Anti Bin Tax Campaign

Pay back time at elections

Working class communities in Dublin City and Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown are still not paying the bin tax and local campaigns are preparing for the non-collection battle.

By Kevin McLoughlin

The anti-bin battle late last year which centred on Fingal demonstrated a tremendous willingness on behalf of working class people to fight and 22 were prepared to go to prison. Unfortunately the campaigns weren't able to mobilise enough residents to force the councils and the government to back down.

The courage of the anti-bin tax activists was not matched by the trade union leaders who in reality betrayed the anti-bin tax campaign and working class communities. The imposition of non-collection in Fingal and South Dublin has been a blow to the battle to defeat the bin tax.

In Dublin City and Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown the battle against the tax will again come to to whether enough local residents can be mobilised to stop the imposition of non-collection.

A number of leading activists from anti-bin tax campaigns will be standing in the local elections on 11 June, aiming to provide an alternative to the right-wing parties who have imposed this hated tax on the communities.

The Socialist Party have argued that credible candidates who have played a real role in building genuine active campaigns should be endorsed by the anti-bin tax campaign to stand in the local elections. These election campaigns can then be used to build pressure against the right wing parties and the Councils to strengthen the anti-bin tax battle.

At an unrepresentative "activists" meeting of the Dublin City Campaign on 29 March the Socialist Party proposed that seven candidates from six local authority wards should be endorsed as an anti-bin tax slate. Our proposal included one member of the Socialist Worker's Party (SWP), Brid Smith in Ballyfermot.

The SWP attempted to have all of their election candidates in the Dublin City Council area included on the slate. These candidates included a majority who played a minimal role in the campaign. The Socialist Party will work with all forces that take a genuine and principled stand to defend and fight for the interests of working class people.

A clear division developed in the city campaign during the battle last Autumn. This division was between the Socialist Party and other anti-bin tax activists who correctly saw that the campaign needed to escalate community based direct action (i.e. the blockades) as the only credible response to non-collection and the jailings, and a conservative layer led by the SWP. The SWP and others who opposed the blockades became a barrier to building the anti-bin tax campaign because in reality they feared that such actions would lose them votes in the local elections.

Our proposal was rejected by 10 votes to 8. A proposal put forward by Dermot Connolly to add an additional two members of the SWP to the Socialist Party's proposed slate was passed by 10 votes to 8. The Socialist Party will not be participating in or supporting this election slate.

It represents a disgraceful abuse of a working class campaign and a political issue by those like the SWP who either refused to build the campaign and or who refused to fight in the battle against non-collection and now try to claim credit and get votes on a false basis. To endorse the candidates that the SWP are proposing would legitimise a tokenistic approach to campaigns that is alien to working class struggle. It is not credible to support candidates in the election who in all probability will not seriously fight against non-collection when it is imposed. Such political opportunism is the opposite of what the working class needs.

This article is from the April 2004 edition of Socialist Voice.

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