Monthly Archives: June 2007

Thanks, But No Thanks Betty!

The announcement of Betty Windsor’s latest birthday honours list appears to have created a mini brouhaha in the UK media, after the sexy lingerie salesman Joseph Corre rejected an honour on the bases that it was offered on behalf of Tony Blair’s government, which Mr Corre regarded as being “headed by a Prime Minister, who [he] finds morally corrupt, who has been involved in organized lying, to the point where thousands of people including children! have suffered death, detention and torture in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Joseph Corre’s rejection of this archaic left over from Feudalism, which epitomizes the wretched English class system, got me to thinking about how many others have rejected these divisive baubles. So I thought I would revisit the confidential document that was leaked to the London Sunday Times in 2003; and which contained the names of many of those who have rejected an honour from the UK Monarchy.

My own favorite is L.S.Lowry the great artist, he declined an OBE in 1955, the CBE in 1961, a knighthood in 1969, and a CH in 1972 and 1976; thus he holds the record for the most honors declined. It is as if the British establishment were determined to reel him in, much as if he was a prize trout. Lowry in turn was having none of it, it must have broken the hearts of those Whitehall civil servants who judge one and another by the lettering on the gongs they attain.

Peter Alliss, golfer and commentator (declined OBE in 2002)
Frank Auerbach, artist (declined a knighthood in 2003)
Charles Babbage, scientist.
Francis Bacon, artist and great company over a drink. (declined CBE, in 1960 and CH in 1977)
J.G.Ballard, author (declined CBE in 2003)
Nancy Banks-Smith, television critic of the first order. (declined CBE in 1970)
Leonard Barden, British Chess Champion in 1954 (declined an MBE)
Peter Benenson, founder of Amnesty international(declined knighthood)
Alan Bennett, playwright, and a man who actually listens to people. (declined knighthood in 1996 and CBE in 1988)
Isaiah Berlin[sir] OM, philosopher (declined life peerage in 1980)
Honor Blackman, actress (declined CBE in 2002)
David Bowie, musician (declined CBE in 2000; declined knighthood in 2003)
Francis Boyd[sir], journalist (declined CBE in 1967; accepted knighthood in 1976)
Ken Branagh, actor and director (declined CBE in 1990s
Benjamin Britten, composer (declined knighthood; accepted CH, OM and life peerage)
Jim Broadbent, actor (declined OBE in 2002)
Margaret Callaghan [lady] campaigner and fundraiser (declined DBE)
Winston S Chrchill, KG, OM, CH, statesman (declined dukedom in order to remain in House of Commons and to allow his son a political career)
John Cole, journalist (declined CBE in 1993)
Joseph Conrad, author (declined knighthood)
Joseph Corre, undie salesman [declined MBE in 2007]
John Clesse, actor and comedian (declined CBE in 1996)
Hugh Cudlipp, OBE, newspaper editor, (declined knighthood in 1966. Accepted Knighthood 1973 and a life peerage in 1974)Hugh Bruce Cunningham, minister (declined knighthood in 1700s)
Roald Dahl, author (declined OBE in 1986)
Bernie Ecclesstone, owner of F1 who gave NL labour a ….
Michael Faraday, chemist and physicist (declined knighthood)
Albert Finney, actor (declined CBE in 1980 and knighthood in 2000)
Michael Frayn, dramatist (declined CBE in 1989 and knighthood in 2003)
Dawn French, comediene and writer.
Jennifer Saunders, comediene and writer.
Lucian Freud, artist (declined CBE in 1977; accepted CH in 1983 and OM in 1993)
John Galsworthy, novelist (declined knighthood, accepted OM)
Robert Graves, poet and novelist (declined CBE in 1957 and CH in 1984)
Graham Green, wonderful author (declined OBE in 1956; accepted CH in 1966 and OM in 1986)
Douglas Haig, donkey and WWI general (declined viscountcy, later accepted earldom)
Thomas Hardy,novelist/poet (declined knighthood; accepted OM)
Lenny Henry, comedian (declined OBE; accepted CBE)
Wally Herbert,[Sir] polar explorer (declined CBE, accepted knighthood)
Alfred Hithcock, director (declined CBE in 1962; accepted KBE in1980)
David Hockney,artist (declined knighthood in 1990; accepted CH in 1997)
Charles Holden, architect
A.E.Houseman, poet
Trevor Howard, actor (declined knighthood)
Aldous Huxley, author (declined knighthood in 1959)
Augustos John, artist (declined knighthood on a number of occasions, probably at the urging of his wife; accepted OM)
Anish Kapoor, artist.
Rudyard Kipling, author and poet (declined knighthood)
Richard Lambert, editor of the Financial Times.
Phil Larkin, poet (declined OBE 1968 on grounds that he deserved a higher honour; accepted CBE 1975 and CH 1985; declined Laureateship 1984)
T.E.Lawrence, CB, DSO, World War I soldier, diplomat, and author, best known as Lawrence of Arabia (declined KCB)
Nigella Lawson, cookery writer (declined OBE)
John Le Carrie, author (declined CBE)
Dorris Lessing, author (declined OBE in 1977 and DBE in 1993; accepted CH in 2000)
C.S.Lewis, author, Oxford professor (declined knighthood to avoid association with any political issues)
Ken Loach, director and all round good egg, (declined OBE)
L.S.Lowry, artist (declined OBE in 1955, CBE in 1961, knighthood in 1968, and CH in 1972 and 1976; holds the record for the most honours declined)
Geraldine McEwan, actress (declined OBE in 1986 and damehood in 2002)
Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum (declined knighthood in 1999)
Barry McGuigan, boxer (declined MBE in 1986; accepted MBE in 1994)
Alexander MacKenzie, second Prime Minister of Canada (declined knighthood as he thought it an affront to his Scottish heritage)
Dan McKenzie, earth scientist (declined knighthood; accepted CH in 2003)
Hank Marvin, guitarist. (declined OBE)
A.E.W.Mason, novelist, who declared that honours meant nothing to a childless man.
George Melly, musician, artist and raconteur (declined CBE in 2001)
Helen Mirren [Dame] actress (declined CBE in 1996; accepted DBE in 2003)
William Martin Murphy, industrialist, MP and all round creep. (declined knighthood in 1906)V.S.Naipaul,[sir] author (declined CBE in 1977; accepted knighthood in 1990)
Harold Pinter, playwright (declined knighthood; accepted CH)
Anthony Powell, writer (declined knighthood; accepted CH)
Vanessa Redgrave, CBE, actress and political activist. (declined DBE in 1999)
J.B.Priestly, OM, playwright
Richard Redgrave, artist (declined knighthood in 1869)
Keith Richards, guitarist and amusing fellow when not stoned. (declined CBE)
John Singer Sargent, US painter (declined an honorary knighthood)
Paul Scofield, CH, CBE, actor (declined knighthood on several occasions)
Alastair Sim, CBE, actor (declined a knighthood)
Robert Simpson, composer (declined CBE)
Savenaca Siwatibau, academic (declined CBE)
Joan Smith, journalist (declined MBE)
Jon Snow, newscaster and wearer of god awful ties and socks (declined OBE)
Claire Tomalin, journalist and biographer
Polly Toynbee, columnist whose heart is always in the right place but political head is up her ….(declined CBE in 2000)
Ralph Vaughan Williams, composer (declined knighthood; accepted OM)
Evelyn Waugh, novelist (declined CBE in 1959)
Paul Weller, first rate musician and mockney mod. (declined CBE in 2007)
Rachel Whiteread, artist (declined MBE in 1997; accepted CBE in 2006)
Grace Williams, composer (declined OBE)
Mike Winner, director (declined OBE in 2006)
Pearl Witherington, SOE agent (declined later compensating award of MBE when men who had performed the same heroic acts in same wartime Resistance roles were being awarded MC (Military Cross) at the time. Her recommendation had been turned down simply because of her sex, not lack of gallantry.
Bill Woodfull, cricketer, what a man, (declined knighthood in 1934 for services to cricket; accepted OBE in 1963 for services to education)
W.B.Yates, Anglo-Irish poet (declined knighthood in 1915, seven years before becoming a Senator of the newly-formed Irish Free State)
Benjamin Zephaniah, poet and brother, a real pioneer. (declined OBE)
Craig Murray, former United Kingdom Ambassador to Uzbekistan and a man with real balls. (declined LVO, OBE and CVO)

Apparently no official provision exists for renouncing an honour, any such act is always unofficial, and the record of the award in The London Gazette stand’s. Thus whilst the following have returned their bling, as far as the UK State is concerned they still hold their gong. Like god it seems Betty’s decision is final, so if any lefties in a moment of egotistical weakness may be tempted, better if they just say no!

Yasmin Alibhai-Brownjournalist (returned MBE in 2003)
Roy Bailey, folk singer (returned his MBE in August 2006 in protest at the UK government’s foreign policy in Lebanon and Palestine)
John Lennon, musician (returned MBE in 1969)
Maharajkumar of Vizianagram, cricketer (knighted in 1936; returned knighthood in 1947 on India’s independence)
Rabindranath Tagore, author and poet (knighted in 1915; returned knighthood in 1919 to protest the Amritsar massacre
Susie Wighton, aid worker (returned MBE in 2006 in protest at the UK government’s foreign policy in the Middle East)

* Much of the infomation above came from Wikepedia—http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_honours_system#Modern_honours

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The Irish Left



The Irish Left

Mick Hall •

For a Nation with a population less than that of London, Ireland to its credit has always had a historic, vibrant and rigorous left wing political culture, thus it is impossible to do justice to what constitutes the Irish Left of today in a single article. This piece is far from a complete bibliography and unlike many previous articles on the Left in Ireland, I have included the Irish Republican Movement. Whilst I accept this may not be to the liking of some readers, in my opinion not only do many Republican organizations deserve on merit to be within any serious analysis of the Irish Left, but I believe it would be nonsensical to exclude the Irish Republican Movement, not least because it has acted as the mid-wife to much of today’s Irish left. Republicanism has at times also managed, for a host of differing reasons, to divert some of the finest sons and daughters of the Irish working class into the cul-de-sac of nationalism.

Socialist Party [Páirtí Sóisialach]

After having spent decades working within the Irish Labour Party, where it was known like its UK counterpart as the Militant Tendency, the Irish section of the CWI eventually emerged in 1996 as an independent entity, having taken an ‘open turn’ and declared itself the Socialist Party. Whether this occurred due to a desire by the organization’s membership to place its core political beliefs openly before the electorate, or whether it jumped before its entire membership were expelled from the ILP is still debated amongst the aficionados of the left who endlessly ponder such things. The SP is affiliated internationally to the Committee for a Workers’ International, which is a Trotskyite organization whose main aim is to recreate the Fourth International, which Trotsky and a small number of comrades founded just prior to WW2 to replace the Comintern as the International arm of the revolutionary communist proletariat.

The SP recently suffered a defeat when the electorate failed to return Joe Higgins, its single TD in the Dáil, [elected House of the Oireachtas or Irish Parliament] the party has four local Councillors, three of whom represent Dublin wards and the fourth a ward in Cork City.

The Party’s most prominent member is former TD Joe Higgins, who until the 2007 General Election ably represented the constituency of Dublin West in the Dáil and is a highly respected politician. The fact that when in office he only drew the average wage of a skilled worker has set an example and benchmark which will be increasingly difficult for Left wing Parliamentarians to ignore in the future and rightly so. [Sinn Fein’s parliamentarians and elected officials draw a similar salary.]

Like the Militant Tendency in the UK, which played a major role in the 1980’s anti poll tax campaign against the Thatcher government, the Irish SP has been at the forefront of the struggle against water charging and within the Anti-Bin Tax Campaign. A number of their leading militants have been imprisoned for these activities. Its members are also very active within the Trade Unions, both in the RoI and in the north of Ireland.

The SP publishes a newspaper called The Socialist (formerly Socialist Voice, The Voice, and Militant) and a theoretical journal called Socialist View (formerly Socialism 2000).

The Communist Party of Ireland [Páirtí Cumannach na hÉireann]

The CPI is a small all-Ireland Party. Its roots lay in James Connolly’s Irish Socialist Republican Party which was revived in 1909 with the new name Socialist Party of Ireland (see also the Irish Labour Party), only for it to have metamorphosed by 1921 into the Communist Party of Ireland upon its affiliation to the Third International or Comintern, as it became better known. The party dissolved in 1924, but was refounded in 1933. In 1941 the party divided into two, the Irish Workers’ Party that organized in the southern State and the Communist Party of Northern Ireland, the two parties reunited in 1970 becoming the CPI once again.

The CPI was one of the countless Communist parties around the world, which burst forth after the Russian October Revolution of 1917, when revolutionaries, with Lenin at the helm, realized the Bolshevik regime was unlikely to survive as a revolutionary government without revolutionary power being seized within the major Capitalist Nations. Thus, the Third International was formed to provide a General Staff for the international revolutionary movement.

Throughout its existence the CPI had been closely linked with the CPGB and it suffered the backwash when that party imploded due to internal antagonism which had little to do with the fall of the Berlin wall and every thing to do with the failure of communists within the UK to map out a viable role for the party after the crimes of Stalinism became self evident to millions of working class people throughout the world. The plug was finally pulled on the British party when the mini CPGB bureaucrats in London aped the majority of their Stalinist counterparts in the USSR, who had refused to defend their own party, preferring instead to engage in a feeding frenzy of party assets.

Today, like its current fraternal organization in the UK the Communist Party of Britain, the CPI has a declining and ever-aging membership, even so its members are still active in the anti war movement, trade unions and other progressive non party organizations.

The party was at its most influential during the period of the Spanish Civil War, when almost all of those who went to Spain from Ireland to fight Franco’s fascist as members of the International Brigades, either came from within the CPI ranks or were channeled to Spain via the Party and the Comintern. In the 1960-70s its senior cadre’s were ‘influential’ within the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Campaign and secretly Óglaigh Na hÉireann, and later, when the latter split, the Official IRA.

The CPI Belfast branch produces a weekly newspaper called Unity, while the Dublin branch has a monthly publication called Socialist Voice. The CPI operates a bookshop in Dublin known as Connolly Books and also publishes works by James Connolly and other socialist writers.

Left-Republicanism

After the IRA’s Border Campaign of the 1950s ended without success and with very little to show for the sacrifices made, the Irish Republican Movement took a turn not dissimilar to that which the Provisional Republican Movement has gone through in the last decade or so, in that it entailed a move away from military activity. Unfortunately an unforeseen outcome of such a change in strategy was that when public unrest in the north of Ireland spilled onto the streets in the late 1960s, the IRA was in no position to defend militarily the most exposed working class nationalist communities, especially those within north Belfast. Thus the Movement split into two factions. Those who split away became the Provisional IRA and the group who remained gradually became known as the Official IRA/Official SF. A number of leftist political organizations were in time to emerge from this split, and they have continued to shape a section of the Irish left right up to the present day.

Irish Republican Socialist Party

The Erps, as they became known on the street, were to experience the most bloody of internal conflagrations, yet despite this, in recent years the party has managed to stabilize and democratize its leadership and internal structures. Whilst still small, in some areas of the north it is gradually becoming a force to be reckoned with as its opposition to the Good Friday Agreement has been solid and based on firm left-republican principles.

The party was founded in 1974 by ex-members of the Official IRA, independent socialists such as the former MP Bernadette [Devlin] McAliskey, and trade unionists. Its first leader was the charismatic Seamus Costello, who had been expelled from SF and court martialed from the OIRA in which he was a senior officer. Costello had been dismissed due to differences over the 1972 OIRA ceasefire and the political direction the majority leadership within the OIRM were taking the movement in. On the day the IRSP was established, a military organization, the INLA was also brought into being with Seamus Costello acting as Chief of Staff.

Shortly after its foundation a bloody feud broke out between the new organization and the Official Republican Movement who attempted to literally kill the new organization off at birth and was almost successful when the new organizations leader Seamus Costello was murdered by an OIRA volunteer.

It has really only been in the recent past that the IRSP current leadership have managed to recover from the loss of Costello and other leading militants like Ta Power, who lost their lives some what later after the Erps descended into internal warfare to settle what were often personal, not political differences. What role the British security services and their agents/informers played in this bloodletting is still not clear, but few doubt they helped stir the brew.

Members of the INLA were active within the prison protests and three of their volunteers lost their lives in the heroic Maze Prison Hunger Strike of 1981; they were Patsy O’Hara, Kevin Lynch, and Michael Devine. Today’s leadership of the IRSP seem determined to learn the lessons from the past, and never again turn political differences with fellow Republicans into violent confrontations and it is to their credit, despite at times being provoked by SF, that they have never returned to the old ways.

THE WORKERS PARTY. [Páirtí na nOibri]

The Workers Party is the direct offspring of the Official Republican Movement, only that Mum and Dad too came as part of the package. They have had some electoral success, mainly in the South during the 1980’s, at one time holding seven parliamentary seats in Dáil Éireann and one [MEP] in the European Parliament; who joined the Left Unity EU grouping.

However in 1992 all but one of its parliamentarians split to form what briefly became the Democratic Left, the members of which hardly paused for breath on their journey to the right, merging with the Irish Labour Party in 1999 [A member of this faction, Pat Rabbitte, now leads the Irish Labour Party]. A small rump remained as the WP and are currently led by Sean Garland, who has a history of political activity going back over 50 years to the IRAs 1950’s border campaign. The Police Service of Northern Ireland recently arrested him on an extradition warrant issued by the US government on a charge centering on counterfeit US currency. The U.S. government alleges that Garland conspired with the North Korean government to import counterfeit $100 bills into the USA. He is currently out on bail.

Sinn Fein

SF/PRM is yet another organization, which emerged from the split within the Republican movement in 1969, and without a doubt SF and its military wing, have had some of Ireland’s finest working class militants within its ranks. Few revolutionary militants anywhere in the world have shown the steadfastness in adversity of these comrades.

The Provo’s started life in 1969 as a revolt against the leftward turn within the Republican Movement, however by the 1980s it had itself taken a left turn. This was mainly due to the massive influx throughout the 1970’s of young working class men and women into the organization, many of who were able to study Marxism and other socialist and progressive texts whilst in prison. Gradually they became not only the backbone of the movement but formed the overwhelming majority of its social makeup. Today, SF’s program would be recognizable to almost any member of a Left wing reformist political party and its two members who sit in the EU Parliament are affiliated with the European United Left–Nordic Green Left grouping.

Its leadership, under Gerry Adams’ limpet like hold, acts pragmatically, thus it is prone to drifts politically, often in the direction of whatever is the strongest political current of the day. Internally, the Adams clique behaves in the most undemocratic manner, using sleight of hand politics, lies and deceit to get its way and maintain its domination of the Party, which these days more often than not coincides with the wishes of the UK government. In the last decade the party has lost many of its best militants and is not attracting young working class people in anywhere near the same numbers as it did in the past. Indeed these days SF is just as likely to attract ambitious members of the middle classes to its ranks, which speaks volumes about its political direction. Two main conclusions can be drawn from the current predicament of SF. Firstly, soldiers more often than not make poor politicians. Secondly, working class anger alone is not sufficient as the foundation stones for a revolutionary or even left reformist party.

Eirigi

Éirígí is a comparatively new Dublin based left-Republican-Socialist organization, founded by former members of SF in the south, who broke away due to SF’s drift to the Right and acceptance of British rule in the north. Its mission statement is clear and precise so I repeat it as it allows one to get a handle on the organization’s politics.

“We in éirígí believe that poverty, exclusion and conflict, both in Ireland and internationally, are caused primarily by the joint system of capitalism and imperialism. This system, which is based upon the exploitation of the majority by a minority, will never allow the bulk of humanity to fulfill its potential. It is only by replacing this system with one based upon co-operation rather than exploitation that true human freedom can be achieved. A Democratic Socialist Republic would be such a system. In the Irish context the continuing British occupation of a part of the national territory is a clear manifestation of imperialism. Éirígí views the ending of this occupation as integral to the establishment of an Irish Socialist Republic.”

The Socialist Workers Party

The SWP in Ireland is the fraternal party of the UK party of the same name; it was formed in 1995 out of the Socialist Workers Movement in Ireland, which was founded in 1971 and whose members had previously been active within Peoples Democracy in the northern state-let, and various other leftist political groups in the RoI and England. It follows closely the workings of the larger SWP across the Irish Sea, and like it has formed a number of what in reality amount to Front Organizations, such as the Socialist Environmental Alliance [SEA], which it uses as an electoral platform in Derry. SWP members are also active in the campaigns of the Anti War Movement on both sides of the border.

It’s best known personality is the Derry journalist Eamonn McCann, a regular columnist on the Belfast Telegraph and other publications north and south. McCann has been the SEA candidate in Derry in numerous elections, often gaining a respectable number of votes. Although at the recent election for the Stormont Assembly, the SEA was unable to reach an agreement with the Republican left, who stood the dead Hunger Striker Patsy O’Hara’s mother Peggy as an Independent candidate in Foyle. It was a great pity that the comrades within the SEA and Peggy O’Hara campaigns were unable to reach some sort of arrangement that entailed one of the candidates withdrawing and the two campaigns uniting around a single candidate. As it was, they jointly polled 3834 votes, which meant had the two groupings come to a compromise their candidate, whether it was Eamonn or Peggy, would have been elected.

Small Groups, the SDLP, and the Irish Labour Party

Finally there are a number of small groups on the Irish left that I have not mentioned due to space and due to there lack of any real support base. Amongst them would be Socialist Democracy, another Trotskyite current, which also claims allegiance to the 4th International. Two ultra Stalinist group-lets fall into this category too. Some of the aforementioned could be described as mere appendages of similar groups within England, their political platforms are identical and they look across the Irish Sea for leadership advice. There is also a sprinkling of anarchist groups, however the commonality amongst all of these groups is whilst they may have a small cadre of committed activists, their level of public support in reality could be measured on a pinhead.

The Irish Labour Party like the British Labour Party has moved so far to the right in recent years I do not feel it warrants a mention as being on the Left. In the north, the SDLP, the main party of choice for northern nationalists throughout the Troubles, has now conceded this position to SF. Many members of the SDLP now look longingly across the border at Fianna Fail, in the hope that with the new situation it will organize in the north of Ireland, in the process offering the SDLP the opportunity of a merger and a new lease of life. That members of the SDLP would even consider an arrangement with Fianna Fail, a party that reeks of Tammany Hall style politics, highlights the political degeneration of their Party in recent years.

Non-Aligned Left-Republican and Socialists

If they could only come together under a single umbrella, this group of non-aligned left-republicans and socialists would make up one of the largest faction on the Irish left and they would have considerable potential, not least as a lightening rod, which could attract left-Dissidents from right across the island of Ireland. Some are people who first came to politics via one of the Trotskyite groups, ILP and CPI, but left these organizations in disillusionment. A good many are former members of the Provisional Republican Movement, which from 1986 onwards has been hemorrhaging many of its best left-wing militants, a process that first began in the Cages of the Long Kesh and then spread across the whole movement and is continuing to this day. This is an on going process as Adams, to stay in the game, seems determined to make almost any compromise the British State demands of him. Thus unless there is a change in SFs leadership, the time will come when there will be no viable reason why anyone who claims to be a socialist would remain within SF. The internal affairs of SF in recent times have all but mirrored within an Irish context that of the UK Labour Party under New Labour. The tragedy is that unless there is a re-grouping of the Irish left within a loosely affiliated United Front type organization, the only place these former members of SF will be going is home, much as previous generations of disillusioned left-republicans have done before them.

1. First published in Marxist Voice

2. Additional information for this article came from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and the various parties own web sites.

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" Mary Lou I thought you said éirígí was a flash in the pan "

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Hitchens on Marx as a Journalist.


I would recommend a first rate article by Christopher Hitchens which was recently published in the Guardian, entitled ‘The Grub Street Years’ it looks at Karl Marx’s work as a journalist. Whilst like many others on the left, I was appalled at Hitchens stance over the US/UK invasion and occupation of Iraq, he still has a very fine pen. The piece can be found here,

http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/classics/story/0,,2104005,00.html

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"G.W, you know it makes sense to talk"

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Green Greed For Office



On the surface it looks very much like Fianna Fáil’s leader Bertie Ahearn reeled the Green Party leadership into his coalition government like children, who had sneaked down from their beds on christmas eve in an attempt to get a peep at their presents.. The deal that the Green Party eventually accepted could have been on the table last weekend, but Bertie new if it were, a full Green Party conference would have to be called; and not as occurred on Wednesday evening a round robin of the membership within Dublin and the surrounding counties. More importantly the weekend papers would have had the details well before the conference took place, which would have enabled the GP membership to contemplate upon it in detail, and in the light of day the deal would have been revealed as a win win for Bertie Ahearn.

There is little in this deal that the Greens could not have achieved by standing back and offering FF their support in the Dáil on an issue by issue basis. Indeed by doing this the Greens could have guaranteed that FF do not renegade on any agreements, as the incoming FF/PD government would have had no where else to go, as Ahearn had already publicly ruled out any deal with SF and in the process the Greens would have maintained their independence of action.

Up until now the Greens have made much of honesty in politics, yet now they have joined a coalition government led by a man who has a host of questions to answer due to the evidence given to the Mahon Tribunal. However even if Mr Ahearn turns out to be an honest politician, he is a pro globalization free marketeer, who is an advocate of neo-liberal economics. He is about to privatize much of the public health care system which goes against the best interest of the Irish people and is against Green Party policy.

This deal also spits in the face of the Iraqi people and for the Greens to claim on cutting a deal with FF that they continue to support the Iraqi people was shame-less. Green negotiators failed to get any real guarantees over Shannon Airport and the USAs illegal renditions and the movement of US military personnel through Shannon.

The fact is what the Greens have done is join a coalition government with the two most right-wing parliamentary political parties in the south of Ireland as their partners. Which negates the whole purpose of the Green Party to date and ties it into cabinet responsibility, which cannot but silence 2/3 of the Green parliamentarians from voicing doubts and differences over FF government policy. Thus with this act Mr Ahearn has silenced a major section of the progressive opposition to his policies in Dáil Éireann.

To write that many of us on the Left, who until this tragic decision had been willing to take the Greens at their word and view them as part of the progressive political family feel totally betrayed would be an understatement. For myself this betrayal is equal to what SF did when it recognized the right of the UK state to govern the north of Ireland.

In all honesty I am bewildered why any left progressive environmentalist party would join a conservative government which only considered the environment as an after thought when it was unable to govern in it own right. If the Greens had achieved a hard deal over the main policies within their election manifesto such as an end to the use of Shannon airport by the US military/security services. The abandonment of plans to build the M3 motor-way near the Hill of Tara etc. A ban on corporate donations; and an end to the plan to build private hospitals on public land I could have understood the Greens entering the coalition. But Bertie made it clear none of these were a runner. They did not even managed to achieve the position of An Tánaiste

Am I bitter, sure I am, bitter and angry, as any decent man should be whenever an honest man is enticed by a reactionary satrap. As to those who claim the Greens can repeat the success of the PDs in the last FF led coalition, they are mistaken; for there is a major difference between the PDs as a FF coalition partner and the Greens. Bar the fine detail there are few real political differences between FF and the PDs, thus the latter have always been pushing against an open door when it has managed to get part of its platform through, not least because FF and the PDs are both pro business and pro globalization parties.

The same cannot be said for the Greens and they are far from natural bedfellows with their two coalition partners. I feel people are missing the point of the raison d’etre of a radical green party. It is not to tinker at the edges here and there but to wake up the general public and through them central government to the sheer waste and dangers environmentally society faces if we continue along the same reckless political path.

Once in government they are bound by Cabinet responsibility, so for example how can they make a fuss over the violations of human rights and the law at Shannon, they cannot. Some Greens will claim they can have more influence quietly blowing in the Taoiseach ear. In you dreams one is tempted to reply, for the fact is the Greens are a public proactive party which forewarns the electorate or they are nothing. Entering government must be the icing on the cake for a party like the Greens and must be with progressive partners with whom they can make real and lasting changes for the good.

The Greens by entering into this coalition, have now joined a long list of once radical organizations who have chosen to become “the mud guard of the two failed civil war parties”.*

* Original quote made by Chris Gaskins

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Its Luta Continua for Sinn Fein in the south of Ireland


The over whelming majority of the UK and RoI media pundits, plus web sites like Slugger O’Toole have proclaimed to the high heavens that SF suffered a major defeat in the recent general election in the south of Ireland. Whilst undoubtedly the SF leaderships electoral strategy suffered a major setback, it would be a mistake to see what occurred as a major ‘defeat’ for SF the party.

True SF lost a single TD and a pretty good one at that with Sean Crowe’s failure to be reelected in Dublin south west. But over all their vote held up, indeed it increased slightly, with SF coming out of the count with 6.9%, unfortunately for SF, what one newspaper called prior to the poll, ‘the agile and effective SF vote getting machine’ failed to manage their vote, the leadership having decided to tilt at windmills. If one looks at the fact that the Greens managed to attain six seats in the Dáil on a vote of 4.7% this failure becomes clear.. Never the less the fact is that SF’s core electoral support held up and thus in no way can it be said that they deserted the party in great numbers.

As far as SF are concerned, the real story of the election was that the electoral strategy of Gerry Adams failed to produce what he promised to the party and its supporters. This was made worse by his boastful behavior in the media when he, and other SF leaders claimed the party was on course to double their number of TD’s. Something which Mr Adams predicted would make FF’s Bertie Ahearn beat a path to his door, to offer SF ministerial positions in a FF led coalition. There can be little doubt that Mr Adams believed such nonsense, and failed to see that the barrage of media hype that SF were treated to by their political opponents in the media, was designed to lull them into complacency. It has to be said given the enormous hostility he and his party has suffered from the media in the past, it was startling that Mr Adams never seemed to wonder why he and SF had suddenly become media darlings.

Mr Adams and his immediate coterie were unwilling to listen to the warnings
from history that friends of the SF party whispered in their ears, let alone those Dissident republicans who had forwarded about the perilous road that SF had embarked upon. Perhaps Gerry Adams will revisit the experiences of Yasser Arafat and the PLO when they agreed to sign up to the Oslo Peace Accords. Yasser Arafat was lauded in the media, welcomed on the White House lawn and to the worlds political Chancellories; only to end his career a short while after holed up in his Presidential office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, a large part of which has already been destroyed by the Israeli army who had been green lighted by the US administration to do so. Arafat, deserted by the powerful who such a short time before had courted him and his movement the PLO, cut a very lonely and helpless figure.

Having said the above all is still to play for as far as SF and the southern electorate is concerned. The fact is SF if they are to maintain their support and grow electorally in the RoI, they must go back to basics and once again build from the bottom up. This will mean showing their core support base far more respect; by all means continue to groom bright ambitious young activists for national leadership, but do so from the Cumann and constituency up and cease trying to ape the capitalist parties by parachuting favored middle class individuals into constituencies against the wishes of local activists.

It also is imperative that SF move its leadership apparatus, lock stock and Gerry Adams back into the southern State, the leadership move north proved to be the Achilles Heal for the PIRA; and unless changes are made will also prove so for SF. If Mr Adams wishes to continue as leader of SF, it is nonsensical for him to continue to abstain from the electoral fray in the largest political jurisdiction on the island of Ireland. For him to hold a seat in the Westminister Parliament and not in the Dáil speaks volumes about his lack of commitment to the people who live in the southern State. Admittedly this may be unfair to Mr Adams, but I have no doubt that is how many potential SF voters see the situation and it also increasingly gives ammunition to the Party’s enemies. Besides, it is not the north where SF has a shortage of able and experienced political activists.

Finally SF need to draw up in fine detail a progressive left of center political platform that all party members agree upon and to which the SF leadership gives total loyalty. The fact that certain SF leaders attempted during the 2007 RoI General Election campaign to pick and mix the SF manifesto was a disgrace and played a major part in SFs failure to increase their vote. For SF, like all successful Republican organizations, is a Party of the men and women of no property. In no way would this exclude home owners as they do not own ‘property’ in the capitalist sense, but a home to live in. People who own more than one home are another matter and perhaps it is time SF decided whether such people should be party candidates, especially given the difficulties many young people face in gaining a decent home these days.

The failure of SF to grow in the 2007 General Election may prove to be a blessing for the party, it has shown the rank and file that Mr Adams is not infallible and he alone cannot bring about a united socialist republic. In the future the parties ambition must be realistic and attainable and the party leaders must learn to get on top of their briefs before they enter a TV studio and stick to the fine detail of manifesto commitments.

There is a core southern support base from which to build on, but they must be shown respect. There is already a centre right democratic republican party in the south in FF, whether SF members take FF’s claim to be republican with a pinch of salt is not the point, as many within the electorate do not. There is a space in the south for a left wing republican party if they are prepared to work in tandem with other sections of the left. For SF the current slogan should be Lutta continua, as their struggle undoubtedly continues.

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