6/23/2008

"The Enemy Within"

This was a reference made by Thatcher to one of the most progressive political figures in British politics, Arthur Scargill.

As an Irish Republican I have little time for most British political figures although there are some notable exceptions.

I'm thinking of people like Tony Benn, Dennis Skinner, Ken Livingstone and George Galloway.

Another is legendry Socialist and Trade Unionist Arthur Scargill.

I had the immense privilege of hearing Arthur speak yesterday as part of the Campa Náisiúnta Óige 08 in Tí Chulainn South Armagh.

He spoke with great passion and enthusiasm to a packed hall of young people (and some not so young).

He told us all about the Miners Strike, his leadership of the Socialist Labour Party that was founded by James Connolly in 1903 and his hopes for the future.

While I was thinking back today about Arthur's speech yesterday and his contribution to Socialism I was reminded of a quote from Oscar Wilde in his political essay, "The Soul of Man under Socialism".

"Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man's original virtue. It is through disobedience and rebellion that progress has been made."

A few of his quotes will remain with me; the main one was that there is no middle-class. There is only the ruling class and those who work with either hand or brain.

This struck a cord with me because I have had numerous rows with people over the issue of my class. My father and grandfather were both active Republican Trade Unionist's, they believed in the rights of the worker and worked in factories all their lives. My grandfather until he retired, my father still does to this day.

Even though I come from a working-class family and community when I went to University I had many pompous lecturers' who liked to tell me I was now middle-class.

"You are reading law at Queen's University; you are now a member of the middle-class so get used to it" one ignorant Politics Professor once told me.

I have never been nor will I ever be middle-class!

Arthur also told us about his views on the European Union and his opposition to it. I have to say that I disagree with him but I can see where he is coming from.

I believe in a European Union of equal and sovereign nation states working together, where possible, under the rule of unanimity.

I oppose most viciously this federal bureaucracy of the right which seeks to create a United States of Europe. It seeks a new militarised and anti-worker Europe where the rights of the people are subservient to the interests of the political class.

That is not a Europe which I wish to live under and I would prefer to leave the EU than to live under such a regime. The utter contempt which the German and French political class have for democracy is as disgusting as it is regrettable.

Arthur spoke for two hours and it was the most informative talk I have been to in a long while.

After the talk we left two members of Labour Youth to the train station and had an interesting discussion on all manner of subjects from the Lisbon Treaty to the Mullingar Accord.

What I left with from that conversation and indeed the talk from Arthur Scargill is the urgent need for left wing unity.

We need a political realignment in this country and those of us on the left need to put personality disputes and party political garbage to one side and look to the bigger picture.

I have said before on this blog that I am as opposed to Sinn Féin's involvement in government with Fianna Fáil as I am with Fine Gael. I support a broad left wing and progressive coalition.

To that end I would like to see Sinn Féin, the Green's and the Labour Party sign a left wing pledge before the next general election. I would like the pledge to be thus.

That none of the three mentioned political parties will enter government with either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. That the days of them fighting over who is to be the mudguard for either of the failed civil war parties is over.

There is no difference between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael; we should stop pretending that there is. It's the only hope we have of progressing a left wing agenda.

It may be naive on my part to suggest such a thing but it doesn't mean that such a thing isn't worth striving for.

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