By Paul Murphy
“IRELAND NEEDS a new political party; one that reflects the sweeping reassessments that have taken place in the past six months, ever since the old order started to disintegrate…. One popular, coherent movement is what is required.”
Justine McCarthy, writing in the Sunday Tribune (3 May), expressed an essential truth that the Socialist Party believes about the political situation in Ireland – there is a desperate need for a new mass party to represent working class people.
Attacks are raining down on working people – wages, benefits and the right to a job are all under attack. Yet there has been unanimity between all of the establishment parties about one thing –everybody has to pay the price for the recession.
Fine Gael advocates more than €10 billion cutbacks in public sector pay and more than €1 billion cutbacks in capital spending on health, education and roads over the next four years. Despite the hopes that many harbour, it is clear that Labour also offers no alternative. Labour’s record in Councils across the country, as well as in government in the past, proves that in government they would pursue fundamentally the same policies of cuts and attacks on working people.
Absent from the discussion has been a major party saying clearly that this crisis was created by the developers, bankers and the free market economy and that working class people must not pay the price. Such a party would transform the political situation. Instead of struggles of communities and workers being isolated, it would strive to bring them together in a co-ordinated way. Through a strong left criticism of the government’s policies, pointing out that the neo-liberal policies of cutbacks and attacks will actually make the situation worse, it would give confidence to workers to reject the attacks on them and fight back.
Hundreds of thousands will take industrial and protest action in the next months and years against the attacks on working people. Like in Germany, Brazil and France, the combination of vicious attacks, mass movements in response and the absence of real political representation will provide the conditions for flesh to be put on the idea of a new party and concrete steps to be made towards it.
In the period of capitalist crisis that is opening up, a new mass party for working people could quickly grow in support. The Socialist Party will strive to build such a party, as well as arguing within it for a complete rejection of capitalism and commitment to struggle for a socialist transformation of society.