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"If General Elections could really change anything, they'd make them illegal".

Gralton, a left magazine which ran for ten issues in 1982 and '83, named after Irish socialist, James Gralton.

Gralton, No. 5 (1983)

Irish Left Archive

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Irish Left Archive

Here's an interview with Michael D. Higgins in Gralton, from 1982, in which he is asked about the prospects for the Irish left, his opposition to coalition with Fine Gael (FG), and the role of Labour as a vehicle for the left.

He also expresses opposition to expelling Militant (who were eventually expelled in the late 80s and are now the Socialist Party), and comments on the then recently dissolved Socialist Labour Party (SLP).

Higgins was Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht in the 1993 FG, Labour and Democratic Left coalition, and has been President of Ireland since 2011.

Scanned text from a magazine, reading: Gralton: How is your own mind make up on electoral strategy?

I believe that for the immediate years ahead, the need is to identify the Labour Party by establishing socialist policies on the economy, on women, on education and so on. In order to do that, and to take our place as the leader of the left, we need to be independent, and the Labour Party therefore should stay out of any cabinet for the immediate years ahead. We would be in a different situation if the major parties had broken up, or the Labour Party had increased its strength and had thirty or forty seats.
Scanned text from a magazine, reading: Gralton: Speaking of Britain, there are moves in the British Labour Party to expel the Militant. Are you concerned about the activities of the Irish Militant?

No, I'm not concerned. Many people believe I'm a member or supporter of the Militant, but I'm neither. 1 accept that people have a right to work for different positions within the Labour Party. I don’t believe in the expulsion or proscription of tendencies. I'd want to deal with them by argument. From the things I've read about the British Militant, I don’t agree with the tactics they seem to have used in some constituencies.

People in different countries are asking what form of socialism will be appropriate in the twentieth century and the twenty-first century. We must have the courage to go beyond existing models, I met Trotskyists recently who said you couldn’t have a socialist revolution in Nicaragua because there was no revolutionary socialist party — and I heard the same argument from an official in Russia. Socialism is a philosophy and a theory of action that must be put into effect in different historical circum- ... [continued in next image]

[Scanned text, continued from previous image] ...circumstances. We’ve no right to put a limit on the forms of socialism. I'm not a vague ethical socialist, now. We have to win the economy, that’s of crucial importance.But there are other things like taking action on disarmament, on ecology.

Many people will make a contribution to socialist thought after Marx, Lenin and Trotsky. The world didn’t stop on one day in Mexico. I'm not speaking of course about diluting socialism, I'm not talking of some vague form of social democracy. We have to take account of the circumstances, the phenomena in any particular . place. In Ireland we're operating within the European context. We're a small open economy dominated by foreign capital. We're undeveloped within that context rather than in a Third World context.
Scanned text from a magazine, reading: 
Gralton: Looking at the track record of the left in the Labour Party, isn't the principled left becoming smaller and smaller?

Not at all. There's been fresh blood coming in, and former members have been coming back. The folding-up of the SLP [Socialist Labour Party] removes one of the obstacles to people coming back: they were people of undoubted principle but their leaving of the Labour Party was a bad tactic. We're now on the brink of a majority position in the Labour Party: with them in, and others, we'd be much more sure.
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