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Tom Redmond

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The Communist Party of Ireland announces the death of our esteemed comrade Tom Redmond.

Tom’s contribution to the cause of the Irish working class spanned nearly six decades. He has left our ranks, but his contribution to the struggles of our party and to the Irish and international working-class movement are immeasurable.

We salute the memory of Tom Redmond: worker, militant communist, trade unionist, working-class intellectual, teacher, artist, writer.  Several generations of young communists and working-class activists benefited from his knowledge and experience. He gave unselfishly, in particular to young activists, passing on his wide experience and his profound knowledge of Irish history and particularly the history of our working class.

We express our deepest sympathy to his four sons Simon, Eoin, Niall, Karl and all his extended family.

The Communist Party of Ireland dips its banners in honour of his passing.

A person’s dearest posses­sion is life. It is given to them but once, and they must live it so as to feel no tortur­ing regrets for wasted years, never know the burning shame of a mean and petty past; so live that, dying, they might say: All my life, all my strength were given to the finest cause in all the world: the fight for the liberation of humanity.          —Nikolai Ostrovski

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LabLeadershipC

Did New Labour Spend Too Much?

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This article originally appeared on the Socialist Economic Bulletin on Tuesday, 19th of May.

It is not sufficient for big business to have secured an election victory and an overall Parliamentary majority for the Tory Party. It is also necessary to intervene in the Labour Party to ensure that its leadership also conforms to big business interests too. This has currently taken the form of candidates in the leadership contest being asked to declare that Labour ‘spent too much’ in the run-up into the Great Recession. Answering Yes to this question is effectively a loyalty oath to big business interests, a renunciation even of the social democratic vestige of economic policy under New Labour.

The question is economically illiterate. It is taken as axiomatic that if there was a deficit that spending must have been too high. But all deficits are composed of two items; spending and income. In the case of government that income arises mainly in the form of taxes. It does not follow from the existence of a deficit that the culprit must be spending.

The reality is that measured as a proportion of GDP New Labour spent less on average than Margaret Thatcher. This is shown in Fig. 1 below. On average New Labour’s spending amounted to 41.5% of GDP. By comparison, under Thatcher government spending was 44.2%. In relation to the deficit, the taxation levels were also very different. Under New Labour taxation revenues were on average 37.5% of GDP. Under Thatcher taxation revenues amounted to 42.0% of GDP.

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qq

Drawing Lessons from the Public Sector Pay Talks

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With the public sector pay negotiations getting underway, it is timely to step back from the details and look at the broader landscape.  For it is clear:  if the wage structure in the overall economy mirrored the wage structure in the public sector, we would have a more prosperous economy and society; the recession wouldn’t have been so hard, the recovery wouldn’t have been so delayed, and the social deficits arising out of inequality would not be so endemic. 

While there is much focus on the private-public wage differential, there is less attention paid to the distribution of wages from the bottom to the top – which is the key to long-term sustainable growth and better social outcomes.  Let’s have a quick look at the former first.

The CSO has done exceptional and detailed work on comparing private and public sector pay.  The lazy comparison is to compare the headline average private and public sector pay.  However, this comes up against the like-for-like dilemma.  For instance, there are no hospitality workers in the public sector; there are no Gardai in the private sector.  Without a like-for-like comparison you get all sorts of numbers that don’t tell you much.

The CSO has compensated for that – comparing professions, age, duration of employment, size of enterprise, educational qualifications.  When they do that, they come to some interesting conclusions.

psp1

Among this grouping – which makes up the overwhelming majority of public sector workers – the ‘premium’ (i.e. the additional amount public sector workers above private sector workers) is a little more than one percent higher.  On a like-for-like basis, public sector workers earn fractionally more than private sector workers. 

What is more interesting is the gender difference.  Men in the public sector actually earn less than males in the private sector – two percent less.  However, women in the public sector earn five percent more than their private sector counterparts on a like-for-like basis.  And this is a good thing when one considers that women still face pay (and other types of) discrimination in the workplace.   If there was less gender discrimination in the private sector, the overall public sector premium would probably turn negative.

Just one more word:  This data comes from the CSO.  Since 2010 there have been small wage movements.  Between 2010 and 2014 (4th quarter):

  • Increase in private sector weekly earnings:  2.3%
  • Increase in public sector weekly earnings: (-0.7%)

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SV

May issue of Socialist Voice is Out Now!

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The May issue of Socialist Voice is now available at: http://www.communistpartyofireland.ie/sv/index.html

Articles in this issue include:

Spring statement” = winter of austerity

Eugene McCartan

The much-hyped “spring statement” jointly presented by the minister for finance, Michael Noonan, and minister for public expenditure, Brendan Howlin, promised much and delivered little. Though it generated reams of newsprint and hours of mind-numbing radio and television coverage, people will be none the wiser, and no better off.  

Support the bus workers!

It’s in all our interests to support the bus workers’ strike.

 The establishment media have gone into overdrive about the action taken by Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann drivers, members of both SIPTU and the NBRU. The first two-day strikes took place on 1 and 2 May, with two further strikes planned for 15 and 16 May.

Change of strategy at the ICTU

The new general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Patricia King, announced a change of strategy in a speech on 17 April to the annual delegate conference of the Public Service Executive Union.

The malevolent influence of Hibernianism

Tommy McKearney

On 24 April last, small groups of people gathered at a number of places around Ireland on the ninety-ninth anniversary of the beginning of the Easter Rising to celebrate what they have designated Republic Day.

The end of the Viet Nam war

The 30th of April marks the fortieth anniversary of the ending of the Viet Nam war. On that day in 1975 the forces of the People’s Army of Viet Nam and the National Liberation Front of South Viet Nam, under the command of General V?n Ti?n D?ng,

Lies, damned lies, and statistics

Alan Hanlon

On 21 April, Right2Water organised another peaceful demonstration of the working class opposed to the privatisation of water and the whole campaign of austerity and forced emigration launched in 2008.

The rise of shadow banking

Nicola Lawlor

Both the EU Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund published reports recently on the growth and risk of the shadow-banking sector.

While estimating the size of the sector and identifying some immediate risks, both reports fail to identify the rise of finance…

Three countries: same failed strategies

Paul Doran

At the end of April two communist parties issued significant statements in relation to the situation in Portugal and Greece. They are of interest to us here in Ireland because of the similarity of conditions: the imposition of massive debt on the people,

Real, existing capitalism and the challenge for an alternative

Eoghan O’Neill

There are times and certain processes in the production of human needs that have become the catalyst for change in society, a change in which the old order of doing things—whether it is ruling, governing, trading, building, creating, destroying, or a myriad of different complexities that steer human development—are incapable of satisfying, or can no longer satisfy, the new social and productive forces in society.

Celebrating five years of Barrygruff with Gruffwuff

Barry Healy

Barrygruff, from Ireland and now based in Vancouver, a finalist in the Canadian “Made in Blog” music blog awards, 2014, has released a compilation

History, looking forward

Seán Edwards

When Eduardo Galeano died, the Uruguayan parliament held a special session to honour him; a previous regime put him in jail. This reflects the changes in Latin America, which Galeano’s writings helped bring about.

Both are wrong!

Richard Bryant

With more beheadings in Libya come more pundits on American television. As a culture we seem keen to explore political, military and the occasional diplomatic solution when it comes to the rise of Sunni extremism in Syria and Iraq. I wonder if there are less obvious religious approaches?

No-one is going to invade Indiana or Arkansas for considering the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Yet the approach by man

The Venezuelan working class reinforces its support for Maduro

Paul Dobson

With an investment of more than $1.2 billion and 2.2 million bolívars, President Maduro approved forty-six projects from the working class of the nationalised Venezuelan Guyana Corporation this month, as the Presidential Council of the Working Class was held in Venezuela’s industrial heartland.

Communist and gay rights activist celebrated

Jenny Farrell

Solidarity lies at the heart of the film Pride. It is a film about the seemingly unlikely alliance between a mining community in Wales and the London Lesbian and Gay group “Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners.” This is a true story, and the hero of this film is Mark Ashton

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1a

The Rationalist’s Defence of Injustice

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Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilisation, supposedly replied that he thought it might be a good idea. Taken at face value, we can presume that he was both contemptuous and cynical of the idea of civilisation of any kind existing in the West. Being on the receiving end of Western civilisational endeavours such as the one he experienced in India during his life, he would have been well aware of hollowness of the idea that actions and ideas emanating from the West were inherently virtuous. Indeed, very few people, especially in Ireland, need to be reminded of the great altruism with which the British Empire undertook the task of civilising the world. Although Great Britain is no longer the empire it once was, it continues to play the civilising game along with its master, the United States. Meanwhile, the notion that great powers undertake certain actions for the benefit of the “uncivilised” of the world continues to hold sway, along with the concomitant idea that such actions are inherently virtuous. They are inherently virtuous simply because said actions are being carried out by the U.S. and its allies. Nothing more needs to be said in their defence according to the reigning orthodoxy. Said orthodoxy resides not only in and around the centres of power, and not only emerges from the mouths of the most devoted nationalists and neoconservatives but can also be found in those who are considered to be sceptics and rationalists.

Two of the most vocal types of this are Sam Harris and his former colleague, Christopher Hitchens. Both men had become two of the four faces most associated with rationalism, specifically atheism, and the so-called New Atheism, that emerged more or less immediately in the aftermath of 9/11. In the case of Hitchens, advocating for a non-religious world due to the fact that he deemed religion a threat to humanity became one part of his public persona. The other part was as a cheerleader for the neoconservative movement. Counting amongst his friends Paul Wolfowitz, the former U.S. Deputy Director of Defence in the Bush II administration, Hitchens could be relied upon to decry the evils of religion in the same breath as declaring British and U.S. intentions in the Middle East as righteous. His views did not in any way evolve before his death in 2012 from oesophageal cancer. One year before his death, when asked if he thought the invasion of Iraq along with the subsequent chaos it unleashed was worth the trial and execution of Saddam Hussein, he responded in the positive; the fracturing and destruction of a country, from which it may never recover, was deemed a price worth paying for the regional interests of his acquaintances in the White House.

Although claiming to take a more nuanced view of things, Harris is arguably worse than Hitchens in his support for the British and U.S. interests around the word. Although Hitchens was outlandishly crude in some of his pronunciations, Harris on the other hand relies on the veneer of calm and respectable discourse in order to promote views that are far from respectable. Harris’ position is essentially that Islam in particular represents an existential and ongoing threat to superior Western civilisation and ideals. Therefore, it must be dealt with accordingly by those who have the power to do so. Being unmentionable is that it just happens that the balance of power resides by far in the hands of the U.S. and its closest allies, yet the threat apparently remains. This is half of the premise of Harris’ main point of contention with Noam Chomsky, the other half being that that our intentions are good regardless of the outcomes. In this view, because collateral damage is not intentional on the part of leaders, what we do that causes civilian deaths in the first place is therefore not judged by the supposedly unexpected outcome of collateral damage. The act is judged simply by its intentions. If the intention was to destroy a terrorist training camp via a Hellfire missile, and civilians were accidentally killed in the process, the civilians do not enter into any moral calculation. The initial act was carried out for the correct reasons, at least according to those in power and their supporters, therefore the unintentional deaths of civilians do not enter into any moral calculation of the hypothetical missile strike.

This is Harris’ stance on the nature of U.S. foreign policy, at least as he laid it out in recent correspondence with Chomsky, arguing that the U.S. is “in many respects, just… a ‘well-intentioned giant.’” The Clinton Administration’s bombing in 1998 of the al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, which resulted in the destruction of roughly half of the country’s medicines, including its entire supply of anti-malaria drugs, was a legitimate act according to Harris. The apparent intention, which Harris takes for granted, was to destroy a chemical weapons factory, with the resulting suffering unleashed on the country being of no concern. What matters are intentions, nothing else. Harris simply takes it for granted that what we do is right and proper simply by virtue of the fact that it is being done by us. Harris presumes, with no evidence, that “Clinton (as I imagine him to be) did not want or intend to kill anyone at all, necessarily.” The more likely reason, which Harris fails to mention or perhaps even realise, is that the plant’s destruction was in retaliation for the bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania two weeks earlier. Although a terrorist attack on civilians in the Middle East or somewhere in the West may have the same outcome as the al-Shifa bombing and other similar acts by Western states, the two cases cannot be compared according to Harris conception of intentions. By logically extending his notion of intentionality, our crimes are not really crimes, and deaths caused by us are not really caused by us, a logic that would impress the most committed totalitarian ideologue.

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1

The Minister’s Problems with the Unemployed and Statistics

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We all know there will be people who will never work. They’re allergic to work.  So we’re not including those in the statistics. But everybody who wants a job will have a job in the next couple of years.’

There were a lot of criticisms of the Finance Minister’s comments, rightly describing them as a slur on people who cannot find a job.  What I also find illuminating is the innovative approach to statistical representation.

Imagine saying ‘We all know people who are allergic to obeying the law.  So we’re not including those in the statistics.’ Or ‘We all know people who are allergic to paying taxes.  So we’re not including those in the statistics.’  See – we just eliminated crime and tax evasion.  There’s no end of progress we can make on the outstanding issues of the day if we just employ the ‘Noonan Manoeuvre.’

But there are some statistics that the Minister is not including as well – statistics that his own government gathers and sends on to the EU.  Like this one:

  • There are 20 unemployed for every job vacancy.

This comes from the Eurostat Vacancy Rate as reported by the Nevin Economic Research Institute.  We’re not as bad as Greece where there are 74.3 unemployed for every job vacancy but we have a long ways to before we reach Belgium (5) never mind Germany (2.1).

To put that 20:1 ratio in perspective, imagine someone dropping five €10 notes from the roof of a building on to 100 people in the street.  There’s a mad scramble and eventually five people walk away with the notes.  But 95 people don’t.  What do we say about those empty-handed 95?  They’re allergic to €10 notes?  The mind reels.

But the Minister’s capacity to not include statistics does not end there.  Take this one.

There are, according to the last Quarterly National Household Survey, 2.153 million people in the labour force.  There are 1.939 million in work.  When you subtract those at work from the labour force you come up with 213,000.  That’s the number of unemployed.  The number of unemployed doesn’t determine the number of jobs in the market.  There are still only so many jobs to go around for a larger number of people looking for them (there are niche exceptions where an employer has a vacancy but can’t find someone with the matching skills necessary – a phenomenon in the ICT sector and foreign language skills; maybe we should teach all the unemployed Dutch?).

Of course, there are ways to manipulate this equation which, also, rarely gets included.

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fromAtoOMay2

From Alpha to Omega Podcast #062: Closet Marxists

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This week I am delighted to welcome back to the show Michael Roberts, author of the ‘Next Recession’ blog. We talk about the new reports out on the world economy from the IMF and the Bank of International Settlements, and how Ben Bernanke has come out as a closet Marxist after all these years.

We also discuss the recent debate between David Harvey on one side, and Michael and Andrew Kliman on the other, about the relevance / reality of the law of the tendential fall in the rate of profit, and the politics behind it all.

You can find Michael’s most prolific Blog here:

https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/

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peoplesnews

Issue 124 of People’s News Out Now

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Issue 124 of People’s News out now

The articles in this issue include:  

  • Page 1: TTIP’s way is Europe’s way. Brussels may vet legislation
  • Page 2: Even more of an attack on democracy than ISDS
  • Page 4: MEPs scrap scrutiny on allowances
  • Page 5: A la carte system for GMO imports
  • Page 5: Secret “trialogue” talks to be investigated
  • Page 6: The hidden cost of EU trade deals
  • Page 7: A window on Microsoft’s lobbying
  • Page 7: TTIP negotiations to drag on
  • Page 8: The real alternatives in the Northern elections
  • Page 9: Apple expects “material” financial damage from EU investigations into corporation tax
  • Page 10: The billion euro man
  • Page 11: Fraud and the EU
  • Page 12: The cost to Greece of membership of the euro zone
  • Page 12: Trade union leader warns Juncker that his policies made the crisis worse
  • Page 13: Gotcha

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cover2

It’s Not the Economy, Stupid

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It is undemanding to look at the photographs taken by Ciarán Og Arnold after the financial meltdown of 2008 and regard them as sad signifiers of life in a distressed small town in the Irish midlands suffering the throes of economic collapse. There is no work for young people but not everyone can emigrate; ergo: hopelessness, ennui, barely suppressed anger and frustration for those left behind on the scrapheap. The Celtic tigers were stuffed with greed, corruption and a venal populace and alongside the dead skin lies the human wreckage. Oh, what a pity.

This is the pound-shop moralism of the ‘beautiful soul’ that Hegel descried in The Phenomenology of Spirit.  It’s too easy and comforting to feel you are standing on the outside, not needing like Pontius Pilate to wash your hands, as if somehow you have nothing to do with the wretched cultural wasteland
 that produces the deprived micro-community so sorrowfully captured by Ciarán Og Arnold. The male angst and sense of despair depicted in his photographs epitomise the rage that resides inside Irish society, a visceral response to life that goes beyond mere economics. If Joyce’s Dubliners presented a dark side of early twentieth-century life then I Went to the Worst of Bars… does something similar for the early twenty-first century.

The temper of these photographs is  immanent for there is no outside, and in place of a simplistic dualism of  subject – a photographer – and object – desolate dance clubs, dismal alleyways, inebriated older men, aggressive younger ones, two goats in a field, girls dressed up for a weekend night out – we see a totality that fuses facts with values, poor lighting with a poverty of opportunity, crappy wallpaper on a wall with horribly stunted horizons, budget-priced film stock with a culturally bankrupt environment.  Ciarán is the sound geezer who has clicked the shutter on his camera but the photographs are communal: the zeitgeist of an Ireland that goes largely unrepresented or, when it is acknowledged, is mediated by the perspective of an Irish media that would have us believe we are all paid up members of that middle-class constituency so piquantly evoked by George Harrison:

Everywhere there’s lots of piggies
Living piggy lives
You can see them out for dinner
With their piggy wives
Clutching forks
and knives to eat their bacon

Ciarán Og Arnold does not show us these people but they are the audience silently confronted by the faces, the furniture and vegetation, the cheap clothes and the empty bed that he presents us with.

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empPock

To Those Who Have Made the Biggest Sacrifice – Nothing

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Government Ministers are fond of saying that they want to repay those who made the biggest sacrifices; hence: tax cuts.  They have also stated that they want to target the ‘squeezed middle’ which they define as the income group between €35,000 and €75,000.  This is an interesting figure.  A household with two people working at the upper end of this ‘middle’ could earn nearly €150,000.  This government wants to reward them because it is obvious that their current income level is a terrible sacrifice.

For me, those who have fallen into deprivation – now that’s a sacrifice.  And there are a lot of people who have been sacrificing.

Social Protection Payments 1

In 2013, there were over 800,000 reliant on social protection payments in these three categories, both recipients and beneficiaries.  Deprivation has increased from 45 percent to 76 percent.

However, in the Government’s discourse of sacrifice, these people never feature.  They have been effectively air-brushed from the social debate.  The standard response of Ministers is that they have ‘protected’ basic social protection payments but they have done nothing of the sort.  They have frozen these payments, which means that the value of the payment has fallen due to inflation.  Since the Government took office:

  • A single person has suffered a real cut of 3 percent, or €5.69 per week
  • For a couple, the real cut has been €9.45 per week

So how much have the unemployed, lone parents and the disabled and sick lost out on since the cuts commenced in 2010?  Let’s look at the nominal (i.e. the actual amount in Euros and cents) and the real cuts (factoring in inflation.  We will take this out to 2016, using the Government’s projected growth in inflation, to get a sense of what would have to be spent to compensate people’s sacrifice.

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lego_election

Can the Lib-Dems save Tory Britain?

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This article originally appeared on the blog Socialist Economic Bulletin on the 4th of May

By now many pollsters admit they misread the election campaign. As Freddie Sayers, You Gov’s Editor in Chief, put it:

‘Back in February, it was still considered a near-certainty by the media pundits that the Conservatives would end up significantly ahead. Ed Miliband was unconvincing, the economic numbers coming in were all positive, and now the SNP were wiping out Labour in Scotland: the Conservatives themselves felt a certain inevitability about their return to power after May 7th.’

The election campaign has not turned out like that – the Tories have not gained support. But an attempt has been to explain this by short term factors such as Lynton Crosby’s distasteful election tactics or backlash against the Tory media’s attempted character assassination of Ed Miliband. As Peter Kellner summarised this analysis: ‘Tories pay the price of an inept campaign’.

This view is wrong. History, including election campaigns, is ‘natural selection of accidents’. Far more powerful forces than Lynton Crosby, or David Cameron’s inability to accurately name his supposed favourite football term, explain the failure of Tory support to rise.

To show the deep social processes explaining absence of the anticipated Tory surge the graph below shows the Tories percentage of the vote at every general election since the party’s highest ever score –  55.0% in 1931. The graph is breath-taking in the steadiness of its decline.

conservative_declineAlready after World War II the peak Tory vote was 49.6% in 1955 – lower than inter-war levels. It fell to 41.9% by 1992 – the last time the Tories won a majority in the House of Commons. By 2010, when they had declined to being the largest party, but without an overall majority of seats, Tory support was  36.1%. Typically each Tory victory was won with a lower percentage of the vote than the one before, each Tory defeat saw the party’s support fall further than the one previously. 

This process is produced by clear social trends. The modern Conservatives originated in the South East of England, outside London, in the mid-nineteenth century following the old Tory Party’s split over repeal of the corn laws. Over nearly a century the Conservatives rose to become Britain’s dominant party by adding, in chronological order, mass support in North West England, London, the West Midlands and Scotland – the current Tory rump in Scotland, with one seat, is in a nation where from 1945-55 Tories actually had more support than England! The Tory decline was the progressive loss of first Scotland, then North West England, then the West Midlands and London.  Now the Tories are back in their original South East bastion. 

This trend, based on real elections not polls, was analysed in 1983 in my book Thatcher and Friends and has continued to operate since. It is such powerful forces, operating over more than 80 years, which underlay the failure of Tory support to rise in the election campaign.

Relentless historical Tory decline, of course, does not mean there are no short term shifts. There is a swing factor of slightly under 5% between a Tory victory and a defeat – explained by events nearer the time of an election. But this is superimposed on an underlying erosion of the Tory vote of slightly over 0.2% a year.

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mtaftR2W

A Democratic Economy, A Prosperous Society, A Risen People

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This is the speech I delivered at the May Day Conference organised by the five trade unions affiliated to Right2Water

 

When the Left wins the next election and forms the first progressive government in the history of the state, it will be inheriting severe economic and social deficits:

  • After seven years of recession and austerity our social infrastructure, in particular health and education, is in desperate need of repair
  • Nearly 1.5 million people live in deprivation
  • A crisis in low-pay and precarious work conditions
  • An investment crisis
  • One of the weakest indigenous enterprise sectors in Europe with an industrial policy that is mostly based on maintaining Ireland’s role in the global tax avoidance chain
  • And a golden circle of corporate and political interests which will fight like hell to expand their spheres of control

And if these aren’t challenges enough, the range of interests that will line up against us will be daunting.  Fine Gael and Fianna Fail will be the least of it.

IBEC, ISME and the SFA, Chambers Ireland and the American Chambers of Commerce, media outlets and commentators, Independent House, CEOs, EU institutions, the IMF and the OECD – a whole alphabet of hostile forces who will from the first day work to undermine us, destroy people’s confidence, and put up every obstacle possible.  And that’s just for starters.

If you’re in any doubt, just ask Syriza.

The five trade unions affiliated to Right2Water are seeking to bring together all the ideological, historical and community strands that constitute progressive politics to help meet these challenges.  

  • To start a constructive dialogue that will hopefully lead to an agreed set of policy principles that will form the core of a progressive government. 
  • Principles that are radical and deliverable, an alternative economic, social and political architecture based on a new common sense
  • Principles that give people confidence that we have an understanding of their everyday problems which leads inexorably to a collective and shared resolution.

We have started this process in the principles we have produced here today.  We will be adding to them.  They are not in any order of priority – but they are all urgent. We invite everyone here to contribute to this process and to come together on June 13th to debate and decide. 

The Low-Tax, Low-Spend, Low-Service, Low-Investment Economy

One of those urgent tasks is to break from the low-tax, low-spend, low-investment, low-service model the Government is foisting upon us.  This is the trap celebrated in the Spring Statement – a set of budgetary rules that will permanently immobilise national governments and impoverish the European people.  What can you make of this fiscal rule cookbook? 

You-take-heaping-of-a-10-year-rolling-average-of-potential-GDP-which-cannot-be measured-in-the-real-world,-based-on-components-like-Total-Factor-Productivity-which also-cannot-be-measured,-stir-in-a -convergence-margin,-pour into-the-GDP-deflator-and-put-in-the-oven-and-bake-until-the-reference-ratio-minus-the-convergence-margin-divided-by-100-and-multiplied-by-the-%-GDP-price-deflator-determines-the-allowable-nominal-spending-growth-net-of-DRM-or-discretionary-revenue-meausres.

 Take from the oven.  And don’t forget to subtract one. 

There is one word for this – mindless.  This is Father Ted economics.

A progressive government will have to deal with these rules – now in our Constitution, approved by the majority of people even if under duress.  We will need to push them out at every opportunity.   At the same time, we must work with our comrades in Syriza, and Podemos when they form the next government in Spain, to unravel these rules.

For the June 13th conference the Right2Water unions will publish an alternative fiscal framework – to inform the discussion of how we can turn the rules to our advantage.

The Government is launching the second phase of austerity.  In the first phase, Ministers announced actual cuts in public spending.  In the second phase, public spending will be kept below the rate of inflation, thus cutting its value.  This at a time of increased demographic pressures. We are facing into an indefinite period of what can be called ‘real austerity’.

A progressive government will reverse this.  We do not fully appreciate how little we spend.  We would have to spend an extra €10 to €12 billion a year more just to reach the average spending on public services, social protection and investment of other EU countries.  The Government claims they will do more with less.  The reality is that they will do less with less. 

Why?  Because the Government is locking-in a low-tax economy – one that will benefit the interests of capital over people.  The Government is pulling off the same stunt that Fianna Fail did prior to the crash – driving down taxation to unsustainable levels.  Except today we don’t have the windfalls of speculation, today we are bearing the cost.  Therefore, the Government will drive down living standards and privatise and outsource public services to subsidise its tax cuts.

Progressives compete over tax cuts at their peril.   Workers in Ireland are not highly-taxed by EU standards. However, our living standards are highly taxed, highly priced and highly inadequate.  We are driven into the private sector to purchase goods and services that workers elsewhere receive for from the public sector for free or at below-market rates.

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JCfest

JAMES CONNOLLY FESTIVAL

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Below are a number of links to some of the artist performing at the Connolly Festival 4th – 9th May

4th May

The New Theatre:

1-00pm: Film show: The Republican Congress, episodes 1 and 2 Introduced by Donal Higgins (director) and Donal Fallon (historian).

Tuesday 5th May

The New Theatre 1-00pm:

Revolution and Counter Revolution in Latin America: talk by Fabio Bastidas Colombia

7-30pm The New Theatre

The Red Flag:Mat Callahan & Yvonne Moore

“The Revolutionaries: 1916 and Beyond” Songs and poems.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bugCWPlUg0

Workman’s Club 8-30pm till late

The Radicals: Attila The Stocbroker

https://www.youtube.com/user/attilastockbroker1

Maximum Homosapien
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Pz3pUr_sdo

Followed by a night of Ska

Wednesday 6th May

The New Theatre 1-00pm:

Film Mise Éire

The New Theatre 7-30: “The Socialist Voice”

Fiach Moriarty

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgcTzGE3N_Y

Stephen Murphy

Sarah Clancy Poet

http://www.salmonpoetry.com/details.php?ID=256&

Andrew Kearns

http://gallery.copyrighthouse.co.uk/andrewkearns/

Evelyn Campbell

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDGxFwW8jPA

Thursday 7th May

1-00pm also Friday lunch time

The New Theatre: “Hairy Jayus” with Donal Kelly

http://www.donalokellyproductions.com/?page_id=30

The New Theatre 7-30pm

“Juno and the Peacock”; Dramistised reading of Sean O’Casey’s play By Ronan Wilmot.

Friday 8th May

The New Theatre

4-00pm “Women’s Liberation over the past hundred years” Micheline Sheehy Skeffington

7-30pm Music night:

Mark Geary

https://markgeary.bandcamp.com/track/fireflies

Saturday 9th May 2-00pm

James Connolly Memorial Lecture:

Speaker: Sister Teresa Forcedes

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24079227

Yearning Curve (Cork) Connolly Books 5-00pm onwards

http://www.breakingtunes.com/yearningcurve

Sunday 10th May

Arbour Hill Military Cemetery: 3-00pm

Wreath-laying at the grave of James Connolly and other leaders of the 1916 Rising:

Oration by Clare Daly TD.

Cobblestone Pub (back lounge): 4-00pm onwards

Live music session.

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larkn

A Mayday Message: Brendan Ogle

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A Mayday Message from Brendan Ogle, Unite Education Officer and a Right2Water coordinator

Mayday, Dublin Ireland 2015 comrades. Happy workers day, ‘united we will never be defeated’, lets sing ‘The Red Flag’ or ‘The Internationale’ and remember Connolly and Larkin. We do it every year don’t we? Then we disperse. By ‘disperse’ I don’t just mean we go home or go for a tipple. I mean we ‘disperse’. We go back into our silos and we do whatever it is we do, for another year, while neo-liberal capital continues its triumphant rise to total domination of our country, our community and our lives. The rich get rich and obscenely richer, the rest of us get manipulated and bullied into giving them our money, our assets. The 1% wins while the 99% let them. On and on it goes until someday we will be the most unequal country in the EU. OOOPPS….sorry, we already got there! Still, what matter, isn’t it only another 364 days before we can assemble again, sing our songs, remember our heroes and pay lip service to their legacy?

What Ireland will we live in by Mayday 2016? We know two things for certain. By Mayday 2016 we will have passed the Centenary of the 1916 rising and we will have had a general election. Will there be anything to celebrate?

There is some hope that there might be, that there is something akin to an awakening. Following the national collective trauma the nation went through following the scandal of 2008, the bank bailout and the surrendering of our economic sovereignty, the citizens are protesting in numbers, and a frequency never seen since independence. They are angry, motivated, energetic and looking for change. That much is very clear. What is a lot less clear is whether we, the citizens, can deliver real social and meaningful change.

Today the RIGHT2WATER Unions host a Conference to look at developments throughout Europe relating to our Human Right to water and also, critically, at the emergence of democratic people’s movements in other countries throughout Europe, fighting back for the 99%. We will look and listen, learn some things and discard others, and still have the question. What is happening in Ireland? RIGHT2WATER is simply an umbrella campaign that aims to bring diverse groups and individuals together in defence of our Human Right to water and to ensure the abolition of domestic water charges. We will win this campaign. Of that I have no doubt whatsoever. We will return a Government that will be voted in to reverse the current crazy, wasteful, ideological, neo-liberal privatisation of our publicly owned water. And then what? Is that it? What about our right to housing, to a job and decent workers rights, to decent healthcare, to education? Do we, those in what has clearly become a ‘movement’ care about these things? And if so, can a water movement become a vehicle of real social and political change? Surely, less than a year away from an historic centenary we have a chance to actually have something to celebrate for once.

I believe we can do it if the necessary conditions are present and a lot of them are. The anger, and mass mobilisation necessary to reclaim our nation for its citizens are present. The citizen’s hunger for their democracy back is present and the electoral means are present. But the enemies of a more equal society are great and powerful. Our media is owned by the neo-liberal agenda and so the propaganda machine is in full flow. The short term bribes are on their way in a budget and the legacy of gombeen and parish pump politics is not a legacy at all. It lives and breathes today throughout the nation in the parties of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour. So, if Mayday 2016 is not to be just another remembrance of what we could have been we need to unite like never before. If Easter 2016 is not to shame Easter 1916 we need to all behave and interact differently.RIGHTS2WATER has three pillars and I raise here three questions, one for each.

Of the five RIGHT2WATER Trade Unions, and others, I ask the following. Are we going to continue to grow and develop this project that we have played such a key role in? Can we see the vision, the possibilities and mobilise our members, their organising capacity and their resources into a vehicle for social and economic change? If we can we will do more to change their lives, and their families and communities than any single pay and conditions package we could ever achieve. Connolly and Larkin were men of vision and dreams. On Mayday we remember them. By Mayday 2016 can we honour them?

For the political groupings of the disparate Irish left let us be honest. We have failed utterly. Look all around you. Capital is winning and labour is losing. If it was a boxing match the referee would stop it. So whatever prescriptions have been used have not worked. Great people have been elected on the left and great people are elected today too. But the impulse of internal argument and separation within our class is deep and wounding and holding the vision we all share back. In the next 365 days can that change? We will not have a progressive Government that does not see unity within the political groupings in RIGHT2WATER. A coalition of some sort will be necessary before an election or in its immediate aftermath. Is it possible?

And to the communities up and down Ireland that are seeking a new direction? Political Economy education is the key. Progressive politicians are not your enemy.  And Unions are not either. We, the citizens have two enemies, neo-liberalism and ourselves. We must understand the neo-liberal enemy in order to fight it, let alone slay it, and that requires political economy education in every city, town and village in the state. We must ‘join the dots’. And then we must stop internal fights and vote for progressive candidates when the election comes. How will we know who they are? If we educate ourselves they will stand out, as will our enemies. Regressive neo-liberal politics only lives in an atmosphere of ignorance, suspicion and internal division. Even neo-liberals cannot persuade us to vote against our own interests if we are enlightened. So let us read, communicate, talk and unite like never before. AND MOST OF ALL VOTE!

Let us see, for once, can we do  in Ireland what our forebears wanted us to do and create a country that, at last, cherishes all of the children of the nation EQUALLY.

Brendan Ogle

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