Joining a party was a process of almost 3 decades of frustration on my part, arguing endlessly with anyone who would engage about politics, especially after a few drinks. But it was the GFC in 2008 that pushed me into activity, the fear that my kids were going to live in a worse future than I had experienced myself, the realisation that nobody was going to do anything about it unless we all do something about it. So in my naivety I applied to join the Labour party in the run up to the 2009 local elections. I was allocated to the Navan branch and spent a very enjoyable few weeks out canvassing with one of the local candidates, talking to people on the doorsteps. Then after the election I went over to the Trim count centre, which was very exciting, the tally, the hubbub. Our candidate didn’t get a seat on the council but Labour had a few wins in the county so the feeling was quite upbeat.
So that in the aftermath of the election, nothing. No activity. No meetings. And eventually a branch meeting which I found very unsettling where I realised that the ambition of the party was limited to a tiny horizon and that the big issues and questions that had motivated me to get actively involved in politics just weren’t on the radar. The final straw was an invitation to visit the party conference in a big hotel in Mullingar where myself and a handful of other newbies were invited into the back bar where the party bigwigs were gathered, a meet and greet with the notables as it were. Not my scene at all. So I resigned shortly afterwards and started looking more seriously at alternatives.
I went over to Dundalk to hear Kieran Allen promote his book about the crisis, but nothing about him or the SWP attracted me. I went up to Dublin to attend a CPI public meeting which was very good I thought, but the CPI seemed too small. Incidentally I realised later on, having met him via the CLR, that I had been sitting beside SoS at that CPI meeting. I had been reading the CLR for a good while by then and found the discussions very engaging. I found myself agreeing with Garibaldy a lot. I liked WBS’s positive but critical assessment of the party. I read The Lost revolution book. So I applied to join the WP via email. No response. I applied again. And then one saturday I was visited at home by the national organiser, we had a chat, and a couple of weeks later I was invited to a meeting in a hotel in Navan where I was sat down across the table from Sean Garland. I almost shat myself. But I came away from the meeting very impressed about the seriousness of the party. So with the odd up and down in the meantime I’m still a member 10 years later. Not actively so these days, but still paying my party dues. By standing order these days, the era of the stamps on the back of the party membership card has passed.