Dublin government suppresses the parliamentary left….
But who exactly are the left?
1 August 2020
The 33rd Irish Dail has demonstrated in spades just how unstable it is. Effectively a national government of opposing parties, held together by a Green Party glue, they stumbled in their first month with a faction fight inside Fianna Fail and the sacking of a minister. More recently a Green Party TD resigned the whip to vote against limitations on a rent freeze while a Green minister abstained.
The plans for dealing with that instability were made clear on 30th July, when new parliamentary speaking rules were introduced, severely curtailing the rights of the smaller opposition parties and the Dail is now closing for the summer.
Not surprisingly, there was an animated discussion, with TDs screaming across the floor and the Dail suspended for a time. Much of the left's ire was reserved for the Green party as they voted with the rest of the government.
A greater shock to the parliamentary left was the role of Sinn Fein, who were included in the magic circle of speaking in the first round and who supported the rule change.
PbP's Richard Boyd Barrett tweeted:
"Very disappointing: plan to gang up today in #Dail with FF,FG, Greens &Lab to ram thru motion with no debate to gag smaller left/Ind groups-exclude them from opening round of debates. Serious attack by Gov on opposition rights, shocking SF supporting this."Eventually all was forgiven when Sinn Fein and Labour did not join the government vote. However the rule change went through and the left groups' visibility will be restricted in the future.
In the immediate future there are serious strategic questions that the left groups, prone to amnesia, would need to consider.
What now for their Sinn Fein left government strategy? Sinn Fein are now the official opposition and the left are excluded. It could be argued that this is just a blip, however a similar SF/DUP manoeuvre in the Northern Assembly has removed most oversight from ministerial decisions.
And it should not be forgotten that a crucial element of the imaginary left government was the Green party itself. Given their enthusiastic support for the latest government ploy how realistic is the proposal for a left government at the next election? Do the Greens simply move seats?
The overall rationale for the left parliamentarians was that they would use their position to build class struggle in the communities. Limitations on Dail speeches should be only a minor inconvenience in this project. However this is where their amnesia is complete. PbP TDs and Rise TD Paul Murphy are now creatures of the Dail and of parliamentary procedure. Their relationship with Sinn Fein is based on the fact that most owe their seats to Sinn Fein transfers and are likely to be dumped in the next election.
However the hinges under the world are shifting. Capitalism across the globe is in a fundamental crisis. This Irish government is the product of a desperate unity of the capitalist parties. They have already failed on housing and health and are facing in to a severe economic downturn, a European crisis and the chaos of a hard Brexit. A totally new insurrectionary socialism that makes its voice heard on the picket line, the occupations and protests and leaves parliamentary speechifying behind will be needed by workers in struggle.