Ireland: National Government a step too far... for now - Labour needs a socialist programme

News that Green Party Leader John Gormley would like to see a National Government to sort out the crisis in the economy has now been replaced with the revelation that he believes it’s “too early” to talk about such things. However, it appears that moves are afoot on behalf of the Green Party to draw the opposition parties into cross party talks around plans for the €7bn super budget which will be presented by Brian Lenihan to cover the next four years.

The idea of a government of national unity isn’t unheard of. They tend, like the National Government of 1931 in Britain, to be governments of crisis. Indeed, it is precisely because of the deep crisis faced by the state just now, which seems to have focused the minds of the Green Party at least. The problem for the ruling class is, however, that uniting all of the parties together in a time of crisis inevitably discredits them all after a period.

The Independent reported this morning on the pressures behind the scenes stated the following:

“The development came as the European Central Bank (ECB) became the latest international body to state the importance of adhering to deadlines and commitments on the public finances given by the Government.

“And it follows the warning by ratings agency Fitch on Wednesday that we could face another crippling downgrade unless ‘broad-based political support’ was achieved on fixing the deficit.

“Europe's top central banker yesterday said that the four-year budget plan must be ‘highly credible’ to ward off spiralling borrowing costs and sluggish growth. Speaking after meeting with the bloc's 27 central bank governors   including Professor Patrick Honohan   Jean-Claude Trichet said that Ireland's goal was ‘absolutely clear’.

“ ‘It is extremely important that the Irish Government takes all the appropriate decisions that would permit... a highly credible path towards the sustainability of public finances.’

“He said it was essential that the Government met a 2014 deadline to close the €19bn gap in the public finances. ‘Your goal is absolutely clear,’ he said.”

The catch phrase of Mission Impossible was “Your mission should you decide to accept it”. However, it’s not quite clear as to whether Gormley’s mission was to make the suggestion or whether he was acting independently in trying to seek an agreement. The twist in the Mission Impossible story being of course that the mission was deniable by the powers that be. No doubt the powers that be at Leinster House, Messrs Cowen and Lenihan, would not like to take the chance.

The call for a National Government undoubtedly reflects the desire of the Irish ruling class and the European Central Bank to resolve the crisis on their terms. The prospect of a Labour led coalition that would be susceptible to pressure from below is potentially worrying for the bourgeois. But the main reason why the call for a National Government is likely to be rejected is because the Labour Party and the Fine Gael are confident that they will be in power after the next election and don’t want to be tarred with the same brush as Fianna Fáil and the Greens.

The Greens are in a particularly vulnerable position, facing wipe out in the next election. For Gormley any life line is a good thing. Given the crisis in the government maybe they think it’s time to jump ship. Unfortunately for them there are no takers.

But the key thing from the point of view of Fightback is this: a national government is a last throw of the dice. It would be a sign that the bourgeois had no solution to the problems that they face. They can’t rule in the old way. The fact that it’s been raised at all is significant. It is most likely, however, that such a drastic move will be kept in reserve to be rolled out maybe if Labour managed to come very close to winning a majority government or was in a position to go into a coalition without either the Fine Gael of Fianna Fáil, which is not completely ruled out at the moment and particularly given the crisis facing Fianna Fáil.

Labour needs to maintain an independent position and develop a socialist programme that meets the needs of the working people of Ireland. The first part of the programme would be nationalisation of the banks and insurance companies with compensation only on the basis of genuinely demonstrated and proven need, together with the nationalisation of big industry and the land. It is only by breaking totally with capitalism that we can solve the problems that the capitalist system itself has created.

Source: Fightback (Ireland)