Ordinary people in this State can make a stunning statement that will reverberate throughout Europe by voting No to the Austerity Treaty on 31 May. A rejection of the treaty here would massively increase the pressure for a change to the disastrous austerity policies of slash and burn, that are destroying millions of livelihoods and society itself in countries from Greece to Ireland.
The government and big business interests are trying to frighten people by saying that Ireland would be isolated in Europe if we reject the treaty. From the evidence of the last week, the very opposite is now the case. A No vote here would be cheered to the rafters by the millions who voted out Nicholas Sarkozy in the French Presidential Election. It would be welcomed by millions of people in Greece who are in the front line of the debilitating effects of austerity. Also by ordinary people in the Netherlands whose government has collapsed as a result of the pressure from below against a programme of cuts and retrenchment.
In fact it is Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the Fine Gael/Labour government that are out of step with the people of Europe. They are marching to the drumbeat of the sharks in the financial markets who are the ones driving the austerity Treaty to try and ensure that their profits are secured by insisting that they are paid first and to hell with any concern with not having funding for public services and social needs. This agenda is facilitated by the political and bureaucratic leadership of the EU.
There is a powerful well of support for the rejection of the treaty in the Campaign against the House Tax. In many public meetings over the last month the treaty has been brought up from the floor by those attending. The overwhelming, if not unanimous feeling that I have heard expressed is of opposition. That is not a coincidence.
A massive 50% of households have boycotted the registration and payment of the House Tax. This has been their first opportunity to take a concrete stand in opposition to the crazed policy of forcing them to pay the bad gambling debts of European and Irish banks, bondholders and speculators. People understand that any further austerity like that dictated in the treaty will mean new burdens which they simply cannot carry.
It is a natural step to move from boycotting the Home Tax to voting against the Austerity Treaty. A defeat for the government in the Referendum would strike a huge blow against their ability to bully and badger people into breaking their opposition to the new raft of taxes which they are trying to impose. If all those householders engaged in the boycott together with those who were driven by fear to register against their wills come out and vote ‘No’, then the treaty will be defeated here.
All those who are supporting the Campaign Against household and Water Taxes should not just go out and vote. They should spend the next three weeks talking to their families, workmates, friends and neighbours, persuading them of the importance of opposing the Austerity Treaty. Many people may become tired of endless debates on radio and TV about some of the more technical sides of the treaty but a clear explanation from family members and friends that get to the heart of the most important issues can carry enormous weight. Therefore all those who want to see an end to the policy of making working class people pay for the crisis of the bankers and speculators should be persuaders for a No vote between now and 31 May.