can a sinn fein led government actually do what is best for the working class?
Dave Smyth writes about the approach Socialists need to take when it comes to government
Sinn Fein's dramatic rise in popularity is based on the working class seeking an alternative to decades of neoliberal hammering from the establishment parties.

Many among the working class have seen themselves become the working poor under the system that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael administer on behalf of establishment Ireland and Sinn Fein promise an alternative to that and a better future for everybody.

However, many people have now found themselves priced out of what is known as the housing market. These same people are also left unable to afford the exorbitant rents being demanded in the private sector by landlords and the neoliberalism of current and previous governments insists on leaving the entire housing situation to the for-profit private sector, meaning that little to no public social housing has been built for nearly 40 years.

Housing needs to be a right, not a commodity for profit. We need to enshrine the right to housing into our constitution and we need a massive public housing building programme. Sinn Fein promise this, but lately it seems that they themselves have vested interests in the private, for profit, arena among their ranks and this is deeply worrying to me as a Socialist.

Most recently, it has emerged that a senior figure with a 20+ year unelected career within Sinn Fein, as their finance director, is a landlord with multiple properties and instances of apartment conversions without proper permission. There have also been incidences of Sinn Fein elected reps being landlords and failing to declare their interests - a breach of SIPO regulations.

We already have a landlord government. I don't want to see a changing of the guard in that regard, I want to see a truly left government that is principled and wholly devoted to progressive change.

Don't get me wrong, I would prefer to see Mary Lou McDonald as Taoiseach than the leader of either FF or FG, but any Sinn Fein government will need to be kept in line by Socialists.

In the history of this planet, no left government has succeeded in "managing capitalism" and therefore we have to be acutely aware of the massive resistance and meddling that will be presented by establishment Ireland to any progressive left government's ambitions. History also shows us that capitulation is always the end game of any such government because the power and dominance that exists among the individuals who control the system itself runs so deep and wide.

Look at Syriza in Greece as an example. The IMF and Brussels went into a tailspin and Syriza caved to the capitalist's pressure and greed.

We can't allow this to happen in Ireland, and we certainly can't participate in it!!

As a Socialist, I want to see a modern revolution whereby we dismantle the entire system and start again. But, I am also aware that we are some distance from that and as such I want to see a left government that represents the interests of the working class. The best way to help this to happen is to do what socialists do best and stand with our class, in opposition, and hold the government to account.

We need to oust FF & FG from power, but we should never seek to replace them within the system that they will always control by proxy. To do so would be an exercise in futility and most importantly, it would be knowingly letting the working class down.

Instead, we need to stop talking about rupture and coalescence within a left government under capitalism and fight for our class on the streets as well as in opposition in the parliament. Whether or not we hold the balance of power, we have a duty to our class to continue the struggle without seeking the trappings of power or fooling ourselves into thinking that we can attempt to manage, control or alter a sick system from within - it's just not realistic or, for that matter, possible!

If we are honest with people, we can define our politics and differentiate ourselves from all establishment parties - including Sinn Fein. Then we can work towards not only retaining our current representation but building on it and potentially reaching a point where we do hold the balance of power and our position in opposition keeps the pressure needed on a SF government to properly deliver for the working class.

Equally, if we do not hold the balance of power, we still use our position in opposition and on the streets to force real change and build people power to bolster our movement, our cause and our ultimate goal of revolution and a future that sees workers calling the shots.

After all, we have seen what the power sharing administration in Northern Ireland has delivered with Sinn Fein in government there, albeit with fiscal constraints from London. On many occasions over the past 25 years since the good Friday agreement, we have seen Sinn Fein fail the working class and administer Tory austerity without batting an eyelid. They don't protest and organise their supporters to fight the system, they seem happy to be in power for power's sake. That's worrying and it's the very reason that we need to make sure that, as Socialists, we're there to keep them in line in any government that they might lead in Dublin.

The best place for Socialists is outside any government under capitalism, standing with workers and taking struggle to the establishment at every turn. We can support or fight a left government on a case by case basis from opposition and we can best serve our class by standing in solidarity with them rather than by doing what Labour, The Greens and others have done over the years.

The system itself is broken. Sinn Fein won't be fixing it and we can't be a part of it. Our job is to build grass roots movements, bring workers from struggle to revolution and be the glue that keeps people power focused, together and growing.

When Sinn Fein let workers down, I don't want to be standing with them. I want to be there ready to say to my fellow working class: "it's OK, we can still fight for the real change that we all truly want" instead of being there with egg on my face!!!

After all, we are revolutionary Socialists, not deluded reformists!

Home | About | Articles | Podcasts | Videos | E-Store | Contact
Copyright 2023 RED Network | All Rights Reserved.