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
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!
Copyright 2023 RED Network | All Rights Reserved.