Difference between ULA in election and now?

I’ve become aware that some SP comrades think there is a fatal contradiction between my not supporting the ULA election campaign and now participating in the ULA initiated project for a new party. I think it is important to clarify why I think this distinction is important and real.

The IBT leaflet on the Irish election, which reflects my views on this issue, dealt directly with this question:

“There has been talk of the ULA moving beyond an electoral lash-up, perhaps to initiate a process leading to the creation of a new working-class party. This could indeed present an important opportunity to discuss the revolutionary socialist programme that the working class so desperately needs. But in this election the ULA must be judged on its current programme and activity, and on that basis can only be described as a reformist roadblock.”

The SP comrades I spoke with yesterday seemed to believe that the ULA electoral pact represented a definitive continuity with the project for a new party that has just been launched and it was therefore disingenuous for me to make the distinction that I do.

Perhaps in their minds, and in the internal perspectives of the SP, this continuity was always there but they will struggle to find it replicated anywhere in the material produced by the ULA prior to the election.

I can accept that the forces involved in the ULA electoral pact had a perspective that they MIGHT launch the project for a new party IF they felt the election results were strong enough to merit it. But it was quite clear that there was no commitment to doing so and I therefore think I was right to judge the electoral pact on the basis of its programme rather than on hypothetical possibilities that might arise in the future.

There is also a secondary question of whether the ULA electoral platform represented a “step forward” in-of-itself and should have been supported on that basis anyway.

As it is clearly a reformist platform that refused to even mention the word socialism I am amazed that anyone who thinks of themselves as a revolutionary socialist could think that it represents a “step forward”. A “step forward” towards what?

Revolutionary socialism is not just reformism that has got more and more radical. The paths of revolution and reform are different not only in their destination but right from the beginning. There are of course times the two paths overlap, which allows joint work in campaigns, but this is only temporary.

The reformist ULA electoral platform was presented as the “real alternative” to the attacks on working people. For a revolutionary socialist that is quite simply untrue. SP comrades seem happy to spread that lie among the workers movement. I am not.


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