Thursday, June 07, 2007


The result of the Republic’s General Election was, with full-scale Meeja trumpeting, claimed as a great victory for Blank-Cheque Bertie and his Fianna Failure warriors, whereas, on close analysis, it was no such thing. The Blank-Cheque Supremo went into the election with 80 Dáil seats and emerged with 78. His erstwhile partners, the Phoney Democrats, were almost wiped out, returning only two seats. As they went into the election together as a government they lost 8 seats over all, hardly a great endorsement of their claims to any victory.

The rejection of Micilín Mac Doolittle and his Phoney Democrats was a significant political rejection of the type of ranting market fetishism and recycled Thatcherite vomit which has characterised the Phoney Democrat Party since its foundation (we will deal with this in more detail further along).

LABOUR held its base and only reduced its 2002 total vote by fractions of a per cent and several Labour candidates only missed gaining seats by a handful of preference votes, which is the normal hazard of the proportional representation system used in our elections. The result is still a disappointment because of the loss of one seat and the major gains going to Fine Gael. The electorate chose to give majority support to FF and FG and this is the factual starting point for the next election whether we like it or not.

Nevertheless, Labour must tackle its failure to breakthrough to more support from its natural constituency, the 600,000 Trade Union members in Ireland and their families. It is obvious that large numbers of them are still voting for Fianna Failure and it is essential that a concentrated, sustained and vigorous campaign must be mounted now to draw in the largest possible contingent of this constituency to permanent support for Labour and its candidates. Only by doing this in a serious and determined manner can Labour ever hope to be in a position to become the largest party in the Dáil and be the majority partner in a government of the future.

At this stage, with FF negotiating with the Green Party for some sort of shaky coalition, Labour should not offer anything to Blank Cheque Bertie and let him exhaust himself in wrangling with his chosen dance partners. If all this comes to naught and FF requests talks with Labour then the leadership should facilitiate such talks but it should be made clear to FF that no FF/Labour Coalition is in prospect without radical changes in FF policies and attitudes on all fronts:

No Co-Located Hospitals: Universal access to the Health Service regardless of income: A complete reform of the PAYE income tax system with starting rate of 10% for incomes up to €50K and highest rates on a graduated scale only for incomes over €100K; No privatisations of public utilities, ESB or existing Public Transport operators; Additional subsidies for suburban rail and bus services with lower fares; a greater share for mainline Rail and Suburban Rail in infrastructure funding as compared with roads;

A properly funded Social Housing Programme to eliminate waiting lists over an agreed period of time; Windfall taxes on enrichment from sale of lands for development; Implementation of already promised reductions in class numbers in schools and school renewals and construction of new buildings;

Increased funding for Science, Research and Development to stimulate innovation and growth of an indigenous technological industry and services industry capable of expanding its share of the world market and creating jobs locally; Widespread and effective measures of energy-saving and energy management throughout the economy and social life; Reform of the Oireachtas and political system to enhance democratic accountability and participation, especially the empowering of Local Government on the lines of our continental neighbours in the EU.

On the broader political scene, Labour should be an All-Ireland party and moves to establish this should begin immediately. It is likely that Fianna Fáil will set itself up on an All-Ireland basis within the near future and it would be better, politically, for Labour to be ahead of them. It is better, politically, for the Left to have one unity party than the splintering and splittism which has bedevilled us for more than a century now.

Focussed grass-roots activism and the establishment of a politically educated mass membership will counteract compromising tendencies of weak leadership at the top and eventually eliminate this phenomenon from our ranks. Some compromises with Capitalism are inevitable in day-to-day existence, as the Trade Union movement knows, but this doesn’t prevent continuous political development of the working class as a group in society, strengthening and expanding its influence all the time. The Chavez Revolution in Venezuela could not have achieved what it has so far without the previously organised mass support which could be mobilised immediately at times of strategic junctures in the struggle for democracy and socialism.

The time has long since past for this Republic to modernise its political system; away from redundant Civil War divisions, as it has modernised its economy. For too long, Dáil Éireann has been no more than a glorified County Council and proper Local Government deprived of democratic decision making in favour of managerial bureaucracy. The Multi-seat constituency system inhibits TD’s from working as a National Parliament because of competition within parties for local profiles and clientism which is the mode of existence of TD’s and Local Councillors. In no other country in Europe does a minister in National Government decide the configuration of bus routes in their capital cities. This is a job for Dublin City Council and likewise the other local authorites of cities and towns elsewhere in the country.

The PR List system which is operated in other EU countries would provide a more efficient national legislative structure than what we have at present. Parties would be allocated seats on a perecentage basis according to the share of the national vote they achieve in any election. TD’s would be elected from a Party List published before the election and places on the list would be filled by internal party conventions, as currently. Provision could be made for a number of TD’s to be elected by constituency vote as well. This system would remove TD’s from the territorial competition which goes on in constituency politics and enable them to do their proper job as legislators. The idea that “constituencies” are “entitled” to “having a minister” or “minister of state” is anti-democratic and unconstitutional and leads to the Warlord Syndrome of the likes of “Parlon Country”, now, thankfully, obliterated. We are living in 21st Century Democratic Europe not the Celtic Twilight of “Chieftains” and spear-carriers. Parsnip should try his luck in Afghanistan, they still have warlords over there.

The campaign for the next General Election begins now. As things stand this week it won’t be a five – year wait.


FearFeasa Mac Léinn
Áth Cliath/Dublin, 07 Meitheamh/JUNE 2007.

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