ula national steering committee gets new members

The national meeting of the non-SP/PBPA members yesterday was attended by just over 30 people.

The two main elements to the meeting were a discussion with Clare Daly and our perspectives for how to forward given the current crisis of the ULA.

Clare Daly didn’t give the impression that she had been particularly interested in the ULA before her split from the Socialist Party with the clear implication being that her commitment to building the ULA has involved a fairly recent conversion.

She was also very vague about how she saw things moving forward. She intends to build a new grouping in her constituency and her initial thinking is have that group affiliate to the ULA rather than having them join as individual members and operate in the local ULA branch – her reason being concern over the ability to work constructively with the SP in that context.

That does of course raise the related issue of how she intends to relate to the non-SP/PBPA members of the ULA, particular in the role as a non-SP/PBPA TD. I came away from the meeting without really being sure how that will play out.

She also said that both sides in her split from the ULA had not told the whole truth and she had been unhappy for a couple of years on a variety of issues but didn’t elaborate on what that fuller truth was – I guess we will have to wait for her memoirs for that.

There were obviously concerns over the question of her political relationship with Mick Wallace. Despite the non-SP/PBPA members having called for Wallace to step down I think we all came away with our concerns assuaged as her position seemed in line with that of the SP generally and while most of us think that was too soft it was clearly on the right side in terms of the questions of principle involved.

The one thing the meeting was unanimously clear about was the issue of registration of a name for electoral purposes. Apparently at the last national steering committee meeting the SP and PBPA reps were proposing registering three names – SP-ULA, PBPA-ULA and Independent-ULA. Eddie Conlon reported that this is actually impossible due to the rules over not being allowed to have names that similar due to potential confusion on ballot papers but they wanted this none-the-less. Our meeting gave the two new reps on the steering committee a unanimous mandate to argue for registration of just “United Left Alliance” and that all candidates should stand under that name.

Which brings me to the title of this post.

There were only two candidates for the two vacant slots on the steering committee, Eddie Conlon and myself. I thought there should be an election anyway to give people the opportunity to reject either candidate but the meeting was happy to put us both forward without the need for an election.

Following our selection we both made statements and they reflected the general discussion at the meeting on the wider issues of how to go forward. I was clearly among the most pessimistic about prospects. I wouldn’t say anyone was particularly enthusiastic about prospects but the majority are clearly hopeful that the current rocky period can be overcome and substantive movement towards a new party achieved, pointing to a few people having joined and the potential that exists in the anti-household campaign. They believe, or at least want to believe, that it is possible for the non-SP/SWP members to do this within the current alliance framework.

I on the other hand don’t see how it is possible to recruit the hundreds of new members necessary to achieve this without fundamentally transforming the way the ULA operates and I made it clear, or at least hope I did, that pressing for that transformation is what will motivate my participation on the steering committee. To the extent there are things that can be done within the current framework it will be those that involve political education and opportunities for discussion and debate about the new party and its programme which I will be championing.

An issue which could well be problematic in the coming period was the general agreement at the meeting about recruiting ULA members in the North. There was no clear consensus about how any such new members should be organised given the SP’s firm opposition to ULA branches on the other side of the border. To the extent such recruitment does occur it will be interesting to see how it relates to the ULA supporters group initiated by Socialist Democracy and the ISN as well as the reaction of the SP to having organised ULA supporters in the North as part of the non-SP/PBPA grouping of members.


26 Responses to “ula national steering committee gets new members”

  1. 1 pat
    October 29, 2012 at 16:57

    So Clare Daly admitted to ‘not telling the whole truth’, which is another way of saying that she lied about why she left the Socialist Party. Which would make sense given the fact that she claimed it was over issues relating to the ULA and you got the impression (correctly in my opinion) that her “commitment to building the ULA has involved a fairly recent conversion”. This would indicate that CD has been quite dishonest in her comments on these events. It’s interesting that that doesn’t seem to bother many people, especially those who think they have something to gain by glossing over that fact.

    Her implication that the Socialist Party has not told the whole truth is also dishonest. That CD has political issues with the Socialist Party is taken as a given, she no longer sees the need to build a revolutionary party or to advocate a socialist alternative, however she never actually raised those issues explicitly. It was and is clear however that she has a broader (than left) orientation politically. But the primary issue that was raised with CD and which led to her resignation was her political support for Mick Wallace. Anyone who is convinced that CD shares the Socialist Party’s views on this matter is fooling themselves and in denial, or indeed is glossing over the glaring reality that this is not the case, for strange opportunistic reasons.

    Calling for Mick Wallace, a tax dodging property developer, to resign is not a question of principle. Not giving him political support, i.e. defending him publicly in the media, supporting him in the technical group, campaigning alongside him in the CAHWT and even sitting beside him in the Dail, is or should be one of principle for a left-wing TD.

    Also, the ISN are not involved in a ULA branch in the South never mind the North, I don’t think it’s an immediate problem by any means. Although you’re correct to say that such initiatives are problematic, to say the least.

    • October 29, 2012 at 18:03


      I tend to believe Clare that both sides are not telling the whole truth but that being said it also seems the case that she is moving towards the “broad pluralist” model of the party the working class is supposed to need.

      All I reported was what Clare told our meeting – that she gave no political support to Wallace and agreed with the SP position on him.

      I actually still don’t understand the SP position on not calling for Wallace to resign. You say that it is the people of Wexford who should decide on his fate but surely the only way that could happen within the framework of bourgeois democracy would be for him to resign and force a by-election.

      I am afraid you are factually wrong about the ISN. There are indeed ISN members who are ULA members in the South and they are active in the non-SP/PBPA grouping. I therefore see no reason to doubt the report of the meeting to set up the ULA Supporters group in Belfast which stated that the new group contained Socialist Democracy & ISN members along with some individuals.

      • 3 pat
        October 29, 2012 at 22:36

        I suppose it’s up to you to believe what you want, but just to be clear; Clare doesn’t agree with the CAHWT position on Wallace, never mind the Socialist Party’s, and that’s public knowledge.

        Our position on whether or not to call for Wallace’s resignation was based on a number of factors at the time. One being that we generally don’t call for the resignation of TDs, as such an action is fairly meaningless. We certainly don’t make such calls simply because the right-wing media want us to or because of any public outcry that is whipped up by the media. The Dail is a capitalist institution and the TDs for the most part are rotten individuals who defend a morally corrupt system, we expect the presence of such individuals and corruption in general, calling for resignations is not necessary. We make other demand on corrupt TDs, which are usually ignored by the same right-wing media.

        If the majority of people of Wexford were demanding Wallace’s resignation we would support their calls, as we are in favour of TDs being subject to the right of recall. As it happens that wasn’t the case with Wallace. But within the framework of bourgeois democracy, forcing a by-election is problematic. If for example a TD from a smaller party or an independent was forced to resign and to stand again in a by-election, their chances of retaining their seat would be hampered by the fact that it may now be not a contest for 3-5 seats, but only one, which would be a gift to the larger parties with more resources etc. That fact is very much a secondary issue.

        Re the ISN, I’m aware that members of the ISN are nominally members of the ULA. What I said was that they are not involved in a branch. The only area where they do anything in the South is in Finglas in Dublin, which doesn’t currently have a ULA branch. I would also ad that if their members in the North are as politically inept as the ones in the South, it doesn’t bode well for the Belfast group.

      • October 30, 2012 at 20:41

        I can understand the logic of your position on not calling for resignations but it is inconsistent with your position that the people of Wexford should decide his fate – which without calling for him to resign is accepting the bourgeois democratic framework that won’t see another election for a number of years and so it is meaningless.

        Your judgement on what the people of Wexford are demanding would seem to have to be based on the reports of the very media you are so careful to not be at the beck and call of over the resignation issue.

        I’m not particularly arguing for any position on the resignation issue just pointing out what seem to be some inconsistencies in your position on it.

        As regards the ISN. They are as active as anyone else in the non-SP/PBP grouping. The question of branches is a bit of a red herring as there are only a handful of branches left functioning in any useful sense of the term.

      • 5 pat
        October 31, 2012 at 10:52

        I’m afraid you’re mistaken rp, there’s no inconsistency. The people of Wexford made a decision to elect Wallace in the last general election, until there is an indication that those people no longer want him as a TD for Wexford, then there’s no more reason to demand that Wallace stands again than anyone other TD. Those who followed the media’s line and called for his resignation without considering the democratic implications for the voters in Wexford are the ones who need to explain themselves.

        On the ISN, given that they are a group and have a certain advantage over independent members, the question can be raised as to why they’ve never done anything to build the ULA in Finglas, the area where they are active.

      • October 31, 2012 at 21:50

        So your position is completely tailest – “until there is an indication that those people no longer want him as a TD for Wexford”. As regards how this “indication” is to be evaluated we have no way of knowing and therefore the SP position that it is the people of Wexford who should judge Mick Wallace is completely meaningless.

        Well given the wreckage that is the ULA I think more questions have to be asked of the two main blocs rather than to a tiny grouplet like the ISN…

      • 7 Mark P
        November 1, 2012 at 13:42

        What “wreckage” would that be?

        The ULA hasn’t really taken off as an entity in its own right, and experiments in that direction, like individual membership and branches have had only very partial and small scale success. But essentially, the ULA is much as it was when it started out, an alliance of organisations, with the addition of a small number of branches, a small independent membership, and leadership representation for that membership, minus the (unfortunately mostly nominal) involvement of the Tipperary group.

        On your question about members of two tiny groups in the North declaring themselves a “ULA supporters group”, in my view the appropriate answer is who cares? They can declare themselves to be the reincarnation of Elvis Presley if they like. The ULA does not organise in the North and will not do so until and unless doing so is agreed within existing ULA structures. A handful of left republicans who aren’t even members of the ULA simply don’t have the ability to circumvent those structures or to bounce everyone else into an alliance with them.

        I would be mildly concerned if the “independent” caucus in the ULA began involving non-ULA members. As advertised through ULA channels the meetings of that group are open to ULA members who are not also members of the Socialist Party or People Before Profit only. Are you suggesting that this is going to change?

      • November 1, 2012 at 15:24

        You want to know why I used the term “wreckage” – well what would you call the following?

        · The WUAG have left in an openly hostile split.
        · The SWP are making building People Before Profit (apparently as an open alternative to the ULA) their central priority.
        · The SP proposed “parking” the ULA for an indefinite period and seem to be operating on that basis despite formally withdrawing the proposal at the national steering committee.
        · Most branches are not functioning.
        · Most non-aligned members have dropped out.
        · The ULA office is being closed down.
        · There is no money in the central account and an appeal to the membership for direct debits has fallen on deaf ears.
        · The national conference has been postponed for at least 3 months.
        · The “summer school” was postponed to an “autumn school” which then turned into just a Friday night public meeting.
        · Clare Daly’s acrimonious split from the SP and the ongoing dispute over the ULA’s relationship with Mick Wallace has severely damaged the reputation of the ULA.
        · It has been proposed that there will be two competing ULA candidates in Dublin South Central which calls into question the ULA as even an effective electoral umbrella.

        Political momentum is very important with these kind of formations. At the beginning, when after the election the ULA became an organisation with individual membership as opposed to just an electora umbrella, there was a positive momentum in the direction of the new workers’ party our class so desperately needs. That momentum stalled and slowed down leading to many individual members leaving. Now the momentum is negative and the ULA is weaker and more fractured now than at any time since the election.

        I am afraid you are just plain wrong about the North. The ULA, or at least the non-SP/PBP element of it, has now begun organising over the border. Our national meeting in its clear majority supports building a 32-county workers’ party with just differences over the pace of developments. So now it is just with individual members and supporters and not official branches but to the extent that recruitment to the project is successful in the North then all that will come directly onto the table.

      • 9 pat
        November 1, 2012 at 13:47

        You really are determined to miss the point I’m making.

        Our point, in saying that the people of Wexford should judge Mick Wallace, was to say that it certainly should not be the media who decide who should and shouldn’t be a TD. That point was far from meaningless, and we were the only ones to make it.

        Why was the issue of resignation even being discussed? Not because of any demand that came from voters in Wexford, but purely because of a media driven campaign, which had an impact on the not too bright TDs in the technical group, who themselves bought into the false idea that there was a connection between them and Wallace because of his membership of the technical group. Was it not for that media campaign, those TDs would have had no need to comment on the issue.

        Thousands of people in Wexford voted for Wallace, if there’s no indication that they’ve changed their minds about him, then the onus is not on us to find out. I have no doubt that there are many of those voters who have a changed opinion on Wallace and would like him gone, but that could also be said of almost every TD in the Labour Party and yet no one calls for those TDs to resign.

      • November 1, 2012 at 15:29

        I understand that point but it leaves unanswered the question of how the people of Wexford could judge Mick Wallace. Within the constraints of bourgeois democracy in Ireland today that can only be done through Wallace resigning and forcing a by-election where he could stand again. You are saying that you would only support this happening if there was an “indication that they’ve changed their minds about him”. I asked how that could be determined short of having that by-election? You chose to ignore that question, maybe this post that just concentrates on that question will elicit an answer…

      • 11 pat
        November 1, 2012 at 14:01

        Just to clarify, the important point that all ULA members should make re Wallace, is not that he should resign necessarily, but that his wealth should be used to pay back whatever tax he owes. As well as obviously giving him no political support in general.

      • November 1, 2012 at 15:42

        Which, without necessarily endorsing anything else she may say about this or any other issue, is exactly what Clare Daly is arguing. The truth is that Clare doesn’t have any substantive programmatic difference and the split was over something else, which I am not privy to, but must be to do with Clare clashing with the internal regime and political culture of the SP.

      • 13 pat
        November 1, 2012 at 16:49

        Your question: how that could be determined short of having that by-election?

        Opinion polls are one way of getting an indication. Among a majority of the activists in the CAHWT in Wexford, unlike the rest of the country, support for Wallace continued at that time, that was another indication.

        To repeat what I said above, Clare continues to defend Wallace publicly, support him in the technical group, campaign alongside him and defend his participation in the CAHWT against the decision of the majority in the campaign and also continues to regularly sit beside him in the Dail when he speaks, which is seen as a political endorsement of him – there’s no question about that.

        She also consistently makes the point that he is in the process of paying the money back, which is not true and makes a distinction between the man and his company, a bizarre thing for a workers’ representative and trade unionist to do, never mind a socialist.

        You don’t think that represents a programmatic difference?

      • November 1, 2012 at 21:33

        So the SP decides its programmatic positions on the basis of bourgeois opinion polls – Trotsky must be spinning in his grave at the thought that you guys claim his political tradition!

        To my knowledge Clare does not politically defend Wallace publicly. Nor does she does “support him” in the technical group.

        She does sit beside him in the Dail but given that she has a personal friendship with him that is not so outrageous or proof of anything. You guys are making a making a mountain out of a molehill about that and in my opinion are only making yourselves look silly as a result. Unless you are arguing that she must break off all personal relations with Wallace as well – and I think most people would see that as stepping over the line into bullying.

        It is true that she takes a different position on Wallace’s potential role in the CAHWT but as far as I know does not disagree with the position that he cannot be a national spokesperson. It is over the issue of whether he can speak on platforms at CAHWT meetings, particularly in his own constituency, that she disagrees. And on that issue she is far from alone in the campaign.

        She does say he is paying the money back – and as I understand it he has agreed to give 1/2 his salary towards it. She goes further and says that any private assets he has should be converted into cash to go towards the bill.

        As far as I can see the only significant difference is over the issue of Wallace speaking on CAHWT platforms. That is a real difference but not at the level you are attempting to paint it.

      • 15 pat
        November 2, 2012 at 09:34

        “Trotsky must be spinning in his grave at the thought that you guys claim his political tradition!”

        It’s really like talking to an 8 year old.

        It’s quite possible that Clare has changed her position and will no longer defend Wallace publicly or support him in the technical group, which would be welcome. And if she is now saying “that any private assets he has should be converted into cash to go towards the bill”, that would definitely be a change in her position – as she has never said that before and disagreed with the Socialist Party for doing so – it would also be very welcome.

        But that doesn’t change the fact that she has defended him publicly in various ways and supported him in the technical group, which was widely reported in the media. Until I see or hear a change myself, this is all I can go on.

        And by the way, even saying that he is paying the money back is a defence of him, given that it’s not accurate and certainly not acceptable. Half his salary would mean he would have to be a TD for over 45 years to pay it back, while at the same time he makes up the difference in unvouched expenses of 40k pa. That Clare, a left-wing TD, (and you by the sound of it) has a softer position than most working class people is quite poor.

        Sitting beside him consistently in the Dail when he speaks on political issues is seen as support for him, you’re deluding yourself if you think otherwise. It has nothing to do with her personal friendship with him. If Clare was an independent that would be fine, but when she is part of a group her actions have consequences for the group as a whole and that is why we raise this issue.

        Clare disagrees, and openly acts against a decision that was passed by the National Committee of the CAHWT by a vote of 72 to 4, I think. I don’t know what “level of difference” you think we’re trying to paint this issue at, but allowing the campaign to be damaged unnecessarily, or not, is important in my opinion. Do you think it is acceptable? Do you think it should be raised with Clare in the ULA?

      • November 2, 2012 at 10:12

        All I can report is what I have heard from her and that contradicts what you are saying is her position.

        You assert that Clare has defended Wallace publicly and supported him in the technical group and that this was widely reported in the media – do you have links to any evidence that proves this?

        It is a fact that Wallace is paying some money back. Clare, as far as I know, goes further and says he should convert any assets he has into cash to pay it back. I don’t know what she says on the expenses issue.

        Frankly how you claim to know the position of “most working class people” is beyond me – I guess it must be more of those opinion polls you are so fond of developing your programme on the basis of…

        Actually my personal position was to vote with the majority of the non-SP/SWP in calling on Wallace to resign. So if I really have a position that is softer than “most working class people” then what does that mean for the SP position of refusing to call for Wallace to resign?

        Clare sitting beside Wallace in the Dail is seen by you as indicating political support – I suspect there might be an element of projection going on here in terms of this meaning everyone, or at least a clear majority of working people, see it that way.

        Can you provide any evidence to back up your claim that Clare has openly acted against the decision of the CAHWT on the relationship with Wallace? I hope you would agree that it is her right to disagree with any element of the CAHWT position on Wallace and argue for a change if she so wishes but that is a different thing from acting in defiance of that decision as it stands which I was not aware she had done. If you are going to make that claim then you had better have some evidence to back it up.

        You should probably be aware of the overall context in that I have no particular support for Clare’s post-SP project, to the extent I understand what it is. She seems to me to still be very much within the SP’s overall political framework as far as I can tell, perhaps a bit towards the populist side of that but no more than some other SP comrades I have spoken to. As a non-sectarian I am happy to work with her on issues that I agree with her over, just as I work with SP comrades on issues I agree with you over.

      • 17 pat
        November 2, 2012 at 12:20

        “You assert that Clare has defended Wallace publicly and supported him in the technical group and that this was widely reported in the media – do you have links to any evidence that proves this?”

        Well a quick Google search found this:

        “It is a fact that Wallace is paying some money back.”

        That’s a fudge. Of course he’s paying some money back, but he should pay all of it back. Highlighting this fact, as if it represents some sort of redemption for Wallace is ridiculous, and amounts to a bad defence in reality.

        I think it’s safe to say, without having to do much research, that most working class people would be in favour of a property developer paying back all of the tax he owes, and would be outraged at the idea that he’s attempting to do so through an arrangement, whereby he’s effectively paying back millions in unpaid VAT (of course it will never be fully paid) with expenses he gets from the state! Clare Daly thinks this is acceptable, and you don’t seem to see where the problem is. Also, calling for his resignation doesn’t say anything about the tax issue.

        So you really don’t think that despite all of the controversy around Wallace, after all of the attempts to link him with the TG, the CAHWT and the ULA, that Clare Daly sitting beside him on a regular basis is a damaging political issue?

        Clare continued to support and assist the campaigners in Wexford who were defying the decisions of the national campaign by organising meetings with Wallace, if I was inclined to put in the effort I could source some evidence, but I’m not so inclined.

        Of course she has the “right to disagree with any element of the CAHWT position on Wallace and argue for a change if she so wishes”, but that’s irrelevant. The problem I have is with a ULA TD would want to argue for such a terrible position in the first place.

        You’re “non-sectarian” approach is the same as the Socialist Party’s in that case, but we will continue to raise our political differences with Clare and everyone else.

      • November 2, 2012 at 12:53

        I accept the correction over Wallace’s membership of the technical group and Clare’s position on that. I think she was wrong to do this.

        As I understand it Wallace doesn’t have the money to pay back all the debt owed by his company so like anyone else he has come to an arrangement over the rate of repayment from his only source of income, his Dail salary. Now it can be argued that it is an insufficient rate of repayment but that is a bit of a pointless discussion for revolutionary socialists to get into – what is a “fair” rate of repayment for this kind of thing? Instead it should be used as an argument about the insanity of the whole capitalist system and particularly to highlight the great swindle that is the Limited Liability Company that facilitates the bourgeoisie in all its robbery of the labour of working people.

        I would share your assumption about working people’s Wallace repaying all the tax debt but I note you are shifting the ground here as previously you were arguing that he wasn’t in the process of paying any money back and implying that Clare supported him in that. As far as I am aware Clare supports Wallace re-paying all the tax debt so your point misses the target.

        I don’t know all the details but my understanding of the situation is that your assertion about her role in organising Wexford meetings is not what you report.

        I think you need to get a sense of proportion. We have had a ULA TD in the recent past who was opposed to any increase in Corporation Tax and indeed seemed to want to encourage multinational investments – something of a major strategic issue in terms of the socialist project in Ireland. I didn’t notice the SP making anywhere as much of a stink about that as this issue – certainly you never questioned the right of WUAG to be part of the ULA because of it, as you have done with Clare over this. The question of whether the CAHWT should allow local campaigns to have Wallace on the platform at meetings – especially in an area where you yourself argue Wallace retains overwhelming support – is, I would respectfully argue, on a level of strategic importance far below that of Corporation Tax and the domination of the economy by the multinationals. So why the big fuss?

        Of course the reality is that all this huffing and puffing and seeking to create differences, or at least to magnify the importance of differences, is being done to obscure the real reasons for Clare leaving the SP which has to do with issues around the internal regime and political culture of the SP. I don’t know the details of what this is about and I am therefore not about to attempt to apportion blame to either side but the SP’s vitriol against Clare does make me wonder if you have something to hide.

      • 19 pat
        November 2, 2012 at 13:52

        No, my point stands. What I meant was that Wallace wasn’t paying all of the money back, which shouldn’t be accepted. Wallace has wealth in assets, like the villa in Italy that he signed over to his brother or his chain of Italian restaurants, to name the little I’m aware of. This, and everything else he owns should be taken into account. Clare’s point that he is ‘paying back the money’, is cover for that fact that this wealth is untouched and that there is no credible plan to pay all of the money back.

        Yes, the WUAGs position on corporation tax was terrible, but it didn’t damage the ULA in the same way the connection to Wallace has. That’s the simple reality, so while I understand the point you’re making it’s not really valid.

        Your speculation about the “internal regime and political culture of the SP” obviously is baseless nonsense, but your logic is off, sure if we had anything to hide it would make more sense to shut up about Clare’s bad judgement etc., lest she expose our dark secrets.

        I dispute that their has been any vitriol from the Socialist Party, can you give me an example? And the idea that we’re blowing anything out of proportion is more projection on your part, and the part of the other sensitive should in the ULA who would rather gloss over these issues.

      • November 2, 2012 at 14:36

        Clare’s public position, as I understand it, is that Wallace should use his assets as part of paying off the tax debt. This is just more of your creating difference where none exists.

        You think that the WUAG position on corporation tax didn’t damage the ULA? How about the gaping hole it left in last year’s budget submission?

        And what about the inability of the ULA to take a position on support for abortion rights? This must have been caused by the WUAG as now that they have left we are about to take a position. You don’t think that hurt the ULA?

        In fact a large portion of the recent damage done to the ULA has been a result of the SP’s petty vitriol against Clare in the wake of the split – like saying you would rather that Dail money went back to the capitalist state than be given to her. An unbelievable position to take that makes no sense to anybody even vaguely left-wing that I have talked to.

        If you like I can trawl through various message boards to give you more personalised examples of that vitriol but I think we both know it is real.

        As I replied to Mark P. – I have sources, that I trust and are in a position to know, who say that Clare’s split was about issues with the internal regime and political culture. That is verified by my own conversations with Clare which make it clear to me that she doesn’t, as yet, have any substantive political difference with the programme of the SP. Her resignation was not about programmatic differences, despite all your attempts to create principled differences where none exist.

        This idea that I, and other non-SP/PBP activists in the ULA, want to gloss over the issues regarding Wallace is just silly. The non-SP/PBP, by a very clear majority, took a HARDER position against Wallace than the SP at the time the story broke. Despite this, at our national meeting we were largely convinced by Clare about her position on Wallace. Now maybe she has turned into a sociopathic liar after leaving the SP but I don’t think that really holds water. For all my political criticisms of Clare and her politics I think she is a pretty honest individual.

        The ULA contained political differences of a much more wide ranging and substantive nature than the difference you have with Clare over Wallace (even if everything you say is true). This never led the SP to call the continued ULA membership of these others into question – so why are you doing so with Clare?

      • 21 pat
        November 2, 2012 at 17:02

        “Clare’s public position, as I understand it, is that Wallace should use his assets as part of paying off the tax debt. This is just more of your creating difference where none exists.”

        This is not the case, but the devil is usually in the detail. Marxists don’t usually take such a blase attitude to details as you have. If Clare agrees that his assets should be used, then why bother stating that the money is in the process of being paid back via the fantasy of the Dail expenses, when none of his assets are being used? You’re clearly desperate to believe this of Clare, so I’ll spend no more time trying to convince you. I’ll let time do that.

        Any damage to the ULA as a result of the WUAG’s conservatism (you’re wrong on the abortion issue as far as I’m aware) was not comparable to the damage caused by Clare’s support for Wallace, which itself partly caused the WUAG to leave, leading to further damage.

        There has been no vitriol from the Socialist Party or Socialist Party members directed towards Clare. Members, including myself, rightly criticised Clare’s dishonesty and corrected her lies with the truth, but I certainly haven’t seen any personalised attacks on Clare, back up your spurious allegations if you can.

        As far as the Dail money is concerned, you really should pay more attention. If you had, and got your facts straight before slinging mud that doesn’t stick, you would know that the Socialist Party had absolutely no choice in the matter. It would be illegal, in fact impossible, to give that money to Clare Daly.

        Again vitriol had nothing to do with it, your raising the issue at all is ridiculous.

        I can’t even begin to think what nonsense your sources are coming out with, but even if there were issues with the internal regime (whatever that even means) and political culture, is it just a coincidence that these issues became all of a sudden intolerable to Clare around the time of the Wallace scandal, when her connection to him was being raised by members of the Socialist Party?

        Clare left because of her political connection to Wallace, a connection that was not acceptable to anyone else in the party, but one which she was not willing to break. And yes, it did involve issues of principle.

      • November 3, 2012 at 00:03

        I am not particularly desperate to believe either side but I have heard Clare say explicitly that she is for Wallace using his assets to pay the tax debt. You are in effect calling her a bald faced liar and I find this very hard to believe as whatever political differences I may have with her I have always found her to be honest and upfront about her views.

        If I am wrong that it was the WUAG holding back the ULA from taking a principled position on support for abortion rights then it begs the question of what the reason was for not having a position on this basic issue of women’s rights.

        Well you may think the SP’s attacks on Clare don’t amount to vitriol, and perhaps that is too strong a term, but virtually everyone on the left I speak to about this thinks the SP have gone overboard in their attacks on Clare.

        As regards the Dail money – your defence smells of hiding behind bourgeois legality to me.

        I guess we are just going to have to agree to disagree about what we think were the reasons for Clare’s split from the SP. I am sure it will all come out in the wash one day.

  2. 23 Mark P
    November 1, 2012 at 16:27


    1) I don’t agree with the detail of everything on the list, nor all of your characterisations, but I do agree with your point that the ULA does not currently have much in the way of its own momentum. There have been many experiments in trying to create such momentum, most of which have failed for now. But that doesn’t mean that the ULA is wreckage: It is still ahead of where it started out and it still serves a purpose.

    2) On the Northern issue, the ULA does not organise in the North, it does not have structures there and it is not up to the ULA non-aligned caucus to unilaterally change that whether it has “consensus” within its own group or not. The meetings of the non-aligned have no more right or ability to take that sort of initiative on behalf of the ULA as a whole than the SWP does. I suspect that if you raise the issue of individual memberships in the North that you won’t get agreement on that either.

    Simply put, there is no political basis for an alliance in the North between the Socialist Party (which is the only bit of the ULA with a reasonably substantial organisation there) and various left republican grouplets. An attempt to create such an alliance would be an absolute car crash, with about thirty seconds of screaming and then blood everywhere. That a couple of those grouplets seem to want such an alliance despite loathing everything about the Socialist Party shows only that they aren’t serious about their own politics. That they are apparently trying to bounce the rest of us into such an alliance through the back door would be destructive if there was the slightest chance of it succeeding. Fortunately, there is no such chance.

    3) Clare Daly does have disagreements with the Socialist Party. They centre on Mick Wallace. Clare, to my knowledge, never raised any issues with the Socialist Party to do with the ULA, or “substantive programmatic differences” or “regime”. Nor did she raise them in her resignation letter. I think it’s entirely possible that she is in the process of developing “programmatic differences” however, given that I haven’t heard anything from her about the need for a revolutionary organisation or the like since she left. You’d have to ask her about that though.

    • November 1, 2012 at 21:21

      1) Question is what purpose does it serve. I can see that is has a use for the SP & PBP short-term goals because it allows you to pretend to represent more than you actually do but in terms of the project that the non-SP/PBP members joined for – the creation of a new workers’ party – it clearly doesn’t fit that purpose. We are at a crossroads and if the ULA is to be of any strategic use for the Irish working class then something significant has to change.

      2) Well it is happening whether you like it or not and I think you will find that the forces being attracted to the ULA in the North are not interested in an alliance at all but are very much in the pro-party mold.

      3) Well I don’t think I have heard SP public reps talk much about the need for a revolutionary party so she isn’t falling too far from the tree in that regard. It is simply false to say that Clare’s differences centre on Mick Wallace. She does have a strong personal connection and loyalty to him but her political perspective towards him that I have heard her articulate is very much within the SP framework. The fact that you guys are trying so hard to convince people that there is this massive difference over Wallace when she argues virtually the same line as you (with the exception of the context of the CAHWT) only gives credence to the idea that you are hiding some other more murky difference to do with internal political/personal differences.

      • 25 Mark P
        November 2, 2012 at 13:24

        1) The ULA’s purpose at the moment is to function as an alliance of existing left groups and individuals, allowing them to cooperate on issues of shared agreement as well as to present a united face in elections. It is not a new workers party, nor is it in a position to turn itself into such a thing in the short term, but it can serve as a pole of attraction for the (small) numbers of people currently interested in such a thing.

        2) I have no idea what you mean by “it is happening”. I accept that two little left republican sects in the North are falsely trying to pass themselves off as having an association with the ULA, and I accept, from what you’ve said that some ULA independents are unwise enough to encourage them in that. You however will have to accept, “whether you like it or not”, that the ULA does not organise in the North, that there is no political basis for an alliance between those groups and the Socialist Party in the North, and that the ULA is not going to start organising in the North.

        3) This is simply bizarre. I’m not sure whether your views here are the result of a conspiratorial sectarian’s mindset or simply reflect a personal gullibility. Clare Daly did not raise any disagreements within the Socialist Party over the ULA, party programme or anything else. Her falling out with the party centred entirely on Mick Wallace. You seem to understand that the ULA issue, first mentioned the day after she left, was not a factor. There was no secret other programmatic disagreement that for some bizarre reason everyone is keeping quiet. And no, Clare doesn’t argue the Socialist Party’s line on Wallace. She argues that he should be allowed represent the Wexford CAHWT, she draws a distinction between his behaviour and that of his company, she has explicitly endorsed his fitness for office, she has argued that he should be in the technical group (he has a right to be in the technical group under Dail rules, but there is no reason for a socialist to positively advocate him rejoining), she defended his non-cooperation with the Dail investigation in the national media, etc.

      • November 2, 2012 at 14:13

        1) And so we have it. You turn the clock back to before the election and Joe Higgin’s statement a couple of days after the election that the ULA was about the process of the creation of a new workers’ party. That is why individual members joined and the fact that you have artificially held the project back and continually referred to a new workers’ party in the far future is why most of those individual members have dropped out. Unless the ULA is seen as a real living organisation with momentum towards a new workers’ party then people are not going to join it in the numbers required to launch such a new party. A catch-22 situation which must be resolved or it will die as a project of any worth to the working class in Ireland.

        2) Well people in the North are being recruited to individual membership of the ULA, more than just the two groups concerned, and they are getting organised as supporters of the ULA – for instance they produced a leaflet for the recent march against austerity in Belfast. Now you may seek solace in the formal rules of the alliance that constrain the nature of that organisation but the reality is that the ULA is starting to organise in the North. I also think you will find that a clear majority of the active non-SP/PBP members of the ULA support this development.

        3) Well I have no direct evidence but I have sources, who I trust and are in a position to know, who tell me that this is the case. It may well not be a “programmatic” issue in the strict sense of the term, and indeed Clare’s programme since leaving is clearly still within the overall SP framework, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t real and for my own part I think these questions of organisational regime and political culture are very important.

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