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Peter Hunt

NILP Conference

(December 1974)

From Militant Irish Monthly, Issue 30, December 1974.
Transcribed and marked up by Ciaran Crossey.

This year’s annual conference of the NILP will be a small scale affair indeed. In all on the preliminary agenda only 10 resolutions appeared from the parties. In order to fill out the conference the Executive Committee added another 10 resolutions.

The last year has seen a continuation of the thinning out of the NILP’s active rank and file members. Last year the NILP was only a skeleton of an organisation. Now it is only its trade union links which prevents its complete disappearance. It is also this base on the unions which sets the NILP apart from any other political party in the North.

As the NILP continues to shrink the need to have a party of the working class in Northern Ireland becomes more and more urgent every day. The recent wave of industrial disputes under-lined this need. The unity shown in the course of these strikes could only have been harnessed politically by a mass Labour party fighting clearly on the side of the strikers and doing so on a clear socialist programme.

The solutions of the ruling class continue to fail. They are incapable of providing a solution to any of the worker’s problems There can be no end to the killings and sectarian bitterness generally except through the unity of the working class both industrially and politically. Nor can there be any “stability” except the stability achieved when a working class party gives a clear socialist lead to the workers for solving the basic economic issues.

The NILP leadership have reacted to the need for independent class action on their part by running away from it. Their response to the desperate need to unite the working class has been to turn towards sectarianism.

During and since the UWC strike their pro-Loyalist position has been thinly veiled in most press statements. Their seeming support at least in some measure for the UWC aroused an angry response from the Official trade union movement at that time.

For some months now mostly dating from the time of these incidents opposition to the policies of the party leadership has grown within what remains of the party rank and file and also within the trade union movement. This will be reflected at this conference in an attempt to change the leadership.

But whatever the complexion of the new Executive Committee pressure must be exerted on it from the party branches and the affiliated unions to get it to call a conference of all trade unionists trades councils, NILP branches and those Labour groupings which have been established in recent years or which have split off from the NILP in disgust at the policies of the leadership. From such a conference a broad-based party of Labour could be established. Such a party campaigning clearly on the side of the workers by fighting on socialist policies, could not only repair the damage done to Labour in recent years, but could build a Labour party, stronger than at any time in the history of the Northern Ireland state.

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