Having Damaged the CAHWT Campaign by Imposing Suicidal Policies
SP and SWP Move in to Pick UP the Recruits!
Thousands of activists participated in the Campaign Against Household and Water Charges. Trojan work was done. Activists in many areas distinguished themselves. But now the boycott campaign has failed. This must be recognised. In national terms , a small minority of the population who followed the advice of the SP and the SWP have been isolated. There are also many who cannot pay. Some have registered and some have not. The CAHWT website contains no advice to these determined fighters (SEE below for content of Website as I write). None of the motions tabled for the National Steering Committee next Saturday, June 8, address the problem of those who have been isolated by the leaders. This is a shameful abdication of leadership by SP and SWP. It brings back echoes of the end of the bin tax campaign. In that case the leaders also walked away leaving the most determined supporters high and dry.
In my document “after-Ultraleft destruction” (of the ULA) I said one month ago: “The number of people attending meetings, rallies and marches of CAHWT is dwindling as the two “Marxist” groups advocate policies which are impossible for ordinary people and their dependents to follow. Despite the destruction of the campaign, the two groups will feel justified if they get some recruits out of it and ,if above all, they get more recruits than each other!” It is now clear competitive ultra-leftism between SP and SWP has seriously damaged the campaign.
When the government brought in legislation to extract the charges plus fines from pay and welfare, they refused to make any tactical adjustment. They were calling on people who were struggling to put bread on the table to leave themselves liable to double the charge and more. Neither group could be seen to be less “revolutionary” than the other! Myself and many others told them that this policy would inevitably lead defeat of the campasign and demoralisation of supporters and activists. It was playing into the hands of the government. But they wouldn’t/ couldn’t listen. Like many other activists, WUA refused to go along with this self-defeating policy in Tipperary. As Workers and Unemployed Action is actually part of the working class itself, it contains many hard-pressed people on the one hand and experienced shop-stewards and community leaders on the other! Those who wished to continue the boycott and those who felt they had no choice but to register were invited to join an intensified campaign against politicians, local authorities and compliant trade union leaders. I understand this happened in branches in several areas where SP/SWP were not dominant.
Unfortunately, the setback in the campaign bears out my earlier contention that competitive ultra-leftism is a huge problem for the left in Ireland and the UK. In the final days of the campaign the SP divided the campaign on the issue of standing candidates in the local elections next year, more than 12 months away. Irrespective of the merits of the issue itself, why was the campaign divided on this issue, with registration day only weeks away and SP continuing to insist that non-registration was the main focus of the campaign? Had SP already decided that the boycott campaign was doomed and were already moving to maximise their own gains? I hope that the damage to the confidence of those mobilised by the campaign is limited but I fear this may not be the case and there may be a negative effect on the forthcoming campaign against the introduction of water taxes.
And what are the SP and SWP leaders doing now? Many great activists have been left without a campaign or with a much weakened campaign due to their policies. Now they are moving in to recruit the remaining activists as dues paying members to the SP and SWP/People before Profit. Joe Higgins(SP) has addressed a meeting in Tallaght (not a CAHWT Meeting) to garner support for SP candidates in the local elections. Cllr Mick Barry(SP) has divided the very successful Cork campaign by pushing a primarily electoralist approach. Richard Boyd Barrett has addressed meetings of People Before Profit in Letterkenny and Cork. This is a deeply cynical exercise. It happens again and again and again in Ireland and the UK. The modus operandi is set out in the infamous leaked internal bulletin of SWP:
SWP Internal Bulletin 06/02/2012
“Remember: campaigns don’t last forever and there is a limited window of
opportunity to start the process of targeting key individuals who want to
take the fight further for recruitment to the SWP. The stronger the SWP the
stronger the voice for a bottom up dynamic and radical campaign will be and
the more will remain when the campaign comes to a lull.”
It is true that the rank and file of the SP and SWP are very committed decent people. This is the tragedy. The SP invested everything in the campaign. On leaving ULA it said: “For the Socialist Party, the battle against the household and property taxes is a priority, and it will take more of our focus and work and as mentioned, in that context we will be diminishing our participation in the ULA.”
It is widely known that many decent SP members are traumatized by the collapse of the campaign. Hence the rescue operation attempted through the Tallaght meeting which, tellingly, was not called in the name of the CAHWT.
ULTRA-LEFT DESTRUCTION OF CAMPAIGNS MUST BE STOPPED
Many unaligned activists are polite and comradely. SP and SWP take advantage of this when pushing their destructive policies. Thankfully many unaligned activists are now learning to stand up to them.
Unless trade union and anti-austerity activists take a strong stand against the manipulations of these groups and their London head-quartered “internationals” future campaigns will also be damaged.
NO2CrokePark2 may be next in their sights!
CAHWT Website To-Day June 3, 2013
Keep up the Boycott