South: Labour and Sinn Féin should not be taken seriously as representing a real left alternative

Yesterday’s interview on RTE Radio One News reveals that Labour Party leader, Eamon Gilmore, believes that the most crucial issue in the forthcoming General Election is the number of seats Labour will win relative to Fine Gael and therefore whether he or Deputy Kenny will be Taoiseach. Nothing in any of the recent interviews he has given indicate that Labour offer any alternative to the cutback consensus.

The peaking and subsequent fall in support for Labour in recent polls demonstrates that this fact has begun to register with  growing numbers in society who will look beyond Labour for a radical left alternative.

The differences between Labour and Fine Gael have been massively exaggerated by some commentators. The fact is that they both fundamentally agree a programme of massive cuts and tax increases on ordinary workers albeit with a different emphasis here and there about how it is achieved. In the final analysis however both parties’ programmes, like Fianna Fáil’s and the Greens’, agree that working people, the unemployed, students and anybody who depends on public services should bear the brunt for this crisis in the coming years.

The pick up in support for Sinn Féin in the same polls has fuelled discussion, mostly in media circles, about the possibility of what they term a ‘left majority’ in the Dáil. In this scenario the Socialist Party which is affiliated to the United Left Alliance which stands a chance of winning up to six Dáil seats has been cited as part of the reckoning in making up the ‘left majority’ numbers.
The Socialist Party would not be prepared to support any government that would carry out the dictaks of the IMF/EU Commission which means an enormous transfer of wealth from working people and the poor to the speculators and big financiers in the Europeran financial markets. We do not consider  Labour, on the basis of its support for the capitalist market and its willingness to sign up to attacks on ordinary people to be truly of the left.

Likewise, there is a major contradiction between Sinn Féin’s utterances south of the border opposing the cuts and that party’s role in the Northern Executive where, along with the DUP, they have agreed to adhere to £4 billion of cuts demanded by the Tory/Liberal Westminster government.

In his interview on RTE Morning Ireland this morning Gerry Adams did not himself rule out coalition with Fine Gael citing proudly his party’s coalition with the DUP as a demonstration of Sinn Féin’s skills in the ‘art of compromise’!

An authentic radical left position at this time means both a rejection of attacks on working people and the unemployed and ruling out coalition with the traditional parties of the right which represents a continuation of the same policies. It means joining in a campaign of people power protest and strike action in the communities and the workplaces to achieve change. It means breaking with the cycle of sell outs in Irish politics of the last decades embodied by the Labour Party. It means the construction in the immediate period ahead of a new mass political force committed to socialist policies as the only way of breaking the crippling hold of the financial markets which are wreaking such destruction on society all over Europe.

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