25
Jul
11

Cork ULA takes a summer holiday…

So I happened to meet the non-SP/SWP member of the Cork ULA steering committee at a non-political event the other day. I asked about the date of the next branch meeting, scheduled for August, and was shocked to learn that this is not going to be until 6 September!

There are so many things wrong with this that it is hard to know where to start.

But firstly any defenders of the slow pace approach who might be reading this need to be aware that as the July branch meeting was cancelled in favour of a public meeting this means it will be a break of 3 months between branch meetings. There is slow and then there is stopped.

And for supporters of activity over boring meetings I was also informed that there is no activity planned for the rest of July and August.

So what we have is an extended summer holiday for the ULA in Cork.

The first question that springs to mind is on what mandate did the steering committee make this decision? There was no suggestion at the previous branch meeting in June that we wouldn’t be meeting again as a branch for 3 months. I can only presume that it was the SP and SWP at their weekly meetings who discussed this and decided that there was no need for a ULA branch meeting or any public ULA activities.

Of course the defenders of the ULA as an alliance and not yet a party might say this is reasonable but that leaves out the fact that the third component of this supposed alliance, the individual members, have been excluded from this decision making process.

How exactly is this supposed to be consistent with moving forwards towards a party organisation – if anything it is a step backwards towards just an alliance of groups.

Now maybe an argument might be made that this was democratic because it was the elected steering committee which made the decision. I guess that is true in a strictly formal sense but there is more to organisational democracy than just the formal structures – even the worst Stalinist bureaucrat could always point to the rule book to “prove” his democratic credentials. What is important is the question of organisational culture. How is a 3-person committee making this kind of decision consistent with the ULA being the “membership-led” organisation we have heard so much about in the fine speeches by the leaders of the SP and SWP?

Of course this is exactly the kind of thing that an email list could usefully discuss and allow for all members to be kept in the loop about. But our friends in the SP and SWP had voted against that idea because email lists supposedly cause too much trouble through unnecessary discussion – much better for the membership to be kept in the dark and to create a culture where it is the leaders who make all the decisions I guess.

There has been discussion on various blogs and web boards about whether Joe Higgins was serious at the National Forum when he made the comment about a summer break – it would seem, if the Cork branch is anything to go by, that at least some sections of the SP & SWP have taken his comment absolutely literally.

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