Re-writing the script

We are living in a bubble. It cuts us off from the real world, it substitutes politics with tribalism, it offers nothing but a Groundhog Day view of the world and yet the majority of people here seem perfectly happy with it.

The cost-of-living crisis that is having a devastating effect on working people, families, pensioners and the young is being driven by profit taking, dividends to shareholders and plain old-fashioned greed.

Wage demands haven’t caused inflation. Capitalism has.

Inside the bubble

Yet here, inside our bubble, we are, once again without a Stormont Executive

We still have a segregated education system. We’re not building enough affordable public housing but instead happily force people into the clutches of the private rented sector. We have the longest health waiting lists on these islands, while our public services continue to be subjected to cuts, privatisation and profiteering.

Our economy is designed specifically to accommodate multi-national companies and is based on low wages, part time employment and deregulation.

Workers’ rights are trampled on as companies pursue a policy of ‘fire and re-hire’

Just and necessary pay demands are met with derisory offers that fall way short of inflation.  Working people are told they must tighten their belts and do without while  the top 350 companies on the London Stock Exchange  have had a 73% increase in their profits in the last three years.

All the while, inside our bubble, were told that our priorities are border polls and protocols.

Working people have made it possible

Working class people built this society. The infrastructure, the services, the rights, the housing and the health – we made all that, and more, possible.

We’ve had to defend those gains every step of the way. We’ve had to do it in the face of sustained, coordinated and vicious attacks from capital and conservative forces.

It’s time we burst the bubble – it’s time to rewrite the script in favour of those who deliver with their hands and brains for the common good – not for those who leech off our efforts, hive off the profits and divert out attention away from the realities they want to cover up.

The coming months will be a serious test for working people, their living standards, their quality of life and for the nature of the society we live in. It’s not a battle we can afford to lose.

It May Look Different, but it’s Same Old, Same Old

The media and the Big 5 parties have trailed this election as the most significant one in over twenty years. But what has really changed?

Workers Party candidates said consistently throughout the election campaign that the morning after polling day the big issues would remain, the cost of living, health, education, low pay and the environment. Nothing has changed that.

Beyond the rhetoric and the social media hype only the names on the doors have altered.

Thousands of working- class people voted in their droves for parties that do not, will not and cannot represent their interests.

Partly, that is because politics here has moved from a culture of representation and accountability to a big business circus replacing substance with glitz and glamour. That scenario has been re-enforced and replicated by sections of the media which treat politics here as a cross between a game show and a beauty contest.

The winners, once again, are the professional political classes, their media acolytes and the economic system they serve.

“The names on the doors have changed. Nothing else“.

The losers, once again, are working class people, public services, the young the old and the vulnerable. In that sense too, nothing has changed

The task of socialists, those on the left and other progressives is to present a coherent and class-based programme to challenge and counter the privatisation, low pay, zero hours and free market agenda of the big five parties.

It must remain our task to defend and to protect working class people,to speak out for their interests, to present and deliver the socialist alternative and to radically change this society and social system. That hasn’t change either.

Assembly Needs Major Reform

Later today the votes will be counted and the election results declared: but that doesn’t mean that we’ll have a working Assembly.

In the past four years we have seen the Executive collapsed twice, once by Sinn Fein for a period of three years and a few months ago by the DUP.

The structures established by the Good Friday Agreement have long since reached their sell by date. They are no longer fit for purpose and now stand in the way of effective develoved government.

The Assembly structures urgently need root and branch reform.

The starting point has to be getting rid of the sectarian and inoperable structures that the two main parties in particular continue to use, abuse and hide behind.

At a minimum, we need to move from mandatory to voluntary coalition, community designation requirements should be abolished and the Petition of Concern reformed to ensure that it can never again be used to veto social or equality legislation.

We cannot endure another five years of stop / start government. Immediate and far reaching reform is the only way in which a new Assembly can function effectively.

Collapsed Executive: neither positive nor progressive

The DUP’s collapsing of the Executive is neither a positive nor a progressive move.

Neither is the hand wringing of other parties about the work which cannot now be completed. It  rings very hollow given the Executive’s  appalling record of underachievement.

This level of political brinksmanship has never been occasioned by the scandalous levels of child poverty in our society, It has not been sought as a solution to hospital waiting llists, fuel  poverty, rising energy prices, homelessness, low pay or the rising reliance on food banks. 

Not only must the First Minister resume his responsibilities immediately, but the collective Executive should start delivering for the ordinary people that they have so readily abandoned.

The issues around the Protocol must be addressed, but this is not the way to do it