Report on Cork branch meeting of ULA on December 13th

My activity in the anti-household tax campaign has meant this report is later than usual. This is a reflection of the reality that the ULA remains something of a side-show to the main political developments in the Irish workers’ movement, such as that anti-household tax campaign.

Attendance was ok at just over 20.

There was a discussion on the anti-household tax which I did the lead-off presentation for. There was a recognition that the ULA needs to take more of an independent political role within the campaign but no concrete proposals on how exactly that can be achieved.

The initial discussion on the overall political situation focussed on the European crisis with a variety of views taken on what a collapse of the Euro would mean for Ireland. Although no formal decision was taken the majority seemed to be in favour of a “No” vote if there was to be a referendum on the latest EU deal to save the Euro. For my own part this would seem to be a tactical question with either a “No” vote or boycott/abstention being equally valid potential options.

I raised my criticisms of the ULA’s budget submission, particularly highlighting the absurdity of presenting “a real alternative” which did not mention corporation tax or the dominance of the economy by the multinationals, but this did not really get discussed in any detail.

The most significant discussion was around the proposed ULA conference on February 4th and associated questions about the functioning and future of the ULA. I, along with all the non-SP/SWP members who spoke, indicated frustration with the functioning of the ULA and that this was primarily the result of the ULA being stuck as an alliance formation. Unless the ULA can start to progress towards a party type organisation it will be of no use to the working class. Interestingly we found ourselves in something of a bloc with the SWP who were arguing for the need to raise the public profile of the ULA – quite ironic given that up until now they have been more concerned with the profile of their other projects like “Enough!”. While I am therefore sceptical about whether the SWP are really interested in moving the ULA project forward in the direction of a new party there does seem to be something of an overlap at present which may allow for some useful developments in the branch functioning – such as the creation of an email discussion list.

We were informed that the conference will be delegate based (1 delegate per 3 members is apparently being considered) however all decisions will be on a consensus basis. I pointed out that this would mean only the most bland and inoffensive motions could possibly be agreed so what was the point. I also pointed out that a conference in February; with the Conference Preparations Committee only meeting in early January means that there will be no chance for any circulation, and discussion, of motions within the branches as would be the usual case in any real and healthy working class organisation. The only possible useful decision that the February conference could make is to commit to beginning the process of moving towards the creation of a party.

Thinking about this a bit more since the branch meeting I am now thinking that it would perhaps be useful to concretise this by agreeing to hold a proper delegate-based, and decision making, conference in 6 months. The next two months being spent on creating structures to facilitate political discussion after which a formal pre-conference discussion period could be begun.


1 Response to “Report on Cork branch meeting of ULA on December 13th”

  1. December 22, 2011 at 19:12

    Thanks for the report, I just saw it now after already posting 2 other articles so I’ll circulate it tomorrow.

    There has been little or no public notice of a (potential) delegates conference. I think this is the biggest problem associated with it. If it is sprung upon people there won’t be time to prepare. I think we should work to inform people nationwide to get their act together in time if they have positions they want to push for then.

    However, I think it would be best if the real stuff is decided later at a secondary conference like that you proposed. Even if the first conference is late in coming, it is still the first and has to work well before we use it as a mechanism for serious party reform.

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