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On Marxists.org it is noted that Peter Hadden wrote this and most other documents relating to Northern Ireland. Ten pages long and written in the wake of the Anglo-Irish Agreement interestingly the Introduction focuses very strongly on the situation in Britain:
That the Tories could win a third consecutive term, despite their reactionary policies, is a searing indictment of the role of the right-wing Labour and trade union leaders over recent years. The fact that these leaders moved to the right, abandoned left and socialist policies, and distanced themselves from the struggles of the miners, print unions, Liverpool Council and others, allowed the Tories to go to the country with a significant lead in the opinion polls. During the campaign Kinnock and his right-wing handlers singularly failed to present any socialist alternative to the Tories. They relied on slick presentation which was all form and no content. The right-wing argument that socialist ideas lose votes was definitively answered by the result. According to the right, Labour fought a brilliant campaign – yet they lost moreover in those areas where the campaign and candidate were most closely associated with the right wing Labour generally got the worst result. Bryan Gould, the party’s campaign manager, managed to produce a 8.3% swing to the Tories in his own seat.
Compare this with the achievement of four Militant supporters who fought on a clear socialist programme: Pat Wall – 9.9% swing from the SDP in Bradford North; Dave Nellist – 5.3% swing to Labour from the Tories in Coventry SE; John Bryan – 3.6% Liberal to Labour swing in Bermondsey (overall in London there was a 0.5% swing from Labour to the Tories); and Terry Fields who produced a 12.4% swing from the Tories and almost doubled his majority in Liverpool Broadgreen. The Tories won because of the failure of the Labour leaders and because they were able to partially disguise the real depths of the economic malaise which afflicts British capitalism. The election took place in the latter period of the current shaky boom in the world economy. Looming on the horizon is the prospect of a new recession at a certain stage. This Tory government, with its programme of further assaults on living standards and services will be confronted by huge movements of the working class.
And concludes in relation to this:
Even now, in this period of “boom” there has been an up-turn in the class struggle as workers have moved to demand their share of the fruits of economic growth. Defeated on the political front the working class will now have no choice but to turn to the industrial front.
In relation to Northern Ireland it suggests:
These struggles will leave their mark within the unions and within the Labour Party as workers attempt to push their organisations to the left. What has already taken place within the CPSA and the NCU is a harbinger of future developments within the labour movement as a whole. Despite the conflicting factor of sectarianism the same processes are at work in the North. The Anglo-Irish Agreement is less of a central issue than at the time this document was written. The opposition of the mass of Protestants to the accord has in no way abated. But, as the Marxists predicted in advance, the Agreement in reality has proved inoperable and has not been implemented. During the first six months of 1987 the previously much vaunted Anglo-Irish Conference has met on a grand total of two occasions! Nothing of note has come from these meetings.
Moreover the British government has been at pains to appease the Unionists. The Anglo-Irish Agreement is no longer presented as an historic breakthrough or as the basis for the final solution of the Irish question. Northern Ireland Tory spokesmen now talk of the Agreement remaining in place until something better can be negotiated. Again, as the Marxists predicted at the outset, far from concessions, the pact has produced increased repression in the Catholic areas. Loughgall not Hillsborough is the watchword of the present policy of the ruling class. Despite the opening of the talks between the Unionists and government any way out of the current political impasse is as far away as ever. It cannot be too often emphasized that no solution is possible on a capitalist basis. Even given the relative downturn in the level of sectarian violence the situation remains explosive. The breakdown of talks, the loyalist assassination campaign and the deliberately provocative escalation of the Provos’ campaign are all factors which could flip the scales in the direction of renewed sectarian bloodletting.
On a more positive note it argues that:
Nonetheless the mood of the mass of workers, Catholic and Protestant is not at present in favour of sectarian conflict. As sectarian issues have receded class issues have come to the fore. As in Britain the period immediately before and after the election has seen a sharp up-turn in the class struggle, significant strikes – by civil servants, teachers, Telecom workers, in the shipyard, in Shorts, the meat plants and in other workplaces – have taken place. Even bigger movements of the working class and of the youth are likely in the short term, but certain at some stage in the life of this government. So, paradoxically, the election defeat in Britain can act as a powerful spur to the industrial movement of the working class in the North.
Just as the sectarian reaction of the past eighteen months unfolded in an uneven manner, so the development of the class movement will be likewise uneven. But excluding major developments which can throw things back, the most likely general line of development will be to the left. In this context the previous perspectives of the Marxists, temporarily cut across by the Anglo-Irish Agreement, for a transformation and re-transformation of the unions and the creation of a Labour Party at a certain stage, will tend to be borne out. The analysis and programme of Militant have been graphically confirmed and re-confirmed by recent events. Only on the basis of the socialist ideas we put forward can there be a way out for the working class. We have proved our ability to retain and develop these ideas under unfavourable conditions. Now events are beginning to move in our favour. The challenge now is to seize the opportunities which will present themselves and develop Marxism into a mass force among the working class.
The main bulk of the document goes into greater detail, not least in an analysis as to the rationale behind the Anglo-Irish Agreement which suggests that:
Thatcher’s handling of the 1981 hunger strikes won her government a pyrrhic victory. The prisoners were defeated but at the cost of the alienation of the Catholic population. Thatcher’s unnecessary, and, from a bourgeois point of view, stupid intransigence provided Sinn Fein with its electoral base. The hold, even the existence, of the SDLP was threatened. The Anglo-Irish Agreement was an attempt to put this right by isolating the Provos and boosting the SDLP. On every count it has been a gross miscalculation. Trying to correct one mistake the ruling class have merely compounded it with another. The problem of the minority remains unresolved but is now added to by the even bigger problem of the majority. The roots of this miscalculation lie in the government’s false estimation of the Protestant reaction to the accord. Thatcher’s original conception that the mass of Protestants would come to see the Agreement as no threat to them lies in ruins. Because of the ham-fisted manner of its introduction and because it appears to go further than it does, it has aroused such a fierce Protestant opposition that the entire thing is and will remain completely inoperable.
It is however notable how pessimistic the tone is at times:
Paisley and more particularly the “young Turks” within the DUP have been permitted to move centre stage. Future mass loyalist reaction, should it develop, would crystallise around such people. It would encompass hardliners in both Unionist parties, groups like the Ulster Clubs, the UDR ranks, and in its ultimate stages, the RUC also. The loyalist paramilitaries would be brought into tow of such a movement providing its physical force battalions. Reaction has not reached such a stage. So the “armies” formed by Paisley retain, even now, an evanescent character, yet they are not to be dismissed. Such forces are a quite serious threat in the short term. Actions such as the sealing off of villages could precipitate pogroms. Were the Anglo-Irish Agreement to be implemented these forces could swell and become a vehicle for armed reaction. They give a glimpse of what will happen in the long term if the labour movement does not provide a socialist way out for the mass of Protestant and Catholic workers.
In sum a most interesting document in relation to the views of Militant during this particular period.