Better Know A Micro-Party: Socialist Workers

Ireland’s other Trotskyist party.

Name: Socialist Workers Party
Founded: 1971 as the Socialist Workers Movement, 1995 as the SWP
Leader: Central Committee
Representation: 3 local councillors as part of the People Before Profit Alliance
Politically: Far Left
Associated With: Anti-Capitalism, Anti-EU, Anti-Tax, Anti-War, Pro-Union, Pro-Working Class Rights, Pro-Public Ownership Of National Assets
Notable Members: Cllr’s Richard Boyd Barrett, Gino Kenny and Brid Smith


Founded in 1971 as the Socialist Workers Movement, the Party started as an offshoot of British organisations. Starting small and growing slowly, the SWM was overshadowed by other Socialist parties for years. The fall of communism, and the SWM’s unique (for the hard-left) view of support for the collapse of the Soviet Union (which it viewed as little more that a “state capitalist” system) garnered it more attention.

With areas of heavy support in places like Waterford Crystal and Dublin Bus, the movement became the Socialist Workers Party in 1995. Extending their membership to areas like Dublin Universities and SIPTU, the party campaigned in favor of divorce and pro-choice in referenda. It’s estimated to have a current membership of between 200-500 people.

Electoral Record

The SWP first started contesting elections as a party in 1997. It has ha no success in General Elections, coming closest in 2007 with 8.9% of first preference in Dun Laoghaire. This was as part of the People Before Profit Alliance.

In the 2009 local election, again as part of the PBPA, they had their first success, electing three councillors, all of them in Dublin.

What They’ve Been Doing Recently

A lot of marching, meetings and protests. The SWP can get very loud when they want to. They’ve been fairly involved with the United Left Alliance as well through their connection with the PBPA. With small branches all over the place the SWP is able to remain viable enough and has found ample opportunity for publicity in the last few months.

What They’ll Do In The Future

If they could get some Dail seats through the ULA, who knows? They want to end the capitalist system, that’s for sure. For now, the SWP seems focused on winning those seats. Beyond that, less cuts, greater worker rights, and more equality seems to be the aim.

Chances In The Next Election

Not too bad. It all depends on how much of a swing left that there is. Certainly, there is a potential for the SWP to win at least one seat, though they’ll need the help of Labour transfers in order to do it.

In that regard, Boyd Barrett will probably be the best bet for a SWP TD, being fairly popular in the Dun Laoghaire area already.

NFB’s View

The SWP isn’t in a bad spot currently, but one wonders just what they’ll be able to accomplish in the next Dail. In an Oireachtas where a FG/Lab coalition freezes everyone else out, its doubtful that the SWP will be able to do much.

Of course, the extreme ideas that the SWP proposes, which are nothing short then a full social and political reformation, are not likely to be popular with most.

As it is, I’m surprised that Ireland has room for two parties, the Socialists and SWP, whose politics are markedly similar. I’m not exactly sure what the issue is, but an integration of some kind would surly be worthwhile. They’re fighting the same fight, their general political ideas being near identical to each other.

Most Likely To Say: Capitalism is dead! March, march, march!

Least Likely To Say: We’re the exact same as Joe Higgins’ crowd.

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1 Response to Better Know A Micro-Party: Socialist Workers

  1. Pingback: Better Know A Micro-Party: People Before Profit | Never Felt Better

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