It is unsurprising but still hugely disappointing to hear Éamonn Ryan of the Green Party come out so strongly in favour of going into coalition again with Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil on Morning Ireland this morning. Ryan also said recently that he would go in if they get even as much as 6 seats, which is nothing more than mudguard territory.
There is a real contradiction within the bulk of the opposition parties right now. On the one hand, they want to talk about how Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have destroyed this country. On the other, they want to keep the door open to working with them.
Anyone who has seen the horrors brought to this country by the FG-FF cycle would be forgiven for thinking we are ruled by psychopaths. But it is in not a psychopathic drive that has them do what they do, but class interest. They serve the 1% and as such their interests are diametrically opposed to the interests of the majority.
And whatever chance you might have of working with psychopaths, it is absolutely impossible to work with people whose interests collide so dramatically with our own.
Moreover, we do have prior experience to learn from. Some might be too young to remember the Greens last stint in government with Fianna Fáil – austerity, hundreds of buses taken off the roads, the sell-out of Shell to Sea, etc.
The betrayal of the Shell to Sea campaign in particular has not been forgotten by the environmental activists involved. Ryan appeared at protests holding “Support the Rossport 5” signs. He then went into government and defended their actions as the Gardaí pounded their way through those protesting against the drilling.
If there are any illusions that the Greens are different now, their actions in local councils is a more recent indication of where they’re at: working with Fianna Fáil in many local councils, cutting the retro-fitting budget in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, selling off O’Devaney Gardens in Dublin City, to name a few things.
Ryan this morning made it clear that he believes this is the way politics works. You have to be in government, you have to talk to the people who are driving us off the side of an environmental cliff, who are driving thousands into homelessness, who are pushing so many people living here into despair.
But there is another way of doing politics. And that is to vehemently oppose the forces that have brought us to the brink, and to build people-powered opposition that can challenge them and drag them kicking and screaming to where we want them to be.
The Labour Party went into government in 2011 with Éamonn Gilmore telling us it would be “Labour’s way or Frankfurt’s way”. Austerity was piled onto us by Labour in partnership with FG.
Labour did not save us. It was the people who stood up together, got organised and fought back with the water charges movement that beat back the assault on working people and put the fear into the Right.
Labour went into government with the promise of a referendum on the 8th amendment. Their term passed and this never happened. Instead it was people getting out on the streets in their tens of thousands and dragged Fine Gael into this century. The Damascene conversion of Leo Varadkar on this issue is a testament to the strength of the movement.
This is the kind of politics that People Before Profit want to build. Our environmental policies are in fact, far more ambitious than those of the Green Party (see https://eco.pbp.ie), but it is where we believe the change can come from that really separates us from them and the so-called centre left parties. We want to be a megaphone in the Dáil for those who are out on the streets. We want to build people power and democracy from the bottom up.
In short, we want to break the rule of Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil and fight for genuine, meaningful change, not just change the names and faces of the people at the top.