Enough! demonstration – where was the ULA?

With Brid Smith’s exhortation at the final rally of the national forum for the ULA to build the July 16th demonstration against the EU/IMF bailout still ringing in my ears I travelled up to Dublin on Saturday.

True I was also going, as the Cork rep, to the national co-ordination meeting of the anti-water/household tax campaign earlier in the day but I still wanted to participate in this demonstration despite my misgivings over the popular frontist appetites of the SWP in the way they are organising the Enough! campaign.

So imagine my surprise to find that there was zero ULA presence on the demonstration!

Well of course many, if not most, of the 350-400 participants were ULA members or supporters but to the extent they were identifying with any political organisation they were wearing their SWP, PBPA & Enough! hats. The SP only had a handful of paper sellers and no banners or placards that I could see. As for me, and any other ULA individual members present, there were no ULA placards to carry or banner to march behind – presumably we would have had to bring our own – but of course with no ULA internal discussion structures there was no way for that to happen.

At the very least this must raise serious doubts about the SWP’s commitment to the ULA project and given the SP’s effective abstention this looks like a big step in the opposite direction to the increased integration that will be necessary to move towards the creation of the new workers’ party our class so desperately needs.

Richard Boyd Barrett’s performance at the rally outside the GPO was verging on the edge of self-parody. Referring to the few hundred, mostly SWP members and supporters, sitting in the street (I along with many others stood to the side) he repeatedly shouted “this is what democracy looks like” and claimed that this was some kind of “peoples’ assembly” along the lines of the mass mobilisations of working people in Greece and Spain that have occupied civic spaces in defiance of the bourgeois authorities. And yet all that was presented as the way forward for this Irish “peoples’ assembly” was to re-convene in 2 months time for a demonstration at the opening of the Dail. In the face of the immense crisis facing working people this was a delusional farce.

All-in-all a very depressing event for a pro-party ULA activist like myself…


9 Responses to “Enough! demonstration – where was the ULA?”

  1. 1 antie
    July 18, 2011 at 14:13

    The SP had a contingent there alright Bolshevik, but they weren’t pushing the ULA either, and the fact the SWP/Enough failed to mention the Eu/ECB once in their slogans (in stark contrast to the independents who turned up)was a worrying turn of events.

  2. 2 D_D
    July 18, 2011 at 19:19

    From ‘Build the ULA’, a document distributed at the ULA Forum on 25th June by Eddie Conlon, Joan Collins TD and Dermot Connolly:

    2. An organisation of struggle and unity

    The ULA must be to the forefront in fighting for the rights of working people and the oppressed and standing beside those who enter into struggles. If the ULA cannot draw into membership the best fighters in the communities and unions it will not grow as a mass political force. While current levels of struggle are low there is no doubt that this will change in the face of further and sustained onslaughts on the living standards of working people.

    When this passivity turns to activity the ULA must be in a position to support, develop and lead the struggles that emerge. This must be done in a united fashion and in a way that shows that the ULA has a united approach to supporting and building campaigns.

    The ULA should not passively wait for struggles to emerge but must actively work to develop united work around agreed campaigns. The constituent groups must agree on priorities and agree to focus on these priorities. To date this approach has not been taken with a fair degree of latitude being provided for constituent groups to do their own thing. Campaigns aimed at building individual constituent groups have even cut across the efforts of the ULA to do work on particular issues. For example, the Enough Campaign is now calling meetings on the issue of the EROs and JLCs while the ULA has also prioritised this as a key campaign issue.

    United campaigns are a vital ingredient in uniting the ULA on the ground. Through working together traditional suspicions can be undermined and a genuine spirit for unity can be developed. They will also provide a national focus for branches.

    • July 18, 2011 at 20:53

      Unfortunately Saturday’s demonstration would seem to be almost completely the opposite of this perspective and if that was an example of the ULA prioritising a key campaign issue then this project is in a very bad way…

  3. July 19, 2011 at 03:41

    1. That this blog post could almost have been written the night Enough! was launched, is a sad reflection on the complete mismanagement of this opportunity to build a united campaign from start to finish.

    What is sadder is that I heard RBB say almost those exact words with regards building the united left “movement” that snowy day in November of last year and a couple of times since.

    I had been hoping that this was one last “exclusive” recruiting campaign for the SWP, and was willing to just let it slide if it was something they felt they needed to get out of their system before committing to building a party. I’m neither pleased nor surprised that they have voiced their intention of continuing this into the budget run-in at the expense of building the United Left Alliance

    In a video from the day, Kieran Allen talks about how they want more parties involved in the campaign by then. Lets hope he at least envisions the united party in that. If he does, when does he intend on actually building it?

    2. The sentiments in that document should not be seen as revelation but rather the obvious work that needs to be undertaken. Surely it is obvious to anyone with the intent of building the party. However, two months is a long time in activism and hopefully we won’t be back here in a few months time discussing the same deficiencies and this same issue.

    3. What is this Anti-Home/WaterTax meeting you mention? Nobody in my branch was aware of this.

    I envisage we will need to see movement and intent communicated to the grassroots in the not too distant future(as promised at the National Forum) or people will be seeking refunds.

    • July 19, 2011 at 07:29

      The anti-water/household tax meeting was a co-ordination meeting of the incipient campaigns against the water tax (now more general household tax). This is a more positive development in terms of co-operation with the national campaign being a reflection of our operation in Cork which has seen the SP, SWP, WP & WSM work together – the national meeting also having éirígí and some community activists present.

      As regards the ULA it is true that it is more of an SP thing but not as exclusive as Enough! seems to be. I would hope that as the campaign develops over the autumn that we see the comrades of the SP & SWP participate with their ULA hats on.

      It is planned to hold a series of local meetings all over the country in the autumn to create a federal bottom-up campaign based around community activists providing the delegates for a national conference in the new year to formally launch the campaign.

      The committee in Cork sees itself as a pre-campaign group whose main job is to kick-start these local groups and will be replaced by a delegated Cork wide committee based on those local groups of activists. My impression is that the national co-ordinating committee sees itself in the same light.

  4. 7 conor burke
    July 20, 2011 at 18:58

    Conor Burke
    the ULA was formed with the intention of being a starting point for co-operation amongst the many groups and individuals on the left with the hope that this can develop in the future into a mass party of the working class , at present this process is at an embryonic stage . The ULA is currently just an alliance of different organisations and individuals, these groups and people are free to act individually on certain issues if they so desire.The Enough campaign was initiated by PBPA / SWP, it was not agreed by all the groups in the ULA that this sort of campaign was the correct course of action at this particular moment in time despite the situations in Greece and Spain , Ireland is certainly moving in the same direction as far as the economic crisis is concerned but there are other factors to take into account such as the level of consciousness of the need for drastic change amongst the majority of the population , large sections of the population view the whole political spectrum with cynicism and distrust ,understandably so ,and despite the resent coming together of the ULA many people see no real alternative and are disengaged politically . It is the task of the ULA to over come these and other such issues which i my opinion can not be done by simply holding protest marches and rallies ,we need to engage with people where they are at , on issues that are dramatically effecting them such as hospital closures or the upcoming utilities charges etc.. so it is for these reasons that there was no organised ULA intervention into the enough campaign , for the record there was a SP presence equipped with banners and flags and so forth as can be seen in the video footage from the “trade union tv” clips , but it is my/ our contention that the ULA would be better served to focus our efforts on building within communities on the many issues that are effecting people the most rather than just calling for mass protests in the hope of getting a response . dont get me wrong protests and marches have a very significant role to play in the right circumstances, we need only look to Egypt and Tunisia to see the impact they can have but they are only effective in the right conditions . these conditions are not yet ripe in Ireland ,although i don’t beleive we have too long to wait until they are ,but they can only be effective if they are linked to a wider social movement that has a mass base in communities .

    • July 20, 2011 at 19:32

      I’d tend to agree with you in general terms about where the emphasis should be (though we might disagree about the content of the programme to present to working people) and my report is primarily a critique of the SWP – as it was they who were pushing for the ULA to take up the Enough! demonstration at the ULA National Forum.

      But I hope you can understand the frustration of the individual members of the ULA who were recurited for the most part on the basis of joining an organisation that was in movement towards the creation of a new workers’ party – instead we find ourselves frustrated with the ULA pretty much parked at the alliance stage with the 2 main component organisations apparently unable to even co-ordinate common united front type activities.

  5. 9 revolutionaryprogramme
    July 22, 2011 at 07:49

    Here is We Only Want the Earth’s analysis of the demo and what it tells us about how things stand in the ULA – http://weonlywanttheearth.blogspot.com/2011/07/enough-campaign-and-ula.html?m=1

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