FIGHT THEIR AUSTERITY!
The Assembly parties’ austerity is being met with outrage and widespread revulsion. More than 360 elderly people face being thrown out of their homes as the Health Minister Edwin Poots implements ‘Transforming Your Care’ – a policy which is supported by ALL the parties in the Executive. The opposition though has stunned the politicans. They have underestimated the anger against the cuts. This anger from ordinary people across the North has already forced the Assembly Executive to back down on its plans to close every care home in the Northern and the Western Trusts. This proves that the Assembly Executive is weak when confronted by mass opposition. A new period of struggle against the Assembly’s austerity can now open up.
Confronted with opposition, the politicians have been forced to make concessions, though they have re-iterated their support for ‘Transforming Your Care’. Sinn Fein MLA Sue Ramsay – who also chairs the health committee – has joined the Health Minister in recent days in publicly supporting ‘Transforming Your Care’ – supporting even more cuts and further privatisation of our health service. But it is not just health – all public services are under attack.
The Assembly Executive decided to push the bulk of the £4.3billion cuts towards 2014 and 2015. They had hoped that the economy may have recovered by then, but the austerity measures being carried out across Ireland, Britain and Europe have deepened the crisis. Mass unemployment and shrinking economies across Europe will inevitably lead to further crisis in the Eurozone which will send shockwaves internationally.
The cuts in public spending so far have had a severe impact on the private sector – the opposite of what the politicians said would happen. Towns and cities across Northern Ireland are blighted by empty retail units, hospitals at breaking point, growing dole queues and emigration. If the Assembly Executive is allowed to get away with introducing the bulk of cuts over the next two years, ordinary people will be hammered. The politicians committed themselves to creating 25,000 new jobs when after the elections in 2011. Two years later, an additional 12,000 are out of work.
The socialist alternative would use the massive wealth in society to inject massive investment to create jobs. Take the top banks and companies into public ownership under democratic workers’ control so that the economy is run in the interests of people’s needs, not the profits of the super-wealthy.
Build now for a 24-hour General Strike!
There is growing opposition across Britain against the Tory / Lib Dem coalition’s austerity. The recent elections in England show a collapse in the government parties’ support. While the rise of UKIP represents a certain danger from the right, it says a lot more that the Labour Party has been unable to articulate the anger and opposition of workers. That is because the Labour Party leadership has continually refused to abandon the austerity policies of the Tories. Even though there is overwhelming opposition to the bedroom tax, Ed Miliband refuses to commit to scrap it. Some trade union leaders have argued that workers should wait until the Labour Party is re-elected to power, but all the Labour Party offers is austerity at a different pace. Unite’s Len McCluskey was berated by Miliband for speaking in favour of trade union action against the cuts.
The TUC has agreed to examine the steps needed to call a 24-hour general strike, but there is resistance from some union leaders to seriously following this through. If the TUC does not move on this issue, then the Left and more militant unions such as Unite, PCS, RMT and others need to co-ordinate and prepare for joint strike action. In Northern Ireland, joint action by unions such as NIPSA, Unite, PCS, the FBU and others against austerity would get massive support and would be a real blow to the Assembly Executive and put pressure on the right-wing union leaders.
A new mass party needed
More and more, ordinary people see none of the main parties representing their interests. There is a major political vacuum on the Left which needs to be filled by a working class, anti-sectarian alternative if hardline sectarian forces in both communities are not to prosper.
There is a responsibility on the trade union movement and genuine community groups to take steps towards the formation of a new mass party of the working class. Debates on the need for such a party and how it can be built must be initiated in the trade unions and workplaces to involve wide layers of people. We need a real alternative to the main parties in future elections which would enormously strengthen workers struggles.
Join the Socialist Party
The Socialist Party unites workers and youth to fight the right-wing agenda of all the main parties and campaigns for a socialist solution to the capitalist crisis.
We have uniquely been consistent in opposing the failed, counter-productive methods of paramilitarism and have always stood for the unity of the working class. We are organised throughout Ireland and work closely with our sister parties in Scotland, England and Wales.
We are part of the Committee for a Workers’ International, which unites socialists across the globe in over 45 countries. In the South, our representatives Joe Higgins TD, Paul Murphy MEP and councillors are leading the movement against the hated property tax.
If you agree with us, then contact us today to join and get involved to build the socialist alternative!