Is There a Third Way? New Political Strategies for the Millennium
Organisation: Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union
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Subjects: Social Partnership

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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

16th November 2009

This is a different sort of addition to the Archive, and many thanks to Leveller on the Liffey for forwarding it. It consists of a discussion document produced by the ATGWU on a political strategy for the 2000s.

As it notes in the preamble…

Is There A Third Way? is a contribution to the debate [on what strategies can propel the Left and the Labour Party to a position of major political influence].

Given that it asks the question Is There A Third Way, it will hardly be a surprise that it provides an answer.

The solutions are not that surprising either, but interesting to see such a relatively comprehensive outline of strategy and a clear aversion to Fianna Fáil and a sort of disdain towards Fine Gael (The Main Opposition – But Not Much of One). And it is explicitly class based, noting that while Fianna Fáil introduced programmes of modernisation these ‘have one thing in common – to appeal to the widest base possible in the separate social groups. They pursued these programmes within a ‘national’ rather than a class framework. That is why when it comes to European comparisons, Fianna Fáil is unique, neither ‘Christian Democratic’, ‘Tory’ or Labour. But it is the closest we have had to a governing social democracy’.

That last is an interesting admission. Although it is possible to see Fianna Fáil as in some respects a precursor of post-Christian Democratic parties on the continent, albeit with that strongly nationalist tinge.

There’s also some good analysis on what subsequently would prove to be the roots of the fiscal crisis…

Despite ‘social partnership’ Ireland has an economy based on the Anglo-American model rather than the continental social market. We have some of the worst social infrastructure in the industrial world. We have massive under-investment in education, health, childcare, public transport and community supports…

And it’s not hard to wonder whether social partnership was the cleverest bait and switch pulled in Irish politics on the left. What is even more telling is the following…

If you’re trying to buy a house or travel into work in an urban area, need childcare or have to go to the public emergency ward, the benfits of economic growth are illusory.

A good decade later that that can be reiterated almost verbatim…

In some ways it seems a world away from where we are today, but with Labour now (2009) riding high in the polls there is considerable food for thought for leftists and progressives of all stripes and none.


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  • By: splinteredsunrise Mon, 16 Nov 2009 22:33:56

    I’d never seen this before, although I do (somewhere) have a copy of the “Labour in its own right” document, and this is the obvious precursor. Gilmore could do worse than read it. Or maybe he has…

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  • By: PJ Callan Tue, 17 Nov 2009 09:12:06

    Nothing more intersting in the attic than this ‘Leveller on the Liffey’?

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  • By: Neues aus den Archiven der radikalen (und nicht so radikalen) Linken « Entdinglichung Fri, 20 Nov 2009 11:09:22

    […] Makers The Case for State Workers (ca. 1975) * Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union: Is There a Third Way? New Political Strategies for the Millennium […]

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