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Suicide of the Socialists: The Mick Wallace Issue

category national | anti-capitalism | opinion/analysis author Wednesday October 17, 2012 18:04author by Socialist Democracy Report this post to the editors

One can only look on in amazement as sections of the Irish Socialist movement self-destruct over its attitude to one individual, independent TD Mick Wallace. As with many other things, the appearance is not the reality. The frantic denunciation of Wallace, and the equally frantic adulation of him only a few months ago, represent very deep and systemic weaknesses that must be overcome if a working class resistance is to be built.

Wallace is a contractor who was bankrupted in the credit crunch and was elected to the Dail on a programme of opposition to the bank bailout and the austerity. He was a high-profile thorn in the side of the government and so frequently on the platform of the United Left Alliance that many people thought he was a member.

All this changed when it was revealed that Wallace had avoided the payment of the full VAT tax due for his building construction business. Wallace owned up to the fiddle and promised repayment., claiming that he was trying to save his business. The capitalist press went on a full-blooded witchunt and the socialist press quickly fell into line behind the pack.

In the household charge movement the Socialist party and Socialist Workers party moved not only expel Wallace, but to expel anyone who associated with him or invited him on a platform.

The Socialist party saw the resignation of one of their two TDs, Clare Daly, because of an association with Wallace. She said she would now concentrate on building the United Left Alliance - the only vehicle left to her that can justify a role in the Dail. The SP immediately responded by indicating that her presence in the ULA would cause "difficulties".

So what's going on? The capitalists who are pursuing Wallace are the crooks who stole the country. Ireland has a long tradition of political corruption and the perpetrators are rarely punished in the courts or at the ballot box. Why the Left's anxiety to throw itself at the head of the mob baying for blood?

A clue was provided by a Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party. His party was forced to act because of its commitment to "taxation justice". The same liberal phrase was used in the Household Charge debate. The ULA's call to make the rich pay is a central slogan.

This is moralism disguised as policy. Progressive tax policies cannot provide the mountains of money required as long as the bank bail-out continues and would not be implemented short of a socialist government which would be taking control of key resources - not taxing them

Another issue is the unremitting electoral and parliamentary focus of left strategy. The Wallace case is hardly a burning issue in the working class. It is in the columns of the right wing press that dominate the Dail.

The left parties in the Dail search for respectability and fly into a panic under press attacks. Questions about the Socialist Party's Dail expenses had led to hysteria similar to the hysteria over Mick Wallace. They hope to gradually increase the number of Dail seats, a perspective that only makes sense through the lens of a reformism that envisages the economic crisis being resolved by an improved capitalism. Behind it all is an unremitting sectarianism that stands ready at any time to sacrifice the broader movement to their own interests.

The basic fact is that the idea that Dail seats build movements is completely mistaken and leads to the sort of self-defeating opportunism we see today. Much larger movements that were disciplined parties have been torn apart by the pressures of a bourgeois parliament and a rapacious media.

The starting point for a socialist resistance is real principled unity around the needs of the working class and the tasks we urge it to undertake in its own defense. Instead we get playacting unity between small groups based on their own needs, in a frame-work work where capitalist resurgence is regarded as inevitable and workers revolution as fantasy.

Related Link: http://www.socialistdemocracy.org/Bulletins.html#SD
author by John Kellypublication date Wed Oct 17, 2012 22:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It is difficult to disagree with the above.

Mick wallace is out of the frame and he is also paying back half his salary to the exchequer.

Contrast the Billionaire tax exile, owners of the Indepenedent group whose scribes constantly preface the words "Tax cheat" before Wallace's name.

Surely there is a lesson in there.

Ironically, a veteran from the (former) Militant organisation in Liverpool, stated recently at a public meeting in Dublin, that "if the capitalist press are not constantly attacking you then you are doing sometinhg wrong" !

Well it seems here that the former bricklayer member for Wexford has got the ULA in a spin via the media onslaught. What, I wonder would they be like in a mega crisis ?

Surely highlighting O'Brien's and O'Reilly's multiple economic, and media interests, via a street and Dail campaign, pickets, leaflets, etc outside Indo HQ etc would serve them better than apparently diving for cover every time Mick Wallace is lashed by the Indo group and the ULA suffers collateral damage.

Most citizens who read the Indo papers are not aware of the commercial- political nexus of the main shareholders of the group.

Surely now is an opportunity to apprise them of these facts in leaflet form etc on the streets ?

What is there to lose ? the Indo group will Never give a genuine left organistaion a break so perhaps now is the time to stop cowering and starting calling and getting those facts well advertised.

John Kelly

author by observerpublication date Wed Oct 17, 2012 22:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Left is going nowhere at the moment and has been for a long time. In this time of deep economic crisis the Left should be the only game in town, but its not.

Just tonight on the news they discussed a MORI opinion poll and it showed that FF had gained slightly at the expense of the government. I mean who in their right mind is even contemplating voting FF ever again? This tells us at some level that ordinary people don't even consider the Left as any kind of alternative. And that brings us to the next question. Why is it that the Left has always gone nowhere? From time to time it edges forward slightly only to slip back. They seem totally scared of the media and that fear is used against them to keep them in their tiny box.

author by SDpublication date Wed Oct 17, 2012 23:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Mick Wallace has exploded the Irish left and split the Socialist Party. The Socialist Party argue that Wallace is a capitalist and a tax dodger. It is impossible to work with him and impossible to work with others who cooperate with him, a position the Socialist Workers Party largely share.

Mick Wallace is a capitalist who fiddled VAT tax returns (a common practice in the Irish building trade). He was bankrupted in the credit crunch and is a savage critic of the government. He supports the house-hold charge campaign and opposes the austerity.

Can socialists work with Mick? Why not? This is especially true in the household charge campaign, essentially a movement that itself stands for tax non-payment.

The moral outrage seems strange when we look at recent alliances in Britain. There was no difficulty with George Galloway. There was no difficulty with homophobic Muslims in the RESPECT alliance. The Socialist Party remained outside these alliances but was itself accused of accommodation with right-wing English nationalism. In Ireland there has been no savage break with the trade union leadership, including David Begg and Jack O'Connor, although they are joined with government and bosses in enforcing mass austerity. Massive scandals involving taxpayers money and SIPTU junkets go unremarked

And that is the issue. The problem is not with Wallace but with the SP and SWP. The Irish socialist movement has not broken from the union bureaucracy. Their main slogan, along with the British TUC, is a call for tax justice - a vacuous, moralistic bleat that calls on the rich to play fair while disguising collaboration with the bosses.

There have been many mass movements in Ireland. None have ever vetted their members - but then they weren't focused on the Dail or the union bureaucracy.

author by Jolly Red Giant - Socialist Party / CWIpublication date Thu Oct 18, 2012 00:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I debated long and hard about whether I would reply to this thread (for all of about 2 seconds) and then I said to myself - is it worth wasting your time responding to the rant of a handful of sectarians who have done diddly-squat to assist building either the ULA or the CAHWT and their whinging on an internet forum - and I answered myself by saying - time for bed. Good night - and I hope you get some mild relief from venting your spleen at the SP.

author by W. Finnertypublication date Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

RE: "Wallace is a contractor who was bankrupted in the credit crunch and was elected to the Dail on a programme of opposition to the bank bailout and the austerity."

Things might have worked out a lot better (in my opinion), if the people of the Republic of Ireland had demanded their rights under the extremely important "people power principle" embedded Article 6.1 of Bunreacht na hEireann (the Constitution of the Republic of Ireland), as opposed to trying to depend on the personality of any particular one individual.

If a sufficiently large enough group of well-informed people stood their ground regarding the "people power principle" of Article 6.1, then the bank bailouts could all of been stopped absolutely 100% dead in their tracks by "the people": as a matter of constitutional principle; and, regardless of what the various personalities -- individually or collectively -- connected with our Government (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial) might have wanted to happen in connection with the bank bailout issue.

The trouble is that most of the people of the Republic of Ireland probably did not realise this at the time; nor did they realise (probably?) that there is room for people of all political and religious persuasions (and none) within the framework of Article 6.1.

Article 6.1 does not exclude anybody from participating in decisions concerning the "common good" of "the people" of the Republic of Ireland. Our grossly corrupt Government (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial) does however: and that's the big problem (in my opinion) which now desparetly needs to be carefully and peacefully addressed by all lawful means as soon as possible (if not sooner!!).

Fortunately, Bunreacht na hEireann is still the supreme law of the Republic of Ireland; and, Article 6.1 is still right in there at its very heart: and some (including myself) would argue "its heart".

Consequently, it might still not be too late for "the people" to show our corrupt Government (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial) "who's who" in the Republic of Ireland regarding the matter of who exactly has the "final" say regarding the matter of "national policy" relating to the 80 billion Euros bank bailouts (or whatever it is to date): according to the SUPREME LAW of the Republic of Ireland.

Related Link:

author by Peter Sutherland's Nemesispublication date Fri Oct 19, 2012 01:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Someone explain what the fuc* is going on. Are the SP for Wallace or against him?

The Workers and Unemployed Action Group (WUAG) at its Annual General Meeting "unanimously decided to withdraw from the United Left Alliance" becasue the SP, SWP and PBP wouldn't ask the tax doger to resign from the Dail.

Is it that Wallace is a nice fella who is against US imperialism and 'austerity' cuts so therefore the Left should be OK with him robbing the citizens of Ireland?

Here's a clip from WUAG TD Seamus Healy on the issue:

"Immediately after Mick Wallace TD announced that he had withheld tax from the revenue commissioners, WUAG proposed that the ULA call for his resignation from the Dáil. This proposal was vetoed by the Socialist Party. WUAG then publicly called for his resignation in its own name. We have continued with our efforts to persuade our allies of our point of view without success. A short time ago, we again formally proposed that the ULA call for his resignation. On this occasion our proposal was vetoed by People Before Profit/Socialist Workers Party in addition to the Socialist Party. As an organisation committed to tax equity and defence of public services, we now believe that we can more effectively campaign for these objectives outside the United Left Alliance."

Full statement:

Related Link: https://wuag.wordpress.com/2012/10/02/workers-and-unemployed-action-group-leaves-united-left-alliance/
author by Mick O 'Brienpublication date Fri Oct 19, 2012 21:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I would hazard a guess that at least 95 % of the population are not aware of the ownership issue of independent group and the political influence these people wield in this country via their newspapers and radio stations.

Surely highlighting that fact might assist the left as is suggested by one of the contributors above ?

author by MNC - mncpublication date Fri Oct 19, 2012 23:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Funny, if WUAG are so concerned about tax equality why do they oppose raising corporation tax? Bullshit they left the ULA over other issues, abortion rights. gay rights, these apparently arent big in getting votes in Clonmel! PS; are we suppose to believe that defending Wallace is a big issue for socialists? The real problem is the lack of any union opposition to austerity not dail seating arrangements.

author by Tpublication date Sat Oct 20, 2012 11:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You hit the nail on the head and I think if someone did a nice article clearly showing some of these relationships comparing and contrasting some of the headlines of their own paper with their own tax affairs and ability to form and shape public opinion in this country, then it would make a good article in its own right.

author by Mick Butlerpublication date Sun Oct 21, 2012 21:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The proposal is a good one.

What about utilising the many thousands of leaflets that will be produced on the home and water tax and giving a 5 or 6 bullet point breakdown of O'Reilly and O'Brien's interests printed on the leaflet?

I agree that most people do not know of these multiple and overlapping interests. A mass leaflet and poster campaign with website directions might be a wake up call.

There is plenty of stuff online, if that info gets on the streets and attracts 'ordinary' people' attention it would be a very healthy development.

The old adage that Information is power was appreciated by Connolly and Larkin etal, 120 000 p w circulation of their paper in 1911 furnished some balance against W M Murphy's 'Independent' media and commercial empire.

As the song says "The fundamentals apply as time goes by".

author by Sir Humphreypublication date Mon Oct 22, 2012 22:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Just be careful what is put on any leaflets.

Denis O'Brien lashes out with legal writs like they are going out of fashion hence the reason why he is widely feared. Off the top of my head I can recall he is suing The Phoenix, has threatened Vincent Browne in writing, and has written personally to several serving ministers as their perhaps slightly critical or questioning tone has incured his displeasure.

Other tales abound which others can attest the veracity of.

Of course it will be the mother of all battles should Telenor and others obtain a finding of corruption in the awarding of the mobile phone licence.

The state will then be on the hook for further billions in compensation. Where will Denis be at that point? Where will Lowry be ? He got short of 1 million pounds apparently from DO'B, several weeks after the latter got the licence.

It is some narrative. Crony capitalism alive and well in the emerald isle. And O 'Brien's organs blame the public sector for causing the mess. Me and my wife and kids are on rice and beans 3 times a week and our only "speculation" was to take out a mortage to "get on the ladder" as all the media told us to do and DOB's crowd led the pack.

Worse fools we were but we wont pay the house tax and maybe more will wake up as well as us.

Good site keep up the vital work. It is true; information is power

author by Sacked and blacked Shop Stewardpublication date Wed Oct 24, 2012 22:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The leaflet idea is a good one, it is also common sense and that is why, unfortunately, I do not expect it to be taken up.

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