Friday, July 25, 2014

An independent political programme for the trade union movement and for workers

Where is the ambition?

Jack O’Connor has said on a number of occasions that the “left” lacks ambition and courage. This is certainly true of the official trade union movement. It lacks ambition, courage, and vision. The movement has failed to articulate its own vision of society and how we might get there. It has failed to present consistently to its members and to workers generally the necessary short-term reforms and the medium to long-term transitional policies that will bring about socialism—a society by, for and of working people.

And why is that? Many reasons, including the legacy of “partnership,” the “professionalisation” of the movement, the destruction of political education, the general depoliticisation of working people, the attitude of the media, confusion over the nature of the European Union, and more.

Many of these problems will not be surmounted overnight; but one reason that stands out and that can be successfully challenged is the fact that the movement has essentially outsourced political policy to the Labour Party, and is reluctant to promote and campaign on a political programme outside of what the Labour Party will allow—and this despite the fact that the ICTU is allegedly politically neutral, and only a couple of unions are actually affiliated to the Labour Party.

More than a hundred years ago the trade union movement decided it needed to fight on the political field as well as the industrial, and so it established the Labour Party as the political wing of the movement. The Labour Party was to represent the industrial organisation of the working class in the political structures of the day; and people like Tom Johnson—trade unionist, Labour Party leader, and main author of the Democratic Programme—did so. Now, however, the relationship has been reversed and the Labour Party is determining political policy, and unions have shied away from any independent vision or confrontation with Labour. The tail is clearly wagging the dog.

A changed political landscape

There is no doubt the political landscape has changed dramatically over the last few years. Fianna Fáil has lost the support it had among sections of the working class. The Labour Party has lost its working-class base in cities and towns. An extremely right-wing ideological Fine Gael is the biggest party in the state electorally. And Sinn Féin has grown apace, capturing lost Fianna Fáil and Labour Party working-class support and middle-class frustrations.

By far the most striking trend, however (and whether this will be so in the long term remains to be seen) is the electoral success of independents—largely progressive—and small left-wing parties. Whether we think the rise of independent TDs and councillors is good or not for working people is one thing, but there is no doubt it is a trend and will be a factor in the next election.

But despite this massive change in electoral politics it is also clear that class rule remains as strong as ever, if not stronger. Successive governments of Fianna Fáil and the Green Party, and of Fine Gael and Labour supported by the EU, ECB and IMF, have been able to impose, against popular wishes, a host of regressive neo-liberal reforms, strengthening the control capital has here and strengthening the dependence of our economy and state on moneylenders and foreign capital. They have been able to railroad through EU treaties against the voted mandate of the people, and have brazenly broken numerous electoral promises. The democratic structures of the state are openly laughed about, and this is reflected in the general anti-establishment position taken by our class in voting against Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Labour Party or not voting at all.

The trade union movement has the potential, is arguably the only movement capable, of pulling progressive forces together in a meaningful way to harness the anti-establishment position of working people and create a positive, energetic movement. To achieve this it must work to realise its potential and right now it is some way off it. We are not part of a movement. Unions are not working to build a movement. Sectionalism and short term servicing remains the priority and so long as this continues, potential will be all we have.

Vitalising the movement, organising new workers and mobilising for an independent political programme must go hand in hand.

Why an independent political programme?

It is time the trade union movement recognised and acted on its unique position. It is the organised working class. It is 600,000 workers throughout Ireland. It has the members, the resources, the campaigning capacity and ultimately the potential industrial strength to change this country for the better for working people—but only if it can win the hearts and minds of its members to a political programme that addresses the immediate concerns of our class and presents a vision and long-term agenda for transforming fundamentally the structures in this country.

This is our cause. Each one of us as a trade union activist must begin to make this demand and to challenge our unions to this cause. The Trade Union Left Forum will provide space for developing the ideas and programme; but fundamentally we, as trade unionists, must bring the demand for an independent political programme into each of our unions.

Political parties become stronger or weaker, rise and fall, but the trade union movement has grown and existed for more than a hundred years. We need our own independent political programme and to mobilise our members around it.

Parties and Independents who agree with the programme or parts of it can sign up to it and pledge their support. The movement then, not tied to any one party or to a government, is free to campaign and pursue its agenda with its supporters in the Dáil, in the Seanad, and in local councils.

The next election is likely to return an even more diverse result in parties and independents. The trade union movement needs to put itself in the strongest position possible to influence politically for our class. This will not be achieved if it is tied, whether formally or informally, to the Labour Party. A break is needed, and the movement needs the ambition and the courage to do this.

The Labour Party will be treated like other progressive parties or independents. It will be able to support the union programme, and in return the movement will supports those candidates. But so too will Sinn Féin, independents and other left-wing parties, all on an equal basis. It will be a case of them signing up to our programme in return for our support.

How do we achieve this?

Over the next few months the TULF will host a number of workshops, inviting trade union activists and those close to the movement to contribute to the development of an independent political programme for the movement.

The TULF will promote the need for this programme and the thinking to be adopted by the movement generally but in the context of an important general election on the horizon.
You can be part of this by sharing this article as a start but also by attending these workshops and generally participating in TULF initiatives as the campaign develops.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rearranging the chairs on the Labour ship Titanic

The Communist Party of Ireland, commenting on the Government reshuffle, said that it was more akin to a rearranging of the chairs for a better view as the Labour Party’s ship sinks beneath the waves.
The Labour Party will pay the price at the next general election for its opportunism and smugness. While it may get some cosmetic changes on the margins of the reheated programme for the next seventeen months of the life of this miserable Government, the policies will remain the same.
The Government in reality is not in charge of fundamental economic and social policy: this has long since been surrendered to the European Union. Now the system itself is sliding into a new and potentially deeper crisis.
It is not a change of ministers that working people desire but rather a fundamental change of direction. Those few honest individuals within the the Labour Party who have a loyalty to the history and founding traditions of that party must recognise that it has no future.
We cannot go on with the myth that it is “in the country’s interests” that working people are carrying the heaviest burden. Which Ireland do they speak of?—the Ireland of the rich, the landlords, the speculators, the employers who are attacking and driving down workers’ wages to subsistence levels?
Working people must take their future into their own hands. The Labour Party is a party of history, not a party of the future. 

The massacre must end now


We, the communist and workers’ parties which sign this Joint Statement condemn the barbaric and criminal assault of the state of Israel against the Palestinian people.

We  express our full solidarity with the people of Palestine and we call on the workers all over the world to mobilize in order to strengthen the wave of condemnation against Israel, in order for solidarity with the Palestinian people to be expressed in a practical way.

The USA also bears an enormous responsibility for these bloody developments, which is supporting Israel in every way in the continuation of the oppression and massacre of the Palestinian people.

The EU also bears responsibility, as it follows the line of keeping an “equal distance” between the victim and the persecutor and is simultaneously developing cooperation with Israel at a military and economic-political level.

The communist and workers’ parties that sign this statement demand:

That the crime against the Palestinian people be condemned.

The continuing air raids against the Palestinian people must cease immediately and  a ground offensive must be prevented.

The Israeli occupation armies must withdraw.

The immediate liberation of all political prisoners from the Israeli prisons.

The tearing down of the unacceptable wall of division and the lifting of every form of blockade against the Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The immediate end to the settlements and the withdrawal of all the settlers that have settled beyond the 1967 borders.

The right of return of all the Palestinian refugees to their homes, on the basis of the relevant UN decisions.

All joint military exercises and all the agreements of military cooperation with Israel must be cancelled.

A Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.


CP of Albania

PADS, Algeria

CP of Australia

Party of Labour of Austria

DPT, Bahrain

CP of Bangladesh

WP of Bangladesh

CWP of Belarus

CP Britain

NCP of Britain

SWP of Croatia

CP in Denmark

PRCF, France

CP of Greece

Hungarian WP

CP of India (Marxist)

Tudeh Party, Iran

CP of Ireland

CP Italy

Jordanian CP

CP of Luxembourg

CP of Mexico

NCP of Netherlands

CP of Norway

Palestinian CP

Palestinian People’s Party

Peruvian CP

Phillipine CP (PKP-1930)

CP of Poland

CWP of Russia

NCP of Yugoslavia, Serbia

CP of Slovakia

Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain

Party of the Communists of Catalonia Spain
Sudanese CP
CP of Sweden
 Syrian CP
Union of Communists of Ukraine

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

July Socialist Voice Out Now!

Check it out, Housing is a right, Water is a right, New study circle in Dundalk, Education under attach, the economic philosophy behind the euro and much more...