By Cllr. Cian Prendiville
The Labour Party was founded by socialists such as Connolly and Larkin to give an independent political voice for workers, women and young people in the fight against the super-rich and their political puppets. It has not only broken every election promise and breached every principle, it has betrayed the very purpose for which it was founded.
The recent election was not only one of the worst results for Labour since its foundation in 1912, it also saw a breakthrough of a new Left, a principled and socialist Left, which in the coming years has the potential to replace Labour. Workers and young people sick of their betrayals didn’t simply slip into demoralisation, as well as voting for Sinn Féin, independent candidates and smaller parties, many of them switched to the Anti-Austerity Alliance and other genuine left candidates.
Labour’s vote collapsed. In Dublin South West, a strongly-working class constituency made up of Tallaght and surrounding areas, they went from two seats to none, with the AAA taking one. Cork City is a sign of things to come. Cork is now an entirely Labour-free city, with not a single Labour councillor or TD, while the AAA now has three councillors and one TD with the important election of Mick Barry in Cork North Central.
A Real Left is rising
This election must be the beginning of that growing momentum. In winning a total of six seats, the new parliamentary block of Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit has an important platform now to use to expose the bankruptcy of the Irish political elite, and the capitalist class they serve. It has the opportunity now to highlight the radical, socialist policies needed, and inspire people that there is an alternative.
The water charges shows how the real Left can make huge steps forward when people become active. We must stand with workers, such as those in the Luas who stand up for their rights, and also build strong campaigns to repeal the 8th Amendment and for a women’s right to choose.
Labour 2.0 not wanted
Parties such as the Social Democrats are also attempting to win over those disgusted with the austerity policies of the main capitalist parties. However, they offer only another dead-end for working class people.
The numbers don’t add up on this occasion, but the Social Democrats indicated an openness to go into coalition with Fianna Fáil. They restrict themselves to simply being a parliamentary opposition, refusing to support the boycott of Irish Water for instance.
While pay lip-service to repealing the 8th Amendment, the Social Democrats don’t support legislating for a woman’s right to choose. While they speak of the need for more investment in services, both accept the rule of the super rich and the market when it comes to the economy. All of this amounts to repeating the road taken by Labour.
Build a socialist left
Instead of repeating these mistakes, we need a principled left, imbued with the conviction and resoluteness of a clear, socialist alternative. As James Connolly said when proposing the idea of a party of workers:
“Now we propose to the toilers of Ireland that it is time to… once more to raise the banner of a militant Irish labour movement upon the political field. The victories once achieved can be more than duplicated, the mistakes once made will serve as beacons of warning for the guidance of our future activities.”