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Neither fish nor fowl

People before Profit in Belfast City Council

7 February 2021

People before Profit had something of a hard time at Belfast City Council when they opposed an annual rates increase.  They argued that the rates should be frozen and the budget made up from the reserve fund. The argument was moralistic and humanitarian. People were suffering due to the pandemic and would not welcome an increase.

The councillor was savagely mocked by the DUP and Sinn Fein to the extent that the Green party came to her rescue, with the DUP  advancing the right wing "balance the books" argument and Sinn Fein the reformist claim that the rates pay for services.

But there is socialist theory about taxes. If the PbP were reformist they would support taxes that provide services, especially progressive taxes such as rates linked to increasing property value. If they were revolutionary they would never vote for the budget on the grounds that it transfers wealth from the workers to local businesses. This general argument would be reinforced by actual practice of the City Council, at the centre of endless deals involving the sectarian carve up of public funds, an issue that PbP rarely report on.

If PbP are not fish and not fowl what are they? They are opportunists, dedicated to striking an attitude and running stunts as the defenders of the workers. It's hard to imagine more anti working class organisations than the councils and the local administration in the North. If PbP were waging a fight against them they would be hated, not mocked.  But such a battle is impossible. After all, they see Sinn Fein as the left leaders of the next Dublin government!

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