Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

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‘Trump victory: don’t mourn – organise!’ by Brendan Young

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Trump victory: don’t mourn – organise!

As the news of Trump’s victory sinks in, and is welcomed by the xenophobic right like LePen in France and presumably Farrage in Britain – who spoke at Trump rallies – the pattern of politics is becoming clearer. What has happened in the USA is an outcome of the failed promises of Obama; likewise in Britain where the betrayals of the Blairite-led Labour Party have created support for the xenophobic UKIP and Brexit; in France there is growing support for LePen due to the failures of Hollande and the French Socialist Party; in Germany, the racist AfD has growing support; and similar patterns can be seen in Austria, Belgium and Italy – not to mention support for the xenophobic right in Hungary and Poland.

To me the lesson is this: if those who claim to represent ordinary people don’t fight for a real alternative that will improve life for those suffering under austerity and marginalisation, a section of the working class and the poor will turn to the xenophobic right for a solution.

So far we in Ireland have escaped this. But the experience in the USA and across Europe is that only the fighting left can provide a real alternative. The failure of Ireland’s Labour Party to defend ordinary people has resulted in a collapse in support for Labour and growing support for the left. The AAA-PBPA alliance has gained support and there is continued support for for left Independents. And also for SF, which is seen as a left alternative but unfortunately appears willing to go into coalition with FF in the future.

To my mind, the Left in Ireland must now be much more politically ambitious. The AAA-PBPA groups should not sit on the laurels of increased support in opinion polls and carry on as at present – recruiting small numbers to their individual groups. It’s time to consider a broader initiative, based upon a commitment to mass action and a number of key demands – including repudiating the bank debt, taxing the rich and big business, breaking the EU rules and spending on housing and public services, legalising abortion and ending direct provision. This could draw together those who are willing to lead a fight for real change but who are not willing to join either the AAA or PBPA at present.

Likewise those who are involved in the discussions for a new initiative including Brendan Ogle, Joan Collins and others around the Independents for Change grouping – as recently reported in the Phoenix magazine. A political initiative for which the starting point is exclusion of and competition against the existing left groups – which are rightly criticised for competing against one another – does not bode well. At minimum there should begin a discussion on the possibility of a united left slate for the next general election, which is likely to be early in 2018.

In the USA, Bernie Sanders should now leave the Democrats. There is no solution to the crisis facing working class Americans in this party of big business and millionaires. It may be possible to launch a new party with Jill Stein of the Greens – although many who supported Sanders may now not trust him on account of his support for Clinton. But only a party that is independent of the politics of big business can lead a fight for a real alternative – either in the USA or in Europe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, yes, and…

–ooOOoo–

http://www.isj.org.uk/index.php4?id=948&issue=141

A reply from Richard Seymour here:

http://www.leninology.com/2014/01/questions-to-which-answer-is-already.html

Posted by DD

Written by tomasoflatharta

February 6, 2014 at 1:29 pm

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

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

Statement – Abortion Bill – 10 July 2013 – immediate release

See also :

http://www.thejournal.ie/pro-choice-abortion-987669-Jul2013/#comment-1368450

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

Bill will not prevent another death like Savita Halappanavar

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

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

Clare Daly said:

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

This legislation is happening in the wake of the sad death of Savita Halappanavar. Yet the Fine Gael – Labour Bill, by defining and giving legal protection to ‘unborn human life’ from the moment of implantation until delivery, will not prevent similar deaths. It will make terminations illegal during an inevitable miscarriage while there is still a foetal heartbeat. If a woman gets an infection in such circumstances, doctors will have to delay a termination until her life is at risk. This was what happened to Savita Halappanavar – and the same could happen again under this Bill.”
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Ireland’s Banking Fiasco, Midnight Parliamentary Madness, A Government in Free Fall…..and Mass Media Self-Delusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Labour Pains in 2013 Opinion Polls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STATE  FG 42  FF 51  LP 15 SF 26 Others 24

Compare this with the 2011 result

STATE  FG 76
 FF 20
 LP 37
SF 14
Others 19

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

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

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

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

Web Link :

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

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

Boost for small parties

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

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

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

Web Link :

Support for Others at 32 Per Cent in Dublin

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

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

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

The Socialist Party leaves the United Left Alliance

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Socialist Party leaves the ULA

by Henry Silke

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

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

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

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Jaws – the Austerity Treaty

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Written by tomasoflatharta

May 28, 2012 at 7:42 am