Since Eamonn McCann has been polling respectable if not earth-shattering results in the city-state of Derry, it was inevitable that he would run this time in Foyle. Eamonn’s candidacy is in the name of his established vehicle, the Socialist Environmental Alliance. One might, then, have expected that any other candidates would run as SEA, as with the SWP’s unsuccessful foray into the Belfast Corporation elections a few years back.
But no! Let me introduce you to 19-year-old Seán Mitchell, who is standing for election in West Belfast. Seán, a most articulate and likeable young fellow, is an active member of the SWP. He is not however a candidate of the Socialist Environmental Alliance. He is the candidate of the People Before Profit Alliance.
The PBPA (or PB4P for the Indymedia trendies) is of course the electoral front being mobilised by the 26-county majority of the SWP for the upcoming elections to the Free State Assembly. Why then is it being extended to the North, when the SWP already has a perfectly serviceable 6-county electoral front? I spent quite a long time in the old SWM, and consider myself reasonably well-versed in the Zen of Kieranism, but this has even me scratching my head. Maybe there was a plan to extend People Before Profit across the North, but Derry parochialism vetoed the move. Or maybe it’s simply another example of the unthinking left. Just when you think these bozos can’t get any dafter, they prove you wrong.
It takes me back to the early 90s, when the Socialist Party bore mid snow and ice the banner with the strange device Militant Labour. There was quite a grand launch in Belfast for Militant Labour, which had been formed, so we were told, from the fusion of Militant, the Labour & Trade Union Group, the Young Socialists and Youth Against Sectarianism. In other words, a group that had spent 20 years pretending not to exist and three of its fronts. The proletariat, who I assume were supposed to be impressed by this blatant sock puppetry, greeted the historic fusion with an enormous yawn.
Such, I fear, is likely to be the fate of People Before Profit on its first electoral outing. Eamonn will probably do all right, but young Seán is almost certain to make no impact at all. The most he can hope for is to get more votes than John Lowry, but that isn’t exactly the same as striking a chord with the masses.