State of the Cork CAHWT – just about hanging on

The Cork Campaign Against Home & Water Taxes is now effectively split between two groupings claiming the name of the campaign and organising events on that basis.

This split had its first concretely manifest in the calling of two competing protests against the inauguration of the new Lord Mayor of Cork on 21 June and the AGM being boycotted by one of the groupings.

The grouping which boycotted the AGM is made up for the Ballyphehane and Douglas groups on the south side of the city (sometimes calling themselves “South East Ward for Democracy!”) and the Mallow group in the county. They are influenced politically by the People’s Convention and to a lesser extent by the ideas of the “Freemen”. The main expression of their dissatisfaction has been around the involvement of organised political groupings in the campaign, primarily the Socialist Party.

Rather than any particular political criticism my understanding of their concerns are more at the level of some kind of principle against the involvement of any organised political grouping in what they describe as a “people’s movement”. Of course the irony is that this grouping includes the People’s Convention organised political grouping (in the form of “for Demcracy!”) and they are forced into tautologies about the PC not formally being a political party although it operates exactly like a political party.

The other grouping is made up of most of the remaining groups in the city and county. However this is a far from politically cohesive grouping as it combines those who support the Socialist Party’s plan to stand election candidates in two wards on the north side of the city and those opposed to standing candidates.

These various differences came to a head at the Regional Delegate Meeting (RDM) last Friday, 28 June – which was once again boycotted by the People’s Convention influenced group.

I was chairing the meeting and it became obvious fairly quickly that we were not going to get through all the business of the agenda proposed by the interim regional coordinating committee. This included discussions on the organisational structure and standing candidates along with electing a new regional coordinating committee and treasurer.

Instead what we had, after a little glitch at the start over who the delegates from the Cork Northside group should be, was one long discussion on the state of the campaign in Cork. The prognosis was unanimously negative. Not just because of the troublemaking actions of the group aligned with the People’s Convention but also generally in terms of the number of activists left involved and, for many, the disruptive effect of the decision to stand candidates on the northside.

The delegate from West Cork reported that it was likely they would be withdrawing from the campaign over what looks to them like a completely fractuous and divided Cork region. It also reflects their disappointment that their motion to the AGM which while not mentioning Attack the Tax directly was about being open to incorporating AoT as an officially accepted part of the campaign.

There was general agreement that the campaign was so weak as to not justify electing another regional coordinating committee. Then there was a discussion about whether that weakness was so great that we should move back to the situation in early 2012 when we had regional meetings open to all activists – in the event only a small minority of the delegates supported this so the Cork region will continue with delegated meetings.

It was also decided to send a team of 3 people who would be generally seen as more-or-less neutral to discuss with the breakaway grouping to see if there is any basis for unity going forward. Given the depth of ill-feeling expressed by the break-away group I am very pessimistic about their chances.

I had been suggested for that 3-person peacemaking group but excused myself because I am unsure over my continuing participation in the campaign. As readers of my blog will be aware I am in general political agreement with the WSM statement announcing their withdrawal from the campaign. My general assessment over the campaign has not changed fundamentally and I expected that this RDM might be my last. However during the discussion, the most senior SP comrade present argued that they might not be going to stand under the name of the campaign and instead could stand under some other name. In the absence of any other indication that this is the case, and indeed plenty of evidence the other way, I am quite doubtful this actually represents their view. The comrade is not particularly senior in the overall SP hierarchy and it did very much sound like some made up thinking on the spot in the context of the bulk of the meeting being against him. However it may represent a very recent change of heart by the SP and as such I will withhold my decision on withdrawing from the campaign until a formal announcement of the basis the candidates are standing on is made.


3 Responses to “State of the Cork CAHWT – just about hanging on”

  1. July 1, 2013 at 22:33

    Very interesting report RP. This split between left and those from a PC perspective is of deep concern. It suggests some very deep fault-lines ideologically that may have been submerged within the CAHWT, and a strange turn of events.

    • July 1, 2013 at 22:47

      I think it would be fair to say that those fault-lines were always there but while the campaign was still generally positive (up until mid/late 2012 I guess) they did remain mostly submerged as the left-dominated leadership in Cork was seen to be delivering the goods. But as we got further into 2013 with the campaign on the retreat the “anti-party” elements started to flex their muscles and now we have a very messy situation, not helped by the split in the left forces due to the SP’s obsession with standing candidates.

      • July 2, 2013 at 20:44

        That’s a good point re the left-dominated leadership delivering the goods. Success is sometimes its own reward and people, even those with radically different views will row in.

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