ULA, all the way! Breakthrough for the Irish Left

Socialist Aotearoa would like to congratulate the comrades of the United Left Alliance, on the election of five of their candidates to the Irish Parliament, the Dail. Congratulations Joe, Clare, Seamus, Joan and Richard! The workers united, will never be defeated!

The ULA did not exist four months ago. Its component parts, most notably the Socialist Party and the People Before Profit Alliance, had scored some good successes in the local elections of 2009. As the scale of the economic crisis in Ireland got worse and worse, the decade old struggle for unity on Ireland's socialist Left took on a greater urgency, leading to the formation of the ULA just at the moment when the Fianna Fail- Green Party government collapsed.

Fianna Fail has been slaughtered- the default party of the Irish ruling class now reduced to a rump of 18 or so TDs, losing over 60 seats. Their junior partners, the Greens, have been annihilated, losing all their six seats. Yet again there is a warning to small, "radical" parties of the danger of coalition with a larger, neoliberal dancing partner. You don't dance with the Divil- the Divil dances with you.

Other parties on the Irish Left, Labour and Sinn Fein, also had their best electoral results in the history of the State. At the time of writing, Labour had gained 16 new seats to bring it to 36, and a left tacking Sinn Fein gained a further 9 new seats, bring it to 13.

The Irish Left scored a historic 42% of the total votes cast in the election to the 31st Dail.

There is also a plethora of Independents also elected, some of whom are left leaning.

But the Irish Left now faces a choice.

Will it reject Coalitions with Right WIng Parties such as Fianna Fail and Fine Gael?
Will it refuse to accept the diktats of the EU, the European Central Bank and the IMF?
Will it put the people of Ireland first before the profits of the banks?

Already, vocies within the Irish Labour party are calling out against the madness of Labour propping up a Fine Gael government. Malahide Councillor Cian O Callaghan's statement echoes the prophetic warning of the Green Party's Ciaran Cuffe, just four years ago- "Let's be clear. A deal with Fianna Fáil would be a deal with the devil. We would be spat out after 5 years, and decimated as a Party."
The ULA will be a principled and radical voice of resistance inside the Dail. But it will also be the beacon for the Irish working class who want to resist the neoliberal polices of the new Fine Gael led government.

New Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett, TD for People Before Profit / ULA, and leading member of the Irish SWP

Its victory is a great example of how the serious Left can achieve a solid presence on the National political stage when it combines tenacious work at the grassroots level with a bold, Capre Diem, seize the time daring, uniting at the precise moment the class most needs it. The energy the unification has produced is indeed more than the sum of its parts, and the experience of the ULA is well woth studying by those of us in Aotearoa who would like to see a New Left movement emerge.

And may the Irish ruling class and rich quake with terror at the anger that is still to come. Our demands are most modest- we only want the Earth.

Commentary- Joe Carolan


bobthekelpie said…
The other good thing that having 5 ULA members in the Dail will do is ensure that Sinn Fein can't veer too much to the right. Because of the strong left vote, SF will need to position themselves as centre left, rather than centre right, which the experience in the North has shown is thei natural position, in order to maintain relevance. This is especially true since the majority of their gains were in working class seats that have been hit hard by the crisis.

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