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Peter Hadden

NILP accused of turning against socialism

(February 1976)

Press statement from the Labour & Trade Union Co-ordinating Group, 24th Feb 1976.
From The Irish News, 25th February 1976.
Title comes from the Irish News which carried the statement in full, 25th Feb 1976.
Transcribed and marked up by Ciaran Crossey.

The Labour & Trade Union Co-ordinating Group totally condemns the hypocritical attacks made by the Northern Ireland Labour Party on the trade union movement for being non-political. For years the disgusting, narrow, sectarian polices being pursued by the NILP leaders have been one of the major barriers standing between rank and file trade unionists and political activity.

The NILP leaders no longer have the right to offer advice to the trade union movement in Northern Ireland on any subject. Where were they in May 1974 when trade union leaders tried to march back to work and met with opposition from the Ulster Workers Council? Then, as now, the NILP leaders were siding with the UWC echoing the demand of that body for the setting up of an Ulster TUC. One of the most bitter enemies of the Better Life for All Campaign has been Jim Smyth of UWC fame. In choosing to make political allies of such people the NILP have chosen their bed and they must lie in it.

It was then because of the political degeneration of the Northern Ireland Labour Party that the Labour & Trade Union Co-ordinating Group was formed. As a group we have consistently campaigned for the formation of a broadly based party of Labour which could truly represent the interests of working class people by fighting for socialist policies. It was members of our group who leafleted and spoke at the recent mass rally of the Unions, calling for such a party.

All trade unionists can clearly see that the issues being raised by their campaign are political issues. Where we disagree with some at least of the trade union leaders is that we do not think it is sufficient to put pressure upon existing politicians. Because none of the major parties in NI have anything to contribute to the solution of these problems we believe it is up to the trade union movement to put in place of present day representatives, people who will put forward policies which are in the interest of the working class.

The interests of the NILP in deserting even the most basic concept of the Labour Movement, the need for the unity of all workers, have shown that they too are incapable of putting forward such policies. In order to build a genuine socialist expression the unions have a choice.

Either they can move into the NILP and, by ousting the leaders, steer it back onto a socialist path, or else they turn their back upon that party and create a new organisation. The Labour & Trade Union Co-ordinating Group are now the only organisation pressing for the unions to make this choice. In the coming months we will be stepping up our activity throughout the Labour Movement on this question.


Peter Hadden
Labour & Trade Union Co-ordinating Group

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