Saturday, December 19, 2009

Eoin O Broin argues we cannot build an alliance for change without the Labour party. But listen Eoin they don't want one! So what can Sinn Féin do?

I received this post from TGmac who has an excellent site at He posted this as a comment in response to the Eoin Ó Broin piece on the imperative for Sinn Féin to build links with the labour party.

However, I feel that this issue is so crucial to the party at this time that it deserved its own place for discussion. Much talk has come from people in the party about the need for left unity, including myself, but what does it mean and do we need to include labour in that movement if they do not wish to be part of it?


Simple basic common sense creates an imperative for the left/progressives to agree some minimum policy agenda items. The low paid wage earners, the unemployed, the young, the poor, the sick (the list gets longer every day) need the left/progressives to get its act together. I'm sure every party is well able to highlight the injustices of the current regime, but that don't exactly take an Einstein to figure out.

O'Broin states that no progress can be made without Labour's involvement. Why? What are the benefits to the broad left/progressive movement with Labour inputs? Is is just the fact that they are able to garner about 20% support in the polls? Maybe this is a valid reason enough. Maybe it isn't. Solidarity without some agreed programs is just window dressing. The Irish people need an alternative that they can understand and believe will work. I also believe there is growing support among large swathes of the population for the notion that the present system isn't working for many people in Ireland, and is never going to work for many people. There is an inkling that change, fundamental change, is required in society, but it is by no means a given. The political party that articulates a concise and easy to understand program of change will make hay during the next GE. We probably have two years to create and articulate this program but the work starts now. We can't wait. Every day that passes is a lost opportunity.

By all means approach any person, group, community or political party that shares our views in general. Start building a concensus for change where we can. Start building a new language and program for change that people across different disciplines, circumstances and outlooks can get behind to some degree. It won't be perfect but it'll be better than what we have in the present circumstances.

But real politik is staring us in the face. Labour has stated categorically that it will not enter into a broad leftist/progressive alliance before the GE. I can understand their position. Many of their members, and some of the leadership, come from former organisations that were mired in factions, petty arguments over terminology, and just a general inability to function effectively in the political arena. They don't want to enter this world again. I fully sympathise. And lets not forget that while many Labour members easily jettisoned their Marxist repertoire, they still manage to bring their anti-Republican baggage with them.

SF should do what it does well. Organise in the long grass. Localise politics and organise at the grass roots. Highlight the fact that local problems are only a manifestation of larger national problems. Highlight the fact that the MOTUs (master of the universe, FF, FG etc.) use the national and international stage and issues to perpetuate their own localised cronyist policies.

There is one area that SF, and indeed the broad left, needs to improve upon in a big way. We need to create a professional and alternate media in this country - all 32 counties. SF should be leading the way, and maybe this project, rather than grand alliances, is something the entire left/progressives can work on together. Maybe it is in this medium that we can begin to build a concensusal alternative to the current system.


  1. This article is spot on.

    Labour do not want to have anything to do with us, or any other group. The only thing they would be interested in is eating us up just like they did democratic left.

    We must think local and act local. We should be a grass roots led party that is run by the members at a local level.


  2. the left are looseing big time. and its not just labour, the swp were trying to get an allience of various groups going. didn't happen. the SP are fighting with them over who was less sincenre about an allience over on indymedia.

    i don't agree with ploughing your own furrow now. the country's fucked. no one left group is any where near taking power in this country, were going to keep getting fucked unless people start lineing up with each other. fine the labour party arn't into it now, so what keep at it. there are others out there. iam SF all the way but four tds and one senator. its not going to happen on our own.

    people need to find out areas they can work together on. as sun szu said unity is more imortant than numbers.