The National Council of People Before Profit discussed its attitude to the idea of a left government. The following commentary is based on a resolution that was passed unanimously.
A substantial number of working class people have become politicised and want rid of the political establishment.
A major shift to the left is occurring in Irish society but workers do not yet have confidence in their own ability to bring change through mass action, including workers action.
So many want a left government to stand up for them and articulate their interests.
People Before Profit seeks to persuade workers to rely on their own strength and to push through measures which suit them. We want to create political structures that are far more democratic and participatory than those of the current state.
But we are on a journey which has just started and when it comes to the possibility of a left government in Ireland we make the following points:
1. We are not interested in ministerial office for its own sake – for us it is all about policies. So we will talk during and after the upcoming General Election about our main policies – abolish water charges; write down the bankers’ debt; tax the big corporations; promote people power as a new way of doing politics.
2. We will not be joining any government that includes Fianna Fail, Fine Gael or Labour in its present form. Even if these parties held a minority position in a cabinet, they would operate a veto and prevent any serious left wing policies. We are not going to be pushed into a continuation of some sort of austerity policies through an association with these establishment parties.
3. We will talk to Sinn Fein and to left independents after the election if the numbers permit a major change. The outcome of these talks and, therefore, our willingness to enter or, alternatively, support a left government from outside depends on agreement that our red line issues will be carried through. In other words:
- that water charges, property tax and USC for those earning under €70,000 be abolished and the tax burden is shifted onto big corporations and the wealthy.
- that the debt caused by the bank collapse is written down by an Irish government – whether or not the EU approves.
- that there is a clear agenda of promoting workers’ rights by abolishing zero hours contracts and giving workers an automatic legal right to union representation. And that this is backed up by a strategy of using public resources to empower an active workers movement – the way that the state has been used up to now to shore up corporate interests.
- that US war planes are banned from Shannon airport and the eighth amendment is repealed.
- that Sinn Fein stop supporting a policy of austerity in the North.
4. Sinn Fein is sending out conflicting signals. They talk about forming a ‘progressive government’ but also indicate that they are willing to join in coalition with Fianna Fail or Labour, provided they are the larger party. In view of the position we stated above, they
* would have to rule out coalition with the establishment parties –something they are very reluctant to do.
* would have to agree to an increase in corporation tax – even though they tried to reduce it in the North.
* would have to agree to writing down Ireland’s debt rather than just asking permission from the EU.
* would have to stop promoting austerity in the North while opposing it in the South.
* would have to join the active fight against water charges by promoting a boycott.
Working people who want real and significant change should query Sinn Fein on these issues.
5. The radical left is willing to form a government but we will do so as part of a risen people and in the context of a new form of democracy.
In the meantime the best thing is to put the strongest left wing block into the Dail to make sure there is no back-tracking on the fight against austerity and prepare to re-ignite struggles from below over water charges, austerity and workers rights.
If you agree and want to join People Before Profit text JOIN to 087 2839964