A bit of local Kremlinology

Well, that was a nice little musical interlude, but of course what many of you come here for is the sectariana. “Since you’re on the ground in Belfast,” the broad masses cry, “why don’t you tell us what’s going on with the local Swips?”

The first thing I’d say to that is, there’s still quite a bit we don’t know for certain, as the official SWP is taking the “nothing to see here guv” line, while the dissidents have been maintaining radio silence. What we do know is that it isn’t just the three musketeers who find themselves outwith the organisation. Others are being mentioned, including younger people who had joined in recent years, and long-term sleepers – which is to say, people who are basically inactive but retain a loyalty to the organisation and would turn out for a big event. I have heard talk of there being both expulsions and resignations, but given the party’s disdain for formal procedures that will probably be a matter of perception. As for the official org, that’s supposedly down to a small circle around the putative candidate – and I’m not actually sure that young Seán is even in town at the moment, it’s been ages since I saw him about – but what’s certain is that organiser Dónal, having been imported from Dublin, is running around like a blue-arsed fly putting up posters for public meetings with high-profile speakers. One senses a big push on from the centre to rebuild the branch.

There’s a political aspect to this too that may not be immediately apparent, but first I’ll go on a bit of a digression about republicanism.

You see, there is an interesting coalescence in what might loosely be termed non-Provisional republicanism. The dividing line doesn’t break down in terms of left and right, but in terms of your attitude to armed struggle. There is, and there probably always will be while partition lasts, a smallish constituency for physical force republicanism. Of this the most cohesive exponents are the Contos, who can offer you the Provisionalism of 1971 only on a much smaller scale; there are the Real Republicans if you like your militarism more or less neat, with only a little dash of politics to taste; and we don’t even want to get into small groups of yahoos like the “ÓNH”, who don’t even pretend to have a political aspect and are really just armed Celtic supporters. Not to say that the physical force constituency is totally insignificant – it may be small, but it repays attention – but it’s very much a minority pursuit, and there’s nobody there really rallying much support.

What’s probably more interesting is the significantly larger constituency, what we might term soft republican, which is critical of the peace process but unwilling to countenance a return to war. This constituency hasn’t asserted itself till now, but it is there, there’s a potential for some tendency to gain traction there, and it could easily grow. There’s éirígí in the first instance, who may be a mess of contradictions but who are growing and seem to have a little momentum behind them. The interesting thing is that the people in Dublin who set up éirígí are relatively straightforward – their politics is essentially Dublin PSF of five or six ardfheiseanna ago, and their main criticism of Gerry was that he was insufficiently socialist. But as they’ve expanded into the north, they’ve brought on board people who have more traditional republican concerns. Breandán Mac Cionnaith is a case in point, and I was struck when Cllr Louise Minihan of Dublin defected that her statement stressed the republican aspect more than the socialist one.

Be that as it may, it’s the case that éirígí, as a wholly political group with no armed wing, has a definite appeal to that segment of the Provo base that’s disgruntled but is not attracted by the idea of rerunning the Troubles. Certainly in Belfast, the PSF hierarchy seem more worried by them than the armed groups, because they have at least in theory the potential to get a populist bandwagon going. And I’m sure that a similar consideration came into play for the IRSP, and their announcement of the standing down of the armed wing and commitment to a totally political path – messy as it was – had to do with detoxifying the IRSP brand in order to make a play for some popular support. Upcoming elections to the new Derry-Strabane supercouncil will figure here.

That’s also, I suppose, the reasoning behind the IRSP’s unity offensive of the moment. On paper, an IRSP-éirígí lash-up would seem to be the most logical outcome – both groups have a liking for populist agitprop, in particular – but that’s not going to fly in the foreseeable future. (Some IRSP members at least regard éirígí as a nest of Provos, and it seems the suspicion is mutual.) However, a number of discreet meetings have been taking place involving an interesting cast of characters from varied socialist and republican backgrounds – more I cannot say at the moment – and it is not impossible that some sort of alignment might emerge.

Which leads me circuitously back to the Swips. It has been said that the disagreement here was about the minor tactical issue of who to run in the elections and where, and that this manifested itself in a division between the west and the south of the city. There’s more to it than that, but in an untheorised way – by which I mean that there are underlying political issues beneath what looks like a minor tactical issue, but those are largely unstated, almost certainly haven’t been discussed systematically, and the protagonists may not be fully conscious of them.

First we have to consider that the SWP is not a programmatic party. The Socialist Party has a programme, and a fairly rigid perspective – which can sometimes be a disability, but from the SP’s point of view keeps it on the straight and narrow. The SWP is different in that it doesn’t work to a programme, it works to a regularly shifting perspective. From the outside this can look like breathtaking opportunism, from the inside it’s perceived as an ability to be flexible and creative while being firm in your core beliefs. Sometimes it works well, sometimes the results are not so good. But there are two elements here, inherited mainly from Cliff, which I think are often unhelpful. One is the tendency to be distracted from long-term work by the glimpse of a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The other is the theory of corrective exaggeration or “stick-bending”, allegedly derived from Lenin although Katy seems to have it sussed. It may be that the British group, in dealing with the Füredite voluntarism of the Left Platform, could get a grip on these tendencies, but they’re very much part of the organisation’s culture.

One aspect of unprogrammatic interventions coupled with a taste for stick-bending is that you often adapt to the milieu you’re working in. (Sometimes the leadership will think you’ve over-adapted and then bend the stick back. Eventually your stick may look more like a Curly Wurly, but such is the price to be paid for bold and decisive leadership.) To put it less uncharitably, if you decide you’re going to work in milieu X rather than milieu Y, that implies a different set of tasks. This applies in spades to whether you’re going to stand in West Belfast or South Belfast.

It will have impressed the Dublin leadership, who as noted have a de facto strategy of building around prominent individuals, that Seán Mitchell won over 700 votes at the Assembly election in West Belfast and did so at a canter, leaving open the opportunity of building on that base. They will also have noted that the SWP has stood previously in South Belfast and got a low vote, as indeed has the SP. Therefore, running Mitchell in West Belfast would seem to be a no-brainer.

And yet, and yet. There are certain reasons why your candidate might do better in West Belfast, notably because it has an unusual concentration of the flotsam and jetsam of northern republicanism and Marxism. Let’s say for the sake of argument that there are a hundred or so éirígí supporters in the area – and they’ve got close to that number on demos – who are they going to vote for? There may be a similar number of IRSP supporters. There may still be forty or fifty old-time Peoples Democracy types who don’t have anything they can support. There are a few CPI people; even a few ORM people, who I imagine would not be falling over themselves to vote Workers Party. There are always disgruntled ex-Provos knocking about, and there may at any given time be some restive Ógra kids willing to lend a preference.

Maybe none of these constituencies adds up to much on its own. But any of them might be in the market for a candidature that’s a bit socialist and a bit anti-imperialist. You wouldn’t even have to mobilise any of these guys – and, given their mutual contradictions, that might be as well – but if you avoided actively alienating any of them… you might be talking about 400 or 500 votes as a par score in the West Belfast constituency, and that’s before you get onto whatever positive appeal the candidature might have. Having a fresh banner (People Before Profit) without alienating historical baggage; a fresh, young and articulate candidate; a campaign with a bit of energy; and a leaflet that says as little as possible about the peace process – none of these things hurt. We may also note that the wee lad attracted strong transfers from Republican Sinn Féin and from the tallies would also have done from the Workers Party had they been eliminated earlier – which indicates to me that a general anti-establishment vote (or to some extent anti-Gerry vote) is at least as likely as 700 west Belfast people suddenly becoming convinced that the Soviet Union was state capitalist.

For the Dublin leadership, they might not be aware of these nuances. Even if they were, they might not give a crap. The thing to consider, from where they’re sitting, will be the possibility of 200 here or 700+ there.

The people who would give a crap would be located in Belfast. Even so, if it was just a pragmatic tactical issue, longstanding party diehards would be expected to go along with the decision from the centre. It comes to the implications for what you want to do, and what you’re comfortable doing.

An election run in South Belfast, probably with Barbara Muldoon as the candidate, would distinguish itself as progressive, cross-community, anti-racist, multicultural, maybe environmental. It would be competing for votes, effectively, with Anna Lo. A Mitchell campaign in West Belfast would be trying to take votes off Gerry Adams, and even if you didn’t call it left republican – a description the SWP would never accept for itself – it would need to be fought on left republican territory.

Perhaps more to the point, an attempt to build a base in West Belfast would be a bit of a reversion to what the SWM was doing pre about 1990, when the activity and the meetings were concentrated in that area and the perspective was to cannibalise the PSF base. Thereafter there was a shift – spearheaded by a couple of people who recently departed – to move to city centre activism, perhaps some thought about building in mixed areas, and promoting a cross-community (definitely not republican) profile. If that’s been your consistent background for years – augmented by movementist and NGO-type politics – to move back into the Wild West and try to appeal to nationalist youths in Andytown must seem like a regression. Doubly so when you consider the unwillingness of west Belfast people to leave west Belfast – Andytown localism is of a whole different order to the local politics the proponents of Save Our Seafront would be familiar with. Anything that looks like a greening of the organisation would face some resistance – and, although the McCann vote in Derry is distinct, it may not be coincidental that the big northern meeting at this year’s Marxism was Eamonn speaking (disingenuously IMO) on the SWP’s anti-Agreement credentials. Maybe that vote for Mrs O’Hara concentrated some minds.

Of course, there’s quite a bit of educated guesswork in the foregoing, and some of it may be wrong. But I would be surprised if these underlying local factors were completely absent. We also haven’t heard anything from the dissidents, who are keeping very quiet. This probably indicates they are discussing what to do next, which itself presents a problem or two. One is that, while tactical differences and problems with the regime are enough to get you kicked out of the SWP, they aren’t sufficient to justify a separate organisation. Another is that, even if you have enough members to give you some critical mass, being cut off from the material base in terms of money, equipment, speakers and so on is bound to cramp your style. And of course there’s a recalibration of perspectives, which may be something the Reesites in Britain have to face in due course – a perspective of being hyperactive in the movements may work if you have several thousand SWP members to play with, but you can’t do it with forty or fifty people, so other options would need to be looked at. The Belfast dissidents find themselves in that position now, on a micro scale. On the other hand, if John Rees fancies acquiring an Irish section at a knock-down price…

49 Comments

  1. Madam Miaow said,

    December 16, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    And so “Culrly Wurly” enters the political lexicon as a bloody brilliant description of the sect phenomenon of making it up as you go along.

    I see no ships.

    • Ciarán said,

      December 16, 2009 at 2:43 pm

      And I wasn’t aware of Katy Perry’s political acumen. I guess I’ll have to start studying her videos in depth to find out more.

  2. skidmarx said,

    December 16, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    A piece of wire has to be bent a few times before it will pick a lock.

    there’s still quite a bit we don’t know for certain, as the official SWP is taking the “nothing to see here guv” line, while the dissidents have been maintaining radio silence.
    Perhaps “All I know is that I know nothing”,or “the rest is noise” might be considered alternatives to this understatement.

    • splinteredsunrise said,

      December 16, 2009 at 5:42 pm

      Or possibly “I’m not rushing out with definitive statements about things I’ve only heard rumoured.” Or alternatively, “I was told X but want to be cautious until someone confirms it publicly.”

      • andy newman said,

        December 18, 2009 at 12:01 am

        or with the SWP it is more accurate to say:

        “Or alternatively, “I was told X but I won’t know that it is true until someone denies it publicly.” “”

  3. Mark P said,

    December 16, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    The oddest part about the last line is that the whole approach of the Irish SWP would fit perfectly with that of the Reesites, and indeed it did just that for quite a few years. In so far as there are differences in orientation and politics between the British CC and the Reesites, the Irish SWP more naturally lines up with the Reesites. I suppose the Irish leadership knowing which side their bread is buttered on over-rules such considerations.

    As far as the general line the SWP have been pushing in the North is concerned, I wouldn’t be wildly surprised to see them shift back towards a more left republican outlook but there isn’t actually much sign of it at the moment. McCann’s meeting, for instance, may have been about opposing the agreement but the reasons he put forward were entirely in keeping with their current “workers unity” perspective and quite specifically weren’t left republican ones. It was all about the institutionalisation of sectarianism, not about “accepting British rule” or the like.

    Your comments about the nature of the Mitchell vote are well taken. The blandness of PBP allows for a certain appeal to a lot of small disgruntled but often mutually hostile constituencies. Just as long as the lad doesn’t open his trap about certain issues.

    I see that the CPGB have the third British bulletin up:
    http://www.cpgb.org.uk/documents/SWP%20preconf%20bulletin%203%202009.pdf

    • Daphne said,

      December 16, 2009 at 10:37 pm

      “the Irish SWP more naturally lines up with the Reesites”

      Hmmm… certainly one of the Reesite blogs seem to have “adopted” a particular group operating in my country, led by an Irish SWP expat, as “their group”.

      • Mark P said,

        December 17, 2009 at 12:27 am

        This would be Joe C’s group, “Socialist Aotearoa” which split from your organisation, right?

        Prefering it to SW/NZ isn’t a particularly “Reesite” thing. Lenin’s Tomb links to that group rather than your one too, and Richard isn’t a supporter of the Left Platform. I suspect that, to the very limited extent that British SWP members know anything much about their ideological trend in New Zealand, they would tend to prefer SA to SW.

        According to someone on leftist trainspotters SA has recruited a few anarchoids so it’s politics may be drifting in that direction. Which wouldn’t be the first time (See Left Turn and the “anti-capitalist” faction which split from Linksruck in Germany for other examples).

      • Daphne said,

        December 17, 2009 at 1:21 am

        Not just “a few anarchoids”! SA has an entire anarchist “tendency”, including one of the most notable anarchist union organisers in the country. And also an “eco-socialist” tendency. Joe happily describes his group as a “multi-tendency organisation”, which is probably why there hasn’t been a public push to replace us with them in the IST.

        I didn’t know about Lenin’s Tomb – thanks for that. I should note that, although SocAo certainly behaves in a way more recognizable to British SWP members, last I heard the analysis of what went down in Respect was not a point of difference between our groups.

      • lenin said,

        December 17, 2009 at 9:57 am

        The links in my sidebar don’t necessarily reflect any sympathies one way or another as regards the NZ split. I haven’t enough of a clue as to the real differences between SA/Unity to make a judgment like that.

      • Daphne said,

        December 17, 2009 at 6:39 pm

        lenin: In the immortal words of Bender, “They’re both fine choices, whatever floats your boat”. :)

  4. Mark P said,

    December 16, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    By the way, I’m not sure what you are driving at when you talk about “discreet meetings” involving people from socialist and republican backgrounds.

    Eirigi seem to want nothing to do with the IRSM (and who, given the historical record, can really blame them for that?). What is there left of left republicanism once you exclude those two organisations? John McA, Jack Lemon, Walter Matthau and the fourth member of Socialist Democracy? Digging up Bernadette?

  5. splinteredsunrise said,

    December 16, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Well, we’re not necessarily talking about those people, nor about something that’s specifically left republican. It’s both wider and more tentative than that, and there are people beyond the usual suspects. It may well come to nothing, which is usually the way with these things.

    Derry of course is different – there is the personality of McCann of course, but the political landscape is very different from Belfast and you can’t replicate here what can be done there. I don’t even think that what McCann has done could be replicated in Derry with another candidate.

    • Mark P said,

      December 17, 2009 at 12:31 am

      Ok, that’s so vague that I can’t get very much information from it – as was presumably your intention!

      I really can’t work out what wider forces you are talking about, but I suppose if anything comes of it we’ll hear down the line.

      • splinteredsunrise said,

        December 17, 2009 at 1:19 am

        It’s not vagueness for the sake of being obtuse, it’s just that the whole thing is a bit nebulous and on past form likely to be inconclusive. We will indeed hear if there’s anything concrete, but there’s no firm proposal yet that I’m aware of. As for wider forces, that’s putting it a bit grandiosely, but people talk to people, and not necessarily those who would seem to be close on paper.

        I know this must be frustratingly vague, but it’s a whole different process from those left unity meetings in Dublin. You know how well those work out – that sort of approach is even less sensible in the north. No big flashy initiative, just low key discussions that may well remain low key discussions.

  6. johng said,

    December 17, 2009 at 1:46 am

    Splintered whats your position on the program malarkey? You demonstrate an understanding of some of the formal reasons why the SWP always opposed the fetish of a program charecteristic of orthodox trotskyism, suggest pragmatically that such a thing may nevertheless keep one on the straight and narrow (although questions might be raised if this is always a good thing) but say very little about your own views on the matter. So…whats your own position?

    • splinteredsunrise said,

      December 17, 2009 at 5:24 pm

      It’s one of those things that could come in handy, if you’re conscious of and willing to accept the overheads. I’m against programme fetishism, and I think Duncan’s little essay from 1971 expresses my views on the issue quite well.

  7. harry monro said,

    December 17, 2009 at 9:10 am

    Splintered, I can see you standing in front of a giant swing-on-meter breaking down the votes. For those who know the current situation in the north two questions.
    1) For a small revolutionary group are they far too focused on elections? Or is there still an argument that for far left groups election material is worth the expense to get it into grimy Protestant paws? Otherwise I tend to think 500 votes is worth nothing compared to 20 papers sold to contacts.
    2) How many voters make 500 votes these days? In decades past 20 folk and a few coats and hats could easily be 100 votes. When you were out pushing up the vote for your group you might as well discomfort the people you hate most by engaging in a bit of “tactical voting”. Of course this sort of deflected personation would only be used by those who took electoral politics seriously

    • splinteredsunrise said,

      December 17, 2009 at 5:27 pm

      They used to say that the whole of Milltown voted for Gerry Fitt. There’s been a crackdown on that sort of thing over the years though. It’s not like the south where personation is still absurdly easy, if you’ve got the technique down.

  8. Doug said,

    December 17, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Harry, the 500 voters aren’t meant to be just passive people who merely put a cross against your candidates name. The idea is that when you’re canvassing, you try to turn as many of those 500 voters into paper buyers and contacts.

  9. David Ellis said,

    December 17, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Another nice piece Spinty. It has indeed all gone quiet and I was just looking at the IB3. It is as apolitical as it is possible to be. It barely rises to the level of insult let along polemic. I’ll wager the conference is a damp squib. A deal will have been done beforehand. Rees and Co will walk off with an agreed amount of assets (a form of redundancy) and they will hold a separate conference on the same day. The CC faction will claim they walked out and the Left Platform faction will claim they were pushed and the membership will be none the wiser. Then the two halves will break up like ice flows heading south.

    Only a third force based on Marxist theory and the rank-and-file, a Transitional Platform, determined to take advantage of the schism in the bureaucratised leading bodies and to examine all aspects from theory to programme to practise right back to the beginning, can save the SWP now.

  10. scrub said,

    December 17, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    ‘Of course, there’s quite a bit of educated guesswork in the foregoing, and some of it may be wrong.’

    profound truth in them words, splinty. but hey, give the masses what they want….

    • Mark P said,

      December 17, 2009 at 5:35 pm

      So what exactly is inaccurate or wrong in the piece? Why don’t you enlighten us?

  11. skidmarx said,

    December 17, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    It barely rises to the level of insult let along polemic.
    If you look up “projection” in the dictionary…

    Mark P – if you don’t know, why don’t you use your complete lack of knowledge of what scrub might think is inaccurate or wrong (in a piece with few facts to be inaccurate or wrong about, though the conclusion does rely on facts not in evidence) to engage in some “educated” guesswork as to what the answer to your question might be?

    • Mark P said,

      December 17, 2009 at 6:32 pm

      As we all know, our host’s imagination can, on occasion, get the better of him, but I think that on this occasion his disclaimer is being given a rather undue emphasis by people who would rather he simply didn’t comment on these issues.

      The original piece is accurate, as far as I can tell, in stating that there has been a split in the SWP in Belfast, that the split involves the core long standing cadre and others and that the remnant of the SWP in the city is essentially a few people around their candidate and a newly arrived fulltimer. It’s accurate in saying that both sides of the split have maintained a near complete silence about what the split is about or even about its existence.

      It makes an analysis of the core of Mitchell’s 2.5% vote last time out which, while I can’t say for sure is correct, is at the very least plausible and interesting.

      Much of the rest is speculation, but speculation that is both acknowledged as such and based on the core of fact outlined above.

      If “scrub” thinks that there are important inaccuracies it’s entirely open to him/her to point them out. We are not, after all, talking about the internal affairs of a party now that the split has been consummated.

  12. D_D said,

    December 17, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    Another angle on this is the People Before Profit Alliance element.

    It has been said that the row was over the standing of a candidate and that the candidate would have stood as a PBPA candidate. Is that so?

    It is strange that people in Belfast would quarrel to the extent of split about the where, when and who of a PBP candidacy when 1. there is no PBP group in Belfast and 2. any decisions about standing PBP candidates in Belfast would, or should, be made by the PBPA as a whole in the first place. There’s some mild puzzlement here in the Fair City.

    • Mark P said,

      December 17, 2009 at 7:34 pm

      All of the rumours about the split have indicated the the triggering issue was about standing a candidate in the Westminster elections. The problem is that nobody, whether from the SWP or from the other side, has publically confirmed or denied that this was the issue that triggered the split, although SWP members have acknowledged that a split has happened.;

      Would you really be confused or surprised if the local SWP branch in an area with no People Before Profit branch was discussing who and where the PBPA should stand though? Really? Surely that sort of thing comes with the territory.

    • Mark P said,

      December 17, 2009 at 7:37 pm

      Also, aren’t you in a position where you could just ask?

      I mean, the SWP in Dublin could hardly just tell you that it isn’t any of your business if the split was about PBPA matters. Even if the split was about something else entirely, presumably they’d tell you that it was an internal matter unrelated to the PBPA if you asked.

  13. splinteredsunrise said,

    December 17, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    Much of what I know is second hand, there are gaps in the story and nobody seems keen to go on the record at the moment. Hence the caveats, and I’d point out that you don’t get caveats like this in the Weekly Worker. This will probably all come out in the wash eventually anyway.

    As for the nature of the Mitchell vote, none of us can read the minds of the electors. But I do know some things about the political complexion of the constituency that may give a plausible framework for understanding it. And what I’ve indicated about the complications involved in a west Belfast candidacy does, I think, hold good. There was some discussion before the last election about running Brendan Hughes as an independent republican candidate, although Brendan’s health didn’t permit that. I would assume Brendan would have got at least a comparable, probably larger, vote that would have drawn on many (but not all) of the voters who went to Mitchell.

    • Mark P said,

      January 8, 2010 at 9:35 pm

      You may find this of interest, Mr Sunrise:
      http://www.indymedia.ie/article/95386

      • splinteredsunrise said,

        January 8, 2010 at 10:29 pm

        Hmm. Someone quietly breaks cover… Coincidentally, just heard a few thoughts from someone on the other side of the fence. His view was that it was essentially personality-driven, for what that’s worth.

      • Mark P said,

        January 8, 2010 at 11:21 pm

        Meaning that someone didn’t like Sean Óg?

      • splinteredsunrise said,

        January 8, 2010 at 11:41 pm

        Hard to say without talking to those directly involved. But this was an experienced comrade who knows the people well, and he couldn’t see an ideological issue. Perhaps one will be found, as is the way of these things. It took Workers Power three or four years after their expulsion before they got themselves an ideological difference.

  14. splinteredsunrise said,

    December 18, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    I don’t do this very often, but I have deleted several comments above that were threatening to spiral into a personal slanging match. This is the second time in recent days I’ve had to issue a warning about comments. If people want to fight they can take it elsewhere, if they want to try it here I’ll start putting individuals under moderation.

  15. andy newman said,

    December 18, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    Splinty

    Fair enough
    But I have simply had enough of being libelled, by one or two individuals

    I am not a human punch bag, and just because people disagree with my politics does not mean they should be able to use blogs like yours to libel me

    • dear koba said,

      December 19, 2009 at 3:42 pm

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_rule

      • Scumbagmarx said,

        December 19, 2009 at 4:01 pm

        Golden Rule: “… an ethical code that states one has a right to just treatment, and a responsibility to ensure justice for others.” ???

        How bourgeois can you get? We are the tough guys who don’t need no steenkin’ Golden Rule. We have revolutionary radar to spot counter-revolutionary scum and stick it to ‘em where the sun don’t shine. We don’t need to present an argument based on facts. We are so revolutionary that we don’t need to join the biggest and bestest revo group in the solar system so you can stuff your narky comments and take it like a man. Like wot I am. Grrrrrr!!!!!!!

        Comradeship? That’s for cream puffs.

        Truth? A bourgeois concept.

        Love? A bourgois concept that we will flatten flatter than your flattening tanks can flatten in flattening season.

  16. harry monro said,

    December 19, 2009 at 8:31 am

    Thanks s/s for the update on personation, I think in retrospect that when groups got into it, it was a sign of looming reformism.
    Doug I take your point but with very small groups I think the human resources matter, so do you get better results from work place sales of your paper etc? Of course some say it’s not either/or but to me this is when extreme voluntarism can come in; building a group on the perspective that only 24/7 people can be real members which of course can create cults rather than working class organizations. That’s why I’m interested if there is still an argument around postal electoral material getting to people in the north who would not necessarily be easily reached
    Finally, as I’ve said before I know none of these comrades but here is my long distance Kremlinology, if neither group is spilling the beans it might be because both hope for reconciliation and don’t want to jeopardise that; just a thought from an ignorant outsider.

  17. December 19, 2009 at 11:27 am

    [...] those of you who like that sort of thing, Splintered Sunrise has another cracking article – this time  about the recent wave of expulsions in the SWP in [...]

  18. splinteredsunrise said,

    December 19, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    In re the above, the moderation here is usually free and easy, but I’m getting rather fed up with having to apply the blue pencil after the fact. I have just had to delete another comment on the grounds of personalised abuse.

    Here is the comments policy, and it’s a simple and straightforward one. If you have a point to make, make the point. If you want a fight, there are plenty of other places you can do that. Comments that are abusive or insulting about individuals may be edited or deleted, even if I agree with them.

    Persistent offenders may be put on moderation, or banned outright. Currently, there are three people banned from commenting here, and you might consider whether you want to join that exclusive club. We generally have quite a civilised atmosphere here, and I’d like to keep it that way.

    And that’s all I’m saying on the matter.

  19. Liam said,

    December 20, 2009 at 9:53 am

    “Comments that are abusive or insulting about individuals may be edited or deleted, even if I agree with them”

    I thought I’d copyrighted that!

    • splinteredsunrise said,

      December 20, 2009 at 12:19 pm

      You may well have done. But if you’re going to steal, it may as well be from a good source.

  20. Halfer said,

    December 21, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    I think your definitions about the smaller militant groups are a little trite and smack of a lack of interaction with individuals within certain said groups …however….

    What of an IRSP, Eirigi, ORM electoral bloc? For a start, Eirigi are really stand-offish towards other groups up to the point of aloof arrogance. I think its also worth pointing out that Eirigi are really quite small in Belfast, (perhaps even smaller than the Swips dissers). Now that a couple of their members are being accused (read framed) for the Massareene attack, one would like to think that this isolationist attitude would pragmatically change given the potential for an agreed candidate.

    But what potential for an agreed candidate? I do believe there is room in West Belfast and Derry for an oppositional socialist candidate. Low as the chances are of winning, it would be useful to gather a mandate for a list of agreed principled positions focusing on areas of social justice. The groups you mentioned may take part, IRSP, Eirigi, dissident swips, ORM, WSM etc. It’s the getting together of the groups is the issue here. You need to sell it to each and eery group.

    Die Linke showed in Germany that you dont need to be big enough to win an election, but just big enought to pull your rivals towards your positions, (see splints point on McCann nervously eyeing another O’Hara vote). If there was a big enough oppositional bloc in stormont elections, you may see tensions and movement within PSF towards more oppositional positions (especially now when they may be changing leadership).

    • Harrods said,

      December 21, 2009 at 6:37 pm

      Just focussing on Halfer’s final point – Splinty – for those of us who live several hundred miles away, is there anything more you could say about Adams’ revelations?

      • splinteredsunrise said,

        December 26, 2009 at 5:09 pm

        I have some thoughts on that, but I’m not anxious to overcommit myself when the story is still unfolding and it will all be sub judice soon. Liam’s latest on this point is quite interesting.

    • Ciarán said,

      December 27, 2009 at 12:52 am

      Eirigi are really quite small in Belfast, (perhaps even smaller than the Swips dissers)

      Smaller than the “Swips dissers” in Belfast? Seriously?

      • splinteredsunrise said,

        December 27, 2009 at 8:07 pm

        I don’t know how many paid-up members they have – probably not very many – but they can turn out several dozen for any demo they call. Many of these may be the sort of disgruntled youth who’ll turn out for anything no matter who calls it.

        As for the Real SWP, we’ll have to see if they choose to do anything public or if they’re holding out for a reconciliation. Though the Great White Chief doesn’t really do reconciliation.

  21. December 24, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    On November 17, a few Slugger readers got together in Jury’s Hotel in Belfast to pick the nominees for the awards. A wee while into the discussion someone poked their head through the door wondering if this was where the SWP was meeting.

    Turns out the SWP were in another room on the same floor. Maybe about an hour later there was a loud commotion from down the corridor and the young lady beside me asked: “What was THAT?”

    “The split,” I replied, joking.

    After reading the above, I wonder if I was more accurate than I thought. :o)

  22. December 31, 2009 at 9:13 am

    [...] reasoned judgments on the activities of the Socialist Workers’ Party and some of the weird things that seem to go on in that organisation. I wouldn’t say I agree with all of Splinty’s [...]


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