6:35 pm

  3. The text is now in the post.

    Des Derwin

    December 21, 2011 at 11:01 am

  4. […] have known that the ULA Conference was coming for months, ever since Eddie Conlon’s seminal document on the ULA in the early summer of 2010. This was confirmed to some branches by activists in the […]


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