SD Statement on the general election
What do workers want from the Dail election of 2020?
Many of the issues are crystal clear.
The government fell on the issue of health, but it would be foolish to think that the crisis in health is the fault of one minister. The crisis in health is caused externally by the overall restriction on resources arising from the state's commitment to paying down on sovereign debt at the expense of expenditure on social services to the working masses and internally by the increasing dominance of private agencies and the profit motive in the provision of services.
A working class programme must demand a public service, free at the point of delivery. It also requires a defiance of the European Central Bank that makes such a service impossible by forcing ongoing bond repayments. The Irish working class must no longer resign itself to living within the restraints of economic programmes set by the banks which our trade union leadership have repeatedly concurred with and promoted.
The government has narrowly survived a vote on the housing crisis. Again we have the constraints of the sovereign debt, combined with tax breaks for vulture funds and the local investment packages (REITs) associated with them, a giveaway of public land and a corrupt local government mechanism where decision making is insulated from any democratic control by councillors.
Workers need mass public housing! That requires a crackdown on speculators and the seizure of unused property. No more back room decision making by managers. All local authority decisions should be by public vote with an audience of those in need of housing.
The dreadful welfare and pensions system has led to a slew of incredible promises from capitalist politicians. Workers need a minimum living income, healthcare, housing and decent pensions with no means test. Such demands can only be achieved by concerted mass mobilisations against the demands of capitalism which does not leave the fate of the working class and poor in the hands of the Dail the day after the election. To see the magnitude of the fight that is necessary we only have to look at the ongoing mobilisations against Macron's pension cuts in France.
In the background to this election campaign is a deep seated anger at Fine Gael's attempt to commemorate the Black and Tans which is linked to a majority sentiment that Ireland should be united. Yet the Back and Tans scandal shows that many of our leaders are firm unionists. A campaign based on petitions will go nowhere.
Brexit hardly features in the election, yet what allowed the British to go ahead was Varadkar's decision to drop the backstop. The British are now aiming for a hard Brexit and this will mean a new era of partition. Again the only answer is mass action. Mobilise now for a united Ireland!
Working class mobilisation against British imperialism's partition of Ireland and the European banks' dominance of the South means the task is bigger than Irish workers can ultimately solve alone. Internationalism is central to the fight against imperialism. That's why the call for a United Socialist States of Europe is central to building support and solidarity with workers across the continent and joining with them in demands for a revolutionary response to the death throes of European capitalism. National self determination can only be achieved and survive as part of such a struggle.
A final point. Candidates will offer a paradise for workers, but if they say that this can be won through the Dail they are deluded. The most important role that socialists can play is to mobilise in the communities, in the trade unions and in the streets. A crucial test is the Teacher's Union of Ireland strike for equal pay for equal work. Socialist candidates should be to the forefront of building support for this the single most fundamental demand of trade unionism.
A pension crisis is building on top of all the other crises of welfare and public services. In France the response is mass strikes and the mobilisation of the working class. It has forced a retreat on French capitalism. Nothing less will do in Ireland.
A 12 point programme for the workers!
Campaign that we;
Repudiate the national debt!
Say no to budgets written by the European Central bank!
Demand no giveaways to vulture funds and landlordism!
Our needs are;
A public health service, free from private interests.
A mass programme of public housing with seizure of hoarded land from the speculators.
No evictions on monetary grounds.
A guaranteed living income.
Equal pay for equal work.
We are for;
An unequivocal rejection of Brexit and renewed partition.
A Workers republic and a United Socialist States of Europe.
Fight to win! Where a principled left campaigner exists.. vote for them.. but prepare to hold them to account! Don't rely on one or two more speeches in the Dail to do the job.
Organise in the communities, in the streets and in the workers movement!
This election is not the conclusion of a struggle against homelessness, poverty, imperialism and oppression - it is the beginning!