07
Jun
13

Where to now for the CAHWT?

The government is claiming 90% compliance with the property tax by the 29 May deadline. Even if they are padding out the figures to some degree non-compliance will still be 20% at most and a large proportion of that cohort are going to have the tax deducted at source anyway.

Short of a massive rank-and-file revolt in the public sector trade unions against Haddington Road which results in significant industrial action that spills over into anti-austerity including against collection of the property tax, the campaign against the property tax is effectively over.

What should therefore be concentrating minds of activists in the campaign is how to combat the water charges and particularly the installation of water meters. But instead we have a significant section of the campaign focussing their attention on next year’s elections.

It is hard to see how the CAHWT groups who are standing candidates are going to have the resources, both human and financial, to fully participate in fighting the water charges. Those CAHWT groups who aren’t standing candidates are going to have to discuss how we can work together on this – which is already beginning in Cork.

This is compounded by the political problems resulting from some groups deciding to stand candidates.

Candidates running in the name of the CAHWT are going to be seen as de-facto spokespeople for the whole campaign when they have no democratic mandate, outside of their own local group, to do so.

The political platform any such CAHWT candidates run on will be decided by just the specific local group and raises the question of how any of us who disagree with elements of that platform, or comments made by the candidates on any issue, will be able to disassociate ourselves from it?

It seems we are all being faced with a choice over which path to take and it is hard to see how the CAHWT can continue as a unitary entity.

And to the extent that there is a continuing campaign or campaigns the government’s victory on the property tax poses some stark questions:

Is it time to start thinking about calling off the boycott of the property tax?

Should the campaign really still be advising people to continue the boycott, and face extra penalties being deducted at source, now that the boycott tactic has failed?

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2 Responses to “Where to now for the CAHWT?”


  1. 1 littlemicky
    June 9, 2013 at 21:36

    The campaign is effectively defeated. Insufficient numbers of people became active in the organisation as opposed to passively boycotting last year and this year when the government changed tack the campaign was too small to be effective.

    The campaign was hugely impressive for a time but engaged in frantic activities, whilst the government bided it’s time, that sapped people’s energy and were of peripheral relevance to the issue. Example the crazy decision pushed through by the ULA (socialist party and socialist workers party) to fight an EU referendum campaign. A Summer and Autumn that should have been used to build more local groups, develop democratic structures and deepen roots was instead spent organising mobilisation after mobilisation.

    On top of this the Socialist Party and Socialist Workers Party actively worked against the democratisation of the campaign and fought each other for the limelight as the ULA split spilled over into the CAHWT. Fulltime youth members of the parties became virtual permanent members of the national committee, branches that were inaccessible to the public sent delegates to meetings, whole dail constituencies had barely one group for populations of 50,000 or more. To top it all though as the campaign entered it’s most critical phase the Socialist party made a concerted effort to turn the campaign in to an electoral alliance, to replace the failed ULA, with themselves as the leaders. This destroyed the coherence of the campaign as it turned whole areas into a bearpit of factions, driving countless people away from the bickering, divided campaign.

    What is a pity is that the SP will learn nothing from this.

    The boycott should be called off immediately to spare anyone the extra charges, this will not happen though as non one will want to lose face, so the thing will simply peter out. Rebuilding for the water tax will therefore be all the harder. A split is inevitable and probably desireable so that those interested in building a genuine democratic campaign can get on with it and allow those who wish to play at elections.

    • June 10, 2013 at 12:48

      Littlemicky – I would agree 100% with your analysis in this comment, apart perhaps from the last bit on calling off the boycott due to some information I got at the NSC and didn’t include in my brief report.

      Although it wasn’t actually decided at the NSC meeting it was my impression that a majority of those who spoke were opposed to openly calling off the boycott although at the same time there also seemed to be agreement that we shouldn’t be highlighting it.

      In an informal discussion at the end of the meeting Joe Higgins mentioned that it had been announced in the Finance Committee that the government would not be applying the fines to anyone, even those who didn’t avail of the extra amnesty. It would seem they are confident of being able to get most of the remaining 10% through deductions at source and don’t see the need to give the campaign any ammunition by applying fines on those who haven’t signed up by the extended deadline.

      To the extent that is correct then I guess for the purposes of optics not having to publicly come out and renounce the boycott has a value though for every activist in the campaign the recognition that we have been roundly defeated will be crystal clear. Whether or not there will be a serious analysis (along the lines you outline in your comment) of what could have been done differently by the campaign is unclear. In the discussion at the NSC the SP speakers tended to be taking a position that the boycott had been correct while the SWP were being wise after the event. Neither of them presenting any self-criticism at all – as per usual.

      The issue of where to go now is directly posed. I will be in a better position to comment on this after the Cobh local group meeting on Tuesday and a meeting on fighting the water charges by some of the key Cork CAHWT activists opposed to the electoral path scheduled for Wednesday.


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