AAA-PBP merger must harness public anger

Analysis: Left-wing party needs to channel ‘popular revolt’ to become election threat

‘Anti Austerity Alliance - People Before Profit’ is now an official entity on the Register of Political Parties. All candidates of both groups will have this as their party designation on ballot papers in the General Election. Video: Bryan O'Brien

 

A merger between two similar left-wing groups may seem like a modest political step, but it was the result of many months of tortuous discussions about strategy and ideology.

Dún Laoghaire TD Richard Boyd Barrett in particular has used his consensus-building skills to forge a united approach to the upcoming general election between key figures in the Anti-Austerity Alliance and his own People Before Profit grouping.

The new banner - let’s give it the shorthand title AAA-PBP - aims to tap into what Mr Boyd Barrett describes as “an unprecedented popular revolt” against water charges and austerity measures in general.

Official party

Both organisations will continue to exist and can maintain different political positions on particular issues, but AAA-PBP is now an official party on the Register of Political Parties and will appear on ballot papers.

The task for AAA-PBP, as identified by Mr Boyd Barrett on Thursday, is to harness and translate the awakening of a previously apolitical section of society into a serious challenge to the “establishment” parties in the upcoming election.

The TD described the AAA-PBP as “a substantial national force to the left of the Labour Party, offering people a serious alternative to austerity”.

That is pretty much how Sinn Féin describes itself, without that party’s aspirational nods to a united Ireland.

Paul Murphy, the Anti-Austerity Alliance TD for Dublin South-West, volunteered that the AAA-PBP categorically rule out aligning with Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour and Renua, which begged the question as to whether Sinn Féin could be a potential coalition partner.

However, with Sinn Féin and AAA-PBP fishing in the same pool for votes, Mr Murphy suggested that Sinn Féin’s message about its coalition preferences was confusing.

Fundraising targets

In terms of fundraising targets, Mr Boyd Barrett has said that a candidate cannot get elected on a budget of less than €10,000-€15,000.

A rough tot suggests the party will aim therefore to raise a total of less than €500,000, with 30 candidates.

Some cynicism about the stability of AAA-PBP is inevitable, given the ill-fated United Left Alliance, which fell apart amid personality clashes and differing approaches to parliamentary politics.

A key factor joining the dots between the Anti-Austerity Alliance and People Before Profit is their loathing of Labour.

Cllr Bríd Smith did not mince her words as she outlined the approach the party will adopt on the doorsteps.

“The question of the treachery of Labour is a huge one for us in working class communities.”

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