Uncle Joe lays down the smack

Below is a fantastic two-and-a-half minute speech by Joe Higgins, denouncing an opportunistic anti-Chavez resolution in the European Parliament. Joe’s speeches have been a bit hit-and-miss to date; he does have a tendency to resort to pro forma sloganeering and CWI shibbolethism which detracts from his arguments somewhat, but below he crams insight, invective and indignation into a short and fiery address which briefly stirred the moribund morass.

Joe seems far more active Over There than most of his compatriots. His avowed focus, however, remains the reconquest of his Dublin West seat at the next election, something which requires him to be equally visible whilst back on the old sod. At sixty years old, it must be taking it out of him.

His point about the European media is well-made. The BBC’s Jonny Dymond filed a shamelessly tendentious report about the Greek protests against the cuts which included the following gem:

But whether it is because of the weather, or the scale of the crisis the country faces, the march feels thinly attended and often the protest is rather desultory.

The old lower-than-expected-turnout is a familiar and oft-played card, but this offers a new twist. It’s not Dymond’s contention that the protest was thinly attended (personally, I’d shove a hyphen in there, but what do I know?), or even looked thinly attended, or sounded thinly attended; it’s that it “felt” thinly attended. Presumably Dymond is blessed with the same sort of crowd-assessment spidey-sense which enables the Guards to proffer unquestioned estimates before a protest even begins.

There’s a good piece about the Greek situation over on Lenin’s Tomb, and the comments are awash with further insight (those which aren’t verbal bouquets tossed upon the shrine of Lindsay German, the People’s Princess. For a comprehensive and balanced take on that story, check out Splintered Sunrise.)

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8 Responses to “Uncle Joe lays down the smack”

  1. CassFlower Says:

    Very interesting – Enjoyed Joe’s intervention. I hope there were MEPS there to listen.

    “CWI shibboleths” ?

    Translation please 🙂

  2. dublindilettante Says:

    There’s a tendency on the part of the Committee for a Workers’ International’s British Isles affiliates to endlessly regurgitate the same catchphrases and arguments in every public pronouncement. If I had a cent for every SP statement that included the phrases “savage cuts” or “orgy of speculation”, I could buy out INM. SP England & Wales isn’t quite as bad, but their international analyses seldom go further than a brief (usually accurate and well-researched) précis of the situation, followed by a lament that no mass workers’ party exists, followed by the assertion that a mass workers’ party must be formed.

    It’s not that they’re bad arguments, it’s just that, like anything, they lose some of their efficacy via endless repetition in the same form and bespeak a certain lack of imagination.

  3. Mark P Says:

    In fairness, dd, sometimes we say that a mass workers’ party does exist! And then we advocate that it should pursue socialist policies!

    Also sometimes we think that cuts are “swingeing” rather than “savage”. I have to admit that the speculators do always seem to be up to the old orgies though. Dirty bastards.

    More seriously, sometimes your analysis of an underlying issue remains the same for a long period of time. With the best will in the world this is sometimes going to get a little boring for those of us who pay close attention to statements over a long period. I’m not sure precisely what can be done about that.

    The language issue – cliched phrases – is a slightly different one. Generally I think that Socialist Party publications are well written, given that a typical one contains articles by 30 or so people, none of them journalists or professional writers. But cliched phraseology is certainly something that could be worked on.

  4. CassFlower Says:

    One man’s cliché is another man’s Iron Law.

    But then, there is little sign of any real moves to found a “mass party”.

    Good to see Joe put it up to them, all the same.

  5. Mark P Says:

    Well, Cassflower, the central problem with founding a “mass party” is that you need substantial numbers of people to want to be involved! Otherwise it’s not a mass party but a rebranding of the existing activist groups.

    Now that doesn’t mean that there can’t or shouldn’t be steps taken in between. Judging what steps are possible or useful and at what time is a tactical matter. Before the last local elections, the Socialist Party proposed to other left groups that an alliance should be formed – the elections would then have served as a good opportunity to see what wider forces could be assembled at that time – if there were noticeable numbers of people interested basically. Unfortunately, these proposals were turned down flat.

    The Socialist Party has again proposed that an alliance should be formed, since those elections. We’ll see what comes of it.

  6. Cass Flower Says:

    There was little sign of an alliance in the Lisbon II campaign. What happened? In calling for an alliance, in my opinion, part of the value of such a call is that it makes it clear to people who is prepared to work as part of a united front and who is not.

    I would like to know who has turned the offer down.

  7. Mark P Says:

    There was an alliance during the Lisbon II campaign, the Campaign Against the EU Constitution, which included all of the socialist, left or republican opponents of the Lisbon Treaty. In practice CAEUC was mostly a coordinating body for public meetings and press conferences than anything else. Each affiliate ran their own campaigns as well, although those campaigns ranged widely in scale – on the socialist left, the Socialist Party spent a multiple of the total spent by all of the other socialist groups together.

    I was talking above about a more general political alliance rather than a joint campaign on a particular single issue. The Socialist Party proposed one to People Before Profit (chiefly the SWP) and the Workers and Unemployed Action Group (Seamas Healy’s organisation) before the last local elections. They said no. The Socialist Party has since proposed an alliance again since. I’m not sure what will come of it.

  8. blogtok Says:

    Although limited, the CAEUC was quite effective in the Lisbon I campaign. In the Lisbon II campaign the only left figure who made any impact was Joe Higgins who was standing for the EP. Perhaps people were driven back by having to go again over the same ground. And of course Sinn Fein’s line of “we can get a better deal” was a back down waiting to happen.

    Why not go again with a CAEUC type united front ? In many ways it makes far more sense than the Socialist Party calling for the forming a mass party, when they have already formed a party we must assume they intend to expand.

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