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SIPTU, THE SWP AND SPECTACULAR SECTARIANISM

category national | elections / politics | feature author Saturday October 25, 2003 18:31author by Des Derwinauthor email dderwin at gofree dot indigo dot ie Report this post to the editors

Des Derwin criticises SWP for running candidate against him in SIPTU election

"In over thirty years of political activity I cannot recall a more astonishing act of pure sectarianism on the socialist far left. They are running a candidate with no surface difference of policies to mine. As it is a trade union election they cannot run as an organisation. There can be no defensible reason for them standing a candidate against me. Not only have I worked with them in SIPTU and actively supported their member Carolann Duggan in four successive SIPTU elections, but also, as I detail below, they were instrumental in persuading me to run for General Secretary just last year. I might add that not only have I worked with the SWP in various campaigns and bodies, trade union and other, including the recent Socialist Alliance, down the years, but that I have been in recent times an increasingly isolated voice on the rest of the far left for working with and not writing off the SWP.

Now, when I am actually in a better position to run, having stood last year, I am not good enough and they put up a virtual unknown. The effect will be (particularly in the absence of a soft left candidate - though there's a whisper of one emerging) to split the left vote. To run against a radical socialist candidate in a general election (which the SWP did once against the Socialist Party) is bad enough. Seemingly identical organisations vying for votes is a scandal to ordinary workers. But to run a candidate against a long established, independent oppositional activist, with a thirty-year history of exactly similar ‘Rank and File-ist’ policies (i.e. myself) in a trade union election, where candidates are standing on trade union issues and trade union records, is sectarianism and sectism without any cover."

ORIGINAL FULL TEXT OF DERWIN ARTICLE BEGINS HERE. THE ABOVE IS AN EXCERPT FOR FRONT PAGE.

Thanks 'SIPTU bureaucrat'. Beaten to the punch.

On Indymedia on 10th October ‘03 I announced that I intend to run for the SIPTU Vice President election in January, as I had run in last year’s General Secretary election, on a platform of change and renewal in SIPTU and for a fighting, democratic Union.

The Socialist Workers Party has, since 2001, repeatedly called for left unity. Its sister Party in Britain and its international organisation have contended that since Seattle the left is in a new era and that socialists must work inside the movements with others they might not fully agree with. The Irish SWP’s latest call for a socialist bloc proposes the formation, with the Socialist Party and other socialists, of joint left caucuses in the unions (Open Letter, Socialist Worker, 16th July 2003). In a ‘Message of Solidarity to Socialist Party from SWP’, issued at the SP Dublin welcome back meeting at the Gresham Hotel last Saturday (see Indymedia Oct 22 2003), the SWP says:

“These events [of the bin tax campaign] show that more than ever we need those on the left to work together in the interest of the workers movement. The anti bin tax campaign shows that we can do it. For the future of the movement we believe that it is essential that we continue and extend this co-operation. Recently both parties’ members have worked in the anti capitalist movement such as in organizations like Globalise Resistance. The Socialist Workers Party and others built up the Irish Anti War movement by working alongside anybody that opposed the obscenity of Bush's war for oil. When those of us who opposed the warmongers worked together we built the biggest political demonstration in decades, with 100,000 people marching in Dublin.

We believe that the sort of co-operation over the bin' tax should be spread across other issues that affect workers lives; in our unions, in supporting the fight against privatisation, in defence of our health system. Above all in showing that there is an alternative to capitalism and the Free Market. In the next elections both the Socialist Workers Party and Socialist Party should agree a joint list of candidates to contest every area in Dublin on a clear socialist platform.”

On the same day as these laudable words, this precisely correct unitary approach, was issued, I learned that, unbelievably, the SWP are standing a candidate against me!

In over thirty years of political activity I cannot recall a more astonishing act of pure sectarianism on the socialist far left. They are running a candidate with no surface difference of policies to mine. As it is a trade union election they cannot run as an organisation. There can be no defensible reason for them standing a candidate against me. Not only have I worked with them in SIPTU and actively supported their member Carolann Duggan in four successive SIPTU elections, but also, as I detail below, they were instrumental in persuading me to run for General Secretary just last year. I might add that not only have I worked with the SWP in various campaigns and bodies, trade union and other, including the recent Socialist Alliance, down the years, but that I have been in recent times an increasingly isolated voice on the rest of the far left for working with and not writing off the SWP.

Now, when I am actually in a better position to run, having stood last year, I am not good enough and they put up a virtual unknown. The effect will be (particularly in the absence of a soft left candidate - though there's a whisper of one emerging) to split the left vote. To run against a radical socialist candidate in a general election (which the SWP did once against the Socialist Party) is bad enough. Seemingly identical organisations vying for votes is a scandal to ordinary workers. But to run a candidate against a long established, independent oppositional activist, with a thirty-year history of exactly similar ‘Rank and File-ist’ policies (i.e. myself) in a trade union election, where candidates are standing on trade union issues and trade union records, is sectarianism and sectism without any cover.

At the SIPTU Conference in Galway I mentioned (on 26th August) to Kieran Allen of the SWP that I was thinking of standing for the Vice Presidency. He said he was thinking the same. A day or so later, Marnie Holborow of the SWP spoke to me and argued that I should leave the candidacy to Kieran. I said I would consider it and a little later sent the letter quoted below to Kieran Allen, with a copy to Marnie Holborow. The letter (with slight deletions here) explains much of the background.

“2nd September ‘03

Kieran,

There does not appear to be any good reason to change my intention of standing as the left alternative candidate in the forthcoming SIPTU election.

On balance I am the better-qualified candidate and the history of the thing tips the balance a lot more.

As regards comparisons of possible candidates’ credentials I refer you to the short CV which adorned my last election leaflet:

' Des Derwin has been a member of SIPTU and the ITGWU since 1973. He is an Assembly General Operative at the Mouldpro plastics factory in Finglas, Dublin, where he is Chair of the Section Committee. Des has wide and varied industrial, negotiation and administrative experience including over twenty-five years on the Unidare industrial site in Finglas. He has served on his Branch Committee for twenty-five years and is the President of the Branch. He is an active delegate to SIPTU National Conferences, a member of the Dublin Regional Executive Committee of the Union and of the executive committee of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions. Des is a socialist, and has been involved in many trade union and single-issue campaigns. He is not a member of any political party. If elected he would accept only the average industrial wage. He is well able to carry out the duties of General Secretary and has demonstrated over the years that he can work with people he does not fully agree with and within democratically decided policies and structures.'

That record and placing is added to by the fact that I stood the last time and therefore already have a national profile within the Union. Both considerations position me as the better candidate.

The comparison of record, activity and representivity within SIPTU is not the crucial factor. These are critical factors in our political tradition, in its orientation to the trade unions, to organic involvement in the working class movement, to the notion of socialists, and indeed the party (and its pre-party fragments), being part of the workers’ movement.

However last year’s election has introduced the real imperative. Without that I’d have been perfectly happy to beaver away, to keep attempting to get a rank and file group established, and – as regards electoral forays – to aim for the NEC (which I intend to do incidentally).

Last June [2002], when Marnie convened a meeting to consider the General Secretary election, I never imagined myself as a candidate in a General Officer election. I argued at first against standing a left candidate at all. You argued that the leadership should not be allowed to stand unchallenged; struggles and a new partnership deal were coming up; the left in the unions elsewhere were making gains; there was a need for an agreed left candidate, platform and campaign, etc.; that here was a big chance to get something going for left unity.

I suggested that there were four plausible left candidates that I could think of: Carolann, Marnie, myself and Clare Daly. If Carolann were running (she was not) we would not need to think about what to do. We would all support her as before. Marnie immediately ruled herself out. I dismissed the possibility of me standing. The notion was inconceivable to me. I suggested we approach Clare Daly to stand.

The SWP suggested that I should stand. This was before the question could be definitively put to Clare Daly who wasn’t at the meeting (I had made some unpromising soundings already). Your name was never mentioned as a possibility. When I continued to maintain my reluctance the SWP argued very strongly, and pressed in subsequent days, that I run. You were the firmest and most adamant at the meeting that I should stand (and incidentally gave a rather optimistic prognosis of how I might do). I still declined and proposed that we arrange an immediate meeting with Clare Daly to ask her to stand. In the meantime I would take 24 hours to consider and say then whether I would stand (in the event of Clare declining).

Only from that meeting was the terrifying idea planted that perhaps I might stand for General Secretary. But the idea did have its logic. My decision after the 24 hours was not to run but that if no other left candidate emerged by the time my own Branch held its special nomination meeting in early July I would seriously reconsider my position. Clare Daly was definitely not available to run. After extensive consultations I took the plunge.

So the SWP, and you yourself, were prime movers in me standing last year.

I was a very reluctant candidate for all the usual practical and political reasons, added to my personal unsuitability for the hustings. But once done it would seem daft for me to throw away an advantage gained, for the next one, by standing previously.

Once again I am reluctantly standing, but it seems my first outing just adds to the duty I acknowledged of providing some left alternative to candidates of the bureaucracy…

…I acknowledge that you have gained some deserved standing and prominence for The Celtic Tiger, which was an outstanding contribution to the Irish socialist movement, and of course for your other activities, including some SIPTU speeches, in particular the brilliant one in Dublin on Nice. In the broader movement the book shines, and you have certainly utilised every opportunity to follow it up. In SIPTU as such its impact is outweighed by my rather more workaday accomplishments. In any case it was published before the last election and does not make up a special case for standing in this election.

So I’m fairly determined to stand and am now declaring it all round and seeking the nomination of Branches.

Given all the above it is surprising that you seriously offered yourself as the left candidate, except in the event of my unavailability, and surprising that after learning of my intention to run again the SWP still wishes to persuade me to stand aside in favour of yourself. I sincerely hope I was not just the stopgap while you waited in the wings?

A few remarks on SIPTU Grassroots Forum. Or should I bother at all? My copious remarks in public on previous SWP initiatives in SIPTU apply also to the Grassroots Forum. And have made no difference whatsoever. If SIPTU Grassroots Forum is intended as more than just a newsletter - it was spoken of at the Galway meeting and in the newsletter as being ‘set up’ and has already organised one meeting – it was established in precisely the instantaneous manner I have vehemently opposed for a SIPTU rank and file group. It has an even narrower initial base than SIPTU Rank and File Solidarity Network and like New Directions has no organisational existence whatsoever outside the SWP. If it’s a newsletter only, a purely SWP product and project should not go under a different brand. Presuming it came out of the meeting on 7th August in the Teachers Club, I got notice of it one day before, and neither Clare Daly, Stephen Lewis nor Alan MacSimóin [non-SWP political and SIPTU activists] had any knowledge of it. Yet a name, newsletter, platform (quite well aimed) and newsletter contents are produced for the SIPTU Conference and prior to the fringe meeting. I cannot reconcile this with your Open Letter (Socialist Worker, 16th July 2003) which proposes the formation, with the Socialist Party and other socialists, of joint left caucuses in the unions.

But perhaps its not a front from first to last because the newsletter is not half bad, with a good pitch this time, and it “is open to all activists”. The Galway fringe meeting was very well attended compared to all attempts at a fringe meeting since Killarney.

Unlike most of ‘the rest of the left’ I acknowledge the ability of the SWP to launch initiatives with substantial forces and a real effect. I advocate working within and trying to broaden SWP initiatives and SWP-dominated campaigns that have or can build a real base, and so will not disregard Grassroots Forum. I have some copies of the first issue to distribute…

Comradely,

Des Derwin.”


I received not as much as an acknowledgement of that letter (often a response of SIPTU Head Office to correspondence) never mind an argument, good bad or indifferent, why I should retire.

The first I heard of the new candidate was when he was indirectly referred to by SWP and SIPTU member Melissa Halpin from the platform of a session of the Irish Social Forum gathering last Saturday. The candidate is Derek Delaney, a Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown council worker, who is, Melissa Halpin said, standing on the bin tax issue. As regards the bin tax, there has been no one more forceful than myself in SIPTU or the Dublin Council of Trade Unions for action on the bin tax. And after Indymedia my very first electoral outing was a leaflet (received by several SWP members), for the 11th October DCTU march, which focused on the bins issue!

This SWP candidacy is either for straight, barely-disguised party advantage, using the election to raise the SWP name, or to punish me for not standing down for Kieran Allen, or as an act of revenge following the DCTU march on 11th October. When I could not support Brid Smith's aggressive demand to speak at the demonstration, because the speakers had already been decided at an executive meeting, she threatened, “I won’t forget this”. A week later this sabotaging candidacy emerges. When I confronted SWP and SIPTU member Helena McNeill, immediately after learning of the SWP candidacy, she said, “You stopped Brid Smith speaking at the Trades Council march”. Why is this lie being given currency?

When I confronted Melissa Halpin after her announcement she said I would not talk to them about the election. Yet she did not know about the letter (quoted above) I had sent to Kieran Allen with a copy to Marnie Holborow. Why is the lie that I would not talk to the SWP being given currency, when I have heard nothing from them since my letter of seven weeks ago? Why has my letter or even its existence not been communicated to even the SWP’s own SIPTU activists?!

The effect will be to split the left vote. Nothing but the span and force of their party machine will gain votes for their candidate, who will be saying basically the same things as me but with a weaker record and standing within our Union. I demand that the SWP withdraw their candidate. This has nothing to do with individualism. If Carolann was running I would not dream of running. If someone of the standing of Clare Daly were running I would gladly pass this chalice to others happier at electioneering. I call on all activists who have at heart the interests of SIPTU and of building a rank and file movement, rather than the narrowest of organisational interests, to demand that the SWP drop this act of undiluted cynical opportunism. I ask all SIPTU Branches to give their Nomination to a genuine candidate and not lend credence to a cheap party-building manoeuvre!

Last weekend at the Irish Social Forum the SWP distributed a printed version of the Gresham Hotel leaflet (above) which said on the reverse side, in relation to the bin tax campaign: “There can be no room for one-up-man-ship by any one party that seeks to dictate policy” (see www.swp.ie ). It seems that this perfectly correct principle is meant to apply only to situations where other parties besides the SWP dominate.

Des Derwin

President, SIPTU Electronics and Engineering Branch.

author by SIPTU bureaucratpublication date Fri Oct 24, 2003 19:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The SWP has decided to stand its own candidate in the forthcoming SIPTU Vice President election, despite the existence of a strong left candidate.
Des Derwin, the President of the SIPTU Electronics and Engineering Branch, declared his candidacy for the post of SIPTU Vice President some weeks ago.

Derwin is a long-standing left wing and union activist, with a great deal of respect in the union movement. Derwin has a strong record of opposition to partnership deals and is also involved in campaigning against the bin tax. He is pledged to only accept the average industrial wage rather than the large union bureaucrat salary that the post brings with it should he win the election.

It had been widely expected that the entire left would support him in what is a very important election for the future of SIPTU. The SWP, though, has had other ideas.

It has now been an announced that an SWP candidate is seeking nominations to run for the same post. The SWP are making noises that their man is the anti-partnership, anti-bin tax candidate despite the fact that such a candidate already exists.

All of the candidates, both those on the right and those on the left, are now in the process of looking for nominations to stand. It is possible that a split left vote, even at the nominations stage could result in only right wing candidates getting a branch nomination.

The SWP unfortunately is well known for this kind of stunt. It is not too late for them to pull back from what would appear to be a disastrous act of sheer sectarianism.

*Note: The author of this piece is in no way affiliated with or connected to the Derwin campaign. I am a concerned SIPTU member.

author by at it againpublication date Fri Oct 24, 2003 20:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

a premptive strike resulting from the Pheonix article that suggested Clare Daly might run.

author by 1 of Indymedia Ireland Editorial Group - Indymedia Irelandpublication date Fri Oct 24, 2003 21:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The two articles have exactly the same topic so they were collated. The article by 'siptu bureaucrat' was turned into a comment because, even though it was posted earlier, Des's article has more information and being from the man himself, is more newsworthy.

author by Steeliepublication date Fri Oct 24, 2003 22:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Their sectarianism has got to truly pathological levels. Truly I wouldn't be too surprised if I read in the papers that they had all committed mass suicide in the expectation that Trotsky would come down on a spaceship and whisk them off to planet bolshevik.

As for the SWP nobody being the "anti-bin tax candidate" that just has to make you laugh. The "doing everything they can to prevent the bin tax campaign from winning candidate" would be more accurate. The fact that Allen didn't have the bottle to run himself and presumably ordered some no-hoper to stand in his stead speaks volumes. Clearly it is just meant to be a spoiler and will probably have the intended effect. It makes you sick.

author by SIPTU Bureacratpublication date Fri Oct 24, 2003 22:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Moving my article down to being a comment on the later article is fine by me. I was just posting it to let people know about this stunt. Des' article is much better and gives much more detail.

author by Yahoo Seriouspublication date Fri Oct 24, 2003 22:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This is quite clearly an attempt by the SWP to assert that their leadership of the far left in SIPTU.

They stood Carolann Duggan before and managed to pick up the anti-partnership vote. In successive elections, Carolann's vote dwindled away though. Unfortunately, due to the built in sectarianism of the SWP, Carolann's spectacular first vote and her respectable later ones were not used to seriously build a strong left in the union.

The SWP didn't have a decent candidate when the last General Secretary election rolled around. They were even faced with an outside chance of their nightmare scenario coming to pass, with a Socialist Party member becoming the left candidate (although it was always very unlikely that Clare could be convinced to stand).

So they convinced Des, a respected left trade unionist to stand. He served his purpose, but possibly served it too well.

He became the obvious choice of left candidate, in the absence of Daly or Duggann. The SWP may have convinced him to stand the first time, but that gave him a profile of his own.

The left candidacy in SIPTU elections is one of the few things that the SWP has in the trade union movement. It has always resented the greater influence enjoyed by both the Socialist Party and the Communist Party in the left of the unions and it wasn't about to let this out of its grasp.

When Des refused to give back what the SWP regard as their property, he had to be taught a lesson. So now they have dug up an unknown to stand against Derwin.

SWP members in SIPTU will no doubt be scurrying around trying to get their man a branch nomination. He won't get one off his own reputation so the SWP will have to hope that they can get a nomination through a branch that they have some members in (Education springs to mind).

This is an act of analloyed sectarianism. It would be easy to blame the SWP candidate for this, but he is only following orders. The blame lies firmly with the Political Committee of the SWP. They are the people who took this decision. They are the people who are destroying what exists of a left in SIPTU.

author by Franpublication date Fri Oct 24, 2003 22:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"I might add that not only have I worked with the SWP in various campaigns and bodies, trade union and other, including the recent Socialist Alliance, down the years, but that I have been in recent times an increasingly isolated voice on the rest of the far left for working with and not writing off the SWP."

Beginning to think that there might be a very good reason why people like yourself, who don't write off the SWP, are in an increasingly isolated minority on the left, Des?

author by leg pulledpublication date Fri Oct 24, 2003 23:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I know that this is a bit of a tangent to the main issue, but Des mentions that Melissa Halpin of the SWP was speaking from the platform at the Irish Social Forum.

IMC users may not be aware that Halpin was the speaker on the bin tax during the public services plenary session.

How she got to be that speaker is an interesting tale. Brid Smith was originally scheduled to speak. Brid had not been chosen to do so by any of the four anti-bin tax campaigns, she was suggested by the SWP. Still, at least Brid held a minor officer position with one of the four campaigns and some people in the anti-bin tax movement would have heard of her.

Unfortunately, Brid was sent to jail. A replacement had to be found. The SWP ran around trying to find somebody from amongst their second string hacks who could put a couple of sentences together. Eventually they settled on Halpin.

Halpin has no particular prominence in the anti-bin tax movement and would be highly unlikely to have been put forward as a representative by any of the four campaigns. So the SWP didn't bother to ask any of them. They arranged for her to speak themselves.

From the platform she then proceeded to announce the SWP candidacy for the SIPTU vice presidency.

The ISF incident wasn't particularly significant but as an example of how the SWP operate it is telling. This little sectarian stunt even managed to get itself all tangled up in the tale of their much bigger sectarian stunt, standing against Des Derwin.

author by Swmming across the Irish Seapublication date Fri Oct 24, 2003 23:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This isn't the first time that the SWP have stood against stronger left candidates out of sheer sectarianism.

Des mentions that they stood against the Socialist Party in one constituency in the 1997 General Election.

More significantly, they tried almost the exact same stunt they are pulling here in Unison, the largest union in Britain, a few years ago.

Then Roger Bannister, a member of the Socialist Party, was the left candidate for General Secretary. The SWP, however, insisted on running a candidate of their own against him.

In the end Bannister came second. The SWP candidate came nowhere, with around 5% of the total vote. They had succeeded though in causing a damaging split in the left vote in the union.

History repeats itself it seems. This time around they have chosen to shaft one of the few independent activists on the Irish left who doesn't have total contempt for the SWP. Unbelievable.

author by High Muckity Muckpublication date Sat Oct 25, 2003 00:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This is shocking stuff. Its the kind of thing that leaves you wondering how the SWP have the gall to call themselves socialists.

Des Im sorry to have to say this to you, but you should learn a valuable lesson from this. When others dismiss or write off the SWP they are right. The SWP can talk wonderful flowery stuff about how we should all hold hands and work together but only for so long as they think it is to their advantage. As soon as they think that there is more advantage in fucking over their allies that is exactly what they do.

I used to think that the SP and the anarchists and most of the rest of the left were unreasonably harsh about them and that they shouldn't always be so hard on them. I was wrong and Im not afraid to admit it. The more I see of them in practice, the more they fuck people over for a short term gain, the more they pull sectarian antics, the more I can see why most of the left want nothing at all to do with them.

You got involved in a socialist alliance with them and they treated it as their private property until it death. You work with them in the unions and what do they end up doing? There comes a time when you have to say enough. I for one hope that the SP continue to tell them where to fucking go. I know that there are some good people in the SWP and I hope that they tell their leaders where to go to.

author by random input - (former member of the SWP - yes its true)publication date Sat Oct 25, 2003 01:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I also had no clue about them running against the SP in 1997 and in UNISON. You learn something new every day I guess.

I don't think I'll even buy Socialist Worker out of politeness anymore.

Disgraceful.

author by IMC readerpublication date Sat Oct 25, 2003 07:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

who is behind the swp? just think about their actions...

author by Anonymouspublication date Sat Oct 25, 2003 10:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Don't worry Indymedia is confidential in the sense that you can remain "anonymous".

So come on, give us a thought or two??

author by unions rulepublication date Sat Oct 25, 2003 13:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This is hard to take in. How can anyone do this?

author by SP memberpublication date Sat Oct 25, 2003 14:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

How do the SWP expect to be taken seriously by SP members with their calls for a 'Socialist Block'. The SWP are clearly still up to their old antics, they are not genuine in any way about their calls for 'left unity'

author by Tedpublication date Sat Oct 25, 2003 14:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As for Derek Deleney being an anti bin tax candidate this is a red herring. Des Derwin has been just as active if not more active in the bin tax campaign than Derek Deleney. Des Derwin is the better known candidate and has a greater track record. He is the candidate that is most likely to get the most votes for the left.

The SWP are ingrained sectarians, they should be blacked by all those on the genuine left.

author by MGpublication date Sat Oct 25, 2003 14:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What would be a real blow to the SWPs campaign was if Joe Higgins and Clare Daly came out publicly and called for a vote for Derwin.

author by Michaelpublication date Sat Oct 25, 2003 17:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Which one is the Judean People's Party and which one is the People's Party of Judea?

author by Davidpublication date Sat Oct 25, 2003 17:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Calling for the resolution in the UN for other countries to provide troops and funding in support of their illegal occupation without even pretending to concede any control. The SWP have always been about building a movement of num,bers, and it seems they have no attachment to the name of their party as long as they have direct control over all decisions made by the left.

author by Annapublication date Sat Oct 25, 2003 18:18author email a.chen at virgin dot netauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

But this is what they do. Some suspect they do it for sport.

Pissed on power, the SWP have gratuitously purged one of the healthiest anti-war groups in the UK — Birmingham Stop the War; stuck the boot into the much-loved anti-racist and striking (now sacked) firefighter Steve Godward who was chair of Birmingham STW, among a whole raft of other abuses; manouevred out not one high profile Socialist Alliance chair, but TWO — Dave Nellist and Liz Davies; destroyed the successful Socialist Alliance press operation — driving out both myself and Mike Marqusee; packed meetings in order to raise their presence on the SA exec from 3 out of 22 to 13 out of 36; put the lid on the Menwith Hill and Fairford campaigns; pointlessly pre-empted the Socialist Party-initiated student action by two days; refused to let the STWC-affiliated Jewish Socialist Group have a speaker on any of the big demo platforms, telling the blatant untruth that the JSG wasn't affiliated; refused to let its toy, the Socialist Alliance, have a speaker on the same platforms; purged Carol Naughton from the CND chair; exhibited demented hostility to various individuals and campaigns such as the Peace Not War CD organisers; told everyone to get stuck into direct action whenever bombing of Iraq began, and then sharply reversed when it did, telling us that direct action was now 'elitist'; allowed the immense anti-war momentum to die a death over the holidays throughout Dr Kelly, Hutton and the occupation of Iraq; bullied, lied and assaulted; and so on and so on and so on.

When they bolt themselves onto the head of a movement, you're hit by the smell of burning rubber and sound of screeching brakes as it crashes to a full stop. Of course, this is because 'class conscousness is uneven' and it is up to the SWP as the Chosen Ones with the Holy Texts to set the pace. If seasoned campaigners, committed activists and socialists are mown down in the process, it is only for the benefit of the 'bigger picture,' and the greater good, comrade.

So look out for the SWP placeman who will know little about the hands-on issues, who will believe in 'my party right or wrong', and who will sit on the post if elected while you all try to work around him. That's the usual scenario.

Qui bono?

Socialist Alliance wreckage:
http://www.movementsforsocialism.com
For details of the Birmingham purge:
http://web.bham.ac.uk/sue_blackwell/politics

Related Link: http://www.movementsforsocialism.com
author by An Annoyed Siptu Headpublication date Sat Oct 25, 2003 20:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I am glad to see that this has been turned into a frontpage feature. The SWP members who use this site were obviously planning to ignore this article until it slips down the newswire. Now it is harder for them to do so.

Now come on. Somebody from the SWP must be willing to explain themselves?

author by SumDumGuy - Nonepublication date Sat Oct 25, 2003 20:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As somebody who is not a member of any party ( for many reasons) I would like to air a few grievences. I used to wonder why the SP wouldnt just get into a bloc with the SWP since they were so similar. But from talking to SWP members they always give me the impression that they are only into getting new recruits and to look good at protests, complete and utter bullshitters. I can see why the SP, WSM etc wouldnt get involved imagine what tactics they would use to ensure they could run things their way.

I would propse a bloc perhaps with the SP, WSM and the rest of the left, I would join this organisation but I would not join one with the SWP involved.

How could they do what all this and expect anything?

author by Davidpublication date Sat Oct 25, 2003 21:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I don't think the WSM would be well advised to join an election alliance seeing as they are anarchists. So that just leaves the SP and erm.. the labour party. ahem

author by random inputpublication date Sat Oct 25, 2003 21:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I have major respect for the WSM, the SP, WCA and the ISN. However, such a bloc will never happen. There are too many differences. To use one example, the WSM don't believe in standing in elections, while the SP use elections as a propaganda tool (quite effectively in my humble opinion). The WSM even actively campiagn against voting in elections (not a tatic I agree with). So imagine the scenario, the new "Left Bloc Movement" running in the next general elections. One section of the group is canvassing looking for votes, while another is canvassing against voting in principle. But this would never happen because no such SP-WSM alliance will ever be built. There are also the other ideological differences (the state, etc). The SP and WSM will just have to continue working in broader alliances where possible (bin tax, water charges etc), and I think thats the closest they will ever get to each other. Still, at least the SP had the good grace to invite actual anarchists to speak during their debate in the summer, as opposed to the SWP 'debate' that took place at Marxism last year (maybe it was the year before).

As for an alliance of the other left groups, I have to agree with the SP on this one. Such an alliance in Ireland would be counter-productive (even without the SWP). A small group of socialists standing under one banner is no replacement for what the SP call a "mass workers party". Such a small alliance would, without doubt in my opinion, simply degnerate into a sectarian battlefeild, whether those involved want it to or not. I was a member of the Socialist Alliance in Britain (where I, along with two others, were foolishly recruited into the SWP - we've all since left) and I have to say I was unimpressed. This was undoubtedly because of the role of the SWP, but without the SWP the Alliance would have been even smaller, and more irrelevant because the whole idea of the SA (by my understanding) was that socialists could work together and therefore attract more people to the cause. A small grouping that constantly argue with one another is not going to attract anyone (I also think the SP were right not to get involved in the SA in Ireland - which has since collapsed). The SA is now, to me anyway, something of a joke. One of the founding members, the SP left in England and Wales, as did Cyrmu Goch another founding member in the Welsh SA - all citing 'SWP antics' as their reasons. I'm sure many independants have left the ranks too - which is precisely the opposite of what the SA was set up to achieve!

Of course, in the future a new party or movement that represents the working class will have to built. I'm not the one to decide when the conditions will be right for this - the bin tax is obviously a step in the right (left) direction, but I still think proposing such a thing now would be premature. But I would happily join such a movement (with or without the SWP, preferably without!) if I felt it would be more than a small grouping of left groups under one banner. But then the role of the SWP in such a movement would have to be serioulsy questioned, as events, even just the ones outlined in this thread, prove that they cannot be trusted and will do whatever they hell they want to do as long as it suits them.

Well thats my two cent worth anyway.

author by SIPTU member - Education Branchpublication date Sat Oct 25, 2003 21:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I am a member of the SIPTU Education Branch. I will not support Kieran Allen and his SWP academics nominating their guy. I'll be supporting Des Derwin's nomination and I'll get everyone in my workplace to do the same.

The SWP are discusting. They are not interested in building alternatives in the Unions. Their tactics are disgusting and they should withdraw from the Vice Presidential election immediatley!

The SWP have not been active in the anti bin tax camapaign. Des Derwin has done more work on bin tax, in his community and workplace than any SWP member (this is a fact). The SWP have only turned up to the odd large bin tax meeting and the odd protest. They have been conservative in the camapign argueing against blockades.

SWP withdraw from Vice Presidential election now!
SWP stop pretending to be active in Bin Tax Camapign!

author by Gerard - SIPTU memberpublication date Sat Oct 25, 2003 21:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This is yet another example of the SWP up to what their best at- acting the mick and putting people off left politics. This is a true of sectarianism- ie putting their own organisation ahead of the need to rebuild a left in the Trade Unions. They are SECTARIAN and OPPORTUNISTIC!

It is a fallacy to think that Derek Delany (or whatever his name is) is an anti-bin tax candidate. I've never heard of him before, he is not a co-ordinator in any area. Des Derwin has consistently been involved in the anti Bin Tax camapign, and I believe he is a co-ordinator in his local area. The SWP are very very arrogant to think that they can do very very little work on bin tax and then reap the rewards!

On the Socialist Block. First of all I think that the idea of a 'socialist' block at a time when we need to establish a very basic left alternative is sectarian and inward looking. We need to build the movement, not just the revolutionary groups. They only want to get into a Socialist Block to be associated with the SP and other decent groups like the ISN. These groups have been active for years in local issues and in the Trade Unions, and have won the respect of many. This contrasts with the SWP who have flitted from issue to issues and have pissed off all they come in contact with.

If any 'rank and file' members of the SWP are reading this they should question their leadership and their membership of that party. But don't leave active politics, get active elsewhere and leave Kieran Allen et al to themselves.

author by j.p. morganpublication date Sat Oct 25, 2003 22:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Interesting but little known fact is that many "left-wing" groups in the USA were infiltrated by Wall Street Financiers in the early 20th century.

Prof. Carroll Quigley of Georgetown University (one of Bill Clinton's mentors) wote about these connections in his "Tragedy and Hope" (first published ca. 1966):
"More than fifty years ago the Morgan firm decided to infiltrate the Left-wing political movements in the United States. This was relatively easy to do, since these groups were starved for funds and eager for a voice to reach the people. Wall Street supplied both. The purpose was not to destroy, dominate, or take over but was really threefold: (1) to keep informed about the thinking of Left-wing or liberal groups; (2) to provide them with a mouthpiece so that they could "blow off steam," and (3) to have a final veto on their publicity and possibly on their actions, if they ever went "radical." There was nothing really new about this decision, since other financiers had talked about it and even attempted it earlier. What made it decisively important this time was the combination of its adoption by the dominant Wall Street financier, at a time when tax policy was driving all financiers to seek tax-exempt refuges for their fortunes, and at a time when the ultimate in Left-wing radicalism was about to appear under the banner of the Third International."

Now I will freely admit that I have absolutely no inside information on the SWP and no particular interest in adding fuel to the fire of sectarian left-wing squabbling, but it is clearly not beyond the bounds of possibility that an organisation parading itself as "socialist" and "working-class" is in fact subject to other influences ... notwithstanding the fact that many of its grass-roots members may be genuine in their beliefs and efforts .....

Just a thought which occured to me when I saw the previous posting asking if the SWP was a "front" ...

As I say this is merely speculative, I have no evidence one way or the other .....

Related Link: http://www.namebase.org/sources/ES.html
author by Curiouspublication date Sat Oct 25, 2003 22:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Will any members of the SWP reply on indymedia or even inform us what exactly their purpose as a political party is?
The SWP has turned more ordinary people off socialism than any right wing propaganda.
Will the SWP disband and allow real socialists to lead the fight!

author by informativepublication date Sat Oct 25, 2003 23:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If you know any Catalans & they want to vote they must get to the Spanish State embassy or Consul by the 6th of November to vote in the "constituency of their birth".
Irish people can't do that.

and the CNT in Hospitallet which is huge and sprawling urban area adjoined to Barcelona is running a "candidate".
http://barcelona.indymedia.org/newswire/display/57646/index.php

author by Redskinpublication date Sun Oct 26, 2003 00:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Whatever your opinion of the SWP, their politics, members and tactics, they are perfectly entitled to run a candidate in whatever election they want. It would make sense to me that they do. There seems to be a great deal if the usual sniping and anti-SWP abuse. More opportunistic then them methinks. If you think they are a bunch of unrepresentitive areseholes the vote will reflect this, and this discussion is stillborn as Des won't be affected.

If Des genuinly is a 'reluctant candidate' as he claims, he really shouldn't be this indignant. The SWP supported him when he lost last year and don't this year. Thats politics. Get on with it.

I like the claims that the SWP run fromts when they are openly running a candidate and not backing a non-member! This seems to be one of their more transparent moves. And as for the assertation that they are a Wall Street front....

For the record i am not, and never have been, a SWP member. But someone has to balance this fairly vicious polemic.

author by Intransigentpublication date Sun Oct 26, 2003 00:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Swp is so insignificant. I am amazed that so many people wish to devote so much time to criticising them. Does anyone give a fuck about Namibia in the rugby world cup? Or Saudi Arabia in the World Cup? The few members (and that is very few) that they do have will not respond to this because obviously the PC through democratic centralism has banned this. They are a political party (a very insignificant one) so they are entitled to run a candidate if they so wish. But why run it is a main feature. You know there is actual news happening besides the petty squabbles of petty organistation.

author by random inputpublication date Sun Oct 26, 2003 02:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

is because despite their REPEATED calls for LEFT UNITY (especially since the Bin Tax and IAWM), they choose to throw this left unity aside when it suits them - and run a VIRTUAL UNKNOWN against a genuine candidate! That's not to say the SWPer isn't genuine, but having SWP activists campaign agianst Des in the election can in no way be seen as positive. But if the SWP were to withdraw and support Des, then he would have more activists campaigning for him (thereby hopefully increasing the chance of a successful election). Des is also, it seems, a vocal defender of the SWP on the left. This will obvioulsy cause him to re-assess his views. At least I hope it will.

I don't think Des is some big hero (an I don't think he expects people to think this), but I think he is genuine and certainly has a profile. Even my aunty who wouldn't be very politcal was talking about him in the last election.

Support Des, dicth SWP!

author by Cardinal Ratterpublication date Sun Oct 26, 2003 04:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Lets clear something up first. This isn't important because it exposes the SWP as hypocrites on "left unity" or because it shows them to be sectarian. That was already well known and the SWP just don't matter all that much in and of themselves.

This does matter though, and it certainly deserves to be a feature.

It matters because SIPTU matters. SIPTU is the biggest trade union in the country by a big distance. It matters because the General Officers in SIPTU wield a great deal of power within the union.

It matters because the present SIPTU leadership is one of the most craven and right wing you could hope to find. It matters because we should all want to see the strongest possible anti-partnership, anti-bin tax, pro-rank and file candidacy for this post that we possibly can.

This stunt matters because branch nominations can be touch and go things. The SWP have a few activists in SIPTU branches that might nominate a left candidate and a split in the left vote could stop any left candidate from being nominated.

Do you see why this is important now?

author by yaknowpublication date Sun Oct 26, 2003 07:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

THe SWP are Amway Salesmen/women. There is no indication beside empty rhetoric that the product is socialism this time around.

They are a self-referential cult that serves as the first line of policing dissent in Ireland. Recall the Bush visit at Hills borough (the RBB lies to return the buses are leaving to thew stage we all swept past, the stunt at Shannon after the fence came down, the en d of the blockade of the Dail they did not start). Throughout the war- they kept negotiating surrender with the cops and declaring victory for their leadership, their cult.

They literally can't help themselves. They are power junkies. Co-dependency no more!

author by grumblepublication date Sun Oct 26, 2003 09:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

vanguard or.... vangardai?

author by Kevin Wingfield - SWPpublication date Sun Oct 26, 2003 10:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What sort of extraordinary world does Indymedia inhabit? The one thousand strong, mainly female, cabin crew staff at Aer Lingus are fighting one of the most important union battles in recent year. Their company have hired in scab planes, including some from Michael O Leary.

Yet there is barely a word written about it in Indymedia. No big front page story. No interviews with the actual workers themselves.

But the editorial board has found something far more important to make its main front-page story – a spiteful attack on SWP by Mr Des Derwin and follow up commentary by more than 20 anonymous contributors. Some of these contributors have no difficulty hiding behind computer screen while they name SWP union militants for IBEC.

The tone for this sectarianism comes from Des Derwin’s letter. In this long, long diatribe, he fails to even mention the right wing candidate in SIPTU.- Brendan Hayes. If this pro-partnership bureaucrat wins he will move the union even further to the right.

Funnily enough, Derek Delaney is seeking to run against this machine candidate – rather than against Des Derwin. In his literature, his speeches he will be challenging the politics and methods of the machine candidate.

Some facts may be helpful for those who want a little more than a McCarthyite rant about the SWP.

First, the election for SIPTU Vice President does not take place until January. Once it occurs, it will be conducted on a PR basis –where presumably left wing candidates can urge a vote transfer. At this stage, candidates have to win a nomination from a branch of more than 500 members.

Des Derwin’s sound and fury amounts to a demand that no one else on the left may seek a nomination beside himself. But on what basis is this arrogant demand made?

He never organised and or proposed any gathering of left activists to discuss these matters, to look at past weakness of the left in the union and, horror of horror, vote among themselves over who should that candidate be.

He mentions a private conversation with one SWP member who said he was thinking of running. He fails to mention that one hour after that conversation, he suddenly rushed to the platform of the SIPTU conference to tell assembled delegates that he would be back as a candidate. Everyone else on the left was just presented with a fait accompli- back Des Derwin as your candidate.


If Des Derwin had a record of shaking the union machine and if his last campaign had come anywhere near being a success, even this might have been acceptable. Unfortunately, his campaign inspired little confidence. He failed to win the nomination of his own branch. He received only 7% percent of a the vote when rank and file candidates –even though other ‘unknown’ activists such as Carolann Duggan -- scored over 40% and later over 20%. He was the ‘reluctant candidate’ who ran a low level campaign.

Nor did anything come out of this campaign. There is no network of activist around Des Derwin. At the recent SIPTU conference there was no intervention by supporters of Des Derwin on key debates on the union political fund or whether the union should adopt a no cover policy. The only rank and file fringe meeting at the conference was organised by the Grassroots network, which he claims is SWP dominated. The bulletin he used to be associated with “SIPTU Fightback” has collapsed.

We have no great desire to wash all this dirty linen in public. We do not want to be construed as mounting a personal attack on Des Derwin. However, it is important to understand that activists on the left of SIPTU have doubts about the effectiveness of his candidacy –and that he has not participated in any democratic forum to discuss these doubts.

Given this context, other left candidates have every right to enter the race for the SIPTU Presidency. Indeed some would argue that it is incumbent on them.

There is one final comment that I cannot let go. He claims that Brid Smith ‘aggressively’ demanded to speak at a recent Trades Council march on bin charges and tells us that he had to reject this because she was an ‘unscheduled’ speaker. However, there was nothing aggressive in Brid Smith request or in the manner she made it. At the same event, there was another ‘unscheduled’ speaker called from the Finglas campaign- and quite rightly.

Brid Smith was about to serve two weeks in jail for the bin tax protests. She put her own liberty on the line to oppose the non-collection policy in Mount Tallant. .Disgracefully, on the day before she served her time, Indymedia again ran a series of abusive comments about this incident from the usual anonymous cabal.

Des Derwin spurious attempts to hide behind bureaucratic rules is entirely unworthy. The next time he wants to rant against sectarianism, he might first check his mirror.

author by ecpublication date Sun Oct 26, 2003 11:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If you want to see a story/stories about the Aer Lingus strike on Indymedia then all you have to do is write one, publish it on the newswire and propose it as a feature on the editorial list. Anyone who wants to have an input into the editorial side of the site is welcome to join the editorial list and propose features. That's how the site works.

As for what planet Indymedia is on - it's on the same planet as the broad activist community in Ireland and elsewhere whose contributions make it what it is.

author by Daithi - 1 of IMC IEpublication date Sun Oct 26, 2003 11:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Kevin, I don't know if you're pulling our leg or not. You know damn well that Indymedia doesn't 'run' comments about Brid Smith or anyone else. Comments are contributed by the various people that use the site. I know it might be difficult to get out of your top-down perspective, but there is a difference between a party newspaper and an independent website. We do not go looking for people to write comments; instead, we provide the tools and the space for anyone (like you, doing so right above me) to set out their own points of view.

To suggest that Indymedia has any responsibility for the views of certain persons about Brid Smith is, apart from being exceptionally ignorant, the real disgrace. Why can you not disagree with the opinions expressed, instead of shooting the messenger?

The other point you make with reference to Indymedia is the front page feature of this story. Kevin, where are the newswire articles you contributed on the airport strike? There is no point in the world whinging about under-attention to a particular issue, if you're not prepared to do anything about it. If we had chosen to ignore a set of original articles about the airport, then possibily your delusional view of Indymedia might contain some truth. However, I must point out that I would in fact welcome a feature on the strike. We are generally led by what gets put on the newswire - not a central committee line of what's important this week. Again, I appreciate this may be out of step with the general traditions of the left in Ireland, but personally I think the site works best when it's driven by the diverse concerns of users rather than some centralised we-know-whats-best policy.

So come off it. Criticise the substance of Des Derwin's article, but don't try and be claiming that it shouldn't be there in the first place. This is an important issue, and was featured on the basis that it was certainly an original story, and likely to provoke discussion and further comment. We like that around here. Fair play to you for addressing Derwin's complaints, but do you really have to spoil it by crying about Indymedia's agenda? We're not even organised enough to have an agenda!

author by pasionariapublication date Sun Oct 26, 2003 13:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

please see www.swp.ie

this outlines exactly what the swp stands for.

author by SIPTU member - Education Branchpublication date Sun Oct 26, 2003 14:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You have outlined a number of criticisms of Des Derwin. I accept that no-one is perfect and that the Derwin for General Secretary camapign was not the best left camapign ever run. In your posting you did not outline what Derek Delany has to offer! What has he been involved in? I don't know him from the Anti Bin Tax camapign. Will he and the SWP be able to build a strong left in SIPTU, I don't think so.

author by googleplexedpublication date Sun Oct 26, 2003 16:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

unless he plays football, there is nothing on him on google.ie

http://www.google.ie/search?q=%22Derek+Delany%22

author by amazedpublication date Sun Oct 26, 2003 17:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

So why does Cde Allen want the job of vice president of SIPTU .Wouldn't that make him only second in command there? A bad career move in my opinion ,a big step down for such an important man.

author by random inputpublication date Sun Oct 26, 2003 18:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

MR Wingfield writes: "He never organised and or proposed any gathering of left activists to discuss these matters, to look at past weakness of the left in the union and, horror of horror, vote among themselves over who should that candidate be."

By the sounds of things, neither did the SWP!

Therefore, as someone who is no way connected with either Des, the SWP or SIPTU, may I suggest that NOW would be the time to hold such an activists meeting, and then agree on one left-wing candidate that everyone will be back? Be it Des, be it Derek or be it someone else altogether.

I would appreciate a reply to this from Des, the SWP and any other SIPTU members.

Running two candidates on almost identical slates is a truly terrible idea, PR or no PR. This is why the SP amd SWP don't run against each other in General and Local elections isn't it? So obviously the same should apply in the unions.

author by random inputpublication date Sun Oct 26, 2003 18:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

which is not the case obviously. I was just making a comparison about lefts running aginst each other.

author by Commander Wingnutpublication date Sun Oct 26, 2003 18:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Kevin Wingfield returns the fray full of sound and fury. As usual his contribution amounts to outrage that anyone could dare to criticise the SWP.

First we have his complaints that the cabin crew dispute is not being adequately covered on Indymedia. I won't waste time on a detailed response to this red herring as other have already done so. If you want articles on that subject, Kevin, contribute one. That's how Indymedia works.

Kevin then seeks to confuse the issue some more. We are told that this is a PR election so it doesn't matter if left candidates stand against each other. Now I know that the SWP doesn't have much of a clue about elections but this takes the biscuit.

You see, Kevin, Single Transferable Vote elections don't actually work that way in practice. Votes do not always transfer and when they do they can go in very unpredictable ways. A number of Brid Smiths votes transferred to Aine NiChonnail in the last general election for instance.

More importantly, having two candidates representing seemingly identical or very close positions can seriously weaken the challenge from both. They can be eliminated earlier because of a split vote and such division can also turn people off voting for either. There are good reasons why the main parties carefully judge the number of candidates they stand depending on what level of support of they have and how many seats are available in an election. They know what they are doing.

A unified left candidate and left campaign would have much more impact than an SWP campaign and an independent left campaign could possibly have separately when it comes to challenging the right wing machine. Deep down, you know that Kevin. After all, haven't you repeatedly approached the Socialist Party asking for electoral pacts (when you weren't busy standing against them)?

Kevin then shifts his ground to attack Des Derwin for not having organised a left gathering to discuss the candidacy for the post. A fair criticism as far as I am concerned, but wait...

Neither the SWP nor Derek Delaney organised such a meeting either. You didn't approach other left wing activists in the union about it. You didn't seek to organise a broad campaign. Instead you organised an SWP campaign, aimed only at asserting that the SWP run the left in the union and we won't have any uppity independent socialists getting notions above themselves.

Not satisfied with this hypocricy, the good Commander moves on to attack the modest vote that Des got in the General Secretary election. He contrasts it with votes received by Carolann Duggan. Unfortunately, he fails to include Carolanns most recent electoral results, which were rather less spectacular. By the time she stopped running, her vote was what 14%? 17%? Not terrible, but a pittance compared to the early promise.

Derwin's first, inexpertly run, campaign got 7% of the vote, a bit less than half of what the then much higher profile Duggan was getting by the end. Not bad in the circumstances. This time around, of course, Derwin has a profile in the union that he lacked then. He also has gained valuable experience in how to run a union election.

Where Kevin really shows his cheek is when he complains that nothing "came out of this campaign" in terms of building a strong left in the union.

This from a representative of the party that insisted on total control of the Duggan campaigns and ensured that they were used only to build the SWP and not any kind of serious left in SIPTU beggars belief!

Not finished displaying his brass neck, Kevin then goes on to imply that the "Grassroots network" is something other than the usual SWP union front. Lets be blunt about this. Grassroots network was set up by the SWP without any approach or dialogue with the rest of the left in the union (ask Clare Daly or Alan MacSimoin). It is the plaything of the SWP, just as any number of other supposed "rank and file bulletins" have been. I mean how many different names have the SWP given their SIPTU front at this stage? You must be running out of them.

We are told that "activists on the left of SIPTU" have doubts about Derwin. This is code for "the SWP", isn't it? Or is Kevin seriously going to tell us that independent lefts and members of other left wing organisations have been clambering to have the SWP stand?

As we have come to expect from the SWP, the Commander's rant is filled with evasions, misrepresentations and dishonesty. This is as true in the small things as in the big.

The SWP demand that Brid Smith should be a platform speaker at the DCTU march is described as having "nothing aggressive" about it. Anyone who was anywhere near the front of the crowd can confirm that in fact there were spittle-flecked shouts from members of the SWP that Smith should be a speaker. That decision wasn't up to Derwin, which hasn't stopped the SWP from seeking revenge. Des should have helped the SWP overturn the DCTU's decision on the spot. What are represetative meetings of the trade union movement between friends when the SWP want something?

That our resident SWP member signs off with advice that Des should examine his own sectarianism is so crazed that it almost leaves me speechless.

Des Derwin was a prime mover behind the abortive Socialist Alliance, killed because the SWP were incapable of working with anyone as equals. Derwin has a long record of arguing with others that they should work with the SWP.

You really don't get it, do you Kev? Des is one of the least sectarian people on the entire Irish left. He was an isolated voice when almost everybody else on the left regards your organisation with contempt. He was about the last ally you had left, any you choose to shaft him and then complain about HIS sectarianism.

As always with the SWP mindset, it isn't your sectarian actions that you look at it in a harsh light. Instead the complaints of those you screw over are dismissed as the real sectarianism.

author by Winging Keffieldpublication date Sun Oct 26, 2003 21:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It's so much easier when you can control your editorial with a tight cabal, sorry, democratic centralism.

Related Link: http://www.swp.ie
author by Mickey - SP (personal capacity)publication date Sun Oct 26, 2003 22:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I have some questions for Kevin, because even after reading his contribution I am no clearer on what the declaration of a second left candidacy for the post is supposed to achieve.

1) You don't raise or describe any significant political difference between what Des Derwin stands for and what Derek Delaney stands for. Des asserts that on the fundamental political questions in the union, the two candidates are as one. Is there some political issue at stake here that you have failed to mention?

2) It appears to me that Delaney has a lower profile within SIPTU than Derwin. It also appears that he has a less impressive activist record there. Is there something important about Delaney's profile and record that you have failed to mention?

3) It seems that neither Derwin nor Delaney were formally chosen as candidates by any genuinely broad left grouping within the union. Des decided to stand himself, while Derek is the choice of the SWP. Have you failed to mention something about the origins of the Delaney candidacy that would cast him as more than the candidate of the SWP (or of an SWP front)?

As of now, nobody from the SWP has provided even a hint of an answer to any of these questions. I would have thought that these points would have had to be central to any serious justification for your actions that you might offer. In the absence of any coherent explanation as to why the SWP has done something which on the surface appears to be a destructive and pointless action, you can hardly be offended when the worst is assumed.

author by john throne - labors militant voicepublication date Sun Oct 26, 2003 23:54author email loughfinn at aol dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

I would like to agree with those who believe that this discussion on sectarianism is important.

All that workers have gained over the past is under attack from the offensive of capitalism. The leadership of the social democratic parties and the trade unions cooperates with this offensive. They are part of the problem. As a result the working class is being driven back and experiencing defeat after defeat. The central need of the working class is to build a force that can confront this offensive and throw it back. Sectarianism is one of the major obstacles to this work.

For those of us who were around in the 1970’s there were large left forces in the unions and working class. In Ireland these tended to be spread across the left of the Labor Party, the Workers Party, the Communist Party, other left groups and non affiliated lefts and fighters in the unions. These forces, what could be called the more active and conscious section of the working class were an important obstacle to the ambitions of capitalism and they had in general a socialist consciousness. They have since been fragmented and in many cases demoralized as stalinism collapsed and social democracy moved further right and those of us on the revolutionary left were not able to hold them together.

In the past few years new forces have begun to emerge. I am referring to the movements in the former colonial countries against privatization and the lifting of restrictions on capital, the movement around Seattle and against capitalist liberalization, the movements in the more wealthy capitalist countries against the attacks on the welfare state and the public sector, and more recently the 20 to 30 million who demonstrated last February against the invasion of Iraq. These new forces tend to have at best an anti capitalist consciousness, using this word in the broadest sense.

Within the activists of this new movement socialist consciousness is much weaker than in similar movements in the past and anarchist consciousness has gained strength. In the movement and amongst the activists there is also a much greater caution about organization and about alternatives as a result of the catastrophe of stalinism and social democracy. This is the terrain in which revolutionaries and anti capitalist activists are now working.

In Ireland these new movements and forces are in existence as we all can see. There are thousands of activists and there are large sections of the working class who would move into action if they could see some hope of making progress. For those of us who are activists I believe the key question is how do we work to bring these activists together in struggle and do so in a way that assists the wider working class movement to move into action around policies that can throw back the capitalists offensive.

I believe that this is where sectarianism comes in. And where this discussion is important. Sectarianism is one of the problems that makes it very difficult to unify the activist sector of the working class in struggle and so assist the working class as a whole to see an alternative and to move into action. The SWP’s action in relation to SIPTU will be used by the enemies of a new movement to add further to the cynicism and caution about taking action and organizing. It adds to the obstacles in the way of building a new fighting cohesive force of activists within the working class

In relation to the details of this SWP move in SIPTU my impression is that the SWP leadership panicked as the SP gained more prominence out of the bin tax struggle. The SWP felt that they had to assert their identity in some large arena and so we have this sectarian lunge. However as damaging and worthy of condemnation as the SWP action is I think that it would be a wasted opportunity if the result of this discussion was to simply batter the SWP. I agree that the SWP have continually put the narrow interests of their apparatus above that of the needs of the working class movement. And in this they are much worse than any of the sizeable left groups. In this regard it would be useful to try and identify why the SWP are so much worse in this regard than most other left groups.

The reason why I think the SWP in particular suffers so badly from this malaise is because of its lack of any real roots in the working class. The SWP has no sustained organic orientation to the working class. It does not see that it is only through a dialogue with the working class and listening to the working class that it can build a healthy organization. For example in making this decision about SIPTU it did not have to think of how it would explain it in caucuses of independent minded union activist members of its party as it does not have such bodies to any extent in its ranks. Nor did it have to consider how such activists and the party in general would explain it in their work places and union branches because of the insubstantial nature of their organization and work in these areas.

However while the SWP are the worst in this regard all organizations that seek to organize as a revolutionary force are continually faced with this problem. How do we build the organization to fight for the ideas we believe in and not allow ourselves to get into the method where we put the interests of the organization above that of the needs of the working class. And how do we do this without throwing out the fight for our ideas and end up just organizing on the basis of the existing general consciousness.

On another thread in indymedia.ie, entitled the “bin tax struggle and the building of a working class movement” October 21, I do not know how to link this or I would, I have raised that the SP made a mistake last weekend when it organized the welcome out for Joe and Clare as a SP event. I have argued that it would have been more in the interests of the bin tax struggle and the working class and activist movement to have proposed that the welcome out would have been organized by all the bin tax committees. That this would have helped unify and strengthen the bin tax struggle and in general help build confidence in the ability of the various forces to work together. Instead the SP saw the top priority was to boost the profile and recruitment to its own party.

I am not saying that the SP is any where near as sectarian as the SWP. The SP’s orientation to the working class, its understanding of the importance of involvement in and taking responsibility for working class struggles such as the water charges and the bin charges etc root the SP much more organically in the working class and this assists the SP in more successfully standing against the pressures of sectarianism. However the SP, like all revolutionary organizations is faced with this pressure towards sectarianism just as they are also faced with the pressure towards opportunism and liquidationism.

There are many many revolutionary activists who have been in these and other revolutionary organizations who have seen this problem and have reacted to it by concluding that they should not belong to any organization. I would like to suggest that this is not helpful in finding a solution to this problem. This just allows sectarianism to continue to flourish. The movement needs organization, this is the basis of such organizations as the SP and the SWP etc. Responsibility for dealing with this problem of sectarianism lies with all activists and washing anybody's hands of the task of fighting sectarianism and building a revolutionary organization is not helpful.

One contribution in this discussion from “Random Input” raised some of the issues that are in many activists minds. Could there be a “left block movement” running in the next elections. Could their be an alliance of left wing groups. What to say about a “mass workers party”. His or her generally negative conclusions about the immediate prospects for any of these are hard to disagree with. So is that it. We just continue slugging it out until one group becomes totally dominant and until a mass spontaneous movement of the working class throws up a new workers party.

Is this all we can say to the new forces of millions that are moving into action, that we can have united fronts on specific issues, the water charges, the bin tax, union and workplace struggles, the war, and then join one of the existing revolutionary groups, one of the liberal or reformist groups or operate as an individual. And that is all. Maybe this is all that is possible. That is the position of a number of the left groups as far as I can see. Maybe they are right.

However I am not convinced. And even if they are in immediate organizational practical terms I believe that it is still necessary to have some general answer which corresponds to the needs of the working class and to fight for this position in the movement, whether we actually have the forces to put this into action at this time or not. For example what do we say to the 20 to 30 million who marched internationally, what do we say to the 100,000 who marched in Ireland, what do we say to the many activists and workers who are active in the bin tax at the moment? If we are not putting forward a real alternative for these forces which connects with their existing level of consciousness then we ourselves are an obstacle to the movement generalizing from its experiences and realizing its full potential.

The small group with which I am involved Labors Militant Voice believes that we should fight for the idea of an anti capitalist working class movement. Concretely this means raising and fighting within the movement internationally, nationally and locally for the building of an anti capitalist international. The extent to which this can be achieved at the moment internationally is limited but we believe that fighting for this idea helps this emerging movement to clarify its aims and to develop a structure and to accelerate the process of the movement becoming more conscious. It gives it and the most serious activists within it a real way forward.

We argue for the guidelines or points of unity of this anti capitalist international to be as follows:

#Recognition that the world situation today is dominated by the offensive of the major corporations and their corrupt capitalist system, the threat this represents to life on earth and opposition to this offensive and to capitalism.

#Recognition that the international working class is the only force that can end capitalism and build a new world based on the needs of all and the sustainability of life on earth as we know it.

#Recognition that the policies and the leadership of the working class organizations and the mass liberal organizations stand as obstacles to the struggle against the capitalist offensive and have to be opposed.

#Recognition that the movement has to organize on the basis of mass collective action on the streets and the workplaces with the intention to defeat the attacks, to fight to win, and to open up a new offensive movement of the working class to shape the world in our collective interests.


We believe that activists should take up the struggle for this anti capitalist international within which all anti capitalist activists and organizations who agreed with these guidelines could be active and within which the various policies could be expressed and different organizations could exist. We believe there are many similiarites to the First International in what we suggest. Marxists, anarchists, trade union activists, etc were active in the first international and this organization assisted the working class in taking a major step forward.

We believe that in this present period this approach would bring together the widest layer of activists who are prepared to fight the capitalist offensive. It would offer hope and an alternative to those workers and other layers who want to oppose the attacks on their lives and build a new world but are not clear how to take action. And it would allow the working class moving into struggle to experience and consider the various views, socialist, anarchist, etc.

In the case of the bin tax struggle for example this would mean conducting this struggle with a view to coming out of it with increased support for the idea that all the anti capitalist activists would seek to continue to work together and build towards such an organized movement. In the areas as far as I know there are committees with anarchists, socialists, and different traditions of anarchists and socialists, community and union activists from neither tradition, should we not seek to build on this unity. I believe this can best be done by raising in a skillful manner, not an ultimatist manner, the idea of building an anti capitalist movement.

I believe this corresponds to the needs and the potential of the working class movement as it is today. I believe it also challenges all activists to examine their method of work and policies, and this includes the many activists who are in no organization, I believe it opens the door to large numbers of activists who are against capitalism but who are not sure what is the alternative to capitalism coming together to fight and in the process to discuss and clarify ideas.

The contributor “Random Input” raises the problem of anarchist groups being in the same united fronts as socialists and the differences on elections. I feel that this appears an insurmountable problem only because we have not sufficiently recognized the changed world situation and we have not sufficiently challenged our own past. Let us say in areas of Dublin the anti bin tax struggle allowed for the evolution of an anti capitalist movement along the guidelines spelled out above. These guidelines say nothing about elections.

So what is to prevent these anti capitalist fronts recognizing that there is not unity on this issue, explaining the different views and those who agree in running in the elections doing so under a different banner while continuing to work together along the lines agreed with the other forces in the anti capitalist group. What better way to lay out in front of the working class the different approaches on elections while continuing to work together along the guidelines suggested above. There was much talk about diversity of tactics in the anti global capitalist movement.

Yes we would have to get over the type of condemnations that have been too much part of the movement in the past. We would have to lay out in a clear way why some of us were for fighting elections and why some were not and explain the issues to the working class, meanwhile continuing to work together on the points of unity of the anti capitalist movement.

Socialists would have to accept that the near automatic movement of all who moved into struggle towards socialism as tended to be the case in the past no longer exists and the alternative of socialism has to be fought for again as in the early days. Anarchists would have to see that their views also have a limited base and have to be fought for through struggle and explanation. And all would have to recognize that this new movement of the working class would be continually fragmented and split if these issues were forced to the front to be resolved before any new mass international anti capitalist movement would be built.

The small group that I am involved with comes from a trotskyist tradition. We are convinced that it is important to build our small group on the basis of the ideas of revolutionary socialism. But we do this as part of building the anti capitalist international. We believe that we cannot build a healthy revolutionary group except as part of the new movement and unless we openly discuss and recognize the needs of the movement and the importance of not putting the needs of our own small group before the needs of the movement.

At the same time we are looking at our own tradition. We have concluded that the internal life of trotskyist groups and revolutionary organizations such as the Workers Party were distorted out of all recognition by stalinism and the fight against stalinism and by isolation. That these distortions live on with the movement today and do not only affect the internal lives of organizations but also affect the policies of these organizations in the movement.

We believe that part of the rebuilding of the workers movement is to draw conclusions about the workings of organizations such as the SWP and also the SP and the revolutionary left in general. We have drawn some conclusions in this regard. We believe that the policy of revolutionary organizations where all difference had to be kept hidden from the outside world has to be dropped, where those with differences have to be silenced or driven out. Instead we believe that differences have to be expressed in the pages of the publications of the organizations and shared with the workers who read them.

We believe that it has to be accepted that for any revolutionary organization to gain a mass base it will have to recognize that it will have sustained factional struggle and differences. It has to be recognized that what has become the “normal” internal life of revolutionary socialist organizations was in fact the distortion wrought on these organizations by stalinism and the isolation of these organizations from the mass movement and false overly optimistic perspectives. We have to recognize the damage done by this wrong internal culture.

Our small group is far from clear on all that is involved in this situation, all the changes that have to be made. We are still struggling to understand the positive and negative in our own past and the needs of the working class movement today. But one thing we are convinced about and that is that in this new period new thinking has to be developed. Both in relation to building a broad working class movement and a revolutionary force within that movement. We have to recognize the sectarianism that has caused so much damage and we have to recognize the internal life that has driven so many activists away from the revolutionary organizations.

I would like to suggest that the individuals who see this problem and who criticize the revolutionary groups while remaining on their own look at their responsibility also. It is not only the task of the organized groups to take on sectarianism. For all of us I would like to ask: What conclusion are we drawing from this recent sectarian manoeuvre of the SWP? Are we going to draw some more general conclusions than we did when the three left groups in France stood separate candidates and very possibly prevented a run off in the French elections between a revolutionary socialist and Chirac. This crime of sectarianism has received very little attention on the left as far as I can see. I suggest this is for two reasons. One is that many groups and individuals have given up in the struggle against sectarianism. And two is that many of the larger groups cannot see how they would have acted differently themselves.

It will not be much use if the only conclusions we draw from the recent SWP sectarian manoeuvre are along these lines; that all revolutionary organizations are sectarian and the SWP is the worst, or that all revolutionary organizations are sectarian except the one we are in which has miraculously escaped, that the best way is to persist as an individual activist and make use of the organizations such as the SWP and SP when they can be used but condemn them for their sectarianism.

I would like to propose one or two basic conclusions. One would be that we declare that passivity in front of sectarianism is not acceptable. By passivity I mean throwing up our hands and saying that is the way it will always be. We declare that individual action, building our own revolutionary group and sporadic united front work is not sufficient to the needs of the present movement. That organizations and activists involved in the movement in Ireland and in this discussion consider ways in which we can put on the agenda of the movement for discussion a clarification of the needs of the movement at this time, the potential of the movement at this time and the need to stand against sectarianism. And by sectarianism is meant specific organizations putting what they perceive as the needs of their own organizations above those of the needs of, and the realizing of the potential of, the working class movement.

I would like to propose that groups and individuals who are determined to try and make some progress on this front seek to get together and organize discussions, conferences, etc to make the movement much more conscious of this problem and to try and weaken this problem in the movement through at least initially exposing it and its roots more clearly and by continually keeping it as an issue on the agenda of the working class movement. Much as we revolutionaries are continually trying to keep opportunism and reformism on the agenda of the movement. Can we take some initiatives along these lines, develop the discussion through conferences, debates etc.

Of course this would have no success unless we are building in real day to day struggles in the working class and bringing new fresh workers into struggle. This is essential otherwise it would only be various lefts talking amongst ourselves. What I am suggesting is that as part of the day to day struggle to build in the working class we also seek to develop a conscious and open drive against sectarianism. Exposing in the eyes of the working class the negative affects of the problem would be an important gain.

And what would be necessary if this process were to go forward would be that organizations would have to openly discuss the issue and their own mistakes. For this open self criticism and a changed internal life would be necessary. This would be a not insubstantial gain for the movement in its own right. Hopefully we will not remain trapped in the past and instead will be able to challenge the old ways and open up the road to this new movement that is struggling to be born. Yes condemn this sectarianism of the SWP but let us try and draw some general conclusions and take some action.

John Throne.

Related Link: http://laborsmilitantvoice.com
author by the wall with a ladderpublication date Mon Oct 27, 2003 01:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As much as i despise 'socialists' and other middle class chancers, (including anarchist bourgeois chancers as well). I really have to say this is the best proposal/analysis i have seen in a long while.

All of us (me as well) who put the working class between us like some sort of prize, Or think that you, yourself/group can be won, need to get a grip.

NO UNITY BUT CLASS UNITY
NO WAR BUT CLASS WAR
NO GODS (& definitley) NO MASTERS

author by Belfasterpublication date Mon Oct 27, 2003 13:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Putting aside some of the comments above - for me - whatever the SWP leaderships reasons - quite simply this action was at best ill thought out, and it is not something that I could show support for at a time when the left needs to look to build unity.

author by Working class heropublication date Mon Oct 27, 2003 14:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

That guy is right, the swp are nothing but rich middle class wankers who shout slogans that the working class laugh at between doing normail things, like say protesting against bin tx! w00t! sp!

author by tiredqpublication date Mon Oct 27, 2003 14:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

all the iritating 'anarchist bourgeois chancers' that litter this place aswell - you know who you are!!!!!. bunch of arse.

author by Amusedpublication date Mon Oct 27, 2003 17:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

2 points:
1. Derwin says
"On Indymedia on 10th October ‘03 I announced that I intend to run for the SIPTU Vice President election in January, as I had run in last year’s General Secretary election, on a platform of change and renewal in SIPTU and for a fighting, democratic Union." Well that's democracy for you. Announce you're running in an election to the 25 people on indymedia and then bang no-one else can stand. Politics don't matter, you only have to announce it and anyone who stands against you is 'sectarian'.
2. Why is this a frontpage item? Of course, bash the SWP. The peace process in the North is on a knife-edge. Palestine is being erased from the world. The resistance to Iraqi occupation goes on (both here and inside Iraq). etc etc However the anarcho muppets who edit this site prefer to stir shit on the left. Des is entitled to his view but it becomes a feature becos this site is fast becoming a comic
Don't give me the "you write the news" bullshit. Some unelected nobody decides to make it more important than real news. Remember the Sept 27 march didn't make it to the frontpage.
Censoring comments, creating mountains out of mole-hills, using frontpage items to set a political agenda. Our anarchist comrades have learnt a lot from the mainstream media.
Finally lets debate tactics, although this is limited to this type of forum - it's fairly elitist for one. But lets keep in sight the main problem in society. This red-scare mirrors that from the ruling class.

author by R Isible - 1 of Indymedia Irelandpublication date Mon Oct 27, 2003 17:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well, obviously "Amused" you don't want to be "given the you write the news bullshit" because you don't, won't or can't. You'd rather spend your time attacking instead of doing. If you want to read about the Aer Lingus strike then _write_ about it, in any case please cease whinging that no one else is doing it for you. Yes, comments ARE censored by the editorial team. From the bitter tone of your post I'd imagine that you were one of the people that posted sexist, homphobic, racist or just straightforward insulting comments. We are not a bulletin board for insults and trolling. As regards the composition of the political beliefs of the editors there is no evidence that there is any bias and I repeat the offer above from EC to become involved. Thanks for you co-operation and I look forward to featuring your Aer Lingus strike article. Photographs taken by you would help with this also. A big thank you to all the contributors that DO make indymedia.ie a source of original news.

author by golia biancapublication date Mon Oct 27, 2003 17:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

John Throne, you seem to be hinting that the SP are liquidationists, well it is you that proposed that the SP abandon it's party structures, it's independence and hold a campiang rally rather than a SP rally for Joe and CLares release.

You're the liquidationist

author by Steeliepublication date Mon Oct 27, 2003 18:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

We have the same old SWP slanders and deliberate dishonesties about indymedia.

1. The point that Des was making was that, by announcing his intention to stand on indymedia, we can all be sure that all the organisations on the left were aware of it. For example, the above thread has contributions from people in various branches of SIPTU, and probably also from people involved in every single left-wing political group that is active in Ireland. We also know well that indymedia is read by journalists from all the mainstream newspapers in the country, they have all carried direct quotes from the site in the past.

The juvenile jibe about indymedia being read by 25 people just makes me laugh; the day that Socialist Worker has a readership anywhere near to that of indymedia is never going to come. Front page news items can get viewed by over 10,000 different readers (and this is based on stats that are months old).

2. This is a front page item because a piece of original journalism was sent to the newswire by a contributor and it was deemed to be worthy of being made into a feature by the editors. Why they thought it was worthwhile, I don't know. Personally I commend their decision. I think that the attempts to build a left opposition within my union are very important. They are utterly ignored by the mainstream media and so I'd like to thank indymedia very much for highlighting this story.

Then Amused gets really spiteful: "Some unelected nobody decides to make it more important than real news." The indymedia editorial volunteers are approved (by existing editors) and operate in an extraordinarily transparent and accountable manner. All discussion and decisions happen on an editorial list that is open to all and contains members of the SP and SWP (who choose to contribute nothing to building the site btw). If you had an objection, you had every opportunity to raise it and have it discussed on that list.

You call this an 'elitist' forum. It contains a certain germ of truth in that it is skewed towards those who have more internet access. However, this is hardly avoidable since it is an online forum! On the other hand the fact that anybody can publish any news story here means that it is far less elitist than any other forum of the Irish left. How many people sit on the editorial committees of Socialist Worker? I suppose that they are in some sort of thelepatic communication with the mass of ordianary workers, eh?

Then we get that age-old SWP lie about a 'red-scare'. It is a LIE and nothing more. I'd say that even a brain, washed-clean with a decade of SWP indoctrination, would have to recognise that. A red scare would be if people were saying 'the SWP are damn commies they're going to take your homes off you and give them to the poor...' In this case it is authoritarianism, sectarianism and hypocrisy that people are complaining about, the 'redness' or otherwise of the SWP doesn't come into it and indeed most of the critics are pretty clearly coming from a 'red' point of view (or red and black).

Another amusing thing that tickled my ribs in this thread was the way that Kevin Wingfield accuses people of naming "name SWP union militants for IBEC" - the only SWP SIPTU names that I see on the thread are Carolann Duggan, Kieran Allen and Derek Delaney. The first two are very well known to IBEC as you well know, whereas I agree that the third is unknown, but surely the fact that he is the SWP candidate for the SIPTU elections meant that his name had a wee chance of 'being leaked' to the bosses? In any case we might well respond that all that IBEC have to do in order to identify SWP militants is to have a look at their payroll.

author by siptu member,publication date Mon Oct 27, 2003 18:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Derwin's pathetic campaign last year set the left back in SIPTU and his running this time is little more than an ego trip.

author by dumpterpublication date Mon Oct 27, 2003 18:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Siptu member" above is obviously a Cliffite state capitalist troll.

The fact is that if the SWP push ahead with standing Delaney that will split the left campaign which could see no left candidate being nominated.

Des's campaign last year did not harm the left. It was a low profile campaign, it could have maybe been run better but he has more profile now than last year and has learnt many lessons I'm sure. In any case, who the hell is Delaney? He is not known whatsoever within SIPTU or within the anti bin tax campaign.

The bottom line is that the SWP are prepared to put their own organisation ahead of rebuilding the trade unions in this country. This is utter sectarianism.

Another thing, if getting very low results in elections harms the left, well how do you explain the pathetic results that the SWP have got every time they stand in local or Dáil elections. Remember the old joke, How did Wingfield get 60 votes? He canvassed all 12,345 people in the constituency personally twice.

author by ecpublication date Mon Oct 27, 2003 19:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Maybe we were 'creating a mountain out of a molehill' or trying to 'set a political agenda' when we 'anarchist comrades' published this feature article on the front page not so long ago: http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=60460 As for: 'This red-scare mirrors that from the ruling class.' What red scare? This accusation is beneath contempt.

author by Commander Wingnutpublication date Mon Oct 27, 2003 19:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Q: How did Kevin Wingfield get 69 votes?

A: He canvassed the other 19,356 people in the constituency.

author by Des for Vice-Pres!!!publication date Mon Oct 27, 2003 22:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Oh dear, Kev. Your contribution shows all the signs of the time it was written - 9.50 on a Sunday morning. Were you (a) nursing a hangover? (b) rushing on your way to mass? or (c) both? First correct answer wins a signed copy of 'Easy Like Sunday Morning'...
Des Derwin didn't convene a meeting of SIPTU militants to choose a candidate, you say. Did the SWP convene one, then? If you did, we all missed it. Did you convene a meeting of SWP members to choose a candidate? Even a meeting of SWP members in SIPTU? Or did yourself and your mates on the Politburo make the decision? My guess is that rank and file SWPers found out that Delboy Delaney was standing well after the decision was made.
Des Derwin's campaign last time round was by no means all it should have been. (Although his vote was higher than 7% if you disregard the shameless ballot-stuffing that went on.) But much of the blame goes to the rest of the left, who were too busy throwing away the opportunities of the anti-war movement to participate in supporting an oppositional candidate in the country's biggest union. The organised working class can be a bit more difficult to recruit, you see...
A comparison: Next June, I presume that Joe Higgins will be standing in the European elections. He will not convene a general convention of working-class mililtants to put himself forward. He will be standing in a PR election. He got a very small vote the last time around. So will the SWP dig up some head no-one except his mother ever heard of to stand against him and split his vote?
The upshot of this whole sorry business should be clear by now. The SWP is doing its best to disrupt a genuine attempt to put forward the socialist case in SIPTU. Those who want to help put that case forward should ignore the SWP and support the Derwin candidacy. As for the myriad other struggles where the same crap comes up under different names... people can draw their own conclusions.

author by Hoppalong Cassidypublication date Mon Oct 27, 2003 23:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Must say I always enjoy John Throne's pithy and succint remarks. He contributions work better than Horlicks.

Poor old bashful Des Derwin. Rotters in the SWP spoiling his solo run as the reluctant Irish Lenin.

Of course we're all anonymous now, except the aforementioned Throne (the man who would be king) and the Wing Commander. so we can say anything about anybody

Really illustrates the value of this purposeful and serious site.

Is Galloway going to join Taaffe? Or Sheridan? Let's have lots more gossip cos it only rock n roll.

Goodbye.

author by Redskinpublication date Tue Oct 28, 2003 00:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

here we go again

what annoys you trolls more. A SWP member withdrawing their support for Des D, or a SWP member having the arrogance to run for election?

IMC editorial. Why is this no 1? bin charges, war in Iraq, the Palistinians getting raped etc.

I went to colege with a lad who now works for IBEC. They piss themselves laughing at the fact that the left have a go at each other so publicly. Keep it up.

But what fucking annoys me most is the name and shame effort by some on here. Rule no. 1 DO NOT publicly namE activists for the world (i.e. the state) to see. Shame on you

author by Big Johnpublication date Tue Oct 28, 2003 01:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Redskin said: "what fucking annoys me most is the name and shame effort by some on here. Rule no. 1 DO NOT publicly namE activists for the world (i.e. the state) to see"

What normally anonymous people were named? The only names being bandied about here are people who have put themselves forward for one type of position or another, and the only one that the general body of activists don't seem to know is someone named Delaney who has been selected by the SWP, who presumably WANTS to be better known. We are organising openly, and putting forward ideas openly in a public forum, we are not skulking down some back-street organising some type of conspiracy. Well I'm not, don't know about the SWP though.

author by Steeliepublication date Tue Oct 28, 2003 01:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The interesting thing in the few comments that have sought to defend the SWP (including the anonymous ones from 'amused' and 'redskin' whose political affiliations I wouldn't dare to guess) is that not one of them have made the slightest attempt to persuade us that their decision was in the interests of the left in SIPTU. They have attacked the author and attacked indymedia, but not a word to say about why we should vote for Delaney. If they don't offer us a positive reason for their candidate, we can only assume naked sectarianism.

author by Steeliepublication date Tue Oct 28, 2003 02:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In the current edition of Socialist Worker, there is an article with a characteristicaly large headline: "BIN CHARGES: Action Not Words". The nature of this action is explained in a section headed: "Needed, A strategy to win! [sic]." This section first dismisses the tactic of mass jailings before declaring that "the only strategy that is likely to bring victory is one which links the anger of working class communities with the power of organised workers. If the bin workers were persuaded to refuse to implement the policy of non-collection, this fight would soon be over."

This strategy of persuasion sounds a lot more like words than action to me. Obviously the headline should have read "BIN CHARGES: Somebody Else Take Action, In Line With SWP Words."

It seems to me that SWP campaigns are always based around asking somebody else to take action on their behalf. If Derek Delaney gets elected will we he adopt a strategy that the government must be persuaded to refuse to allow scabs in during strikes?

author by Des Derwinpublication date Tue Oct 28, 2003 03:28author email dderwin at gofree dot indigo dot ieauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

In this “extraordinary world” the ability of perpetrators to construe themselves as the injured party never ceases to amaze me. To describe my protest before the movement, against the SWP’s “extra-ordinary” act of sectarianism in standing a candidate against me in the SIPTU election, as “a McCarthyite rant” is patently OTT.

A simple re-read of my original report will clear that up. I am grateful for the “extraordinary” level of support I have received on the thread since then. It’s a pity more contributors cannot break their anonymity.

Kevin Wingfield says, “What sort of extraordinary world does Indymedia inhabit? The one thousand strong, mainly female, cabin crew staff at Aer Lingus are fighting one of the most important union battles in recent years. Yet there is barely a word written about it in Indymedia. But the editorial board has found something far more important to make its main front-page story – a spiteful attack on SWP by Mr Des Derwin”

It’s an old trick of the trade in response to legitimate but bothersome criticism of organisations to point to the latest workers’ struggle (in this case the IMPACT cabin crews) and to morally blackmail the critics for seeming to place intra-left debate over the heroic battle of the proletariat. We proletarians don’t have the luxury of feeling guilty about not having to clock-in in the morning. Kevin Wingfield might remember that I found myself leading an official ten-week SIPTU strike of well over “one thousand strong” in 1989. Others might remember the ten-week unofficial strike (of a higher number) some years earlier (I was in his organisation then). What about all the “important union battles” since?

Kevin Wingfield says, “Funnily enough, Derek Delaney is seeking to run against this machine candidate [Brendan Hayes] – rather than against Des Derwin. In his literature, his speeches he will be challenging the politics and methods of the machine candidate.” Funnily enough so will I. You do not furnish a single reason why Derek Delaney is in a better position to challenge Brendan Hayes or a single policy difference between him and me. My understanding of a race is that each contestant is running against every other contestant, not against the favourite, “machine candidate” or not. Kevin Wingfield seems to hope that SIPTU members will overlook the question he overlooks: why is it vital (which it is and which the SWP says it is) that the left field a common candidate in a parliamentary election; why is it vital (which it is and which the SWP says it is) to have left co-operation in the unions, and yet it is “incumbent” on the SWP to run against me?!

Kevin Wingfield says, “Des Derwin’s sound and fury amounts to a demand that no one else on the left may seek a nomination beside himself. But on what basis is this arrogant demand made?” Why, on the same basis, of course, as the SWP’s Open Letter of 16th July 2003 and their various calls before and since for left unity and co-operation in elections, campaigns and the trade unions! Plus, as I explained at length, that I am the better-placed candidate, that both DDs have basically the same policies (with a stronger and longer record of activity on them on my part), and that the SWP – the SWP!! – was an adamant prime mover in me running last year!

KW says I “never organised and or proposed any gathering of left activists to discuss these matters, to look at past weakness of the left in the union and, horror of horror, vote among themselves over who should that candidate be”. This is the nearest he comes to a substantial criticism of my candidacy and it has been taken up by others in the thread. It is easy for this super-democratic point to be made by someone who is neither an activist in nor, as far as I know, a member of SIPTU.

Here is the news: to begin with, nominations for candidates in SIPTU are made from special general meetings of SIPTU Branches. In my case the “gathering of left activists” I have to rely on to get a nomination is primarily my own Branch members who are well aware of my record and policies and who –many of them - support me. I hope that will translate into a nomination from my Branch and from other Branches. To imply that I am going off on an undemocratic solo run is absurd – this is the trade union movement we are talking about, not the world of small left groups!

The point has been well made already, by others in the thread of this discussion, that the SWP themselves called no “gathering of left activists to discuss these matters” either. Or perhaps they did. In my original report (Indymedia 24th Oct) I quoted in relation to ‘SIPTU Grassroots Forum’: “Presuming it came out of the meeting on 7th August in the Teachers Club, I got notice of it one day before, and neither Clare Daly, Stephen Lewis nor Alan MacSimóin [non-SWP political and SIPTU activists] had any knowledge of it. Yet a name, newsletter, platform (quite well aimed) and newsletter contents are produced for the SIPTU Conference and prior to the fringe meeting. I cannot reconcile this with your Open Letter (Socialist Worker, 16th July 2003) which proposes the formation, with the Socialist Party and other socialists, of joint left caucuses in the unions”.

Let’s go back to the back shall we? When the SWP first stood Carolann in 1997 they did so not only without a “gathering of left activists to discuss these matters”, but without any consultation, contact or notice to any of the then established oppositional activists in SIPTU. That includes myself who had been holding the ‘rank and file’ colours for years while the SWP’s official theory was that in the ‘downturn’ there was no great point working in the structures of the unions. Don’t even think about accusing me of parachuting!!!

After Carolann’s first triumph I urged the SWP to build a broadbased rank and file group around her. They did not attempt to. Carolann’s first piece of literature after her 42% vote was a recruiting leaflet for the SWP! No one has put more effort, pathetic or otherwise, than me, from ‘New Liberty’ to ‘SIPTU Fightback’, into getting a “gathering of left activists” in SIPTU and the ITGWU. After the broadbased, across-union, across-the-left, ‘Trade Union Rank and File Solidarity Network’ was laboriously constructed in 2001, the SWP simply dropped it. In the run up to the ballot on ‘Sustaining Progress’ the SWP simply abandoned the campaign for a ‘no’ vote (TUCAPD).

Besides, what in reality would a “gathering of left activists to discuss these matters” be in the present situation in SIPTU, where apart from political groupings, dissatisfied activists are completely atomised? It would be another Bowes Pub meeting with an inbuilt SWP majority that the few activists from other political tendencies would (unfortunately) give a wide berth to. No matter how good my arguments for standing, an SWP desire for its own candidate would produce a foregone conclusion. Colleagues, my constituency and interest is not the SWP, of which I am not a member and am not bound by its discipline, but that scattered minority (minority!) in the Branches and the workplaces who disagree with social partnership and agree with trade union democracy. If the SWP comes up with a better candidate than me I will stand aside.

Oh! KW implies that they have come up with a better candidate. He says: “Unfortunately, his [Derwin’s] campaign inspired little confidence. He failed to win the nomination of his own branch. He received only 7% percent of a the vote when rank and file candidates –even though other ‘unknown’ activists such as Carolann Duggan -- scored over 40% and later over 20%. He was the ‘reluctant candidate’ who ran a low level campaign.”

I’m sorry I failed to inspire Kevin Wingfield. Not being (as far as I know) a member of our Union he may not have received the detailed account I circulated to my closest “network of supporters” of why and how I “failed to win” the nomination of my own Branch last year. I was ambushed and shafted by the full timers at the nomination meeting who went for a candidate who opposed the long-established policies of the Electronics and Engineering Branch. This year I am shafted from my left. Oh! the lessons in life learned when one dabbles with real power in SIPTU!

Surely KW must remember that Carolann never got the nomination of HER Branch. Surely KW must remember that, except for 1997 when she arrived on the scene even too quickly for us, she received the nomination of MY Branch (along with two or three other Branches) each time! [Incidentally, her last two results were 15% each].

KW says: “He received only 7% percent of a the vote.” Some thought that was good in the circumstances (including Des Geraghty – there’s an opening Kevin), though I agree with those who say it was disappointing. If Kevin takes it upon himself to pontificate on matters SIPTU he should know what the dogs in the street know: not so much the imbalances in the playing field (the fact that committees and officials can canvas for particular candidates through the official structures, all the little tricks like attempting to stop supporters from working for me or not inviting me to meetings) as the legendary amount of false ballot papers that surfaced at the count. So many that my 7% was without doubt actually a higher proportion of the really valid poll. (I am not suggesting that either of the other candidates had any hand in any of this).

The total vote of the SWP in the 2002 general election was 0.2% of the total valid poll. Their biggest vote catcher, Richard Boyd Barrett, scored 1.6% (‘Magill’, April 2003). I presume both Richard and the SWP will still be fielding candidates in the next election. I see from another comment in this thread (6:24 p.m. today) that Kevin received 69 votes in an election. Is that true?

Yes, I “ran a low level campaign”. I’m no Bertie Aherne. But personal failings are only a small part of the picture. I entered the race late (see my original report). There is not, as I mentioned above, an organised grouping of oppositionists in SIPTU. One cannot conjure up a support group over night. Nevertheless I did convene and hold meetings of a support group. My experience was that the effort put into organising these meetings (which were very badly attended after the first couple), and the effort of the busy (non-political) SIPTU activists to attend, would have been put to far greater use on additional co-ordination of the support of my supporters in their own areas, the Branches and workplaces.

That left the organised Left. What was it Cher said about Robert Redford? Or was it someone else about Warren Beatty? Nice Des Derwin hasn’t said it before but the performance of the awesome party machines, in my campaign at least, turned out to be something of a disappointment. The Socialist Party supported me with printing, contacts (especially in Cork) and a generous donation. But they hardly mobilised their machine for me. Unlike the SP, the SWP have active members in SIPTU. I presume the SWP’s machine will make an effort for the other DD somewhat akin to their mobilisation (helped by others like myself) for Carolann. I didn’t see it last year.

The SWP (and others) delivered the Education Branch nomination. My support group meetings – which I should be having now according to KW – were abandoned by them. I was left to my own devices – and I was the favoured son then! About four or five SWP members attended my fundraiser and I wasn’t as much as given a mention in the final issue of ‘Socialist Worker’ before the ballot. I’m not saying SWP members did not work for me. But mobilisation of the machine? No. So it was a “low level campaign”. As much as €4,000 can pay for. So it makes little or no difference to me if I don’t have the organised left behind me this time. What WOULD be a disadvantage and a disgrace would be if the SWP did mobilise their troops nationally this time, for a campaign AGAINST me! If my campaign was “uninspiring” and “low level” the last time, the SWP can strengthen it this time by putting their machine behind it?

According to Kevin Wingfield: “There is no network of activists around Des Derwin”. How does he know, and how would he know? It’s precisely a NETWORK of activists. A network, not a formal ‘rank and file group’ or whatever, around a written platform. A network to keep in contact with and who will support me. I don’t delegate them to speak at Conference! Besides, I’m not just a member of the Electronics and Engineering Branch (check its record at Union Conferences and at marches). I’m the elected President of the Electronics and Engineering Branch, a network of supporters I’m extremely privileged to have. Saying that nothing came out of my “low level campaign” when the SWP THREW AWAY the opportunity that came out of Carolann’s 42% goes beyond the proverbial pot and kettle!

KW feels confident to comment on the detail of the SIPTU Conference in Galway last August. He says: “At the recent SIPTU conference there was no intervention by supporters of Des Derwin on key debates on the union political fund or whether the union should adopt a no cover policy”. No, Kevin, I did not speak on the “key” debates on the political fund or on a ‘no cover’ policy on public sector cuts. Maybe some of my “supporters” (they don’t have to support me on the political fund) did. Twice or three times is enough for me to inflict myself on any Conference. Actually I was saving my powder for the Motions on Dublin Bus and Aer Rianta and was less than pleased when they were formally accepted to make time (and overtime) for yet another panegyric to the retiring Des Geraghty. I very much wanted to make the “key” point that the Dublin Bus and Aer Rianta struggles should be combined and fought seriously.

Why SWP members who were actually at the Conference have nothing to say now is strange. Perhaps it is because, for all KW’s attempt to belittle my contribution to the Conference, my delegation sat dutifully through the entire Conference while the Education Branch, including two leaders of the SWP, one of them the Branch President, were missing from the hall for one of their Motions (Motion 70 on the ‘no cover’ policy, one of the “key” debates Kevin chides my “supporters” for not intervening on) and it fell by default! The revolution will not be proposed. The next Motion fortunately contained the same policy. I voted for it (will that do Kevin?) along with a tiny minority, and it too fell.

KW says: “He [Derwin] mentions a private conversation with one SWP member who said he was thinking of running. He fails to mention that one hour after that conversation, he suddenly rushed to the platform of the SIPTU conference to tell assembled delegates that he would be back as a candidate. Everyone else on the left was just presented with a fait accompli- back Des Derwin as your candidate”. Actually I mentioned two conversations (were they private – what’s this, diplomacy?) with two leading members of the SWP. I did not rush to the platform (me rush?). It was not an hour later. Perhaps my comical skills are crap. Perhaps some people have no sense of humour. At the end of an intervention on the failure of the Rules Revision Committee to address the blatant irregularities possible in union ballots, I thanked my supporters and compared my physique, and our common trips to the polls, with Arnold Schwarzenegger. I quipped, in a lame imitation of an Austrian accent, that “Ah’ll be back”. Was that a fait accompli? I could have been speaking of the NEC election. A day after that I had the second of those conversations and, as I mentioned, said I would consider what was said.

Just as Kevin Wingfield can command the detail of the Galway SIPTU Conference, though he was not there, he can comment on the detail of what happened on the platform of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions march in Dublin on 11th October, though he was not there either. Brid Smith had the courage and determination to face jail for her principles. What a contrast to the trade union leaders who run from confrontation, on the bins issue and on any issue, as soon as the 1990 Industrial Relations Act, or the prospect of it, appears on the hillcrest like the ‘injuns’. Yet just as Connolly would not be bullied by Larkin, Tom Ryan (DCTU President), nor I, will not be bullied by Brid Smith.

Kevin is wrong: her ‘request’ to speak at the DCTU march was arrogant and aggressive in essence and aggressive in manner. The list of speakers was decided at the previous meeting of the executive committee of the DCTU. Tom Ryan nor I nor anyone else on the executive had any right to add Brid Smith to the list. Both of us would otherwise gladly have done so. Those familiar with the reality of working within the trade union movement will appreciate how delicate it had already been to get the march going and to get a speaker from the campaign (Ruth Coppinger) on the platform. But it was agreed without hassle.

For Tom Ryan to have arbitrarily allowed Brid Smith to speak would have hung his own arse out at the next executive meeting. Do you understand that? The addition of the Finglas speaker was an indulgence that pushed out the boat. Those who were insensitive enough to put up another Socialist Party speaker bear some of the responsibility for what followed. Furthermore – can you answer this? – Brid Smith was not mandated from the Dublin City anti bin tax campaign to speak! There were a hundred people who could have demanded to speak, including TDs, on the march! Brid Smith’s manner to me was also aggressive. Rude, aggressive and threatening.

On the evening of the jailing of Brid Smith two members of the DCTU executive (yes, including myself) were present at the rally outside Mountjoy Jail. There was an SWP chair, and a raft of SWP speakers spoke. No problemo. It was a small crowd and the presence of the DCTU executive members was not hard to detect. It would have been well within our mandate to speak on the latest jailings. No DCTU speaker was invited up. No problemo. No aggressive demands either!!

KW parts with a final shot that: “Des Derwin’s spurious attempts to hide behind bureaucratic rules is entirely unworthy”. Maybe Kevin could go back to the executive committee of the Trades Council and argue that the majority decision, after discussion, chaired by Tom Ryan, to agree a list of speakers, was a bureaucratic rule and not a democratic decision in which the majority view prevailed. I couldn’t. A few sentences earlier Kevin said that I have not “participated in any democratic forum to discuss these doubts” about “the effectiveness of” my candidacy. Apart from the effectiveness of discussing my effectiveness at an SWP-dominated ‘forum’, here’s one on “the left of SIPTU” that has doubts about convincing such a forum about what constitutes democracy.

Can someone in the SWP answer why it is being said by SWP members that I stopped Brid Smith from speaking on 11th October? Can someone in the SWP answer why an SWP SIPTU activist could say I would not talk to them about the election and why the existence of my letter of September 2nd to Kieran Allen, still awaiting an acknowledgement, was not made known to their SIPTU members?

Enough already. Withdraw, or I’ll see you on the doorsteps.

Des Derwin.

(Another named contributor, Hoppalong. Not so bashful. Want to join me?)

author by cepublication date Tue Oct 28, 2003 03:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

why not try the unions for kicks!

author by Joepublication date Tue Oct 28, 2003 11:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A minor point but anyone else think the name is of the SWP's latest front 'Grassroots Network' is just a little odd. I'm sure it couldn't be intended to sound anything like the Grassroots Gathering(s) could it? Next one is on in Galway, Nov 8 + 9, details at link below

Related Link: http://grassrootsgathering.freeservers.com/
author by Vladimir Ulianov (not my real name) - SWPpublication date Tue Oct 28, 2003 13:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Ouch! OK Des – you win. You’ve made a complete and utter fool of Wingfield and may party, the SWP. Wingfield’s lame response has been skilfully dissected and deftly disassembled both by you and virtually every other of the 69 contributors to this thread. But you need to understand something, Des: the SWP is a machine whose primary purpose is to promote and build the SWP. You surely understand that this means treading on toes (sometimes, heads) so as to get what we want. We will pull every stroke and engage in any shenanigan to get control of any campaign or rank and file group in the unions we deign to enter – it’s all in the interests of the working class, don’t you see? Paradoxically, we can just as easily drop a campaign or a rank and file group if it fails to meet our requirements. Unluckily for you, we need this one at the moment – the Socialist Party has made us look surplus to requirements, and we need profile (lots of it).
PS I’m afraid that I have to remain anonymous. No member of the SWP is allowed to respond on Indymedia except the head honchos (Wingfield, Boyd Barrett, etc. I expect you’ve noticed that Kieran Allen never responds and you’ve probably guessed that this is to allow him to maintain his air of detached importance … sort of an enigma, like.) Anyway, that’s why I can’t use my own name, plus using a revolutionary name is more fun … one of the reasons, actually, I joined the SWP … it gets me closer to Lenin.

author by Sweet Carolinepublication date Tue Oct 28, 2003 13:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It's about time we got a bit of common sense here beofr eJohn Throne puts up another one of his postings! The SWP say they are all up for a Socialist Block in the Unions. Des is, and would be described as, a Socialist. Why are the SWP deliberatly pissing him off by running against him? I think that the SWP should sit down and ask themselves are they really up for building a Socialist Block? Why did they put out that call? to look good?

Des' camapign may not have been the best in the world, but was starting from a very low base- in the circumstances he didn't do too badly. I think that he would make a good candidate for the Vice Presidency as he is somewhat more known in the Union.

The SWP's candidate doesn't have any serious record behind him. Even though he's a bin man it seems that Des Derwin has more of a record on bin tax. I still don't see how the SWP can justify running against Des Derwin. It would also be unjustifyable if Clare Daly was running and Des Derwin decided to run against her. We should ask- who is the best candidate for the position?

With no clear different programme I can't see how the SWP can justify running their own man against Des Derwin. Could the SWP please say what is the different programme they have? and what is it that qualifies their candidate to be better than Des Derwin?

author by Jim Monaghanpublication date Tue Oct 28, 2003 14:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I am sure that the opponents of the far left are laughing all the way to the pub. Even Jack O'Connor can now drop any fake left talk. There is no opposition. Des will do well to keep his support.He is a hard working activist in good times and bad.
It is all about petit bourgeois ownership of campaigns. With Carolann the SWP felt they owned the left of SIPTU. The larger SP feel they own the electoral arena with Joe Higgins and Clare Daly.
When the dust settles they will all end up with sweet damn all.
There will be a few independents in the Dail who will no doubt build socialism or in some cases left clientilism in a single constituency.Even Seamus Healy seems to leaving room for Fine Gael in his version of a Left alliance led government.
The Greens are all about coalition and so I am afraid are Sinn Fein. At least these two don't look like the crowds (well small crowds) of eijits who are they rivals on the far left.The problem is funnily enough a lack of ambition. The far left are only thinking of one or two seats in the Dail and a decent showing in union elections. The bigger Greens and SInn Fein of junior ministries.
The SP ans SWP with support form the rest of the far left could have a positive pressure on the more "moderate" left and act as an anti coalition pressure, maybe causing a move to jettison the traditional propping up of right wing coalitions with a possibility of a full Leftwing government with no rightwing parties.
My dream but I admit it is only a dream.
Depressed with it all.

author by Pablo Montanapublication date Tue Oct 28, 2003 15:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

SWP of course again showing its true sectarian colours in standing against a left candidate (a textbook definition of sectarianism with no ambiguity) but Des and Co. could have prevented this in advanced if they had set up an organised left-bloc after the failed presidency bid. In that case there could have been nominations for the candidacy with one agreed candidate winning out. Now the question is would the SWP have participated? Maybe, maybe not but at least if some kind of structured left opposition had been initiated they could have built a base with which there would be no ambiguity of who genuine lefts should vote for in SIPTU. Maybe Des would take the initiative now to launch a sustained campaign in SIPTU that would not just appear at election time and then disapear. If so next time around the left could have a chance of getting somewhere and the SWP would have to think very long and hard before attempting this kind of treachery again.

author by conor (wsm personal capacity)publication date Tue Oct 28, 2003 16:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Kw: SIPTU ELECTION
by Kevin Wingfield - SWP Sunday, Oct 26 2003, 9:50am
Me: Firstly fair play to Kevin for using his real name and identity – the debates here would be MUCH MORE MENINGFUl if we all did so
on this I agree with him !

Kw: What sort of extraordinary world does Indymedia inhabit? The one thousand strong, mainly female, cabin crew staff at Aer Lingus are fighting one of the most important union battles in recent year. Their company have hired in scab planes, including some from Michael O Leary.

Yet there is barely a word written about it in Indymedia. No big front page story. No interviews with the actual workers themselves.

Me: Indy media is a small voluntary site maintained by a dedicated collective of people who publish what people are prepared to send in provided its not completely mad. If any one has the time and interest to go out and cover this vital struggle then it would be there !
Sin e !

Kw: But the editorial board has found something far more important to make its main front-page story – a spiteful attack on SWP by Mr Des Derwin and follow up commentary by more than 20 anonymous contributors. Some of these contributors have no difficulty hiding behind computer screen while they name SWP union militants for IBEC.

Me: Actually this is a CRUCIAL story by one of the best trade union militants and activists in Dublin who has gained MASSIVE respect for his work in the Trades Council and SIPTU private sector branch. Who has put in long, long, long years fighting for rank and file activism in SIPTU fought against and rallied large votes against partnership – a tough cause at the best of times and who has always defended openly and publicly the SWP even when it appeared a lost cause.
You know Des well so do I.
This IS NOT a minor affair.
As to the anonymous stuff I completely agree as outlined above.

Kw: The tone for this sectarianism comes from Des Derwin’s letter. In this long, long diatribe, he fails to even mention the right wing candidate in SIPTU.- Brendan Hayes. If this pro-partnership bureaucrat wins he will move the union even further to the right.

Me: And splitting the left vote is THE IDEAL way to ensure he does which is the point Des was carefully trying to make. His piece is not a long diatribe but a long thought out and well referenced howl of rage !!
I know Des has stepped back for a week since the ISF meeting and gone back over what has happened very, very carefully as is obvious from his complete and detailed report

Kw: Funnily enough, Derek Delaney is seeking to run against this machine candidate – rather than against Des Derwin. In his literature, his speeches he will be challenging the politics and methods of the machine candidate.

Me: Come off it there is a strong candidate with THE EXACT SAME politics (according to his own statement) who can do the job. What ever he writes in his literature he will spilt the vote. An election is ultimately a zero sum game QED – quit with the waffle I'm sure Dereck Delaney is a good activist and comrade but thats neither here nor there

Kw: Some facts may be helpful for those who want a little more than a McCarthyite rant about the SWP.

First, the election for SIPTU Vice President does not take place until January. Once it occurs, it will be conducted on a PR basis –where presumably left wing candidates can urge a vote transfer. At this stage, candidates have to win a nomination from a branch of more than 500 members.

Me: OK didn't know that
– as for a Mc Carthyite rant like George Bush you have to begin to ask “why does every one hate us”

Kw:Des Derwin’s sound and fury amounts to a demand that no one else on the left may seek a nomination beside himself. But on what basis is this arrogant demand made?

He never organised and or proposed any gathering of left activists to discuss these matters, to look at past weakness of the left in the union and, horror of horror, vote among themselves over who should that candidate be.

He mentions a private conversation with one SWP member who said he was thinking of running. He fails to mention that one hour after that conversation, he suddenly rushed to the platform of the SIPTU conference to tell assembled delegates that he would be back as a candidate. Everyone else on the left was just presented with a fait accompli- back Des Derwin as your candidate

Me: Well its more then a private conversation (which was with THE leading light of the SWP!) I see below mentions of a letter and other stuff – see quotes from des’s piece below:

Quoted from Des
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
At the SIPTU Conference in Galway I mentioned (on 26th August) to Kieran Allen of the SWP that I was thinking of standing for the Vice Presidency. He said he was thinking the same. A day or so later, Marnie Holborow of the SWP spoke to me and argued that I should leave the candidacy to Kieran. I said I would consider it and a little later sent the letter quoted below to Kieran Allen, with a copy to Marnie Holborow. The letter (with slight deletions here) explains much of the background.

“2nd September ‘03

Kieran,

There does not appear to be any good reason to change my intention of standing as the left alternative candidate in the forthcoming SIPTU election.

On balance I am the better-qualified candidate and the history of the thing tips the balance a lot more.

As regards comparisons of possible candidates’ credentials I refer you to the short CV which adorned my last election leaflet:

' Des Derwin has been a member of SIPTU and the ITGWU since 1973. He is an Assembly General Operative at the Mouldpro plastics factory in Finglas, Dublin, where he is Chair of the Section Committee. Des has wide and varied industrial, negotiation and administrative experience including over twenty-five years on the Unidare industrial site in Finglas. He has served on his Branch Committee for twenty-five years and is the President of the Branch. He is an active delegate to SIPTU National Conferences, a member of the Dublin Regional Executive Committee of the Union and of the executive committee of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions. Des is a socialist, and has been involved in many trade union and single-issue campaigns. He is not a member of any political party. If elected he would accept only the average industrial wage. He is well able to carry out the duties of General Secretary and has demonstrated over the years that he can work with people he does not fully agree with and within democratically decided policies and structures.'

That record and placing is added to by the fact that I stood the last time and therefore already have a national profile within the Union. Both considerations position me as the better candidate.

The comparison of record, activity and representivity within SIPTU is not the crucial factor. These are critical factors in our political tradition, in its orientation to the trade unions, to organic involvement in the working class movement, to the notion of socialists, and indeed the party (and its pre-party fragments), being part of the workers’ movement.

However last year’s election has introduced the real imperative. Without that I’d have been perfectly happy to beaver away, to keep attempting to get a rank and file group established, and – as regards electoral forays – to aim for the NEC (which I intend to do incidentally).

Last June [2002], when Marnie convened a meeting to consider the General Secretary election, I never imagined myself as a candidate in a General Officer election. I argued at first against standing a left candidate at all. You argued that the leadership should not be allowed to stand unchallenged; struggles and a new partnership deal were coming up; the left in the unions elsewhere were making gains; there was a need for an agreed left candidate, platform and campaign, etc.; that here was a big chance to get something going for left unity.

I suggested that there were four plausible left candidates that I could think of: Carolann, Marnie, myself and Clare Daly. If Carolann were running (she was not) we would not need to think about what to do. We would all support her as before. Marnie immediately ruled herself out. I dismissed the possibility of me standing. The notion was inconceivable to me. I suggested we approach Clare Daly to stand.

The SWP suggested that I should stand. This was before the question could be definitively put to Clare Daly who wasn’t at the meeting (I had made some unpromising soundings already). Your name was never mentioned as a possibility. When I continued to maintain my reluctance the SWP argued very strongly, and pressed in subsequent days, that I run. You were the firmest and most adamant at the meeting that I should stand (and incidentally gave a rather optimistic prognosis of how I might do). I still declined and proposed that we arrange an immediate meeting with Clare Daly to ask her to stand. In the meantime I would take 24 hours to consider and say then whether I would stand (in the event of Clare declining).

Only from that meeting was the terrifying idea planted that perhaps I might stand for General Secretary. But the idea did have its logic. My decision after the 24 hours was not to run but that if no other left candidate emerged by the time my own Branch held its special nomination meeting in early July I would seriously reconsider my position. Clare Daly was definitely not available to run. After extensive consultations I took the plunge.

So the SWP, and you yourself, were prime movers in me standing last year.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>..

end quote

kw: Everyone else on the left was just presented with a fait accompli- back Des Derwin as your candidate.

Me: Yes but MOST people on the left were delighted that such an excellent candidate would come forward have supported him in the past would support him in the future – his record, his commitment, his independence speak volumes and might mobilise people


If Des Derwin had a record of shaking the union machine and if his last campaign had come anywhere near being a success, even this might have been acceptable. Unfortunately, his campaign inspired little confidence. He failed to win the nomination of his own branch. He received only 7% percent of a the vote when rank and file candidates –even though other ‘unknown’ activists such as Carolann Duggan -- scored over 40% and later over 20%. He was the ‘reluctant candidate’ who ran a low level campaign

me: Well the delight you take in denigrating him speaks volumes right there.
Even more interesting though when considered in the context of the quote from Des himself “So the SWP, and you yourself, were prime movers in me standing last year.”

So the figures reflect as much on your “support” as Des’s efforts (and overall apthy in SIPTU obviously)

Kw: Nor did anything come out of this campaign. There is no network of activist around Des Derwin. At the recent SIPTU conference there was no intervention by supporters of Des Derwin on key debates on the union political fund or whether the union should adopt a no cover policy. The only rank and file fringe meeting at the conference was organised by the Grassroots network, which he claims is SWP dominated. The bulletin he used to be associated with “SIPTU Fightback” has collapsed.

Me: This is too sickening to even respond to – IF YOU HAD OF SUPPORTED some of these initiatives which did achieve much at their high point instead of setting up another fly by night pretend front campaign to sell a few more papers some of them might still be around. How dare YOU criticise the hard work put into building REAL rank and File networks by dedicated activists over 20 or more years. Des DOES have a small but dedicated team of support across political parties within SIPTU you have nothing but renta paper sellers and boundless reservoirs of idiocy. Only your ignorance, comrade, matches you arrogance!

Kw: We have no great desire to wash all this dirty linen in public. We do not want to be construed as mounting a personal attack on Des Derwin. However, it is important to understand that activists on the left of SIPTU have doubts about the effectiveness of his candidacy –and that he has not participated in any democratic forum to discuss these doubts.

Me: No you don’t like doing any thing in public. You like telling people to run for election and then not lifting a finger to help them. You like undermining a person by secretly standing another candidate on the exact same platform for the same post but not bothering to even tell him. You like doing everything possible to undermine some one whose fucking record of dedication puts your pathetic dribbling to shame.
You love doing that !

I’ll let Des deal with the bin taxes – the record of the SWP in this campaign speaks for itself – and it’s a short and miserable one !

Angry Conor

Related Link: http://www.stuggle.ws
author by Mickeypublication date Tue Oct 28, 2003 18:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

When I asked three questions above for Kevin or any other SWP member I was being serious and not trying to score points.

I know that SWP members are reading this thread. Can one of you please take a stab at answering any of them.

1) What political differences are there between the Derwin and Delany campaigns?

2) In what way does Delaney's profile or record match or exceed that of Derwin?

3) Was Delaney chosen as the candidate of any body other than the SWP?

author by Apublication date Tue Oct 28, 2003 21:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Can we take it that we wont have to listen to anymore crap from the swp about left unity?

author by Bpublication date Tue Oct 28, 2003 21:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I have the intelligence of a goldfish in SWP eyes (with the memory to match) and will be treated to the same heartfelt pleas for left unity in approximately 5 minutes.

author by john throne - labors militant voicepublication date Tue Oct 28, 2003 23:45author email loughfinn at aol dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

I would like to suggest that if all we achieve out of this incident with the SWP and SIPTU is to more decisively demonstrate that of all the sizeable left groups the SWP is the most sectarian then this will be a very very limited gain indeed. I would like to suggest a way in which we can gain more.

We should recognize that this sectarian lunge of the SWP has enraged a large sector of activists from different traditions. This comes on top of the problems of sectarianism which are not confined to the SWP and which have shown up in the anti war and anti bin tax struggles and in the union work. As a result a certain amount of energy has been generated and focused on this issue. Of course this gives an opportunity to criticise the SWP and there are many doing just that. And the SWP thoroughly deserves it. However if this is all what a wasted opportunity this will be. The energy and focus that now exists will be wasted. We have to get something constructive out of this. We can if we take the opportunity to strike a blow at sectarianism IN GENERAL.. I am therefore proposing taking action for a Charter against Sectarianism.

We need to recognize that the opportunity that now exists for effective action is limited in time and scope. The mood of outrage, the energy that has been created, will not last long and is very likely to result in increased cynicism and increased inter organizational suspicion unless action is taken. Time is short. Also it is a mistake to imagine that the mood that exists immediately arising from this incident is sufficient for some new immediate step forward towards left unity. Viewing it in this way risks missing the opportunity that does exist. What does exist is an opportunity for many activists and organizations to act together and strike a blow at sectarianism which will throw sectarianism at least partially onto the defensive.

I am in favor of taking action to develop and have adopted a Charter Against Sectarianism. I would see this as identifying and explaining what sectarianism is. For a significant cross section of the activist movement to come together to develop this charter and to organize an event, rally, conference, whatever around this.

I can hear people say what good is this. I believe the act of drawing up such a draft charter and taking it to the activists and organizations, but most especially taking it to the new activists in the bin tax struggle, the anti war struggle, the union rank and file and oppositions, will help raise consciousness in relation to how serious a problem this is at the present time. I believe that especially taking it to the new working class activists and getting discussion on this with these new activists is the key. This would put enormous pressure on all groups to look at and try to mend their ways or they would pay the price of cutting themselves off from the new activists and the wider layers of the working class. This act would make wider sections of the working class aware of this problem and this is what would put sectarianism onto the defensive . Let us together with the new working class activists develop a Charter against Sectarianism, develop an increased consciousness against sectarianism, and let us all be aware that we would have to explain any sectarian tendencies and actions in front of these new working class activists who would be equipped with a heightened consciousness of sectarianism through the struggle for the Charter Against sectarianism.

This initiative can be started by a small number of activists, in fact by one or two activists, by drawing up a draft charter and approaching others to discuss and develop it and improve upon it and put their name to it and in this way give a momentum to the campaign. It does not have to be anything elaborate just a concise statement of what sectarianism is and why it must be opposed. Any of the larger groups could easily start this but this would mean openly looking at and discussing and criticising their own actions. So I may be wrong but I am assuming that it is up to some of the smaller groups or a small number of individuals to get things started. However, I believe it would be very important that all organizations and activists and all rank and file members of all organizations would be asked to participate to sign onto and support it.

I hope that there are a small number of individuals or a small group that can start this. If it originated from Comrades from different traditions this would be especially useful. In the charter I would not mention any group by name or any specific act just seek for a general charter identifying what sectarianism is and how damaging it has been and is for the movement. Pointing out how this is especially the case now as increased struggles have developed, and as there are increased groups from different traditions and increased united front struggles because of the vacuum that has opened up with the demise of the larger traditional left groups of decades ago.

I believe that we could come out of this with a charter against sectarianism which would have a real base in the consciousness of the activists and a layer of newer activists. A charter against sectarianism which could help the united front work that we all have to carry out in the interests of the movement now and in the future.

Comrades if we do not take action along these lines then what is going to come out of this? Increased cynicism and even increased sectarianism. For those of us who see the terrible scourge this is for the movement, for those of us who are prepared to openly and honestly discuss and consider our own behavior, then I propose we take action to put together a draft charter against sectarianism. Let us take this to the working class movement . Let us take it to all the activists and activist organizations. Let us try and set down a marker against this enemy of the movement.

The way all the different traditions and groups and activists have had to work together in the bin tax, the anti war movement, in the unions etc is the shape of things to come. Let us try to develop a stronger consciousness of the situation and dangers that exist by moving to develop a charter against sectarianism. This could help not only the movement in Dublin and in Ireland but provide an example internationally.

John Throne.

Related Link: http://laborsmilitantvoice.com
author by Apublication date Wed Oct 29, 2003 00:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

John which left groups do you think should work together?

author by Des Derwinpublication date Wed Oct 29, 2003 02:11author email dderwin at gofree dot indigo dot ieauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Pablo Montana’s contribution (Oct 28, 2:40) is important. He asks the right questions and makes very relevant points:

“Des and Co. could have prevented this in advance if they had set up an organised left-bloc after the failed presidency [sic] bid. In that case there could have been nominations for the candidacy with one agreed candidate winning out. Now the question is would the SWP have participated? Maybe, maybe not but at least if some kind of structured left opposition had been initiated they could have built a base with which there would be no ambiguity of who genuine lefts should vote for in SIPTU. Maybe Des would take the initiative now to launch a sustained campaign in SIPTU that would not just appear at election time and then disappear.”

Pablo indicates precisely what is needed. Not primarily, or even particularly, to combat political sectarianism. Not even just to bring down to earth the full-frontal profile of ‘party building’ or revolutionary programmitis. It is what the Union (and other unions) and the members need even if there were no left groups about: an alternative focus to the present leadership and to social partnership. That alternative will not be built on one organisation, or even on ten organisations co-operating, if they will not appeal to members on a basic minimum platform of fighting, democratic and independent trade unionism and relevant political issues presented relevently.

How ironic that I am now doing nothing more or less than expounding the rank and file strategy I learned from the political tradition of the SWP. God be with the days when organised socialists rallied around and assisted representative and independent oppositional figures in the unions. I agree with Pablo’s points and consider them key questions. If only I could answer them in the positive. Believe me, I and others, have tried in our way to put Pablo’s theory into practice. We will keep trying, because Pablo’s perspective is correct, and better times will produce better returns, as they have in the past. We went as far as lighting a candle in the dark and nursing the flicker for as long as possible. I.e. the newsletter ‘SIPTU Fightback’.

Pablo may not have noticed the references I made to the recent narrative of the left in SIPTU, since Carolann’s surprise, in my reply further up the thread, and in my original report. They address the questions he raises. In the dark days of the late eighties and the early nineties when even the campaigns against each partnership deal were collecting only tiny handfuls together, it became clear that building rank and file groups in the unions had become even more aspirational than hitherto. The shop stewards and activists upon whom the Dublin Shop Stewards Committee and New Liberty stood had long since been scattered. The organised far left had too few for even a foothold. In SIPTU the audacity of the SWP in standing Carolann and her Herculean stamina suddenly opened up new possibilities.

After her first great result was the time. But the SWP were not interested in the broadbased “structured left opposition” or “sustained campaign” I, for one, urged upon them (more unacknowledged letters - must go see the Vermeers). So what were the three non-SWP activists left to do? We did all we could do, and launched a modest newsletter, that was just a newsletter, ‘SIPTU Fightback’, edited by three named SIPTU activists from different tendencies and none. It ran from 1997 to 2000, if memory serves me correct, and most of the issues are on the Struggle suite of websites. SIPTU Fightback survives in the form of an emailing list on which you can post. Proof that paper is still mightier than the PC?

Despondency and, perhaps, just one amiable difference in all that time, led to what has been called its collapse. Even stars collapse. The one difference was over, wait for it, the nativity of an SWP front in SIPTU (launched without a whisper to the non-SWP people who had just been working with the SWP on a SIPTU campaign against the new partnership deal!) The other two editors were for telling ‘New Directions’ were to get off. You’ve guessed it: I was for working with the SWP and for possibly fusing ‘New Directions’ with ‘SIPTU Fightback’. Funnily enough, New Directions ‘collapsed’ at exactly that time too.

‘SIPTU Fightback’ ended after three years. It should have been kept up, even if I had to keep it on a ventilator myself. I always said it, even the EXISTENCE of ‘SIPTU Fightback’ was better than nothing, Pablo is right: even if such a one-editor ‘zene’ was all that was possible after last year’s General Secretary election, I should have done it for some kind of “sustained campaign”. But it still would not have had the organisation and “ base with which there would be no ambiguity of who genuine lefts should vote for in SIPTU”, from which “there could have been nominations for the candidacy with one agreed candidate winning out.” The base, the numbers, for a “structured left opposition”, sustained and agreeing on a minimum policy, is not there at the moment. Except in conjunction with the SWP. Pablo asks: “Now the question is would the SWP have participated?” The answer lies throughout this thread.

Pablo says: “Maybe Des would take the initiative now to launch a sustained campaign in SIPTU that would not just appear at election time and then disappear.” Well as I’ve inferred, standing in a national SIPTU election is part of (a corner part of) the jigsaw of that initiative. Before the SIPTU election last year I wrote to my friends:

“There have been various attempts to build a rank and file opposition in ITGWU/SIPTU, and the immediate prospect of getting one is as weak as it ever was right now. Nevertheless, I am committed to this slow, uphill work and some basis has perhaps been laid… I am against short cuts and the delusion that capturing positions, or running for them, in itself changes anything… Except for this thought: the job of moving from the position of a tiny newsletter (and not even that now) and a personal standing to reaching a wider, shop floor and indeed national SIPTU audience may be, for the foreseeable future, unavoidably through the medium of official SIPTU elections, from which new beginnings can be made at a higher plane. This is perhaps what the SWP and Carolann “stumbled upon” and squandered.”

Pablo is right in this sense: I should have maintained even a bulletin since October. I will do at least that if I live through the VP election.

author by leacaulfield - independant leftypublication date Wed Oct 29, 2003 04:26author email leacaulfield at yahoo dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

please stop
please stop whinning mr derwin, im sick of it.
hi,

im new to indymedia.

just moved here from australia.

i would like to say that i have followed the des derwin epic on indymedia over the past 3 days with interest.

and honestly i see a little whinging boy who is afraid of being shown up for what he is.

he seems afraid that he may have to work harder in this election as there is another left wing contender.

i say the more left - the better.

forgive me. but the whole thing seems so petty,

and an ego is at stake here.

can we not do something a bit more productive, please.

author by you shouldn't swim while drunk - (its bad for your health)publication date Wed Oct 29, 2003 04:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If only we could all be so priviledged.

author by leacaulfieldpublication date Wed Oct 29, 2003 04:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

to the above,
i clearly outlined my position, and because i share a different view, your pathetic reply is that i am drunk,

and to put the record straight again, i am not affiliated to any organisation or party.

this is pathetic, if certain users desires is to ensure that indymedia is an exclusive little club for "true activists". then by putting a person down like the above just has is the right way to do things.

and to reply i am not any way privilaged, you think €6.75 per hour is a privilage??

nor am i drunk, i dont tend to get drunk on tuesday nights while my baby is asleep.

author by molly maguirepublication date Wed Oct 29, 2003 05:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

No offence Lea, but your post should have been placed at the end of the relevant article, because it's news content is carcely above zero. In fact it shopuld be removed from the wire.

Anyway, if you've just moved here you'd need to get used to hearing abusive/polemical stuff about the SWP, that's the way it is in these parts.

Hope your baby is sleeping soundly. Welcome to Ireland.

TAL,
mm.

author by Mao More Than Everpublication date Wed Oct 29, 2003 06:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

''i say the more left - the better.''

dont think, just jump!

more left? Lenin to Stalin to Mao to Pol Pot to Sendero Luminoso to ... ?

left dont always make right

author by matttpublication date Wed Oct 29, 2003 09:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

So does this mean that there is not going to be "left" unity for the Stormont elections? The workers and youth will be so disappointed. What all of the above proves is that like evangelical groups - note that they also bestow upon themselves grandiose titles such as Church of Christ etc which bear no relation to either their size or influence - the so-called revolutionary left's main obsession is with bickering with those closest to them over things which are completely irrelevant to ordinary people's lives. Do either the SWP or the SP think that anyone outside of sad bastards like ourselves who read this sort of thing out of some prurient interest knows or cares about what separates one variety of a dogma passed down from a failed Russian revolutionary who died 60 years ago from another? Or that any of it has any relationship to the realities of life in Ieland in 2003? Listening and reading some of this is probably the closest we will ever get to understanding what it might have been like to live in Geneva in the 1540s when similarly earnest people with a similarly distorted view of human nature and history disputed with each other over the minutiae of Calvinist theology. Only the text has changed. Now everything can be resolved by reference to something Trotsky said about the Brest-Livtosk Treaty or a strike in the Ukraine in 1905! As the soldier said to his dying horse .......

author by Big Johnpublication date Wed Oct 29, 2003 09:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"he seems afraid that he may have to work harder in this election as there is another left wing contender..."
"...i say the more left - the better."

Do you mean 'more left-wing canditates' or 'more to the left'? If you mean 'more left-wing canditates' then you have to realise that from a tactical point of view it will split the vote and prevent a left-wing canditate from winning. That is what this whole argument is about. Des Derwin has a good track record, the SWP canditate is completely unknown.

author by Andrewpublication date Wed Oct 29, 2003 11:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Seeing as SIPTU Fightback has been mentioned a couple of times here is the web page that archives the articles published from issue 4 (1997) to issue 11 (2000)
http://struggle.ws/siptu.html

Of particular interest is the article in issue 11 on the short lived SWP front 'New directions' which preceeded their new front 'Grassroots network'. There is a 'for' and 'against' article on working with this with Des being the 'for' It's at http://struggle.ws/siptu/sf11/new_direction.html

The SIPTU Fightback mailing list is still up and running. You can join this by sending an email to SIPTUfightback-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

author by democratpublication date Wed Oct 29, 2003 15:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The split the vote argument is nonense in a PR election. All votes effectively come back to the best placed candidate to receive them. Somebody mentioned earlier that preferences can go all over the place, but then they would've gone to the second preference candidate if the other had not stood.

Parties generally stand different candidates to "get the vote out" in particular regions. This increases the overall turnout and thus may bring back some transfers at a later count that would not have voted at all. It could be argued that more left candidates increases the left vote but in a TU election that seems unlikely. But the splitting the vote argument doesn't stand up particularly with a very politicised electorate

author by Steeliepublication date Wed Oct 29, 2003 15:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If 'democrat's' argument were true, we'd have 4000 candidates for FF in every constituency. It is well known that having two candidates with apparently identical politics damages the chances of both.

author by Raypublication date Wed Oct 29, 2003 15:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If splitting the vote is nonsense, why are the SWP so keen to divvy up electoral constituencies with the SP? If multiple left-wing candidates are a good thing, or at least not a bad thing, in union elections, why not have multiple left-wing candidates in the general election?

author by Kevin Wingfield - SWPpublication date Wed Oct 29, 2003 18:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

My apologies for being away from Indymedia for so long – I return only to find that the list of mainly anonymous contributors to your debate has grown.

I am not interested in replying to people who hide behind computer screens while they attack the good names of others of the left. So let me briefly make two points on Des Derwin’s own reply.

First, he concedes that the reason he did not want a meeting of left activists in SIPTU was because he feared there would be a majority of SWP supporters there. This paranoia is rather unfortunate. Contrary to our wishes, the SWP is not yet a majority among such activists.

However, if Des Derwin was not willing to discuss with other left activists at an open meeting who the candidate might be – when he knew there were other possible contenders -- I fail to see what right he has to demand that no one else try to put in a nomination.

Given the absence of an agreed candidate, others have a right to enter the race as Des Derwin did – as individuals, without convening wider meetings.

Second, Des Derwin’s concedes one other important point on the SWP account of events at the Trades Council rally when there was an attempt to slander another of our members, Brid Smith. Namely: there was one other ‘unscheduled’ speaker at the Dublin Trades Council rally beside Brid. His original excuse for refusing to hear a speaker who was about to spend some time in jail therefore falls apart.

Unfortunately, to add further insult to injury, he now claims that Brid Smith ‘threatened’ him.

I wish to categorically deny this statement.

I can only point out that this is taking a rather nasty discussion on the left to a new low.

Such accusations only raise further questions about the image that Des Derwin wishes to present as the ‘non-sectarian independent’.

author by Major Woodypublication date Wed Oct 29, 2003 19:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Commander Wingnut you write "Unfortunately, to add further insult to injury, he now claims that Brid Smith 'threatened' him. I wish to categorically deny this statement"

But you were not there so how can you 'categorically deny' this?

Can it be that Commander Wingnut IS the real Jesus?

I suspect Des was concerned not that a majority of SIPTU activists would be SWP members but that the SWP would follow the usual form and 'pack' the meeting.

Tally ho!

author by Chekovpublication date Wed Oct 29, 2003 19:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

For the last decade or so, while he has been an increasingly isolated (and mistaken IMO) voice on the left for co-operation with the SWP, he was really a 'sectarian in sheep's clothin' waiting to get his knife into the SWP. Deep cover indeed.

You misrepresent his point about a meeting of left activists. What he actually said was that any such gathering would be avoided by all non-SWP activists on the left IF it included the SWP, due to their proven ability to pack meetings and demand absolute control on any coalitions that include them. Most left activists are smart enough not to waste their time being footsoldiers for SWP fronts.

Your contributions so far have not said a single thing about your candidate. You have moved from attacking indymedia to attacking Des. That's all very well, but surely there must be a reason for you to run a candidate against Des, especially since you were instrumental in persuading him to run last time (before you hung him out to dry by doing nothing for his campaign). Why do the SWP think that it is in the interests of the left to run Delaney? If you don't give any reason, then we will have to assume that it is pure sectarian advantage - trying to stamp your brand onto left opposition within SIPTU. I would be interested to hear an alternative explanation.

author by Cherry Orchard - SIPTUpublication date Wed Oct 29, 2003 19:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Checkov back Des Derwin's personal decision to be the saviour of the left in SIPTU. He applauds his decision not to meet other activists to discuss and decide who should be the candidate. So great is his hatred for the SWP he lauds Des Derwin's one man management. As someone said, an archist is just a liberal in disguise.

author by Chekovpublication date Wed Oct 29, 2003 20:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

And there I was expecting to get a response to my question about the positive reasons for running Delaney. What a surprise!!! Doubleplusbad!!!

author by Siptu memberpublication date Wed Oct 29, 2003 20:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I agree with Kevin Wingfield when he dismisses Des Derwin's canidancy. Des hasn't a snowball's hope in hell of ever getting a decent vote, despite his hard work and many positive qualities. For some reason (can't quite put my finger on it) he's not a real contender. Probably to do with his quiet manner.

Having said that, WHO the fuck is Delaney??

author by ermpublication date Wed Oct 29, 2003 21:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

who the fu++ is des derwin

author by sirapublication date Thu Oct 30, 2003 01:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

DEREK DELANEY IS A BIN WORKER, SO WHY CANT HE BE ANTI BIN TAX.
AS YOU ALL AGREE BIN TAX IS A STEP TOWARDS PRIVITISATION.
SO AS A BIN WORKER IM SURE THIS IS A FIGHT AGAINST PRIVITISATION TOO.

author by ermpublication date Thu Oct 30, 2003 01:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

.

author by Des Derwinpublication date Thu Oct 30, 2003 03:26author email dderwin at gofree dot indigo dot ieauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

In Kevin Wingfield’s first reply (October 26th) he says:

“He [Derwin] never organised and or proposed any gathering of left activists to discuss these matters, to look at past weakness of the left in the union and, horror of horror, vote among themselves over who should that candidate be.”

In his second reply (October 29th) KW says:

“First, he concedes that the reason he did not want a meeting of left activists in SIPTU was because he feared there would be a majority of SWP supporters there. This paranoia is rather unfortunate. Contrary to our wishes, the SWP is not yet a majority among such activists. However, if Des Derwin was not willing to discuss with other left activists at an open meeting who the candidate might be – when he knew there were other possible contenders -- I fail to see what right he has to demand that no one else try to put in a nomination.”

I offered several reasons (October 28th) why a “a meeting of left activists in SIPTU” to nominate a left candidate would not have at this time the relevance or super-democratic importance that Kevin Wingfield ascribes to it. He picks out one and twists it. The meeting in question in his first reply (above) is a meeting organised or proposed by me.

Why would there have been a need for me to organise a meeting to decide between me and Kieran Allen? That was the proposal on the table, and I, whinging egotist that I am, was convinced I was the better left candidate. I wrote to him accordingly and received no reply. Was I to call a meeting to consider a contender who appeared to have dropped the idea? The first I heard of another contender, or anything more, was when he was publicly announced as a fait accompli. Did the SWP organise or propose “a meeting of left activists in SIPTU” to nominate the new contender? From what “open meeting” did Derek Delaney “put in a nomination”? Or Carolann in previous years?

Even if I called it, (as I asked on October 28th), “what in reality would a ‘gathering of left activists to discuss these matters’ be in the present situation in SIPTU, where apart from political groupings, dissatisfied activists are completely atomised? It would be another Bowes Pub meeting with an inbuilt SWP majority that the few activists from other political tendencies would (unfortunately) give a wide berth to”.

Meetings of left activists in SIPTU organised by the SWP consist of the SWP, some SWP contacts and me. Non-SWP political or experienced activists in SIPTU stay away, or are not notified. Get the quote right: “another Bowes Pub meeting with an inbuilt SWP majority.” Inbuilt majority.

KW says: “Given the absence of an agreed candidate, others have a right to enter the race as Des.” Of course others have the right to enter the race. But are the SWP right to enter the race, to put up a weaker-placed candidate with the same basic policies as me. Is it a condition of their support that a candidate must first have his or her candidacy “agreed” with them?

But please read my pieces again. There’s a heap of points, facts and arguments, on this and many other aspects of this controversy, which Kevin Wingfield ignores in both his replies.

He raises two new elements.

KW says: “Des Derwin’s concedes one other important point on the SWP account of events at the Trades Council…Namely: there was one other ‘unscheduled’ speaker at the Dublin Trades Council rally beside Brid. His original excuse for refusing to hear a speaker who was about to spend some time in jail therefore falls apart.”

Des Derwin didn’t concede this point he made it. It’s about the only justification there might conceivably be for having another unscheduled speaker in the circumstances. As I said, those who put up a second Socialist Party speaker bear some responsibility (indirectly) for what followed. I did not refuse to hear Brid Smith. It was not in my gift. But if it was why should Brid, out of the scores of prominent and representative people at the march, have been the one to benefit from the opening of the floodgates - to one more? The departure by one from the original list of speakers does not topple my original excuse. What if Finian McGrath TD had demanded that the departure be extended to three? Kevin ignores my point, like so many others, that Brid had no mandate to speak from the City campaign. She was about to go to jail? Or pay a fine? Get off the stage, Kevin, the reason why Brid demanded to speak was that two Socialist Party people had spoken and, by Christ, an SWP speaker was going to speak as well.

KW says: “Unfortunately, to add further insult to injury, he now claims that Brid Smith ‘threatened’ him. I wish to categorically deny this statement. I can only point out that this is taking a rather nasty discussion on the left to a new low.”

Kevin originally denied that Brid aggressively demanded to speak. She did and she did threaten me. Her parting words to me on the platform, said threateningly, were: “I won’t forget this”. The menace was clear. I can only point out that this was taking a rather nasty discussion on the left to a new low. Within a week the SWP hit me where they could only hit me, and the Trades Council march was thrown at me when I protested.

erm..you can see who the fuck Des Derwin is if you look at the original report on this thread!

I'm the sheep the SWP pressed to stand last year.

author by Walt Disneypublication date Thu Oct 30, 2003 09:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If I was asked to make a movie about the upcoming VP election for SIPTU, like all the other SWP front projects I would do something highly original.

On this project I would take one bin worker plucked from obscurity, let him become a martyr in his job for refusing to implement non-collection and hey presto a well known candidate loved and admired by all anti-bin tax campaigners.
Who knows it just might work. Forget the politics, it's all about publicity baby.

author by Steeliepublication date Thu Oct 30, 2003 11:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Yesterday morning at 7 am, the SWers were outside depots in Dublin, nope they weren't blockading or building for the campaign - they were leafleting the bin workers asking for their votes for Derek Delaney the 'anti-bin tax candidate' in the upcoming vice-presidential elections in SIPTU.

author by conor (wsm personal capacity)publication date Thu Oct 30, 2003 14:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

KW: First, he concedes that the reason he did not want a meeting of left activists in SIPTU was because he feared there would be a majority of SWP supporters there. This paranoia is rather unfortunate. Contrary to our wishes, the SWP is not yet a majority among such activists.

ME: I think if you re – read what he says he got tired of being a “patsy” or “cover” for groups which WERE almost entirely SWP fronts and very short lived like (and this is just one example quoted by him bellow)
We have ALL seen meetings like this one before on a large number of issues not just in SIPTU
You have your short lived front name (which soon disappears any way )
built in SWP majority,
Low/ no notice to other activists let alone ordinary union members,
Pre selected campaign name, leaflet (always in generic SWP style just in case any one hadn’t got the message), chair, agenda etcand all that remains is for the sheep to come and accept their duties
All the campaigns aims etc have already been set and it will soon disappear like the others !


ONE EXAMPLE QUOTED FROM DES
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
““Presuming it came out of the meeting on 7th August in the Teachers Club, I got notice of it one day before, and neither Clare Daly, Stephen Lewis nor Alan Mac Simóin [non-SWP political and SIPTU activists] had any knowledge of it.
Yet a name, newsletter, platform (quite well aimed) and newsletter contents are produced for the SIPTU Conference and prior to the fringe meeting.
I cannot reconcile this with your Open Letter (Socialist Worker, 16th July 2003) which proposes the formation, with the Socialist Party and other socialists, of joint left caucuses in the unions”.)
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

When you play around with short-lived front groups like this it is often the long-term activists who have to deal with the blame/consequences of this pathetic joke politics!

Conor

Related Link: http://www.struggle.ws
author by Bill Hicks Livespublication date Fri Oct 31, 2003 03:58author email billhickslives at eircom dot netauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

As many of the readers here are aware, the SWP's form of decision making is "democratic centralism". You don’t have to be versed in esoteric Marxist scholarship to know what “democratic centralism" entails. If it looks like a turd, smells like a turd, feel like a turd . . . you get the picture. Just from the sound of it you can tell it’s a crock - amounting to “we decide centrally what goes down, and you lot give it the force of democracy”.

If there were any doubts about the pros and cons of democratic centralism, then first hand experience of the SWP gives you all you need to know about its practice. As an independent leftist, I’d like to see the record set straight. DC is a theoretical dinosaur. End of story. Yet it will always re-emerge in activist circles, called by one name or another, but in practice having the same features and outcomes. It will always threaten to strangle the flourishing of a radical socialist renaisasance anywhere it arises.

Listen to how that sounds: "democratic CENTRALISM". Is it just me, or does that not sound oxymoronic to begin with?

Ask yourself this: how can an organisation be liberating and democratic, fuel and fire for a social revolution, and yet be centrally controlled by a tight fist, by those vetted and rehearsed in the one true faith? Anyone who has tried to have an open discussion with a well trained SWPer will know what I mean. Very quickly a discussion of any topic becomes a case of having your views condescendingly tolerated, until the anointed one can clear up your befuddled brain with the clear nectar of truth flowing form the SWP cup of eternal truths. Give me a fucking break! If I wanted revelation I’d go to mass!

I have some experience with the SWP, and it hasn't been good. It put me off the leftist activist scene in Ireland for some time. And I know of other like-minded people who had the same experience. I'm sure the same thing continues to happen today. Now I know that there are sound, conscientious people in the SWP – I’ve met them. It’s the organisation that has the problem.

Thanks very much SWP, for offering to relieve us of the burden of thinking for ourselves, but I reckon we’ll stick with independent though, flawed and all as it is.

Speaking of flaws, the key flaw in the SWP then, I would argue, is in the theory of democratic centralism. If anyone wants to explain to me how democratic centralism has anything to do with genuine libratory socialism, please do. And libratory socialism is the only game in town these days. All I can say is that the SWP in their current form is the “red bureaucracy” in action in Ireland as I write this. And it gives me no pleasure in saying it. The SWP’s autocratic practice flows directly from the autocratic theory guiding it.

A rose by any other name.

author by mepublication date Fri Oct 31, 2003 09:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Democratic centralism is like left unity.
Good ideas turned to rubbish in the hands of the swp.
Dont condem the idea because these people have distorted it to fit their needs.

author by ..publication date Fri Oct 31, 2003 14:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Just for a little balance, Either the whole concept is a bad idea and the SP and SWP are intolerable, Or the SWP are implementing an acceptable idea very poorly and the SP are doing a much better job?
Are we going to support the Socialist party now because of their good work in the Bin tax campaign even though their deeper struggle is counter to our ingrained beliefs?

Personally I think that as long as we can work with different groups with different ideologies constructively towards a common goal we should do so. Eventually if we are successful our goals will start to diverge but without such co-operation we will never even reach that bridge.
Where does this leave the SWP? Is the organisation corrupt to the core? is it's current leadership acceptable to the wider activist community? If not, should there be leadership reform from within the party might they be able to play a constructive part in the movement in the future? Or is the SWP a lost cause that only has the effect of slowing us down and sabbotaging any progress we might be making?

author by democratpublication date Sat Nov 01, 2003 02:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The SWP do not practice Democratic Centralism they practice Bureacratic centralism. They are a top down party that does not have any genuine discussion and debate within their ranks. The legitimisation that the leadership use for their dictatorship within the party is that it is 'democratic centralism'. This is bull shit.

Genuine democratic centralism allows and encourages debate and full discussion among the membership. When a decision is agreed upon by the members the party acts in unison in order to be most effective in fighting capitalism. The leadership is elected by the membership and acountable to them. Members are entitled to put forward contrary opinions to the leadership which are published in a members publication. This is democratic centralism not what the SWP practices.

author by Chekapublication date Sun Nov 02, 2003 19:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Why do they attack the SWP under false names and multiple identities? King Mob is ^Bill Hicks Lives^. A little bird tells me that King Mob is also Aidan O'Brien, whose hatred of Leninists and the SWP in particular has been obvious since the start of Indymedia. His record of artcles on this site speaks for trhemselves. He is quick to sneer at demos but never organises any himself.

If the editors were fair and honest they would give the SWP a highlighted right to reply on the front page.

author by ecpublication date Sun Nov 02, 2003 21:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As for Aidan O'B. I don't know if he is king mob or not and couldn't care less. He had nothing to do with this article being promoted to front page anyway. It is also obvious that anyone interested in the thread would have called back (repeatedly) and read the SWP replies courtesy of Kevin W among the others. If the SWP requested it maybe we could put up a reply in the format of - here is the original article / here is the SWP reply. We can't decide on this until someone asks thru the contact form or on here for a right to reply. Obviously the newswire is there for use without asking. (All of the above is my personal opinion)

author by ecpublication date Sun Nov 02, 2003 21:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

to 'dishonest' IMC editors using multiple identities! Do you know just how pathetic that kind of insinuation sounds?

author by Daithipublication date Sun Nov 02, 2003 23:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As you can see, a number of people (myself included) asked Kevin W. to substantiate his accusations against Indymedia (including our role in gathering bad words against Brid Smith) and .... silence. If this is making good use of the right of reply (peer review) then I'm a bunch of bananas.

author by Anonymouspublication date Mon Nov 03, 2003 15:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Though I am a supporter of the Swp, in general, and have had a few critisizms of Indymedia editors in the past - I think their decision to put this article on the front page has been vindicated judging by the amount of interest in it. The article has now received some 115 comments - and as far as I know, correct me if I'm wrong, the record number of comments an article on Indymedia, since its inception, has received is 118, on July 23rd this year:-

Which way the revolution: Anarchism or socialism.
by Chekov - WSM Wednesday, Jul 23 2003, 2:01pm

http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=60525&results_offset=800

author by Aidanpublication date Mon Nov 03, 2003 21:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I was busy in work all day and managed to miss this ;)

For starts cheka won't you please think of the Irony of accusing me and IMC of anonymously attacking the SWP, anonymously. Don't you see the irony?

Well I'm glad your little bird has the I/P logs, he's a clever birdie cause we can't tell who posts under what name, so he must be very smart. Sling mud elsewhere.

Not organising demos, damn got me there, But y'know I can state with assurance that my girlfriend can organise a "better" demo than the average SWP jog around the city center. In fact she has done.

All I've done is write measured criticism of one "blockade" that got Aoife's knickers in a tissy. Not allowing internal debate makes you fellows really touchy, doesn't it?

I've made no bones about my feeling for the SWP, why would I then create a pseudonym to say exactly what I've said publically?

In this case I played no part in the promoting of this article to the front page.

Finally this is classic SWP counter attack ignore the criticism and invent charges of being a "splitter". Instead you could have written your rebuttal to Des' article. But that would have required independent thought or written permission from the council of elders, and we both know that A) You're not capable of that and B) The SWP will never engage any member of the left in actual genuine debate and discussion.

author by Des Derwinpublication date Thu Nov 06, 2003 02:45author email dderwin at gofree dot indigo dot ieauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Bin there...

In the current issue of Socialist Worker (No. 210, October 30th) SWP candidate for the forthcoming SIPTU Vice President election, Derek Delaney, is presented as the candidate on the bins issue. Furthermore SW mentions no other issue affecting SIPTU members, except that Derek Delaney has travelled to Prague and “aims to bring the new spirit of protest back into SIPTU”. No social partnership, no union democracy, no 1990 Act, no privatisation, no spending cuts, no JI sackings, no union recognition, etc., etc. What is his policy and record in the Union on these?

On the bin charges my record is second to none in the trade union movement. I have plugged away on this issue for years. My Branch has put Motions to Union Conferences. I proposed at the executive committee of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions in September that they march on the issue. I proposed the policy of the Dublin Regional Executive Committee of SIPTU that the security of employment of members who act in conscience (i.e. by collecting all bins) be defended by the Union. I am backed by far more jailed protestors than any other candidate.

The SW piece goes under the heading “Now a real challenge to SIPTU leaders”. The only reference to my bid, on the SAME policies, or, it seems, more comprehensive policies, is: “The other declared candidate in the field is Des Derwin, a long time left activist, who polled poorly in the last election.” Presumably there is a connection between the headline and last year’s challenge: that this time Derek Delaney will pose the real challenge to the SIPTU leaders that Des Derwin’s poor poll failed to do.

1. No member of the SWP until now has ever said I “polled poorly”. Actually the most enthusiastic response to my result came from a leading SWP SIPTU member who told me effusely that I had done well in the circumstances!

2. I polled 7% (7512) in the last SIPTU election. The highest vote for an SWP candidate in the last General Election was 1.6% for Richard Boyd Barrett. Presumably he will again be posing a “real challenge” in the next election. The current SW is full of the SEA challenge in Derry by SWP member Eamon McCann. Hopefully Eamon will do quite well. But the last time the SEA stood, in the local elections of 2001, Socialist Worker (No 153, June 22nd) reported as follows:

“The newly formed Socialist Environmental Alliance polled well in the council elections in Derry and Belfast. The results were 228 (3.5%) for Shauna Deery in Cityside ward, 274 for Colm Bryce in Northland (2.5%) and 63 for Bill Webster in Waterside. In Belfast Barbara Muldoon got 128 (1.2%) in Laganbank. These results were a solid achievement for a group that had been established for around six weeks”

3. As mentioned I initially opposed running a left candidate at all last year. In pressing me to run the SWP stressed the opportunities at the time. If I “polled poorly” it was at least as much a reflection on the performance of the machine of the party that chiefly pressed me to stand as it was on my personal performance in the campaign.

I see that the troops were out already, before a nomination is even secured, leafleting for Derek Delaney at the refuse depots. Some of that from the SWP when I was up might have led to a better poll.

So, if my poor poll is just a matter of spin for the SWP, why is Derek Delaney standing against me? What policy issue is Derek Delaney uniquely standing on? None is mentioned in SW.

author by Euro Elections and SWPpublication date Thu Nov 06, 2003 10:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I heard that the SWP's sectarianism has plunged to further depths. They are thinking about running Richard Boyd Barrett in the European elections against the Socialist Party candidate which will be either Joe Higgins or Clare Daly. The SWP have serious illusions about Richard Boyd Barrett, Richard is not a major figure in Irish politics. Joe and Clare are well known throughout Dublin and the rest of the country.

If they run against Joe Higgins or Clare Daly in the European elections I will find it disgusting. Joe and Clare had the guts to go to prison, Richard is doing all he can to hold back the anti bin tax movement!

author by analystpublication date Thu Nov 06, 2003 17:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It would be quite funny if RBB stands against Joe or CLare. RBB would not get more than 1500 votes while Joe or Clare would be up for 12,000- 15,000 votes at the very least. I would predict that people who vote for the SWP in wards other than RBB's that they will vote SP in the euro election. This will mean that the combined SWP local vote will not be more than their Euro vote, this would be a complete joke.

RBB may be using this as a bargaining chip also as the SWP are trying to stand in a number of SP strongholds where there are SP candidates standing. The SWP may withdraw RBB in return for standing down candidates elsewhere?

If this is the case I would say to the SP, don't bother your heads about the SWP. Where they stand against the SP they will dramatically lose. The SWP simply do not have any real base in the working class and any votes they do pick up is only because people think they are paper candidates of the SP or that they are the next best thing to the SP.

author by Donnachadh Rowentreepublication date Fri Nov 07, 2003 17:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I would agree with the sentiments of 'analyst'. The SWP are not going to out-poll the SP anywhere that the SWP decide to stand against them. I think the SWP are making shapes about running in Dundrum against the long established SP candidate. This is akin to a game of chicken between a juggernaut and a bicycle (the SWP being the bicycle)- the SP will humiliate the SWP if the SWP stand against them.

The same goes for European elections. Richard Boyd Barrett did get his 15 minutes of fame when he was the 'chair' of the IAWM earlier in the year. Even in terms of media Joe Higgins was mor eof a prominant anti-war activist than Richard Boyd Barrett. They were seen (wrongly) as protests called by "Joe Higgins and his crowd".

The SWP have now seemed to have ditched their 'love-bombing' of the SP after the SWP humiliation in the general election. After getting delusions of gradeur from the IAWM, they issued the socialist block appeal. They were rightfully told to hit the road, still deluded about their influence they are now running against Des Derwin and even the SP in next years elections.

Advice to the SP: ignore them.

author by emilysimmonspublication date Sat Nov 08, 2003 14:03author address emilysimmons@yahoo.comauthor phone Report this post to the editors

what a load of rubbish??
so you think that the swp should not put a candidate forward for anything,??

this website is a load of crap, from what i can see, there is more space used on attacking the left, than attacking the government.

lets have a look at who is fucking up the world, and stop all this petty sectarianism.

indymedia is not so independant, as all this does is rant and rave about various fractions in the left.

little has changed, when i was a frequent visitor to this site last year, i read more attacks on the left than attacks on bertie ahern, and now i return and nothing has changed.

this is not a real activists website. it is petty tripe, which i have to say is not so evidence in indymedia's sister websites.

author by random inputpublication date Sat Nov 08, 2003 18:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

anyway 'emilysimmons' - of course the SWP should 'be allowed' run their own candidates, if they see fit.

If they see fit to run against other genuine lefts, like Des Derwin and the SP, then that is their right. But you know what, one of the great features of the SWP not being in any kind of power is that we are 'allowed' to criticise them for taking what we see as 'petty sectarian' actions.

If you think the SWP can just run candidates against other lefts and not get an earful from those of use in the 'activist community' you are sorrily mistaken. Obviously thats how it works in the SWP, but not in the real.

So indymedia is not a proper 'activist website' eh? Unlike the magnifcent SWP.ie site, where there is precisely NO forum for debate that I can see. So essentially what you are saying is that we should all read Socialist Worker, and accept everything in it as absolutely correct with no deabte?

Okay, after reading this month's SW, I am convinced that Derek Delaney is the Anti-Bin Tax candidate, and I will instruct all my mates in SIPTU to vote according to the infinte wisdom of Socialist Worker.

Praise be with Allen (and all praise due to him)
Salam.

author by emilysimmonspublication date Sat Nov 08, 2003 19:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

first of all, i cant do anything about the fact that i share the same name, with somebody in soapland. but at least i did post my real name and email address. unlike you and all the other clones who hide behind a computer.

secondly, i am not afiliated to a politicial party, but i do support the left. and i dislike when there is an attack on the left whether it is the SP , SWP, etc.

my point was about the attacks on the left in this site and that such threads receive more comment than the threads on war, bush, racism or the irish government. if you dont believe me, just do a search through the this sites history.

so my friend, if you can grasp the understanding that my comments were not in defence of the swp or any other party, but why this site angers me when there is so much focus is on attacking left wing groups.

also does the point of your thread basically summerise that "des derwin announced his plans first" so therefore the logic is that no one else from the left should run. is that the game we play, obviously some people think that delaney would be a better candidate, isn't that their right. or do people have to tip toe around others, like the some of the people who post on this sight, and seek approval?

author by Moipublication date Sat Nov 08, 2003 20:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

So, emilysimmons thinks this "website is a load of crap". If that's how you feel then why do you grace us with your presence, your highness?

From what I can gather from all of this, and I hope this is a fair synopsis, in the previous SIPTU election the swp suggested to Des Derwin that he should stand, then they did not put in sufficient effort to get him elected, now after he said he would stand this time the swp are putting up someone who is less well known and presenting him as the bin-tax candidate. And after opposing blockades on the bin depots they are leafleting those same depots to get their candidate elected!

I also think Des has been too modest about his Trade Union activities. He does not seem to have mentioned the excellent work he did during the Minimum Wage campaign, but then I'm sure that was only one of the issues he was involved in. But I remember, because I was on very low wages at the time.
Good luck, Des. If anyone deserves to win, it's you.

author by Alan MacSimoin - Workers Solidarity Movementpublication date Tue Nov 11, 2003 22:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

SIPTU's Education Branch, tonight Nov. 11th., nominated Des Derwin to contest the election for union vice-president.

This branch is one of the few in our union which called a special meeting - open to all membrers - to hear from the four candidates and choose one to receive its nomination.

Des Derwin (independent socialist) and Derek Delaney (SWP) showed up and spoke to us. Brendan Hayes (the leadership's chosen one) sent apologies, and Dermot O Loughlin didn't turn up.

First count
Delaney 8
Derwin 11
Hayes 14

Second count
Derwin (+5) 16
Hayes (+1) 15

So Des is in the race.

The most striking thing is that such a tiny number out of a branch of almost 2,000 turned up. Sadly, it's no surprise, just another result of years of 'social partnership' and increased bureaucracy.

author by Des Derwinpublication date Wed Nov 12, 2003 00:45author email dderwin at gofree dot indigo dot ieauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

And I got the nomination of my own Branch, Electronics and Engineering, tonight too. It was unanimous.

Thanks to all who supported me.

This puts me in the firing line for all kinds of accusations of motivation, especially at this time, but I'm going to say it. I got to know Derek Delaney yesterday as the candidates addressed a shop stewards meeting in Waterford. A nicer bloke and a finer trade unionist you would not meet on a walk from Dublin to Waterford. I hope (know) some day we can cooperate and not compete.

I'd add there's others like him in the SWP but you'd all say what a patronising smarmball. (There are.)

Des Derwin

author by educationheadpublication date Wed Nov 12, 2003 13:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'm a member of the education bracnh. I wanted to go to that meeting, but this is the first I've heard of it. Maybe these things should be advertised better.

It was interesting to see that of the 8 votes that went to Deleney only 5 transfered onto Derwin. This shows that the SWP are indeed splitting the vote by standing their own candidate, if the right wing had just one other person voting it wouild have meant that the left lost their nomination.

author by SIPTU member - Education Branchpublication date Wed Nov 12, 2003 19:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I would have gone to that meeting to back Derwin, but I didn't know about it. How do I know it's on? It certainly is interesting to see that the left won 19 votes, then in the second count it falls to 16. SWP members are not giving number 2 votes to Derwin!

Has Delaney got any nominations yet?

Des, he may be a nice guy. But it will be very hard to work with him in the future as he is trying to oportunistically shaft the left in a typical SWP way.

author by Elle - Education Branch Committepublication date Thu Nov 13, 2003 12:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I was disappointed to see the low turnout at the meeting on Tuesday, however, it was publicised well in advance. All shop stewards received notice of the meeting about three weeks ago - if there are Education Branch members out there who were not aware of the meeting then I strongly suggest you have a chat with your shop steward and find out why the notice was not circulated to the members.

I was delighted to see the nomination go to Des and I wonder now where Derek Delaney will get a nomination from. Rumour has it that he will struggle to get a nomination even in his own branch (which will meet tomorrow) - I'm sure Brendan Hayes will do his utmost to ensure that Derek Delaney and the SWP get a nomination - it is after all in his best interests for the left in the union to be portrayed in the worst light possible (and what could be worse than a fractured split left vote).

author by Steeliepublication date Thu Nov 13, 2003 14:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

We get the news that "his own branch (which will meet tomorrow)" in a post entitled "special branch meeting" - so Delaney is going to be the Special Branch nominee! Now his decision to run is starting to make sense ;-)

author by E - SWPpublication date Thu Nov 20, 2003 13:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Just need to said something here very quickly about the possible Dundrum situation where the Socialist Party would like to run in the Dundurm/Ballinteer ward.

What needs to be explained to me as I live in Dundrum, is why they are now is moving wards from Rathfarham over to the Dundrum where there had been an informal agreement that a SWP candidate could run there (in Dundurm that is)

The posting above gives the impression that the SP had run someone in the Dundrum/Ballinteer ward in the 1999 elections when they did not at all.

So as far I as know at this stage there is no replacement SP candidate for Rathfarham ward.

I dont like the spin that is being attempted here to portray one party as being sectarian.

For me this possible clash is completely avoidable and un-nesscessary once I knew about it.
There is no reason for this. We should be able to avoid this if there even at a minimum an informal agreement to run in the different wards. This of course will be discussed between us in the area.

Maybe a SP member can inform me more about this if anyone wishes?

As for the Euro elections I dont see why we as a party can't canvass for Clare Daly as a candidate if the SP accept our offer of assistance but this will be decided next year between us.

author by Red Butlerpublication date Thu Nov 20, 2003 13:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I was one of those under the illusion that Lisa Maher had always been the candidate here.
Seems like the SP halo is coming in for a bit of a battering.

That said I would still be inclined to vote for Lisa before Deirdre (no disrespect to Deirdre) because at least with the SP you know what you get. With the SWP you get a group who don't match their revolutionary utterances with the same sort of action.

And E I think you will find that Joe is running for the Euros and not Clare unless there has been another turn.

author by Questionerpublication date Thu Nov 20, 2003 14:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Maher stood in the Dublin South constituency in the last general election and got more than 700 votes in the Dundrum/Ballinteer ward. Obviously she is going to stand there.

There is no agreement with the SWP "informal" or otherwise that Lisa would stand aside for them. Why would there be? Lisa has a significant base in the ward. No member of the SWP does.

If the SWP stand against Lisa, they will get a very poor vote but they could cost her a council seat.

author by CWIslingpublication date Thu Nov 20, 2003 14:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Let me see Lisa in 1999 get 638 votes in the locals running in Rathfarnham.
She got 1063 votes running in Dublin South.
You claim she got more than 700 votes in Dundrum. (is this using a variation on the Castleknock canvass returns or a more indepedent method?)

So a question to Questioner - what happened to over 300 votes in Rathfarnham?

author by E - SWPpublication date Thu Nov 20, 2003 16:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'll be the first to stay that I dont want this to drag on here. Be honest, do you admit that you want to move over to an area that you got a better vote in and leave your old ward behind?

Maybe we should of run in Dundrum in 1999 but decided to concentrate on other wards but that is in the past.

It looks like she got just a good vote in the area she is from (Whitechurch) when compared to Dundrum. There is no reason to move over unless you are worried about certain candidates in the Rathfarmham ward - Sinn Fein possibly?

I think you knew from some time past that we (SWP) would like to run someone in the Dundrum area and that a clash could ensure.

What will happen here is that we (SWP) will be painted as the baddies in this possilble problem (I still think it can be resolved by the way).

There is no reason for this, people will ask you why they (in Rathfarmham) cannot vote for Lisa in June 2004. I dont think you have an replacement candidate at all do you?

This should be discussed face to face and not on a vitual forum like this.

author by Questionerpublication date Thu Nov 20, 2003 21:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Socialist Party will be standing a high profile candidate in a ward we have have done a great deal of work in over a period of years. The ward provided the bulk of her general election vote in the recent past. Depending on the general political situation at the time of the poll, there is the possibility that she could win a seat there.

The SWP also seems to want to stand a candidate, although it has nobody with Lisa's profile and has no real base of support in the area. The SWP has never stood a candidate there before. If you stand against the SP, you will get a much lower vote but you could cost us a chance of a seat. That would indeed be widely seen as a piece of spectacular sectarianism. And quite rightly so.

I'm sure that this will be discussed again in a more appropriate place but, E, I have to say that I would be amazed if the outcome of those discussions involves the SP standing aside for a weaker candidate.

author by Curiouspublication date Fri Nov 21, 2003 15:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Who is the SP running in Rathfarnham or are the 600+ voters for the SP at the last local election going to be abandoned?

author by Curious about curiouspublication date Fri Nov 21, 2003 16:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

That unless a significant development of the SP in Rathfarnham/Dundrum takes place between now and June there won't be the basis to field an SP candidate in Rathfarnham so SP voter in the area will only have the Euro elections in which to show their support. Gosh Curious your use of the word "abandon" tries to paint the SP in a bad light. Now why would that be??

author by Dun drummerpublication date Fri Nov 21, 2003 21:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

E, the SWP are not going to win a seat in Dundrum and are not even going to come close. The SP have a very good chance of winning. It makes sence that the SP run. If you are so concerned about the 'abandoned' people of rathfarnham why don't ye stand there- doing no work there has never stopped you standing elsewhere.

The SWP say they are all serious about a 'socialist block', yet they are determined to stand against the SP in Dundrum and get thrashed, just like in the SIPTU Vice Presidencial election.

author by Steeliepublication date Sat Nov 22, 2003 13:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The local elections are still over 6 months away. Please stop squabbling in public about who gets to stand where. It's not as if councillers have any power whatsoever and it's not as if the majority of the population care.

Vote socialist for, ehhhh, the very same.

author by Cynicpublication date Sat Nov 22, 2003 18:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In the Central Mental Hospital maybe but not in the real world.

author by pollsterpublication date Sun Nov 23, 2003 04:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

E out of curiosity have you seen the tally figures for the ballot boxes in the Dundrum Ward for the last election?

I am sure someone in the SP or any of the other parties would have them and would give you a copy if you asked nicely. Maybe you should do a bit of research into the true strength of the SP in the area before you debate it here.

Although I have no experience of the Dundrum area I would hazard a guess that Lisa Maher is better known in the area. She has stood in the area in two previous elections. The SWp have never done so. I think the SWP would simply get hammered if they stood against the SP.

Same goes for Europe. If the SWP stood a candidate against Clare Daly or Joe higgins the SWP would be humiliated.

Ye should learn your lessons from the Derwin affair.

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