Article from the May 2004 edition, Socialist Voice

European elections A sectarian yawn!

THE EUROPEAN election will be the usual sectarian contest. It boils down to a battle between the four main parties for the three seats. If the result follows the pattern of recent elections the DUP and Sinn Fein will pick up two of the seats. The only question is whether the UUP or the SDLP will pick up the third.

By Peter Hadden

All the parties have basically the same policies on the key issues that will come up in Europe, especially the pro-business neo-liberal agenda of privatisation that is promoted by the governments of the EU.

True, Sinn Fein, unlike the other parties, is opposed to privatisation. But, as the quotes from Gerry Adams elsewhere on this page show, Sinn Fein is now a "pragmatic" party that will implement privatisation even though they are opposed to it!

Whoever takes the three seats it will be more of the same except that the neo liberal agenda may come with different sectarian packaging. Given this, it is hardly surprising that for most people the question of who wins this election is hardly interesting enough to excite a yawn.

The only thing this election will do is underline the need for a new party that could represent the interests of working class people and young people, Catholic and Protestant.

John Gilliland, the ex-leader of the Ulster Farmers Union, is standing on a non party political ticket. He may pick up votes from people who are disillusioned with the main parties and would like an alternative.

However he is no radical. His election slogan, "No politics, just action" is completely empty.

The only other candidate of note is Eamonn McCann, who is running on a Socialist Environmental Alliance ticket. Eamonn McCann is undoubtedly the most radical of the candidates standing and, on that basis, the Socialist Party will be advocating a vote for him - on the one proviso, that he maintains a non sectarian position throughout the campaign.

We say this because McCann himself and, more particularly, the Socialist Workers Party of which he is a member, have in the past put forward views that, to say the least, are one-sided in the Northern Ireland context. They are still generally seen as having left republican leanings.

We do not see the SEA as a serious step in the direction of a new working class party. It is dominated by the Socialist Workers Party and its policies echo the move to the right, away from socialist ideas, which the SWP are now taking.

McCann's election slogan, "For a social Europe" rather than a socialist Europe, is every bit as empty and meaningless as that of John Gilliland.

The June poll will almost certainly confirm and reinforce the sectarian political polarisation, deepen the impasse and pose more starkly the need for a genuine socialist alternative.

More articles from this issue of Socialist Voice are listed here.

More articles from the SP archives of are available in our sitemap