Reminder: ‘New Political Possibilities in Ireland for all Left-Wing Parties in Partnership with Civil Society’ Conference


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Addmission 5 Euros on the door

Political Change and People Power

‘New Political Possibilities in Ireland for all Left-Wing Parties in Partnership with Civil Society’

Saturday, 5th February 2011

Gresham Hotel, Dublin

People Power and Left Unity: Towards a New Ireland for All People

This conference will allow left wing parties across the spectrum to compare policies and discuss the prospects for left wing unity. Representatives of communities, equality, rights and women’s groups will also outline their vision for a new Ireland and the prospects for closer co-operation with like minded political parties. The conference will also include a discussion of economic, political and social policies for a new Ireland from a range of left wing thinkers and writers  in academia, unions and elsewhere.  Union leaders will also present their vision for a new Ireland.

If you wish to attend please download the registration form, available here and send it to:
You will receive email confirmation on receipt.

Conference Fee is €5 payable at door

(Conference fee is to cover overheads only, it does not include lunch unfortunately.)

Download Conference Timetable here. Facebook event here.

It is time for radical change in Ireland. After over thirty years of neoliberal government, the left in Ireland is now on the ascendancy.  Neoliberalism has destroyed Ireland’s public services and driven up unemployment to 440,000. It has created rampant poverty, one hundred thousand people in mortgage arrears and hundreds on hospital trollies daily. The IMF/EU deal is set to make matters dramatically worse. People must now take power back for themselves. New alliances between progressive politicians, economic and social thinkers, communities, unions and social rights groups must now move centre stage. Charting a blueprint for the future of a new Ireland just weeks from a General Election is the purpose of this conference.

Registration               9am-10am

Session 1 10am-1pm

Tea/Coffee                 11.15 am (15 mins)

The future of the Irish Left: Policies, Political Strategies

and Future Possibilities


Cllr. Dermot Looney- Labour Party

Cllr. Cian O’Callaghan-Labour Party

Aengus O’Snodaigh TD- Sinn Féin

Eoin O’Broin- Sinn Fein (election candidate)

Joe Higgins MEP- United Left Alliance

Cllr. Richard Boyd Barrett- United Left Alliance

Mick Finnegan- Workers Party President

Dr.Ben Nutty- Fis Nua (election candidate).

Lunch 1pm-2pm

Session 2 2pm to 4.15pm

Building Alliances in our Common Interest: Unions and Communities Working Together


Ursula Barry- Head of Women’s Studies- UCD

Anne Costello- Community Platform

Dr Mary Murphy-Sociologist, NUI Maynooth

Jack O’Connor-SIPTU Leader

Jimmy Kelly-UNITE Leader

Ailbhe Smyth- Feminist Open Forum

Session 3 4.15pm-6.30pm

New Left Policies for Economic, Social and Political Regeneration


Michael Taft- UNITE

Kathleen Lynch-Prof of Equality Studies, UCD

Michael Burke- Economist and TASC Economist’s Network

Tom O’Connor- CIT Economist and TASC Economist’s Network

Niall Crowley- Claiming Our Future

Dr. Kieran Allen –  Economic Sociologist, UCD


60 Responses

  1. Jim Monaghan

    January 21, 2011 3:25 pm

    A personal view on voting
    Vote ULA, the real left opposition.
    Then SF and if you can stomach it the LP.( My distaste arises as I see the right of Labour setting the agenda, Quinn not Burton. So FG policies on everything important)I put Finian McGrath in the same contaminated stable. The pro-coalition left who see FG as different (mistaken in my view).I want to leave a door open for dialogue with decent LP supporters. The leadership of the LP want to close the door between LP voters and the ULA and also SF.
    No Vote or transfer to FF or FG or their corrupt hanger ons.There is no left FF or FG just those who are better at fooling people.Like the Aherns of all kinds.
    Predicted outcome
    A FG led coalition with Labour as per usual.
    SF as Official Opposition.
    ULA gets 7 seats (ok I am hoping here).
    After that the challenge is to turn ULA into something substantial with direct membership.

  2. Tom O'Connor

    January 21, 2011 5:07 pm

    Hi Jim
    I think you are right on the Quinn influence and other coalition supporters in Labour. I’d like to point out that the withdrawal at least two of the Labour TDs from attending this conference, having agreed to speak earlier, indicates to me that orders came from on high. You are right about Joan Burton being caught in this pro coaltion maelstrom in Labour. The return to prominence of Quinn from the political wilderness indicates that the grand coaltion deal maker is back in poll position. He has never really minded what right wing party to coalesce with, Fianna Fail or Fine Gael. I don’t agree that the ULA are the only ‘real opposition’. It is very obvious that Sinn Fein have been doing some excellent work all along also and particulary in the past 6 weeks. I think both ULA and SF are equally ranked in terms of an opposition. Hopefully, Labour Party members who believe in ‘Labour’ will make their position heard at the conference.

  3. RG Cuan

    January 21, 2011 5:14 pm

    Sounds like a great event.

    Is it just for developing the left in the Republic or throughout the whole country?

  4. Tom O\'Connor

    January 21, 2011 5:23 pm

    This event is primarily focused on the Republic but we may well broaden it in the future once we build some linkages.

  5. Adam Fulham

    January 21, 2011 6:20 pm

    Looks like a really great event, great names and only €5! Is there a Facebook event for it?

  6. Déirdre O\'Byrne

    January 21, 2011 6:39 pm

    We’ll be putting it up on facebook in the next 24 hours. Thanks for the words of support

  7. Déirdre O\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'Byrne

    January 21, 2011 8:18 pm

    Sorry, that link doesn’t work. Just type ‘Left’ in the search bar and it will come up.

  8. eoin hogan

    January 22, 2011 12:20 am

    ULA is a brilliant development what it illustrates is a fundamental shift in Irish politics at the core of it is bottom up approach were activist on the ground are empower and emboldened by a genuine political engagement for change. People are usually alienated by the unitary mechanisms of capitalism this contravenes this tendency by binding a political party from the bottom up.

    This bring a new wave of politics to Ireland to use a popular phrase in France “what is put in law can be undone on the streets” Yes the ULA want to develop massive link with the north this is seen with Eamonn Mac Cann going up for elections under the people before profit banner. The ULA is closely modelled (not to sound mechanical though) on the left block in Portugal this is fundamentally based on a number of tendencies with in the party to move collectively to achieve a new mass workers party both north and south.

    I cant emphasis enough the importance of something like this conference the time is now to put the interest of ordinary working people first as apposed to 5 percent of the population. After all it’s our labour time, it’s our taxes that subsidise this class of so called wealth creators and where are the jobs. We hear this constant barrage from the media that these captains of industry are sacrosanct and any idea of taxing them is sacrilegious, but to whom and why. It is clear that the Friedmanite polices designed in the 70s have been utterly discredited. So why are we continuing with the failed mantras is it a political one to maintain their economic advantage lording overt the rest of society.

    Those at the top of society have been subsidised for over 25 years in property and with technological innovation to develop enterprise their sense of entitlement has an air of aristocracy about them. Yet with all these tax deductibles, these incentives, where did it get us and what did we get out of it credit, asset bubbles and to pay their bill for their lavish speculation. As I would see it we need the state to invest in key strategic infrastructural projects, which are necessary to develop not only the economy, but industries that reflect the needs of the people and not the manic anarchy the chaos of the market.

    The time is now to put these radical sketches into a coherent practical expression of unity from bellow. Remember we can only be considered week and vulnerable through apathy and inaction. It is time we looked for a real coherent direction in Irish politics, which put people before profit, which puts the interests of working people first and a system that is designed to empower a rationality that develops the imagination and collective conviction for a new hope in the 21 century the answers are their is time to use them.

  9. Desmond O'Toole

    February 2, 2011 10:39 am

    Just a few responses to the comments that have been made here so far.

    1. Tom O’Connor claims that Labour TDs orginally scheduled to speak at this meeting have been got at by the party leadership. The truth is more prosaic and has much more to do with the fact that those TDs are fighting a general election at this time. Others might enjoy a day off for a conference during what is arguably the most siginificant election in recent history; Labour TDs however (inclduing Michael D who is retiring) know that they need to be out campaigning at this time.

    2. Jim and Tom also seem to think that there is division between the party leadership and LP members with respect to electoral strategy. This is not true. Labour Party members overwhelmingly support the leadership position on fighting this election as an independent pary, but recognising that to be in power after the next election will likely mean a coalition with FG. Our aim is to lead that coalition, but the final choice on the configuration of the 31st Dáil will be made by the Irish people. Likewise, the overwhemming majority of party members have no interest in a political alignment with Trotskyite groups such as the CWI and SWP, nor with a populist nationalist party like Sinn Fein. In fact, Gerry Adams’ repeated courting of Eamon Gilmore is getting just a little bit creepy at this stage.

    That said, there is enourmous potential for the mainstream Left in this country to build strong policy and campaigning alliances with trade unions and civil society organisations. This is something that we in Ireland have traditionally not made enough of, just as we have not put sufficient effort into the development of alternative centres of new and radical thinking. Across Europe there are plenty of examples of much stronger co-operation between the mainstream Left, civil society and think-tanks. That’s a crucial, strategic issue that the Irish Left should address itself to, but AFTER the 25th February.

    Desmond O’Toole
    Labour Party (personal capacity)

  10. Conor McCabe

    February 4, 2011 6:29 pm

    Just on the Labour party TDs not attending – can I ask them for any horse-racing tips, as they pulled out of the event before Christmas, when everyone thought that the election would be in May at the earliest.

    so, fair play for them for knowing that they would be campaigning in the first week of February, and knowing this back in December.

    Of course, a more cynical person might say that you’re blowing it out of your arse with the election excuse.

    But that would be cynical.

  11. Desmond O\'Toole

    February 4, 2011 6:42 pm

    @Conor … last Christmas, you may have thought the earliest that the GE would take place was in May, but pretty much every serious commentator knew that it would come much, much earlier than that. The Greens had talked of January but the rest of us knew that a GE was more likely in February or March. There was some newspaper speculation that FF might try to string the Finance Bill and Green Party bills out till the early Summer, but the writing was on the wall for a much earlier election than that.

    It’s a pity that in trying to take a pop at the Labour Party you resort to re-writing very recent history.

  12. Conor McCabe

    February 4, 2011 6:49 pm

    you are joking. Nobody thought it was going to be in February.

    your excuse would make sense if they pulled out when the election was actually called.

    But no. Pulled out back in December.

    Still. Good to see you’re working on the aul’ excuses, as you’re going to need a truckload of them for the decimation of working Irish people’s lives over the next five years.

    Leo Varadkar is going to use you as his mudguard.

    hope you enjoy the ride.

  13. Desmond O\\\'Toole

    February 4, 2011 6:59 pm

    And you wonder Conor why, with this sort of ativistic contempt for Labour, we don’t take calls for “Left unity” particularly seriously. Enjoy the sidelines, Conor, they’re made for the ideologically pure!

  14. Paul Cassidy

    February 4, 2011 7:43 pm

    I’d join a Solidarity Party and work for it if it achieved to support of the alternative left. Perhaps having a twin party left would help maximise the vote as it does on the right. Also it makes sense that the Third Sector and Activist Left have their own affiliate party as the Trade Unions have in Labour. But of course the irony of Solidarity will be that it will attract radical Christians too making abortion and moral issues contentious ensuring Labour is more left in some respects while Solidarity is more radical in others. It will be interesting thats four sure. Count me in. Might make it to the third session.

  15. Conor McCabe

    February 4, 2011 8:01 pm

    Interesting to see you didn’t contradict my point.

    By the way, do you include these people in your list of ideologically pure?

    Ursula Barry- Head of Women’s Studies- UCD

    Anne Costello- Community Platform

    Dr Mary Murphy-Sociologist, NUI Maynooth

    Jack O’Connor-SIPTU Leader

    Jimmy Kelly-UNITE Leader

    Ailbhe Smyth- Feminist Open Forum

    Michael Taft- UNITE

    Kathleen Lynch-Prof of Equality Studies, UCD

    Michael Burke- Economist and TASC Economist’s Network

    Tom O’Connor- CIT Economist and TASC Economist’s Network

  16. Desmond O\\\\\\\'Toole

    February 4, 2011 8:11 pm

    My reference to the “ideologically pure” was to yourself, Conor, not to the speakers. It’s the “ideologically pure” who express a knee-jerk animus to the Labour Party which, in part, results in Labour having little interest in calls for “Left unity”. Given that a number of the people in yor list are also members of the LP makes my point, really.

    On your other point, the issues you raised in your second post were addressed in my first two posts. I’d recommend re-reading them as I’m not in the habit of repeating myself .. sorry!

  17. Roasted Snow

    February 5, 2011 12:05 pm

    I would have thought that Labour had little interest in Left Unity as it isn’t Left. Well no more than Nick Clegg is. You don’t have to be a ‘Left purist’ to see that surely. For those who want a real alternative to the bankers and millionaires there is one this time.

  18. Mark P

    February 5, 2011 4:22 pm

    Desmond’s attitude may be obnoxious, but it is a fairly accurate reflection of the views of the Labour Party.

    Fine Gael is its natural partner, not any force of the left. Desmond is of the view that this isn’t simply the attitude of the Labour leadership but that it’s also the attitude of the overwhelming majority of Labour members. And he’s right. The Labour Party is not a party of the left if the term left has any content.

    Conor is completely correct to point out that Labour will be implementing the politics and economics of Fine Gael in the next government, where he’s wrong is in imagining that this would be a problem for Labour members. They will indeed be carrying through “the decimation of working Irish people’s lives over the next five years”, but they’ll be doing it because that’s the result of their own politics, not because they somehow have been hoodwinked by evil genius Enda Kenny.

  19. Desmond O'Toole

    February 5, 2011 8:07 pm

    The thesis of this conference was the opportunities to build a Left unity that encompasses the LP, SF and the Trots as well as progressive civil society. What happened on this thread, however, was a repeat of the same dreary attacks that have been made by oppositionalists against the mainstream Left for as long as anyone can remember.

    This pretty much reinforces the point that I am making, namely, that there is clearly no desire on either the part of the mainstream Left or the Trot and oppositionalist fringe to bridge policy or ideological divides.

    There is, however, a huge potential for bringing the Labour Party, as the primary representative political vehicle of the Left in Ireland, much closer to civil society organisations. For us in Labour it is this which represents the most significant possibility for developing Left politics both inside and outside the Oireachtas. Opposition for oppositon’s sake or Trotskyite transitional demands are of little use to anyone as the results of the coming election will demonstrate. It’s one thing pontificating about working people, it’s quite another gaining their trust and political support.

  20. Enda

    February 5, 2011 9:02 pm

    Labour is a waste of a vote. I will vote sinn fein & then united left alliance then independent left (if any).
    There is no way I can let my vote help the labour party prop up a right wing government with fine gael in control.

    I really can’t understand people of the left suggesting voting for labour – is it so you can look at yourself for 5 years saying “My vote helped put fine gael there”.

    No way for this voter.

  21. Conor McCabe

    February 5, 2011 9:09 pm

    Desmond, I have been writing on this site for nearly three years now.

    If you click on my name in the right-hand panel (authors) you will be able to read all the articles I have written for this site.

    In them, you will not find ANY criticism of the Irish Labour Party – not an article, not even a comment.

    That’s nearly three years of writing about Irish politics, and on more than one occasion, DEFENDING the Irish Labour Party.

    Now, you left a patronising comment, accusing Tom O’Connor of basically lying, before going on to say that we need to talk about a Left alliance, but only after Labour has formed a government with the right-wing Fine Gael.

    I criticised you for that, and you labelled me an ‘ideologally pure’ ultra-leftist!

    Jesus almighty Christ. I was a member of the Labour party when you were still sucking on your mother’s tit, and I have constantly and consistently defended the Irish Labour Party ever since.

    But the calling of the Irish Left as a ‘ragbag’ and Joan Burton’s disgraceful behaviour on Vincent Browne, along with the single-minded determination to make Enda Kenny Taoiseach, well, I’ve had enough.

    I have voted Labour all my life you idiot, on top of being a member for six years, and I had NEVER publicly criticised the party until very recently, when I finally gave up on them.

    God.three years of defending the Irish Labour Party on-line, along with publishing historical studies of the Irish Labour Party in Saothar, and this is what you get – a fucking moron from the party’s central committee calling you an ideological purist.

    what a wanker.

  22. Garibaldy

    February 5, 2011 11:15 pm

    The Irish Labour Party may well be one of the most right-wing social democratic parties in Europe. The question for those of us further to the left is how can we connect to people who see themselves as socialist, and persuade them to tack further left. It seems to me that cooperation is a key way of reaching this constituency, and opening up dialogue between the people in it and the further left.

    The WP’s contribution to the conference is online now at Cedarlounge

  23. Mags Sheehan

    February 6, 2011 8:55 pm

    Can you please stop bickering.
    You sound like a load of kids.
    We need unity – that includes you!
    Will you ever learn? I despair of you all.
    As for the foul language using female body parts, I find that totally unacceptable and you should ‘withdraw’ it right now.
    Thank you.
    Now can we get on with electing a left wing government please?

  24. Desmond O\'Toole

    February 7, 2011 8:32 am

    @Conor … your descent into vulgar name-calling brings my interaction with you to an end. If you cannot conduct a discusion in a reasonable and relatively calm fashion then you take yourself out of the game as far as I’m concerned.

    @Mags … I agree with your comments about name-calling, it is uncalled-for and unacceptable. However, what this thread demonstrates is the point I have been making that calls for Left unity that attempt to bridge the very real ideological and policy divides between the mainstream Left and the oppositionalist and Trotskyite fringe are not going to be heard.

    Some may view that as a problem, others accept the sitiation as an inevitable consequence of the different ideology and practice of the LP which sees parliament as the primary political route to social progress. Others dismiss parliamentary democracy as little more than a tactic in a broader revolutionary agenda or oppose parliament and its inevitable compromises as diluting the Left and hence being unworthy of their attention. These Trotskyite and oppositionalist positions are not reconcilable with the LP and constitute a profound rupture between the mainsteam Left and the fringe.

    There does, however, exist considerable potential for progressive people outside of party politics to engage with a Labour Party that is open to them. That is something that the LP has not done particularly well to date, but this potential remains a significant source of ideas and engagement for progressive politics in Ireland whether the LP is in government or in opposition after this coming election.

  25. Conor McCabe

    February 7, 2011 11:02 am


    “If you cannot conduct a discusion in a reasonable and relatively calm fashion then you take yourself out of the game as far as I’m concerned.”

    But you can call me an ultra-leftist and an ideological purist?

    That’s a handy move.

    I’ve never voted anyone but Labour in my life and I have frequently defended Labour against attacks from ultraleftists but the first sniff of criticism and the present batch of Labour leaders are straight out with calls of ultra-leftism against those who criticise them – even those who have defended Labour in the past.

  26. Michael Gallagher

    February 8, 2011 9:04 pm

    I understand why Desmond O’Toole refers to the ULA as ‘Trotskyites’ and ‘fringe’. I can’t make out -but I have and idea- why he won’t give them at least the respect of calling them by their name, the United Left Allience or ULA. They deserve that at least in a mature setting such as this forum.

    People who call themselves Socialist can only be deemed genuine Socialist if they have not corrupted the message left by genuine Socialists such as James Connolly and Jim Larkin. So ask yourselves, who in Irish politics or the trade the nion movement, now and/or in recent Irish history, is/has corrupted that message? Genuine Socialists are only carriers of that message left by Connolly and Larkin. You know who they intended that message for, it belongs to those people, then, now and in the future.
    Nobody has the right to corrupt that message, we are just messengers for Socialism, genuine Socialism.

    Roll on the genuine Socialist Revolution, vote ULA and like minded people.
    ps: I’m not a member of any political party or grouping.

  27. Desmond O\'Toole

    February 9, 2011 4:09 pm

    @Michael .. I refer to Trotskyite parties when talking about the ULA because the two parties that form the core of that organisation are …. tad-dah/drum-roll … Trotskyite parties, the CWI and SWP. I know that in the best traditions of electoralism these parties have chosen to be quite coy about their Trotskyism during this general election campaign, but I’m sure even they would not object to being defined as Trotskyite on a forum such as this. The term “fringe” speaks for itself.

    On your broader point, I learnt a long time ago that trying to pass judgement on another person’s “socalism” serves only to expose a narrow and purist approach to Left values. It is an argument that moves progress to social justice no further forward.

    The key point I am making on this thread, however, is that given the profound ideological divide between the reformist, mainstream Left on one side and the revolutionary and oppositionalist Left on the other there is no prospect at all for a Left Unity that encompasses these two currents. There are other opportunities to grow progressive politics in Ireland, but that will be done without the mainstream and the fringe operating in some kind of alliance with one another.

  28. Conor McCabe

    February 9, 2011 4:21 pm

    The point you’re missing Desmond is the gulf between the Irish Labour Party and reformist left-wing.

    That’s why you label anyone who doesn’t agree with you as revolutionary/oppositionist/trotskyist. It saves you having to deal with the reality of the situation.

    It avoids both you and the Irish labour party from having to deal with the thornier subject of how (and why) the Irish labour party is alienating the reformist left from its ranks.

    I mean , when the New York Times and Bloomberg is to the left of Labour’s economic policies, you really have to ask yourself what’s going on within Labour’s central office.

    Or is the New York Times now ‘ideologically pure’?

  29. Desmond O'Toole

    February 9, 2011 5:41 pm

    @Conor … you are misrepresenting what I have written. I have made it plain several times on this thread that there is huge and little explored potential for the Labour Party to reach out to progressive opinion in civil society that does not see its political activism as requiring party affiliation or party activity. That potential includes all manner of civil society and industrial groups and activists. A dialogue or unity that brought these actors together with the Labour Party would add significantly to the development of progressive politics in Ireland and offer a much more powerful challenge to the neo-liberal narrative against the dreary backdrop of which this election is being fought.

    That potential does not, however, include the revolutionary or oppositionalist Left who treat parliamentary democracy and reformist politics as at best a distraction. That is a gulf which is not bridgeable. Where this conference sought to explore the possibility of a Left unity that encompassed the LP and the Trot/oppositionalist fringe it was kidding itself.

    Regards … Desmond.

  30. Michael Gallagher

    February 9, 2011 5:55 pm

    @ dot
    I’m not going to get into a long winded ping pong with you Mr.O’Toole, it’s very obvious here that you are not for turning. You are a sell-out.

    As for moving ‘social justice’ forward. Well how far back do you want to go before you start to undo the damage previous Labour Party/Ministers are responsible for? You are going to be toing and froing a lot, what with your party planning on extending the ‘social justice’ of the IMF etc debacle from three years to five years, when (if only it was if and not when) the Labour Party coalesce with the enemies of Connolly and Larkin’s ideals. Well fine gael you are. Speaking of fine gaels, who will be tripping over whom in trying to move the ‘social justice’ forward? What with the not so fine gaels losing the run of themselves with their own version of froing and toing to manage.
    James Connolly would have you all shot or thrown in a dungeon for betrayal to your people and your country.

    As my late mother in law used to say, “Show me your company and I’ll tell you what you are”

    Thanks Conor,I think your reply is better. I’m off this topic.
    Vote ULA candidates or like minded people in your area.

  31. Conor McCabe

    February 9, 2011 6:05 pm

    No, that’s not what you said. You said that the three labour TDs backed out of the day of unity due to election commitments, even though they pulled out before the election was even called.

    Then you said how we need to form a left alliance but only after Labour has formed a government with Fine Gael.

    Then you called me ‘ideologically pure’ even though I’m a left-wing social democrat who has voted Labour all his life, and has defended Labour on-line for years.

    But, getting back to the point about economic policy.

    What exactly is left-wing about Labour’s economic policy?

    All I see in it is a deflationary approach couched in the language of Catholic social justice.

    The New York Times, Bloomberg, and even the IMF have all come out in recent weeks explaining how a deflationary approach to Ireland’s economic problems will not only bring down the Irish economy, but possibly drag the Euro with it as well.

    The New York Times correctly pointed out that in order for Ireland to address the repayments under the EU/IMF deal – even under a ‘reformed’ deal – it needs to achieve a minimum of 5 per cent growth per annum for the duration of the deal.

    Labour’s economic policies – written with one eye on coalition with Fine Gael – call for 4.5 billion to be taken out of the economy, at a time when private investment has all but dried up, and to balance that with a think-tank funded to the tune of 500 million.

    Its plans are not costed, the reason being that if they were it would be abundantly clear that the deflationary approach will not achieve anything like 5 per cent growth.

    If the approach is Left as social justice – as is the Labour party’s idea of being left-wing – then cuts are about ‘fairness’ and ‘unfairness’.

    BUt this isn’t about ‘fairness’ or ‘unfairness’ as much as about the reality that if you deflate an economy during a recession you will kill it. That’s an economic analysis associated with left-wing thinking – centre-left etc.

    But Labour pays only lip-service to this economic analysis – and does so through the language of catholic social teaching, with the language of fairness.

    If you put sugar in your petrol tank, it will wreak your engine.

    It is not a question of whether it is ‘fair’ or ‘unfair’ to do so – quite simply, it will wreak the engine.

    If you lacerate growth in a recession, your economy will die. It’s not about fairness or unfairness, that’s just the way it works.

    The New York Times gets it, and the money markets get it – which is why the spread on Ireland’s sovereign debt bonds started going north almost as soon as the bank guarantee was agreed.

    Now, you came on here and assumed that I was an oppositionist/Trotskyist. You called me ‘ideologically pure’, when in fact I would not only welcome a Labour Taoiseach I would actively campaign for it IF I thought that Labour was actually offering an alternative to TINA (there is no alternative) and if it actually understood that you cannot lacerate an economy and expect growth – no more than you can put sugar in a petrol tank and expect the car to work.

    And as for arguing that we can start to build left alternatives but only after Labour has made Michael Noonan Minister for Finance and Enda Kenny Taoiseach, I mean, please.

  32. LeftAtTheCross

    February 9, 2011 6:41 pm

    Well said Conor. Out here in Meast-East I’m wondering who I’m going to vote for. Can’t bring myself to vote SF. As for voting Labour, well as you say, what’s the point, might as well vote FG, which isn’t going to happen. At least the WP is putting up a candidate in Meath-West. Could be the first time I ever spoil a vote.

  33. LeftAtTheCross

    February 9, 2011 6:47 pm

    Naw, you know just writing that has made up my mind, I take it back, I’m going to have to vote for Labour, despite knowing that disappointment with the end result is inevitable.

  34. Conor McCabe

    February 9, 2011 6:57 pm

    Well my friends here in Wexford are doing the same. They’re voting for Labour – voting for Sinn Fein is something they just can’t bring themselves to do.

    And my sister, she’s out in East Wall and again, she’ll be voting for Costello and his running mate. She just won’t vote for Mary Lou MacDonald and Sinn Fein.

    Mind you, all my brothers and sisters vote labour (there’s nine of us)- and my parents (god rest them) they voted labour. I come from a Labour background. The McCabes have been voting Labour since the 1940s.

    I agree in broad terms with TASC on the economy – and the only party which has taken up what TASC is saying is Sinn Fein, so on that basis I’m going to vote for them. First time I’ve done so.

    Although, Mick Wallace the leftie builder is talking about running in Wexford, so I might give him my number one and give a preference to Sinn Fein and ULA.

  35. Desmond O\'Toole

    February 9, 2011 7:32 pm

    @Michael .. I stopped reading your comment after you descended to personal abuse. Your post is further evidence of my principal argument that there is no common ground between the mainsteam Left and the Trotskyite or oppositionalist fringe. Thank you at least for making my argument for me.

  36. Desmond O'Toole

    February 9, 2011 7:49 pm

    @Conor .. just finished reading your comments. Your post takes this thread off topic. I’m happy to discuss these issues, but I don’t know what the policy of this site is.

  37. LeftAtTheCross

    February 9, 2011 7:52 pm

    @Conor, on TASC & SF, I’ve followed your commentary on that point over the past while and it has influenced me to read SF’s material and listen to their arguments. But I can’t help feeling that it’s simply a populist ploy to win support in order to further the national question. It’s a question of trust, simple as that. Their participation in the NI executive, and implementation of austerity there, suggests that they’ll do whatever it takes to get their hands on the levers of power.

    @Michael & Desmond, I was briefly a member of Labour out here in Meath, and canvassed with one of the local election candidates in 2009. But the lack of politics within Labour was a real eye-opener. It is an hollow shell. The points Conor is making are valid.

  38. Conor McCabe

    February 9, 2011 7:58 pm

    @ LATC

    Yeah, I mean, my friends here in Wexford are saying exactly the same thing. At the end of the day they just don’t trust them.

    I feel that having spent the guts of two years arguing for these type of economic approaches, I can hardly cry off when a party comes along and actually campaigns on them, so I feel an obligation to vote for Sinn Fein on that basis.

  39. Conor McCabe

    February 9, 2011 8:25 pm

    Well it’s hard to say because erhm… well, you see, there’s no point writing a defensive post, which is what it could be if I indicate the area.

    The greatest influence on the Irish Labour Party has not been trade unionism or socialism but the progressive elements of Roman Catholic social teaching. It’s one of the biggest differences between the Labour Party here and the Labour Party in the UK. The ITGWU, for example, spent decades with no formal link to the Irish labour party. It broke in the 1940s and only rejoined in the late 1960s.

    I would see the language of ‘fairness’ and ‘fair play’ a continuation of that.

    That in Ireland, ‘Left-Wing’ is often just shorthand for ‘charity’ or having a charitable outlook.

    Left-wing means helping people, you know?

    We can see this most strongly in the economic arguments put forward by Labour.

    I mean ,I would argue that there is NO economic analysis – rather, the focus is more on the promise that if Labour is in government the cuts will be ‘fair’.

    That’s not left-wing. It’s not even social democratic.

    I think it would be great if you were to write a post, but I wouldn’t like it to be a retort or defense against what I am saying.

    Maybe if you can elaborate on this idea that Labour has on bringing civil society together with Labour.

    I see problems with that idea of Labour’s already – we’re entering corporatism/vocationalism areas of non-class approaches to what is a class-dynamic economy and society.

    But, if that is the idea that Labour is running with these days… ok, I’m going to oppose it, but it would be good to have it fleshed out by someone in Labour.

    So maybe something on the civil society/labour ida? On what that actually means, and how labour sees that as a potential area of resistance to right-wing ideas post-election?

  40. Conor McCabe

    February 9, 2011 8:26 pm

    It would be good to have that discussion, no?

    Also , that idea of left wing as helping people, left wing as more fair…

    It’s also used by the ULA a lot – that rerum novarum view of the working class and ‘the poor’ – although I doubt they would see it in that way.

  41. Michael Gallagher

    February 9, 2011 11:22 pm

    Conor, will you explain what you mean by “that rerum novarum view of the working class and ‘the poor”


  42. Conor McCabe

    February 9, 2011 11:40 pm

    Yeah it’s the use of analogies to justice and fairness as espoused by Pope Leo XIII in his 1891 encyclical, “rights and Duties of Capital and Labour.”

    It’s such a part of the Irish Left’s DNA that it doesn’t even realise it’s there.

    It’s a bit of a red flag though, (pardon the pun), as most of the Irish Left doesn’t realise it’s doing it, but the worst speaker for it within the ULA is Richard Boyd Barrett – outside of it it’s Fintan O’Toole.

    If you were to take the language of rerum novarum and the world “neo-liberal” away from the Irish left – stretching from Fintan O’Toole to richard Boyd Barrett – it’d be like listening to a phone signal breaking up.

  43. Conor McCabe

    February 9, 2011 11:45 pm

    Of course, I should add that like all deep influences it has mutated and expanded over the years, but rerum novarum retains a strong cultural presence.

  44. Michael Gallagher

    February 10, 2011 12:18 am

    Mr. O’Toole, this is the second time in a week that I have been wrongly accused of giving “personal abuse” online. The one thing you have in common with that other person is, he couldn’t reply to the facts that I pointed out, so he resorted, just like you, to the old chestnut, take the “personal abuse” route out of this lost one.

    Just tell me where in my text there is any “personal abuse” directed at you and I will apologise. Then reply to the points I made if you want, I’m not bothered. I made my mind up about the Labour Party many many years ago, mid 80’s I think it was. (I lasted a week in it)

    It feels a bit odd being called a Trotskyist/ite when I’ve never read any publications by that great man in my life. I know where I got the grounding for my Socialist beliefs, the school of hard knock and holes in my socks.
    I’m on the fringe, agreed, that fringe is part of the REAL change that’s needed in this step at a time.

    ps. Mr. O’Toole, don’t make me laugh with your reply, like I might get the impression that you are as soft as a marshmallow. That last sentence may also be deemed as personal abuse, I will have to wait and see. I wonder do marshmallows have red centers?.

    Looks like I will be staying in on this one for a while more.

    VOTE No1 for the United Left Alliance candidate in your area or a like minded candidate.