Crisis in the "tiger"? Building the Socialist Party
Organisation: Socialist Party
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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

16th March 2015

Many thanks to the person who forwarded this to the Archive.

This is another addition to the collection of Socialist Party documents in the Left Archive. Published for the Socialist Party Conference in 1999 it notes in the Introduction that:

This statement will attempt to deal with the main developments in southern society over the last year. There will also be statements on trade union and youth perspectives and tasks. All should be red in conduction with each other.

It continues that:

The discussion at this year’s conference is one of the most important in the history of the party in the south. It is taking place amid indications on the one hand of a growing offensive movement of workers on pay as well as signs that we are witnessing the beginning of the end of the ‘Celtic Tiger’.

These developments will dramatically change the political situation over the next period. Along the way there can be ebbs and flows. For instance the first nurse’s strike in the history of the state is due to place on October 19th. While it seems very unlikely, it couldn’t be ruled out that something could happen at the last minute to suspect the action. However, given the breadth of unrest and the depth of anger that exists, a suspension of the nurse’s action won’t itself cut across the real possibly of a more generalised movement of workers developing over the next year.

It suggests that:

In fact the party should be prepared that dramatic changes can erupt immediately.

And it further suggests that:

Members should not underestimate the significance and impact of the Ansbacher revelations. This is not just another scandal that will go over the heads of a public already weary of tales of corruption. It comes at a terrible time for the government and undermines the establishment’s ability to wage an ideological offensive to dampen down worker’s expectations.

It warns that:

At the same time we are facing into a new period of radicalisation, we need to register that there has been a qualitative change in how our party is seen by a key section of activists and youth. More and more people are concluding that there is a real prospect that a new development on the left is taking shape around the Socialist Party.

It notes that:

The NEC believes that there is not enough understanding in the party of the real potential exits. That is why our conference discussion is so important.

And it concludes:

Doubling, trebling and quadrupling our size and influence over the next two to three years is entirely. The idea that growth will inevitably be slow, in just ones and twos needs to be challenged. In the context of a good discussion on perspectives the party and every member needs to completely review our approach to recruitment and building. The key task of the conference is to help establish better attitudes on these issues, a clear understanding of our priorities, how we propose to achieve them and crucially the role that each member can play.

There are a number of sections including ‘the delay in the international recession’, ‘Prospects for the ‘Celtic Tiger’’, ‘Inequality, political consciousness and the vacuum on the left’, ‘The result of this June’s Elections’, ‘Members underestimate the potential for growth’ and considerable detail in the analysis of all those and others.

Some quotes give a sense of this:

Despite their attempts to portray it as an historic re-alignment of the left, the merger of DL into Labour created no enthusiasm whatsoever. Tensions may have intensified inside Labour as a result but they do not flow from a conflict between more left-wing DL types and the Labour establishment. It is a jockeying for positions and careers.

The Greens held on to their MEP seats in Dublin and Leinster showing there is a basis for small parties to build on gains already achieved. The fact that they suffered reverser in the locals, however, confirms our perspective that this party will not play a significant role in filing the vacuum on the left.

The document concludes under the heading ‘Building a small mass revolutionary party’.

The Socialist Party can become a small mass revolutionary partying in the South over the next years. A party with one thousand activists, with workers and community leaders, a parliamentary fraction in the Dáil and a vibrant young wing would in Irish sterns constitute such a party.

Such a force would be able to influence developments in the workers movements as well as lead semi-mass and mass movements like the water charges campaign but on a national level.

We have positioned ourselves firmly on this road by our work over the last year. Now we need to imbue the whole party with a sense of the historic opportunities that are about to open up.

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  • By: que Mon, 16 Mar 2015 17:51:37


    To what extent did they achieve those goals?

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  • By: Michael Carley Mon, 16 Mar 2015 17:58:33

    In reply to que.

    Some of it was achieved, some wasn’t. I don’t know the current membership figures, but certainly SP activists have been among the leaders of the water charges movement, and at the time, the refuse charges campaign. The party did not suffer any great setback in the manner of the SWP, and has generally maintained steady positions over the last couple of decades. I think Paul Murphy might not have been a member at the time (or was a quite young one) but at the moment there are four TDs who were SP members in 1999 (Joe, Joan, Clare and Ruth) which is not bad going. The regular denunciations in the Sindo et al amount to some kind of profile, and a perception that the SP is a significant organization.

    They didn’t so badly after I left the country.

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