Labour out of touch with the anger of working people

22 March 2009

The call by the Labour Party leader Éamonn Gilmore on RTE radio on Sunday morning for the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, to intervene with the trade union movement to get it to call off the one-day strike on 30 March is yet another example of how out of touch the Labour Party is with the growing anger of the Irish people at the deepening economic crisis and the attempts by the Government to make working people pay for a crisis that is not of their making. 
     As this bankrupt Government prepares its emergency budget it must be meet with the full force of that anger so that it gets the message loud and clear. 
     Instead of leading working people, Éamonn Gilmore and the Labour leadership are falling in behind the Government, the employers, the serried ranks of economic spin doctors and the mass media, which, since the beginning of this crisis, have been attempting to continue with their their long campaign of attacks on workers’ living standards and the gains made by working people over many decades. They are using the crisis to implement their strategy. 
     It appears that the Labour Party and the Government are marching to the drumbeat of the ruling elites. Whether Éamonn Gilmore recognises it or not, there is a major struggle for the hearts and minds of the people. The hairy old chestnut of “We all did well under the Celtic Tiger, so we all must bear the burden and the responsibility for this crisis” is simply not true, no matter how many times they spin it on television or the air waves. 
     That struggle is all one way: the employers have not given up their attacks against workers, they are attempting to scapegoat public-sector workers and using every spin doctor to get public and private workers pitched against each other, while they steal away with all the social conditions and gains that workers have won. 
     The representatives or those who claim to speak for the labour movement have failed to recognise this fact. Working people can’t afford to wait for those who see all politics as mere debates in the vapid talking-shop of the Dáil. This will only lead working people into yet another cul-de-sac. 
     Éamonn should be leading the call for the unity of public and private-sector workers, calling for maximum support for the strike, to show clearly to the employers and their Government that workers are not prepared to lie down and be fobbed off with sterile homilies and harmless and futile debates. Now is not the time to demobilise but rather to intensify the pressure.