ULA conference announced for 21 April

On 1 February I, and every other ULA member on the central email list, received notification that the ULA conference is back on – for 21 April:

3) ULA Conference and Structures

A conference of the ULA is to be held on the 21st of April, location to be confirmed soon.

The Steering Committee also agreed that individual members of the ULA, comrades who are not members of the founding organisations, should meet separately during the Conference and elect members to represent them on the Steering Committee.

The Steering Committee has also agreed to set up a sub-committee – which should also include some individual, as well as members from the constituent groups – with the following terms of reference:

A) Recommend interim arrangements for representation of unaligned members on Steering Committee
B) Discuss future development of ULA including the development of participative structures
C) To consult all members on the above issues
D) Report to Steering Committee who will report to conference. The report of the Steering Committee to Conference will include the recommendations of the sub-committee

These were the main decisions of the Steering Committee held on Tuesday the 31 of January and clearly will need to be supplemented at the next meetings

This is to be welcomed although the exact nature of this conference – talking shop or decision making body of some kind – is left completely unclear.

And of course this poses the major question of how exactly the independents are supposed to have a meaningful election of representatives onto the national steering committee when there are no structures for discussion and debate amongst us and most of us don’t know many (or perhaps even any) other independents outside our own branch?

And further to that how could those independent representatives be in any way accountable to their constituency after being elected if those structures are not put in place?

In my opinion the report of this sub-committee on developing new structures for the ULA will be the key question to be discussed at the conference.

The Cork independents have been meeting as a separate group and have proposed me as their representative on this sub-committee. It remains to be seen whether the national steering committee will accept the democratic mandate from independents in a branch or they will impose their own carefully selected stooges to this sub-committee. This is of course further complicated by the individual selected by those independents being a left-critic of the main component groups of the ULA.


8 Responses to “ULA conference announced for 21 April”

  1. February 9, 2012 at 17:41

    In my opinion the independents’ nominations to the sub-committee must emerge from the national level in a horizontal manner. Otherwise, under what criteria or mandate does someone represent the independents across the country? In who’s gift is the appointment made? Why is it that Cork independents might be entitled to 1 of the 2 slots, and not, say Laois-Offally? There are said to be about 200 registered members of the ULA, and surely only a small fraction of that can be members of a single branch.

    That’s not to doubt your ability as a sub-committee member, rather the opposite. But I have no opportunity to vote for you. We shouldn’t add to the shocking lack of structure. transparency and coherence, but provide a positive example.

    As for the discussion at the ULA Conference. In a pressurized 50minute segment, I doubt much will be achieved. If it is to have any meaning, serious preparation work must be done beforehand.

    This all highlights the need for a national meeting of independents in advance to ensure the most democratic and representative process in our power within the short time we have.

    Of course, as this is the first run, it won’t be perfect and we shouldn’t expect it to be, so we should be looking to work out the hickups in the process for future.

    • February 9, 2012 at 18:48

      You make a strong argument however I remain concerned that any national gathering in the next week or two would be less representative than organised groups of independents putting forward reps. Indeed an argument could be made that it more reflects the delegated structure we seek to move towards but that doesn’t really hold up because that only works in a properly functioning organisation with various forms of horizontal discussion and debate occurring.

      So in the interim your suggestion does better fit the messy reality of our situation.

      But I am worried that the there is no real way to make such a gathering representative and it runs the danger of holding up the process as all the local groups of independents would have to meet before it to discuss the agenda so as to inform their delegates (and the reality is that outside of Dublin only a small minority arw going to attend and will be delegates in all but name). Also do we know that the steering committee would accept the decision of such a meeting?

      Also why do we assume it would only be 2 independents on this sub-committee? Why shouldn’t there be 5 or 6 to be more representative of the active groups on independents around the country?

      So as many questions as clear answers there I’m afraid. I’d also like to know what the Galway lot think of this as they are ahead of the game in many ways in terms of experimenting with alternative structures.

    • February 9, 2012 at 18:50

      I do like the idea of an independents pre-conference conference – in the first or second week of April?

      • 4 D_D
        February 10, 2012 at 00:18

        The small Dublin meeting of nonaligned last Saturday (nonalgned is the preferred term of some as none of us are independent of the ULA) proposed a national meeting of the nonaligned pencilled in for 18th February. An email is to go out, if possible, to all nonaligned ULA members through the ULA mailing list.

        Julian’s Left Unity Network Blog on Facebook is a good way of keeping in touch.

        The Steering Committee has decided, for now anyway, on two nonaligned reps. That’s what we are stuck with.

        As time passes more open-minded and nonaligned people are coming forward. Some new contacts, some old faces who want an alternative focus, and an alternative politics, to the founding organisations. Some have been lost to the ULA already, due partly to the lack of support from such an alternative. It is only the the beginning of this regroupment and, like the ULA itself, cannot be too rushed.

  2. February 10, 2012 at 15:48

    I guess the pre-conference conference would have to be when most are available. Feb 18th is probably now too short notice. The Saturday afterwards, the 25th, I think is being planned as a day of CAHWT protest, I’m not sure. If its available that would be my preference. The sub-committee(which hopefuly this pre-conference will informally elect its reps to) will need time to work, solicit the views of people and also to digest what information/report the nonaligned/independent conference passes on.

    Where should it be held? Dublin? Cork? Galway?

    • February 10, 2012 at 17:09

      My feeling on a conference of non-aligned before the full ULA conference is that there has to be proper time for discussion among the non-aligned in the localities before that non-aligned conference. Therefore we are looking at late March or early April.

      I remain very reluctant to call the meeting on the 18th or 25th a “conference” as it will only be attended by a very small proportion of the non-aligned members and indeed most of the non-aligned members will have had no chance to have any input into its deliberations.

      With that lack of a democratic mandate in mind we need to think carefully about what the agenda should cover, and not cover.

      The question of the selection of the non-aligned reps on the sub-committee is one. It seems that most people who have expressed an opinion are on favour of this being decided at this meeting so that should happen – assuming that decision is not taken before then by the steering committee.

      The other two key issues I can think of are to do with the conference of non-aligned members.

      We will need to set uo some kind of conference preparations committee to organise the practicalities and agenda.

      Related to that is the need to set up horizontal communication structures between the non-aligned members around the country. We should discuss the possible structures and get something set up in the interim while we prepare for the proper conference of non-aligned members.

      • February 10, 2012 at 18:29

        Okay, that is very reasonable. More networking and groundwork is always welcome.

        Some proposals so. We give our group a formal name ie (Interim Nonaligned Group?), provide it a blog/facebook/gmail etc. Then assemble a nonaligned mailing list. The larger it gets, the more of a mandate it has, and can drop “interim” from the title.

        I agree that conference is the wrong word to use. Far too formal for what it will be. A “meet-up” is always what I intend if I accidentally say “conference” out of habit. Following on from just above, I’d be happy with mid-to-late March/after St.Patricks Day. Saturday the 24th?

        Where should it be held? Galway sounds good?

        Also, it is true that attendance will likely only be a fraction of the several hundred nonaligned members, and that we should be careful how much we do or don’t speak for the nonaligned as a whole. However, assistance from steering committee/ie an email sent out to the mailing list on our behalf.

        It’s just the sooner these details are confirmed, the sooner we can start building for it/maximize participation.

      • 8 D_D
        February 10, 2012 at 18:43

        Was it me, I hope not, who first introduced the term ‘conference’ for the 18th February (or whenever) gathering? For it was not, at least initially, thought of as a congress to represent all or most of the ULA nonaligned, but a first meeting of those interested in organising (even ‘technically’) as nonaligned in the ULA. The first ‘national’ meeting may indeed be far smaller than the number of nonaligned, but should really be looked upon as a collective or even forum of those who want to begin to overcome their isolation and powerlessness, firstly, and to offer – offer not enforce – a lead to other nonaligned members.

        The figures I remember hearing would indicate less than 40% nonaligned in the ULA, if there are 27% SP and 27% SWP (amazing!), with 7% non-SWP PBPA. If you consider the latter nonaligned (an interesting discusssion) that would leave 46% outside the two parties, but 39% if you don’t. But these figures (46% or 39%) also include the STWUAG who are not nonaligned. I have not seen any percentages mentioned for them but I believe there is a decent sized group in Tipp.

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