IRELAND: “Victory for the marginalised by the marginalised”
“People Before Profit is a 32 County party that stands in the tradition of James Connolly who predicted that partition would produce a carnival of reaction. We believe that the only way to bring people together across this island is by building a grassroots movement from below, based on people power and socialist politics, not one that is based on locking in the two existing Irish states.”
One of the most interesting victories in the fight against austerity was in northern Ireland, where two candidates from People Before Profit (PBP) won seats to the Northern Ireland Assembly.
West Belfast has long been a Sinn Fein stronghold and the former seat of party leader Gerry Adams. However, Sinn Fein together with the Democratic Unionist Party is implementing neo-liberal policies. “Under the latest ‘Fresh Start’ agreement, Sinn Féin is supporting the removal of 20,000 jobs in the public sector and has opened the door to a widespread sell-off of public assets. By contrast, it is planning to cut corporation tax on big business.”
While Sinn Fein speak ‘left’ in Dublin, they implement cuts and privatisation policies in the north.
In a further step in their relationship with the political elites the Sinn Fein leadership welcomed the British Ambassador to the 20116 Ard Fheis.
In contrast, after years of work campaigning in the community and fighting against austerity, PBP’s Gerry Carroll, who describes himself as a revolutionary socialist, topped the poll in the Republican heartland of West Belfast.
Against the odds in Foyle Derry, PFP’s Eamon McCann took the seat defeating Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness who was brought in to wrest one of the seats. McCann contested his first election there in 1969 and had never won. Now seventy-three he doubled his nearest rival’s votes campaigning on green and orange issues, fighting austerity and on the exact same issues he fought almost fifty years ago. Significantly in his acceptance speech he placed “a duty on all of us to take up women’s rights seriously” promising that “PBP will be defending and advancing … a woman’s right to choose.” He then led the audience in a rendition of the The Internationale. McCann is a journalist, writer and campaigner, a leading civil rights figure from the 1960s who has consistently campaigned on left wing issues.
The votes for People Before Profit are against austerity and against the support that Sinn Fein and the Social Democratic Labour Party give to neo-liberalism.
Their politics held sway with working class families in areas where there is a high level of unemployment and deprivation. PBP are 32 county campaigning organisation, for a united Ireland.
The Labour Party’s Sadiq Khan won the London Mayoral’s contest’, ending Tory Party control. Khan is the son of an immigrant, whose father was a bus driver and whose mother was a seamstress. The Tory candidate, Zac Goldsmith attacked Khan as a dangerous in a shamefully racist campaign, who had links with Muslim terrorist organisations. Khan received a decisive 1,310,143 votes.
Khan is not left wing, he is pro-business and is supporting Israel. No left-wing anti-austerity stood hence the working class had no alternative choice.
No doubt some workers including immigrants (whose communities form a majority of the population in London) voted against austerity, privatisation and racism. Khan is someone who will continue the right wing policies of former Tory Mayor Boris Johnson.
He will support the city bankers and attack the tube and other workers. Although public transport and housing are in deep crisis, his capitalist solutions will only deepen the crisis for a huge number of workers.
The Scottish election was held to return 129 members to the Scottish Parliament. It was the first parliamentary election in Scotland in which 16 and 17-year-olds were able to vote. The Scottish National Party took 63 seats (down 6), the Tories 31 seats (up 16) and Labour 24 (down 13), other seats went to the Green Party and Liberal Democrats.
The humiliation the Labour Party suffered in the 2015 general election continued, a party that used to govern Scotland was pushed into third place by the Tories.
The Scottish National Party is a national bourgeois party, but it is further to the left than Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party on some issues. This includes no tuition fees for university education in Scotland, and standing up to the bullying and blackmail of both Tory and Labour in the Scottish independence referendum last year.