Statement of Workers and Unemployed Action Group, South Tipperary on withdrawal from the ULA.
(detailed statement for ULA members and supporters)
Contact Seamus Healy TD 087-2802199
Paddy Healy, former member of Steering Committee ULA 086-4183732
At its recent Annual General Meeting WUAG decided by a unanimous vote to withdraw from the United Left Alliance. We will, of course continue to campaign against austerity including the household charge/property tax, the reduction of public services and for fair taxation including a wealth tax on the super-rich. WUAG entered into an alliance with the Socialist Party and People before Profit in order to advance our objective of forming a broad based principled alternative to the Labour Party for hundreds of thousands of working people on the basis of opposition to coalition with conservative parties. WUAG will now continue to advance this project by registering as a national political party and by inviting like minded people throughout the country to join us.
We believe that the credibility of the Alliance as a vehicle to advance this project has been fatally damaged by a number of developments in the recent past.
Immediately after the admission by Mick Wallace TD that he had withheld taxes, WUAG proposed to the leading body of the ULA that the ULA should publicly call for his resignation from the Dáil. We believe that a person who admits to knowingly withholding large amounts of tax is not a fit person to hold public office. We believe that strict adherence to this principle is necessary in order to mount an effective campaign against unfair taxation and cuts in public services. For us, condemnation of Wallace is not enough. The National Steering Committee of the ULA, which operates by consensus of the three allied bodies, did not agree with the WUAG position. Our proposal to the Steering Committee was vetoed by the Socialist Party which also refused to give an undertaking to vote for any motion or amendment put before the Dail calling for the resignation of Mick Wallace. WUAG then called for the resignation of Mick Wallace from the Dail in its own name. Afterwards we continued to attempt to persuade the Socialist Party to call on Mick Wallace to resign. Despite the fact that further developments arising from the Wallace issue confirmed its potential to damage the ULA and showed the correctness of the WUAG position, our recent proposal at the steering committee was vetoed by People Before Profit Alliance/SWP in addition to the Socialist Party. The text of the motion was as follows:
“ ULA Steering Committee calls on Mick Wallace TD to resign as a Dail Deputy immediately. The Steering Committee believes that it was a serious error on the part of the ULA and the Socialist party not to have supported the proposal of WUAG to call for such resignation in the immediate aftermath of the first public statement by Mick Wallace that he had deliberately withheld VAT revenue from the tax authorities. This motion if passed is to be circulated immediately to all members of ULA. “
In early February, the Socialist Workers Party (component of People Before Profit) issued an internal bulletin(extracts below) to its members which announced the collapse
1 of the ULA and prioritised recruitment 2to the SWP rather than to the ULA. It announced its intention to publicly3 criticise the other components of the alliance.
We vigorously opposed this approach but failed to dissuade the SWP. Working people are now facing the most severe attacks on their living standards in living memory. In this situation WUAG believes that the building of a mass political party is the most pressing task and takes priority over recruiting individuals to small organisations. The approach of the SWP has created serious tensions within the Alliance, including within the People Before Profit Alliance, in recent months. Arising out of the major political error made by the Socialist Party on the Wallace issue, that organisation has been thrown into crisis by the resignation of one of its two Dail deputies.
The outcome has been,at best, the failure of the ULA to grow over the last six months though the political circumstances were never more favourable. WUAG therefore proposed the following motion at a recent meeting of the steering committee:
“ULA Steering Committee condemns the general approach of the Socialist Workers Party in its internal bulletin issued to SWP members on Feb 6, 2012.
The Steering Committee finds the approach adopted destructive of the ULA objective of creating a mass principled party of the left and calls on the SWP to withdraw the document.
This motion if passed is to be circulated immediately to all members of the ULA.”
The motion was vetoed by the Socialist Party and by the People Before Profit/SWP.
Rivalry between the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party, including competition for recruits and seeking domination of the left, is the main source of disfunctionality in the ULA. This rivalry and contention has persisted in the UK and other countries for decades. It is now a major obstacle to the development of a broadly based principled left alternative in Ireland.
Unlike the SP and SWP which are tightly organised ideologically based groups, WUAG is a broadly based local political labour movement organisation in the Connolly tradition which has always opposed coalition with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.
WUAG has replaced the Labour party as the main political organisation of workers in the South Tipperary constituency. The Labour Party candidate has come a poor second to the WUAG candidate in recent general elections. WUAG is the largest party on Clonmel Borough Corporation, holding 5 of the 12 seats. In all, WUAG holds seven local authority seats in South Tipperary.
Arising from our inability to persuade our allies of our views, there is no possibility of the damage that has been already done to the ULA being repaired despite our best efforts. Therefore, we believe that our energies would be more fruitfully used in directly politically organising workers throughout the country through WUAG.
WUAG is now inviting applications for membership from all parts of Ireland and will be registering as a national political party shortly.
Seamus Healy TD on behalf of WUAG
Notes from internal SWP Bulletin February 6, 2012 (prior to the Wallace controversy)
1“In summary: Kieran Allen’s document on the ULA will be published soon and we should already be open
in our critique of the reasons for the collapse
of the ULA.”
2Referring to political work in the household tax campaign it is stated “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.”
3“We are going into the open
with our critique of the state of the ULA. This
involves pointing out the others political positions.”