After the elections
The tasks of resistance will still face us
In the forthcoming local and European elections there is uncertainty about individual contests but little about the overall results.
In the North the European elections will produce an entirely predictable result, as will the local elections. The only significant issue being the extent to which Sinn Fein’s evolution to the right may lead to a fall in their vote and, in some areas, an increase in the vote for republican candidates.
South of the border the results are less predictable, but follow a well-known pattern, similar to the last general election. Then Fianna Fail was punished by the electorate. Voters were angry about austerity but no alternative had been put forward, so they seized on the incompetence and sleaze of the government. Today wave after wave of corruption beats against the coalition government. Claims of recovery are refuted by a growing desperation, made worse by the water charge looming ahead. Panic in the Labour ranks has led to disputes with their government partners, not about the punishing austerity or the principle of water privatisation, but about the timing, leading into what will be a sizable charge in the same way that the property tax is being eased in and also disputing the size of a hardship fund for the very poorest that labour and the union leaders can hold as a fig leaf to cover their naked collaboration with austerity. The dispute has in turn shown voters that the carefully crafted story about the necessity for water privatisation are utter lies. The Fine Gael vote has fallen back and Labour are facing electoral extinction.
Labour will pay the price as the junior partner of austerity and Sinn Fein look set to win gains as the new responsible “left” party, ready to take their turn in coalition. There will be a large vote for independents, within which will be contained a socialist and independent republican vote.
What we can be certain of is that the policy of the ruling class will be exactly the same after the election as before. Even if their very improbable claims of recovery were true, austerity stretches ahead for decades as the rich get richer and the poor poorer.
No change and no coherent opposition – that’s the astonishing reality in the face of the criminal behaviours of the Irish elite. They followed three simple rules:
Show no restraint – strike with utmost savagery against the weak, make no concessions or sacrifices on your own part
Like the mafia they are, keep no minutes and keep the sordid reality of all their deals out of the public eye.
Include everyone. Bring everyone into the partnership and make sure that traditional leaderships of the workers are firmly inside the tent, leaving the workers leaderless.
After the election there will be embarrassment and confusion amongst the ruling parties. What there will not be is an alternative – dreams of a broad “anti-austerity” coalition founder on the fact that most of the proposed groups that would make up the coalition have gone along with austerity.
The small socialist and republican groups have adopted a purely electoral strategy and are arguing for a better and fairer version of capitalism. That misses the task, which is to build a self-organised workers movement around its own socialist programme.
We should vote for those who offer the possibility of independent action by the workers, but we should not forget that after the election, as before, that task of resistance is a task for all.