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Wanted: A Socialist opposition

If there is one thing self-evident in the run-up to the European and local elections, it is that the political map in Ireland is essentially unchanged. Despite past humiliation Fianna Fail retain their base and hope to gain from popular resentment of the  coalition. Fine Gael's vote remains strong despite the war they have waged against the working class. Labour, as junior partners in the austerity coalition, remain at risk, but it would not be the first time that Labour has been punished for its role in right-wing governments. In the wings Sinn Fein tread a narrow path - far enough "left" to garner a popular vote, far enough right to be eligible for inclusion in coalition. Dissatisfaction is expressed through a large independent sector covering the full range of the political spectrum.

The passivity of the electorate is even more remarkable when we consider how open the class war was. The bank bailout was followed by revelations that it involved conspiracy by the whole establishment - bankers, government ministers and trade union leaders. Even after exit from Troika rule scandal upon scandal confirm that Ireland's corrupt crony capitalism remains intact.

The main attempt to construct an alternative came when socialist groups set up the United Left Alliance (ULA), which collapsed in farce and chaos.

Why did the attempt fail? How can we build an opposition in the forthcoming elections?

The major mistakes of the ULA were:

o They based themselves within an "anti-austerity” coalition with union leaders who were agreeing to and implementing the austerity. 

o They used movements to build electoral campaigns when they should have used electoral intervention to build movements.

o They indulged in "parliamentary idiocy," busying themselves with Dail committees and meetings with the Troika when they should have been exposing both as weapons of class war against the workers.

The result is that there is no opposition and the same old crap of capitalist oppression rolls on.

The task now is to put forward a working class programme, a socialist alternative so that we can see the beginnings of   opposition firmly established.


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