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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
The Socialist Environmental Alliance: The SWP and Partition of Ireland
Paul Mallon • From Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 177 Feb/March 2004

On 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'.

Such 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'.

The 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.

British 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.


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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
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Index: Current Articles

14 February 2004


Other Articles From This Issue:


GFA in the Toilet
Brian Mór


No Retreat
Glen Phillips


Terrorism and Democratic Society

Anthony McIntyre


SEA: The SWP and the Partition of Ireland
Paul Mallon


The "Free Trade" History Eraser: Honduras, Maquilas and Popular Protest in Latin America
Toni Solo


On A Street in America
Annie Higgins


The BBC and the Quiet Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians
Paul de Rooij


4 February 2004


Language Belongs to All the People
Sean Flemin


Back to the Future? Prison Moves: From Segregation to Transportation
Fionnbarra Ó Dochartaigh


Evil Gets What Evil Gives

Anthony McIntyre




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