Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/889/22253

From The Socialist newspaper, 17 February 2016

Irish general election: fighting on an anti-austerity agenda

Campaigning in the Irish general election to be held on 26 February is in full swing. The Socialist Party in Ireland is participating as part of the broader Anti Austerity Alliance (AAA). This includes seeking reelection for Paul Murphy, AAA TD (MP), and Ruth Coppinger, Socialist Party TD. Longstanding Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins is standing down but is continuing to play a leading part in the campaign. Joe spoke to the Socialist about the key election issues and debates. Additional material is provided by Kevin McLoughlin of the Socialist Party Ireland.

Socialist TDs Ruth Coppinger and Joe Higgins outside the Irish Parliament

Socialist TDs Ruth Coppinger and Joe Higgins outside the Irish Parliament   (Click to enlarge)

Socialist TD Joe Higgins explains what's at stake in this election:

"The austerity agenda of the last nearly eight years has intensified inequality in Irish society. It mirrors very much what has happened internationally, reflected in the recent report by the Oxfam charity which shows that for the first time in history the richest 1% own more wealth than the other 99% of humanity.

The election of Jeremy Corbyn in Britain and the enormous support for Bernie Sanders in the USA reflect a growing opposition and anger to this unequal society that is growing apace under international capitalism. That's very much reflected in Ireland too.

We've had a statistical recovery in the economy but many ordinary people just don't feel it, because of the burdens of austerity continuing on them. Subsequent to the financial crash, for example, new jobs tend to be low-skilled, low paid, precarious, zero-hour contracts, and so forth.

We also have a horrific housing crisis which is a real issue in the election. There is a major health service crisis, with A&E's overwhelmed because of a lack of resources and the accumulation of spending cuts.

What we are trying to bring out is that the establishment parties and Sinn Fein are trying to close down the debate on the economy to what they call the 'fiscal space' - a very narrow band of extra tax income which they hope will become available if the economy grows, without problems, over the next five years.

They've had an obsessive discussion here on that but it really is a device for diverting attention from the huge wealth concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite and the big profits major corporations are making. Ireland is really a tax haven for these companies.

We have tried to shift public attention by pointing out there are resources potentially available for boosting people's living standards.

To utilise these resources we need progressive taxation and the banks brought into public ownership. We need large-scale public investment into building new homes.

We link these key demands to the need for a political alternative. We call for a 'political revolution' to cast aside the establishment parties and build a new force that working class people need to represent their interests."

Why aren't the bankers in jail?

In 2014 a parliamentary committee was set up to inquire into the huge banking crisis of 2007-08 that led to bailouts and austerity. Joe Higgins was a dissenting voice on that inquiry (with Pearse Doherty TD) and refused to sign off the majority report. Instead he published a damning 146-page alternative last month, blaming the crisis on the top politicians, financiers and capitalist speculators.

"It meant an intense 18 months of research. We interviewed a parade of former top bankers, property developers, media people, regulators, etc.

Unfortunately, the inquiry's terms of reference were restrictive but nevertheless we took the approach of trying to be a voice for the victims - those who suffered from the speculative financial bubble and the subsequent crash.

It was an eleven member committee with a big majority of TDs drawn from the establishment parties. These people firmly believe in the right of the capitalist bankers and developers to exploit the majority of the population for a profit.

We exposed the whole financial deregulation process which took place throughout the 1990s in pursuit of profits.

The banks acquired massive amounts of money from European financial markets. They then lent billions of euros to speculators.

The price of a home in Ireland went up 400% from 1996 to 2006. Mortgages went from 20 to 40 years duration - unsustainable levels of debt.

The bubble itself acted as a huge crisis on first-time home buyers. I was in parliament at the time and there was no one else shouting out about this extreme profiteering. Inevitably it crashed.

Our minority report showed that the crisis was the result of extreme profiteering driven by greedy bankers and developers, facilitated by the government and leading politicians.

We asked why no bankers or any of the major participants in the financial bubble were in jail?

Of course 99.9% of transactions that caused the bubble were perfectly legal and in fact were legislated for by the establishment parties in the Dail [Irish Parliament].

So we wouldn't sign the official report and instead brought out our own report on the same day. Many ordinary people appreciated this.

We demanded that the major financial institutions be brought into public ownership under democratic control.

Speculation in homes and other property should be outlawed and we called for public investment in providing homes. Some financial institutions have been nationalised. We argued they should be kept in public ownership but democratised and made to work for the benefit of the majority."


Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) activists protesting against water charges in Ireland, August 2015, photo Socialist Party (CWI Ireland)

Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) activists protesting against water charges in Ireland, August 2015, photo Socialist Party (CWI Ireland)   (Click to enlarge)

It's a recovery for the rich - not us

Kevin McLoughlin

There has been much debate about the so-called recovery in the economy following the financial crash and the government's severe austerity bailout measures.

While the governing parties have been playing up the limited economic growth others, including Sinn Fein (SF), have been calling for a 'fair recovery'.

The Socialist Party, campaigning as part of the AAA, says that this recovery is primarily a recovery for the rich. To achieve real economic justice, workers should vote for the party that will challenge the system and provide a real alternative.

Fiscal space

Recently there has been an intense debate about what the outgoing Fine Gael/Labour Party coalition government has referred to as "fiscal space".

For years these politicians have been saying there are no funds available to maintain vital services, hence their justification for austerity measures. But now there's an election, they cynically put forward promises about increasing public spending over the next five years.

They are also giving the false impression that this is a large amount of money. First they said this 'pot' is 12 billion but then revised it down to 10 billion. However, the previous years' cuts total more than 50 billion!

So even if this extra spending was delivered, which is doubtful given the state of the global capitalist economy, it doesn't go anywhere near repairing the earlier damage.

SF accepts this 'fiscal space', which means they also accept no radical change in the economy.

The fact that SF has taken this position indicates a shift to the right by them in the middle of the election campaign. This is in response to criticism from the establishment that the 'choice' in this election is between 'recovery or chaos'.

So all the main parties have said the election is all about who will spend this 8 billion or 10 billion over the next five years. This is nowhere near good enough. It will mean that the crisis in the health service, in education, public services in general, and the cost of living crisis will continue to adversely impact on the working class.

The campaign - 'Real change, not spare change'

We started knocking on doors before the formal announcement of the election. Alongside this intensive canvassing we've organised numerous street activities and put up posters, etc.

Our posters say: "End inequality"... "Real change, not spare change" which neatly dovetails with the economy recovery debate.

The response of voters on the doorsteps is generally positive to our anti-austerity message. The AAA is well known - standing in defence of ordinary working people, etc.

Many people are open to our message, especially given the dire record of the pro-big business austerity measures of the government parties.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 17 February 2016:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Councils have a choice: no cuts to jobs or services

Junior doctors must stand firm

300 million to cushion cuts in Tory councils

Scotland: battle heats up against council cuts

US fears EU exit will hinder vulture privatisers

Liverpool fans score victory v 77 ticket hike

Record-high 170 evictions a day

Boycott ban

Them & Us


Socialist Party feature

An open letter to John McDonnell from Tony Mulhearn


International socialist news and analysis

Irish election: fighting on an anti-austerity agenda


Socialist Party youth and students

Socialist Students conference 2016: Delegates enthusiastic and confident


Socialist Party workplace news

Doctors' strike 10th February - photos and reports

Rally to defend jobs in Northern Ireland: "We won't sit on the sidelines"

Library workers prepare to escalate strike action

Historic joint further education strike

Public meetings show readiness of workers to fight back

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Hands off the Butterfields estate!

Sheffield no-cuts People's Budget conference

Southampton: absence of Corbynism as Labour swings Tory axe again!

"Staines has never seen anything like it!"

Students, unions and parents unite to save Pent Valley School

"You can cut the cake but not our libraries!"

London lobbies against cuts to jobs and services


Readers' comments and reviews

If I had been in 1980s Labour, I'd have supported Militant

Socialist's anti-war art on show in Bradford

Poem: Journey

Letter: Brum Blairite


 

Home   |   The Socialist 17 February 2016   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Ireland:

triangleSocialist Party national youth meeting

triangleNorthern Ireland and Brexit

triangleLeeds Socialist Party: Ireland and the national question

triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: Northern Ireland - what lies ahead?

triangleNUJ leadership pushes through subs increase but left lands blows at conference

General election:

triangleNew voter ID laws: Electoral fraud - Tory style

triangleCouncil cuts could cost Labour another general election

triangleWhat next after the general election, for PCS and the left

triangleHillingdon Socialist Party: Following the General Election, what next for socialists and trade unionists?

Austerity:

triangleReaders' comments

triangleHopeless Hancock replaced

triangleTUSC calls for local 'People's Budget' campaigns

Anti-austerity:

triangleDonate now to fuel our election campaigns

triangleHelp fund the Socialist Party's stand as part of TUSC

Election:

triangleSupport Sharon Graham for Unite general secretary

Socialist:

triangleBrighton Socialist Party: Material deprivation and the impact on schools

Economy:

triangleBiden's policies will not solve underlying US crisis

Sinn Fein:

triangleChesterfield Socialist Party: Behind the Sinn Fein surge in Ireland

Ruth Coppinger:

triangleSolidarity with Irish rape trial protests

Fine Gael:

triangleSinn Fein harnesses working-class anger to top poll

International

International

19/7/21

Africa

South Africa: Build working class unity for way forward for all

19/7/21

Germany

Germany: Flood disaster affects hundreds of thousands

14/7/21

Latin America

New wave of radicalisation in Latin America

14/7/21

Olympics

Putting the Olympic gravy train ahead of public health

14/7/21

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan: Solidarity with protesters attacked by regime forces

12/7/21

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan: Nur Otan regime attacks peaceful protest

7/7/21

Israel

Israel: Hospital ancillary workers strike over pay parity and workload

30/6/21

Israel

The Israeli working class

30/6/21

Hospital

Israel: Hospital ancillary workers strike over pay parity and workload

30/6/21

Green

German Greens: The image and reality

23/6/21

Immigration

Are Biden's immigration policies a break with Trump's?

23/6/21

Iran

Iran's presidential election

16/6/21

Palestinian

Who represents the Palestinians?

16/6/21

US

Will Biden's new foreign policy change the direction of US imperialism?

9/6/21

Palestinian

Palestinian self-determination - is the solution one state or two?

triangleMore International articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 077 7221 5281

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


July 2021

June 2021

May 2021

April 2021

March 2021

February 2021

January 2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999