If Saturday past, with fascists marching on the streets of Dublin, wasn’t enough to convince us that austerity politics in Ireland is the road to national oblivion then we’re damned. Enda Kenny’s Fine Gael came to government after the fall of Fianna Fáil with pretty much the same platform for the wealthy that failed under Brian Cowen. Fine Gael and Labour never lived up to their promise to end the hospital trolley scandal, but instead they tightened the screws on working families, the unemployed, the young, and the poor. Rather than change, what we were given was just more of the same – from the same class of political élite who first brought Ireland to its knees.
Let’s go ahead and make a prediction for 26 February. Fine Gael, spouting their obnoxious rubbish about ‘recovery,’ will make it back to government with either the class traitors Labour or some hodgepodge of rightist power-hungry independents, or a mixture of the two. Yeah, we can hope this is wrong, but we can all see it coming. The problem is quite simple; we don’t have a political left in this country. What we have are leftists and a couple of parties with left leaning elements, but no two of them can sit in a room together and agree that right now, if we are to tackle austerity, the priority is ridding ourselves of the neoliberal triumvirate.
Like a good many people in the country I have my problems with the idea of voting Sinn Féin. Personally I like Gerry Adams and Mary Lou. In past dealings with Chris Andrews he struck me as a solid sort of person. The only thing that made it impossible for me to give him any of my preferences was the fact that he was with Fianna Fáil. Now that he has defected to Sinn Féin I want to give him my number one. With Sinn Féin, however, there’s the question of toxicity. Opinion polls are showing them and Fianna Fáil to be neck and neck at 17 percent, but they’re falling, and so many other leftie parties and independents are equivocal about partnering up with them. Of course this strife is compounded at the ballot box with seats being contested by so many candidates essentially selling the same thing. Can we, the voters, get our act together to ensure a workable left alternative for the next Dáil?
How far will the Monty Burns parties go to keep the left from enacting our hoped-for Irish political revolution? In an ideal election a united left coalition may amass perhaps 35 to 40 percent of the vote, and this can’t translate to a majority of the 166 seats. Any increase in support for the left will make it increasingly difficult for Fine Gael and Labour to secure a majority – if they decide to work together again – without the help of Fianna Fáil. Maybe even without Labour these two will bury the hatchet and finally end the Civil War. It’s all going to come down to what their real priority is – hating one another over nothing or keeping Ireland from completing the work begun in 1913-16. From the looks of things right now it’s all much of a muchness.