The ULA – Where are we heading ?

I’ve been asked to do a blogpost on where I think the United Left Alliance is going. It’s a valid question that everyone has been asking. However, I think the best way to look at it is not to see it as some alien, historicist glacier inching in one direction or another. The best lens to look upon the this new project of left unity is: where do we want it to go?

I’ve been involved in the project since I volunteered to canvass for Cllr Gino Kenny in Clondalkin in the most recent election. It was my first real foray into partisan political activism – and I haven’t looked back since. The announcement of the merger of the left was such an euphoric occasion, as an independent, which I’ll never forget. It’s that feeling of (dare I utter the “H” word..?) hope that inspires any involvement I have in this grouping. And all moves I’ve taken since has been to encourage others to do likewise. To get involved.

I can’t emphasise enough that this is the process of forming a brand new party. This belongs to everyone, not just the component-parties. Whatever policies or structures it implements will not drop down from the sky or magically appear out of a vacuum. And being a process, that obviously means that it will take time and the outcome is not predetermined.The interim-steering committee want nothing more than for the public to engage with it and drag it into existence. It can be what helps the alliance power on past component-party squabbles as to whether it goes this way or that way. It goes whatever way we, the grassroots, bring it. That’s what a grassroots movement is.

The most obvious clue that this is of the grassroots is in how they held an extensive nationwide townhall tour appealing to the locals to come out and get involved. Well that’s all the go-ahead we need. A wink is as good as a nod. There wasn’t even a meeting scheduled for my area, so I emailed them and we got TWO. Now we have, dare I say, one of the strongest and most vibrant branches in the country. That’s all there is to it. Having input shouldn’t be that much harder.

With regards to the specific ways we can have input into policy formation, we simply need to talk to each other – nationally. There is no sense in wasting this once in a generation opportunity to build something incredible just to sit in a corner and sulk that it isn’t going your way. The process of internal debate began elsewhere online and here on where we now have a fantastic United Left Alliance forum section. For the uninitiated, we have an archive of all official articles on the evolution of the party and healthy, robust debate on what the United Left Alliance should look like.

The next step we took was the WeAreRagbags initiative. It is beginning life as an internal newsletter between independents where we can keep each other abreast of party development. Pretty soon it will develop into a platform for said independents to broadcast nationally their views on the party, be they problems, solutions or merely opinions.

I see the next phase as being a United Left Alliance/Left Unity Blogging Network. I envisage an exclusively social media blog broadcasting network on facebook and twitter that posts ULA related posts as they come. This would deliver party debate fresh on party activists’ homepages. The only possible result of this is increased participation, debate and discussion between the rank and file members of the party. With this kind of internal culture blossoming, I have hopes that blogs devoted to discussing the United Left Alliance’s environmental policies, education policies and everything under the sun will spring up. This could potentially play a massive role in shaping where the party goes. What my own particular viewpoints are don’t matter a damn unless there is a platform in place for it to be considered. That is my priority.

And all we have to do is give our opinion. There’s nearly a thousand of us so far, if we all speak then the upper echelon will only be too delighted to try and keep up with us.



Unspecific715 ….. 8.7.2011

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