Green Party Saving The Nation – Only the Dog Breeding Bill remains

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At this time of hardship, unemployment, emigration and even negative equity, the Greys have secured a famous victory and guaranteed their place in history. Last night, in a nail-biting near-finale they and their coalition partner FF The Corruption Party forced through a vitally important Bill to save Ireland from the terrible fate of Stag Hunting. The victory was not achieved without suffering however when two FF The Corruption Party TDs (members of parliament) were expelled from their party.

The Greys are well on their way to saving the country as they promised in their party manifesto. In fact, only one major hurdle remains before complete victory – the dreaded Dog Breeding Bill. Dogs all over Ireland are trembling in their dog-baskets at the prospect.

Then the Dáil (parliament) will rise for what is laughingly called ‘the summer recess’ but which does, in fact, extend well into the autumn (in fact, the Dáil barely has time to sit down before it has to stand up again for the Christmas break).

The anti-stag hunting legislation and the Dog Breeding Bill mark two huge milestones in the Grey Party list of priorities. Other less-important priorities, according to their 2007 Manifesto are as follows:

  • Housing – Ensure the delivery of 10,000 social and affordable housing units a year until the housing waiting lists are cleared.
  • Health – Provide an additional 4000 beds to cut A&E queues. Introduce medical cards for children under 6.
  • Child Care – Replace the Early Childcare Supplement with a higher Refundable Parenting Tax Credit available as a cash payment or used to reduce income tax bills.
  • Education – Invest €1 billion in education for the first year of the next Government to front-load educational priorities. Provide 2,400 extra teachers at primary and secondary levels.
  • Transport – Prioritise the Dublin Metro and Luas extensions, provide Luas-type lines in Cork and Galway and introduce commuter services on existing railway lines in Limerick and a line to Shannon.
  • Energy/Climate Change – Seek an all-party approach to cut carbon emissions by 3% annually through renewable energy and improved building standards.
  • Tax - Reduce both VAT rates by 1%. Index-link tax credits and bands to protect workers from inflation and avoid taxation by stealth.
  • Social Welfare – Benchmark the lowest social welfare payment for a single person at 50% of average income.
  • Crime – Provide for a systematic increase in Garda numbers – at least 15,000 are needed. Establish an Organised Crime Agency.
  • Environment – Increase spending on sewage treatment infrastructure in key towns and villages under development pressure.
  • Political Reform – Ban corporate donations to political parties.
  • Carers – Abolish means-testing of the carers’ allowance.
  • Pension – increase the basic pension from 30% of average income to 60%.

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William Wall is the author four novels, the most recent of which, This Is The Country (2005), has been described as a 'broad attack on the Celtic Tiger'. He has also published poetry and short stories.
 

32 Responses

  1. Small Girl

    June 30, 2010 2:21 pm

    A line in a song I know goes “getting dull and grey like a Tory” – I’ll have to replace Tory with Greeny for my own little chuckle. William I’m having a hoot with this picturing them all now standing up and sitting down and standing up as quickly again bursting the oxders out of their suits as they do the mexican wave in the Houses of the Oireachtas. Could the real Spitting Image please stand up, please stand up. Ha Ha.

    Course the hunting and breeding bills are not bad politics but compared to the manifesto … I rest my case (for the Summer recess).

  2. Pope Epopt

    June 30, 2010 10:04 pm

    I believe I’m right in saying that after the coalition government the ‘snotgreeners lost half of their more principled membership. These were replaced or significantly made up.

    Now am I too Machiavellian, but would it not pay a certain well established political party well to stuff said depleted party with their own people?

  3. John Goodwillie

    July 1, 2010 10:03 am

    It’s easy to say “the ’snotgreeners lost half of their more principled membership”, and completely impossible to prove or disprove, since which members are ‘principled’ is an entirely subjective measurement. But for what it’s worth, the resigned and not-renewed membership of the Green Party per year has been roughly the same as before entering coalition.

  4. William Wall

    July 1, 2010 5:53 pm

    John, has the rate of resignation and not-renewed been equalled by the rate of new memberships? Are there as many people who entering the party who are happy about collaborating with FF as there are people who are unhappy or disillusioned?

  5. John Goodwillie

    July 1, 2010 10:24 pm

    William, the membership of the Party has been increasing, so the answer to your first question is Yes, more than. I don’t think your second question is answerable: I’m not sure why people who are disillusioned about collaborating with FF would join.

  6. William Wall

    July 2, 2010 6:14 am

    John, I’m assuming you’re a member of the party. I’m assuming also that the implication of your last reply is that the policy of collaborating with FF is regarded by party members as a successful one. Would you care to elaborate here on why you regard it as successful?

  7. Conor McCabe

    July 2, 2010 7:12 am

    William, John Goodwillie is a long-time and respected activist on Irish Green and left issues. He is the author of the 1988 pamphlet, Colours in the rainbow : ecology, socialism and Ireland. He was also a founder member (in 1971) of the Socialist Workers Movement (Ireland), and was involved with the Socialist Labour Party of the late 1970s, which was led at the time by Matt Merrigan and Noel Browne. In the late 1960s, when Brendan Corish was telling all and sundry that “the seventies will be socialist”, John Goodwillie was expelled from the Labour party for being left-wing.

  8. LeftAtTheCross

    July 2, 2010 9:30 am

    Interesting journey in life from SWM to GP.

    I was reading a paper last night entitled “Rewarding the Wealthy versus Looking After the Poor: Affectice Perception of ‘Right’ and ‘Left’ by Candidates in the 2007 Irish General Elections”. It analysed how the candidates themselves viewed their party positions on the left-right spectrum. Surprisingly all parties ended up somewhat left-of-centre, which maybe says something about where the centre is perceived to be by society at large in this state. It also reinforced the general view that FF / FG simply cannot be distinguished using
    a left/right measure.

    Anyhow in relation to the Greens, the paper found that the views of the Green candidates placed their party to the left of centre, as far left as Labour (!) but with a variance which on the right end had an overlap with FF and the PDs! That might be accounted for by the Greens positioning themselves outside classical left/right politics to some extent, but it would suggest that the party contains individuals whose history is diverse, including life-long socialists like John above presumably.

    The paper’s authors make the point that the analysis of the Greens was pre-election. One would imagine that post-election, arising from coalition with FF/PD, that the disenchantment/loss of the left-leaning Green party members now puts the party reasonably stringly right of centre, as perceived by the party members themselves.

    Which is a pity. Maybe Fis Nua will pick up that part of the eco-leaning population.

  9. Pope Epopt

    July 2, 2010 12:29 pm

    Hey OK – I’ll spell it out. It would have paid FF to make sure about 150 of their supporters joined the Green Party at the beginning of the coalition and attended the extraordinary general meeting that allowed the NAMA disaster to go through.

    Given the simultaneous rapid lurch to the right of the GP in government, this would suffice to ensure that financial self-servicers got well and truly serviced by us.

    Whether it happened that way or not, I’ve no idea, but the notion is not contra-indicated of FF’s power-by-any-means culture or the Green’s political naivety.

  10. LeftAtTheCross

    July 2, 2010 1:18 pm

    Pope, you do have a suspicious mind there. Tend to agree with you though, it would make a lot of sense. You’d sort of wonder though whether FF sleepers would be able to get away with it, wouldn’t they stand out like a sore thumb at the GP party meetings and that?

  11. Pope Epopt

    July 2, 2010 2:06 pm

    Intriguing scenario to work through in one’s head, LATC.

    I don’t know – you would have to choose the right supporters – not your stereotypical FF supporter, but FF is sufficiently broad church for this. Give them a one-day course or even a briefing pack and they would blend in pretty well.

    Remember that this is a middle-class and very polite party, with a model of forming consensus rather than factions. You are not going to be hauled over the coals by an Industrial Department for diverging from party ideology. Also there is no delegate structure, that I’m aware of, so you’re vote counts. Admirably democratic, but ripe for entryism.

    Just don’t mention class and power and be ‘concerned about the environment’ and you’re in like Flynn. You probably don’t have to turn up for meetings even, just the policy making conventions.

  12. Donagh

    July 2, 2010 3:27 pm

    Ha! Reminds me of that bit in the Michael Moore film where a group of down home, book club joining, cookie making activists find out that one of their members is an undercover cop when he gets knocked down and his real identity is reported in the newspaper. And those very bad Russian spies who seem who look like All American Kids, even down to their facebook profile.

    While the idea of sleeper FF Green members is tantilizing, I can’t imagine that FF members could be so dishonest ;-)

  13. William Wall

    July 2, 2010 7:05 pm

    At least our dog Trotsky is happy that houses with fewer than six breeding bitches won’t be barred from breeding. This even though he’s been neutered. He suffers some kind of pre-neuter delusion, I suppose.

  14. Pope Epopt

    July 3, 2010 12:11 am

    I joined my local Green party under six different pseudonyms and attend the meetings alternately in disguise.

    Ms. Peppermint Essence, the homeopathic dominatrix, is IMHO a masterpiece of the art of drag. Or perhaps they are just too polite to call me on it.

  15. William Wall

    July 3, 2010 6:43 am

    Thanks for the heads-up about John Goodwillie, Conor. But I’d still like to hear it from a GP activist -especially one with John’s credentials. Does he think the strategy of collaborating with FF was successful, and if so, how? My own view is that both FF and FG make perfect partners for the GP. In fact, I’d go so far as to see the GP as the green wing of either party. The Greens have come a long way from their founding days and now seem to be little more than an eco-friendly right wing grouping. There is only left and right politics – all ‘third ways’ inevitably turn out to be varieties of the latter.

  16. Small Girl

    July 3, 2010 8:53 am

    Sorry William, I’m not a GP activist.

    I think the whole GP difficulty stems from the fact that they are very compromised about where they draw the dirty line in the sand with FF. They’re not majority in government for a start. Critics have been talking about FF and short term gains which sits well with getting re-elected but the GP’s gains seem to be long term. Change something now for the future of the planet which is a general gain for all people and people don’t like change without immediate gain.

    The other problem for the GP is that eco gains are not always social gains. Eg. water. We so need to address water; infrastructure, quality, sewage, and usage. People get a huge amount of value from the water they use (showers, cups of tea, cooking the dinner, watering your plants or vegetables, washing the car or windows, etc etc). It’s not like pay parking which is like the privitisation of public space and you’re wondering why you have to pay to park your car in your local town in order to go to your local post office (before that too is closed due to restructuring). It’s doesn’t feel like value. Water has to be addressed. The crux of the political wrangling is that people on the giro and the working poor will have to pay for something else that they can’t really afford. If you bring in a meter and an allowance, the people on the giro and the working poor will limit what they use and the folks with more cash don’t have to unless they want to. If you treat water as a public social good and government provides it for all the usage problem is never really addressed. I value it because I remember getting water with my mother from a pump up the road when I was a child (no flush toilets either and that was only the 70s) people today take it for granted and don’t even realise how much they need water. But take a look at the majority world to see how important it is. On the other hand look at the bin charges and waste is still an issue. It’s a conundrum.

    So this is the problem with the GP who have left supporters and I think the left supporters will always trump for the social gains over the eco gains. Maybe if all these green jobs appeared where people were able to get off the dole and into water jobs it mightn’t appear so painful. Would that be eco-left or still eco-right?

  17. William Wall

    July 3, 2010 9:47 am

    Hi Small Girl. I too spent the first 10 years of my life in a house with no running water, tearing the Cork Examiner into strips for the ‘privy’ down the garden. Happy days my arse (so to speak). Water from a tap is indeed a minor miracle.
    I see the cleft stick that you’re talking about. But the same is true for many policies – people don’t necessarily see banking regulation, for example, as a social good, because it makes it harder to get loans and mortgages – although nationalisation might have a better chance of being seen as a social good nowadays! Still, government are required to make decisions on behalf of the public good, and they will often be difficult ones. The question is which decisions do they make. The present government mainly (or completely) makes right-wing decisions, therefore the parties in power are right-wing. GP included.
    By putting FF back in the driving seat, the Greens have given them a chance to redeem themselves in the eyes of the idiots who voted for them all these years. An ‘upswing’ in the economy (with the help of their friends in the multinationals of course – and never mind the unemployment statistics) is all the newspapers need to start billing FF as the steady hand at the helm and all that crap. We’ll be back with a tent at the races before we know it.
    We need those idiots to be disaffected if we’re going to change anything. The supposed long-term gains of the GP will disappear very quickly if FF gets back with some combination of independents or even FG, and Ireland will be doomed to be little USA for our lifetime and beyond.
    This is the nub of why I find it hard to forgive the Greens. Add that to the fact that they abandoned their manifesto to get into bed with the developers’ party, and backtracked on the Shannon troops issue. Even the manifesto was just tinkering with the system. What claim do they have to be a new kind of politics now?
    Petra Kelly once said something like: “if we don’t do the impossible, we’ll be faced with the unthinkable”. What’s unthinkable is another seventy years of FF The Corruption Party.

  18. Small Girl

    July 3, 2010 10:18 am

    William you have a hardy arse like my own.

    The Greens are probably engaging to try and change what they can because to not engage goes nowhere either. It’s a shifty compromise. Labour might be facing shifty compromises with FG, maybe not either. But I see what you’re saying. Reminds me of Macbeth “screw your courage to the sticking place”. We had great fun switching that line around in school!

  19. William Wall

    July 3, 2010 10:25 am

    Oh MacB always comes in handy. How about, ‘We are so far stepped in in blood, to return were as tedious as go o’er’?
    Vis-avis, the Cork Examiner, my arse is not as hardy as it used to be. As my grandmother would have said, I’m farting on a velvet cushion now, by comparison with those days. But we won’t dwell on our posteriors! We’ll leave that subject behind.

  20. John Goodwillie

    July 3, 2010 10:51 pm

    Thanks, Conor, for the write-up.

    In answer to William Wall’s “Does he think the strategy of collaborating with FF was successful, and if so, how?” It has been successful in getting real green reforms through. The price for that has been collaboration in a lot of things that we would not have wished to do; but that is the logic of reformism. I don’t agree that there is only left and right, but even if that was true you still have to decide whether any reformist road is worthwhile. To accuse a reformist party of accepting the necessary compromises of participating in a coalition government makes no sense.

    You have to make a political judgment as to whether any credible alternative version of post-2007 history would have achieved more for the green cause.

  21. William Wall

    July 4, 2010 7:49 am

    John, to expand a little on my left-right dichotomy: I believe it’s possible, and indeed right, to be socialist and green. But it’s also possible to be neoliberal and green. An intelligent rightwinger has as much stake in saving the planet as anyone else. I accept that a party in coalition must make adjustments, and each party must try to advance its agenda. The question vis-a-vis Labour in a possible coalition after the next election really comes down to how big the left component is, and this, of course, points to the fact the the GP is a tiny party beside the FF monolith.
    However, special problems apply to coalition with FF. This is the party of corruption, of developers, of neoliberalism; the party that has pushed privatisation and co-location (the PDs were only ever the ideological wing of FF) and all the other stuff. It’s the party that has ruined our transport infrastructure and wasted the money that might have improved it on useless tax cuts. Now it’s the party that has mortgaged our future to save the banks and the developers. If any serious politics is to take place in Ireland FF must be demolished.
    It seems to me that the GP has thrown its weight behind this these policies. It will end up supporting all those policies and its gains will be miniscule – no more than tinkering with bits and pieces of legislation like the two I mention in the piece above.
    The Greens have moved definitively to the right by going into coalition with Fianna Fail. I always gave a vote to the Greens and in recent elections (they shifted the boundary of my constituency so I now have no choice) the GP was the only party that I felt I *could* vote for. I think I will abstain or spoil my vote next time round.I think you’ll have lost a lot of transfers from the left. You’ll probably gain more, of course, from transfers from FF. In that sense your strategy has been successful.
    I’m writing as someone who considers himself to be green. Our household is as green as we can make it – not because of party allegiance but because it makes sense – and one who was always friendly to the green agenda. But you’ve been swallowed by FF. I can’t stomach that.

  22. John Goodwillie

    July 5, 2010 5:19 pm

    William,
    List of some substantial reforms obtained by Green Party:
    Increased revenue from future oil and gas finds.
    Schemes for retrofitting houses to higher energy standards.
    New insulation standards for new houses.
    Introduction of carbon budgets.
    New CO2-based car tax.
    New planning guidelines.
    Schemes for electric cars.
    Major shifts in energy policy towards renewable energy.
    Building Energy Ratings.
    New nitrates regulations.
    and within the next couple of weeks:
    Planning Act, Civil Partnership Act, banning of stag hunting, regulation of puppy farms.

  23. John Goodwillie

    July 5, 2010 5:30 pm

    William,

    You are right about Fianna Fáil, but you ignore the alternatives. Where was the alternative coalition that would have avoided co-operation with Fianna Fáil? And what alternative way of dealing with the banks was compatible with the capitalist system and would have meant us putting in less money?

    I don’t know how many transfers we’ll get from Fianna Fáil. But success is not to be measured by how many votes we get, but by what we achieve.

  24. Pope Epopt

    July 5, 2010 10:56 pm

    Dear John,

    Many of the new regulations you mentioned above as Green Party achievements would have been forced on any government who had signed the relevant EU treaties to abide by EU regulations.

    Here’s a way within the capitalist system to deal with the financial crisis that would have cost us much less: A structured default like the one achieved by Uraguay in 2002.

    Sorry, but it was the utter lack of nous and cojones within the Green Party in government that is largely responsible for the capitulation to the ambush by the banks in September 2008 and it’s dire consequences. The Green party could have stopped this nonsense in it’s tracks. Eamon Ryan and Dan Boyle are particularly at fault, since they are looked to as the economic ‘experts’ in the party.

  25. William Wall

    July 6, 2010 7:22 am

    I agree with The Pope (above). In addition, these worthy initiatives pale into insignificance by comparison with what the GP has actually signed up to – especially NAMA and the Anglo farce. Ireland is still a shit-broke country with the same people in power as have been in power since 1932 with the occasional break in transmission. The honourable thing for ANY party to have done in 2007 was to say: No coalition with FF and let them stew in their own juices. FF believes in its own entitlement to the ownership and management of Ireland Inc, as they fondly refer to it.

    In the meantime here are two opportunities for the Greens: “Manifesto: Housing – Ensure the delivery of 10,000 social and affordable housing units a year until the housing waiting lists are cleared.” Conor McCable estimates that there are almost 300,000 surplus housing units in this country now, of which a good portion are decently built. Conversely, he estimates that there may be as many as 100,000 on the housing waiting list one way or the other. That seems to me to be a solution to two problems. If these houses do not end up in NAMA (and therefore public ownership) nationalise them.

    “Political Reform – Ban corporate donations to political parties.” No cost whatever to the state. No need to replace this funding.

    As regards an alternative way of dealing with the banks: at the time even capitalist economists – of which we have a gross oversupply – were suggesting nationalisation, admittedly of the capitalist ‘we’ll nationalise it temporarily’ kind. Better again, a structured default, as suggested by The Pope.

  26. John Goodwillie

    July 8, 2010 8:56 pm

    As far as structured defaults are concerned, I have no expertise. The best Google can come up with is “Successful aggregation or exchange of bonds into other types of bonds that allow restructuring, or successful use of exit consents in debt restructuring so far is limited to small countries (Ecuador, Uruguay, Moldova) with relatively small debts vis-à-vis other countries, and only after some period of negotiation once extreme debt unsustainability is evident.” (http://www.networkideas.org/featart/feb2004/joseph_lim.pdf) Doesn’t sound very hopeful.

    As far as nationalisation is concerned, what I asked was “what alternative way of dealing with the banks was compatible with the capitalist system and would have meant us putting in less money?” Of course nationalisation is compatible with the capitalist system, but would it have meant putting in less money?