14 February a left convention will meet in Derry to
discuss a joint electoral pact for the pending June
European elections. The invitation to the convention
circulated by the Socialist Environmental Alliance
(SEA) 'envisages an electoral alliance of different
parties, campaigning group and individuals offering
voters a radical, anti-sectarian alternative to the
parties based on one or the other communities'.
a 'radical alliance' in fact is nothing new. What
unites them is their refusal to fight against the
partition of Ireland and directly confront imperialism
in Ireland. Long-standing Socialist Workers Party
(SWP) member Eamonn McCann will stand on the SEA platform.
The 'broad alliance' will not be extended to those
anti-imperialists, socialists and republicans who
oppose partition and regard British imperialism, as
the primary cause of the conflict. The SEA describes
those who oppose partition as 'sectarians'.
core of the SEA is the SWP in Ireland. The SEA stood
McCann in last November's elections to the Stormont
Assembly; he polled 2,257 votes (5.5% of the vote).
McCann later said in Socialist Worker (6 December
2003): 'We regard class divisions, not community differences
between Protestants and Catholics, as the defining
characteristic of our society'. For the SWP ambivalence
towards the partition of Ireland is part of its history.
In 1969 the SWP supported the Labour Party sending
troops in to the Six Counties believing then as they
do now that imperialism can play a progressive role.
imperialism created and maintains the division between
the Catholic and Protestant working class. The social
deprivation/poverty map reflects the sectarian character
of the northern statelet with almost 80% of the most
deprived wards being Catholic. According to the 2001
population census, unemployment rates for Catholics
remains 1.8 times higher than Protestants. The October
2003 Bare Necessities: Poverty and Social Exclusion
in Northern Ireland report revealed 37% of Irish
nationalist households live in poverty compared to
25% of households who view themselves as British.
To campaign for better conditions for the working
class it is absolutely essential to fight British
imperialism. In contrast, McCann and the SEA wish
to see a middle road of reform that maintains their
privileged position, and so they imply that British
imperialism can play a progressive role in Ireland
and reform the reactionary loyalist state. This can
never be the case: British imperialism in Ireland
has always been reactionary and always will be. There
can be no progress in unifying the working class without
destroying that which divides it: partition and British
occupation of the North.
more information about the RCG and FRFI visit their
website at www.rcgfrfi.easynet.co.uk
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