One of the bigger Micro-Parties this time.
Name: People Before Profit Alliance
Representation: Five Local Councillors (Three of them in the SWP)
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, Pro-“People Power”
Notable Members: Cllr’s Richard Boyd Barrett, Gino Kenny, Brid Smith (All SWP) Hugh Lewis and Joan Collins
Founded in 2005, the PBPA is largely made up of members of the Socialist Workers Party (whom I’ve covered on their own merits already) and a number of other left-wing groups and independents such as the Community and Workers Action Group in Dublin. The Alliance was formed to give all the groups involved a greater chance of impacting Irish politics and more seriously contesting elections. It has had a moderate amount of success at the polls and five years on from its birth, can claim to rival the Socialist Party as Ireland biggest “little” party (though they are all connected through the ULA now, see below).
The party stood five candidates in the 2007 General Election but failed to win any seats, coming closest with Richard Boyd Barrett in Dun Laoghaire. After failing to make more than a negligible impact in the North Assembly elections, the group had much more success in the 2009 Local Elections, standing 12 candidates and winning five seats with Boyd Barrett topping the poll in his constituency.
What They’ve Been Doing Lately
The PBPA has been at the forefront of opposition to the governments economic policies leading the way on numerous protests and marches. The group has called for general strikes and walkouts in the face of cuts and have carried out numerous meetings on a wide range of issues from addressing ambulance service cuts to the situation in Palestine. The PBPA work seems confined to urban areas, especially Dublin, and they have little presence in the west.
What They’ll Do In The Future
The PBPA stands for wide scale reform of the way the government works and are committed to bringing about a large amount of changes on things like healthcare, housing, foreign policy and the like. Opposed to neo-liberalism, the group advocates alternative economic solutions, based upon less taxing of the working class and less cuts to services. As they stand to win a few seats as part of the ULA, they may well have a voice in the next Dail in which to forward their agenda, previously relegated to local councils in Dublin area.
Chances In The Next Election
Not too bad. The PBPA will be standing six candidates as part of the ULA, five of them in Dublin, the other in Wexford. They include Cllrs Gino Kenny, Richard Boyd Barrett and Joan Collins. With the help that being part of an organisation like the UL A will bring, they certainly have a shot, though the evidence would suggest that the three Councillors are who they should focus on. Boyd Barrett topped the poll in his local election and would seem a fairly safe bet to win a seat at the present time.
The PBPA can be proud of its achievements so far. They’ve done an awful lot more than some Micro-Parties that have existed for far longer. Now, having gotten over whatever differences existed between the Socialists and the SWP, they have a great chance to actually become a legitimate force on the big stage.
But, concerns remain. A left-leaning friend of mine, involved in the politics of one of Ireland’s major parties, considers the PBPA (and by extension the ULA) to be nothing more than a front for the SWP. It does feel like the Socialists Workers make up most of the group. Is the PBPA simply a way for the SWP to get past voters traditional aversion to the word “socialist”?
Perhaps. But they have a decent agenda, if a little left for my tastes. I don’t agree with most of their foreign policy and its clear that they fall into the comfortable “Make lots of promises because we won’t have to keep them” trap that so many of the Micro-Parties dive headfirst into. It’s an idealist group, plainly, one that so very clearly has no experience in the Dail.
That, and this amalgamating of socialist groups is starting to get a little confusing. Is Boyd Barrett in the SWP? the PBPA? The ULA? If two of them ask him to do separate things, to vote either way on a Dail bill for example, what will he do? What’s the leadership structure? Who trumps who?
Best website I’ve studied so far though.
Most Likely To Say: Working together makes us strong!
Least Likely To Say: I don’t know which party I’m in anymore.
*=The PBPA seems to have no leadership structure, at least none that I can find.