ULA initiative – not in my name!

This week the ULA announced the launching of a “public campaign of resistance to property tax and austerity” – http://www.unitedleftalliance.org/united-left-alliance-announced-plans-to-launch-a-public-campaign-of-resistance-to-property-tax-and-austerity/

While there is of course nothing wrong in theory about the ULA launching such a campaign there are some disturbingly negative elements to this statement.

Firstly there is the process by which the decision to launch this campaign was made – without any discussion amongst the membership of the ULA.

The non-aligned members of the ULA are used to seeing regular statements on political issues produced by ULA TD’s and the component groups but this goes much further. If the ULA is serious about this proposal then it will, on the face of it, involve a major commitment of time and resources. A major commitment made in our name without us having any prior input into that decision!

The non-aligned reps give good reports on the ULA national steering committee meetings and yet there has been nothing explicitly about this. The following points were reported from the last national steering committee meeting:

– Reconvening of Dáil

The five ULA TDs will not appear together on the plinth ahead of the Dáil reconvening. A press statement will be drafted by the Press Group (Michael O’Brien, Brendan Young, Donal McFhearraigh) and agreed by the TDs.

– Pre budget demo

ULA members of the CAHWT will push for a pre budget demo at the Sept 22 meeting in Portlaoise, calling on unions, Older and Bolder and others, for support.

– ULA and property tax

The ULA should be taking the lead on property charges and presenting a Left alternative. It was agreed to draft a policy statement on property charges asap. John Lyons, Brendan Young and Michael O’Brien to execute this.

Even taking these three items together we still don’t end up with a decision to launch a “public campaign of resistance to property tax and austerity” – though with the benefit of hindsight its shadow can be clearly seen lurking in the background…

It would seem that the component organisations couldn’t even be bothered to openly go through the limited formally democratic processes that exist in the ULA before announcing this initiative – certainly having a proper discussion throughout the organisation never entered their heads.

Then there is the concrete reality of what the proposal actually involves. There is of course nothing wrong with political organisations supporting, and working with, broader campaigns but how can the ULA both be part of the anti-household tax campaign and at the same time describe itself as working alongside that campaign. The vast bulk of the ULA (component groups and non-aligned) are already very heavily involved in the CAHWT. The ULA will therefore bring virtually no extra resources to these proposed demonstrations supposedly co-organised with the CAHWT.

All it will really do is to give the ULA special emphasis over the other organisations involved in the CAHWT. Not through having earned this by providing a massive injection of extra resources into the fight against austerity but through the fiction that this is being done because supposedly there will be a new situation of the ULA “supporting with [sic] the Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes (CAHWT) in organising public meetings across the country focused on mobilising resistance and protests against the property charge and austerity prior to December’s budget.”

It is also in effect an attempt to expand the CAHWT into a generalised campaign against austerity through the backdoor without having the CAHWT properly discuss such a move. Just as we saw with the Vote No campaign in the Fiscal Treaty referendum this will test the basis of unity that holds the CAHWT together and given that it is being done in this underhand way there is a great danger it will damage the unity of the campaign.

In summary – this is a sectarian move by the component organisations of the ULA to consolidate their political control of the anti-household tax campaign and I reject it. Not in my name!


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