The Ireland correspondent of the UK’s Guardian newspaper, Henry McDonald, writing in today’s edition on the Stormont assembly election in the constituency of West Belfast:
“Gerry Carroll stood for People Before Profit (PBP), a leftist party with its roots in the Socialist Workers Party in Britain.”
The People Before Profit Alliance (PBPA), as it is properly known, functions as the electoral front of the far left Socialist Workers Party (SWP), a group that does indeed trace its origins to Trotskyist supporters of the British SWP living in Ireland during the 1970s. I won’t go into the labyrinthine details of the organisation’s history here. Enough to say that for most of its existence the SWP has in one form or another spent more time attacking other leftists for alleged thought-crimes against the revolution than it has done tackling the perceived inequities of the capitalist system.
I don’t really have much regard for the SWP-proper or its rivals in the Socialist Party (SP), another groupsicle of Trotskyist ideologues with links to Britain, this time hiding behind the cover name of the Anti-Austerity Alliance. That said, you’ve probably read articles by me praising the Anti-Austerity Alliance–People Before Profit coalition for the trojan work it has done in Irish politics since 2015, tackling everything from water charges to corruption in An Garda Síochána. The value of this cannot be underestimated. However it says much for a peculiarly British strand of socialism on this island nation that its main proponents need to obscure their existence behind front organisations in order to contest elections with any degree of success.
Arguably, it was the UK-centric nature of the PBPA’s politics which led it to support the anti-European Union Brexit vote in the United Kingdom last summer. Which, of course, includes the latter’s colonial jurisdiction over the north-east of this country. This puts the grouping more in line with the Corbyn wing of Britain’s Labour Party than it does with mainstream left-wing sentiment here. This very British way of looking at things can be seen in the statements issued by the People Before Profit Alliance in recent years, with their obsession over the “Tories” and references to the “Southern Irish government”.
As I may have said before, we live in a funny old country.