There were demonstrations across France yesterday, Thursday, in memory of young anti-fascist Clém
What We Say: Clare Daly and Socialist Party
Clare Daly’s resignation from the Socialist Party has led to conflicting statements. The Socialist Party claimed ‘She now places more value on her political connection with independent TD Mick Wallace than on the political positions of the Socialist Party’
By contrast, she has denied that this and claimed that the primary issue is building a broad, radical United Left Alliance rather than a smaller party like the SP.
Mick Wallace has operated like any capitalist, exploiting his workforce and trying to dodge paying taxes. His left rhetoric never impressed Socialist Worker and we supported the call for him to resign his seat.
Both the SP and Clare Daly refused to call for his resignation. Clare Daly went further and did not sign a letter responding to Wallace’s attacks on the left even though he threw out the usual capitalist claim that ‘he created jobs’ and socialists did not.
This hesitation was seized upon by the Irish Independent who mounted a hypocritical campaign to associate Wallace with the left and convey the impression that somehow socialists gave cover to ‘their rich friends’.
Ironically, the same paper has never given the slightest publicity to the tax dodging antics of its owner, Denis O Brien.
And, of course, both Clare Daly and the Socialist Party were far more honourable representatives of workers than the TDs of right wing parties who take their full Dail salary and live a privileged life.
Clare Daly’s own statement suggests that there were other disputes between herself and the SP. In particular, it points to a disagreement about the emphasis to be placed on broad parties of the Left as against harder revolutionary currents.
Behind the acrimony, there is an important strategic issue for all of the left
The creation of broad, radical parties is a key strategic objective today. As social democracy collapses into social liberalism and accepts the dictates of the markets, tens of thousands of workers are seeking a new political home.
Inevitably these will include workers who want to fight for reforms within capitalism as well as those who want to overthrow it. Radical left parties can bring the genuine fighters together and create a space which moves on the process of politicisation.
But if these parties are successful, they will face pressures to compromise with the system. The Syriza Party in Greece has been strong in opposing bank bailout programmes – but weaker in stating how they would counter the economic terrorism of the rich.
The Dutch Socialist Party – no connection with the Irish SP- has been strong in opposing neoliberalism but weak on the dangers of coalition government.
We need, therefore, strong revolutionary organisations that work inside and alongside broad left formations.
That is not to say that a revolutionary organisation must be a top down, sectarian formation that appears devoid of human feeling.
Nor is it to suggest that revolutionary organisations are the teachers and workers the pupils. In a rapidly changing situation of capitalist decay, everyone needs to learn.
How does all this apply to the ULA?
Clare Daly is right to suggest that the ULA has punched well below its weight.
The main reason, however, is that the alliance has not developed as a campaigning organisation and has remained primarily an electoral alliance.
Far too much emphasis has been placed on purity of political statements and far less on bringing new layers of people into struggle. The absence of a vibrant, internal democratic life has also stymied the process.
Clare Daly’s commitment to remain in the ULA is to be welcomed. Despite our disagreements with her over the Wallace issue, she is a genuine committed socialist with a magnificent record of fighting for workers rights.
Broad parties of the radical left must hold a space for people like Clare Daly. But she also has to find ways of engaging with a process of socialist democracy that makes TDs accountable.
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