In this election you have the power to do one of two things:
1. You can empower the government parties (Fine Gael & Fianna Fail) and reaffirm the political status quo; or
2. You can vote for change and create a fairer more equal society.
Option 1 allows you to say that a two year wait on basic medical treatment is absolutely fine.
That 10,000 people (including 4,000 children) spending Christmas in a B&B or hotel is grand.
That our children being educated in the most cramped class sizes in the EU is a non-issue.
Or that ensuring a healthy planet for our kids and their kids is totally unneccesary.
Logically, if you’re a FF or FG candidate and you get elected, you’ll think the electorate has endorsed your policies and you’ll continue spreading your misery during the next Dail term.
Option 2 does two things. It punishes the political parties who’ve fucked up our society, yet it also provides others with an opportunity to fix it and improve our lives.
There is a third option. You can stay at home and not vote and say, “Sure, they’re all the fuckin’ same anyway,” and then continue to bitch and moan for another five years.
Change is possible, but it will only happen if we have a very large turnout. And the people who normally return Fine Gael and Fianna Fail to power are the non-voters, mostly from working class areas, particularly young people.
In the 2016 election, while there was a 65% turnout overall, some of the more deprived parts of Dublin Central had a turnout of 22% whereas the Howth Road polling station had almost four times the turnout at 81%. As you can see, the most popular political choice taken is by the “Did Not Vote” brigade.
But if I vote for change, it’ll destroy the economy?
Absolute bollox. That’s what the vested interests want you to believe. And we’re all vested interests.
My own vested interest is in providing a decent healthcare system for myself and my family. It’s in ensuring that friends and relatives don’t have to live with their parents for the rest of their lives. And it’s making sure my child has a decent school to go to and they teacher doesn’t have to learn crowd control techniques.
The vested interests of elements of the media are slightly different though.
If you’re a radio presenter on €500,000 a year, the public healthcare system might not be top of your priority list, but the extra taxes left-wing parties are asking you to pay might be a bit of a concern.
You can’t say that publicly though, so you distract voters by trying to get them to focus on personalities, or, as we’ve seen this week, a comment made in 2007, instead of discussing health or housing, or any of the key scandals in recent years…and there’s been plenty of them (Cevical Cancer, Swing Gate, insurance rip-offs, Maurice McCabe, etc).
The taxation plans put forward by those classified as “left-wing” are far from radical. They’re actually standard in most EU countries. I personally don’t agree with a lot of what’s in Sinn Fein’s manifesto, or People Before Profits, or Independents4Change’s positions, or any of the others, but they’re a damn site better than the “everything must provide a profit for our buddies” brigade at Fianna Fail and Fine Gael headquarters.
When we’re told increasing taxes on the wealthy, landlords or on multinationals will lead to them fleeing the country, remember that Sweden has more multinational employees than Ireland and they’re doing just fine with much higher taxes than us. Denmark’s economy hasn’t collapsed, and the Germans don’t have the hospital crisis that we have.
That’s because they have higher taxes on the well-off than we do. It is entirely possible to have a healthcare system like Sweden, a housing system like Austria, and an education system like Denmark, we just have to have the balls to vote for change.
Oh, and when Fine Gael tell you that they’re the only ones you can trust with the economy, forget the spin and remember how they’ve mismanaged the economy with the below:
· An overspend of €2.1 billion on the National Childrens Hospital,
· Spent €500 million on useless water meters.
· €3bn spent on a national broadband plan that hands a contract to their mates.
· €1 billion per year going to private landlords through the HAP/RAS and emergency accomodation schemes.
· €5 million spent on a special communications unit.
· €67 million spent on the public services card fiasco.
· A €40 million tax cut for millionaire executives (KEEP and SARP schemes).
· A carbon tax on grannies heating their homes but not applied to the airline fuel of Denis O’Brien flying to Malta to avoid his taxes in Ireland.
· €7.5 million spent on legal fees for the Irish government in trying to avoid receiving €13 billion from Apple.
· No corporation tax for banks who charge the highest interest rates in the EU.
So who to vote for?
Firstly, I’m not a member of any political party, and never have been. These are just my personal preferences based on two things:
1. My experience working with the candidates and their parties.
2. The parties that signed up to the Right2Change Policy Principles (right to housing, healthcare, education, etc) and agreed to work together to have them implemented.
I’ve been lucky enough to help coordinate two campaigns. One was Right2Water and the other was the campaign to abolish zero hour contracts and give workers secure hours and incomes.
On both of those campaigns, Sinn Fein and Independents4Change were the main political drivers who cooperated with the trade unions. Joan Collins (I4C), David Cullinane (SF), Thomas Pringle TD (I4C), Eoin O’Brion TD (SF) and John Brady TD (SF) were invaluable. People Before Profit were also key, with Richard Boyd Barrett, among others, playing a leading role.
That’s why in my constituency I’ll be voting for Dean Mulligan (Ind4Change) and giving a number two to Sinn Fein’s Louise O’Reilly.
In the hope of achieving progressive change, I’ll be transfering all the way down to left-wing candidates, starting with People Before Profit and the Social Democrats. I’ll then move to the centre candidates in an effort to keep out the establishment parties and the far right.
Even if we don’t achieve a left-wing government, and if we’re realistic, it’s unlikely, the more of the above candidates that are elected the better. They will hold the government to account and hopefully build for the next election…which may not be too far away. A Dail without the likes of Joan Collins, David Cullinane, Thomas Pringle, Catherine Connolly and Eoin O’Broin would be a signifantly weakend one. A Dail with them included, along with dozens more new faces standing up for working people (like Dean Mulligan, Saoirse McHugh and Declan Bree) would be a much more progressive one.
In this election we get the opportunity to be political jurors. We get to stand in judgement of all our political candidates. Like any trial, you should disregard the irrelevant personality based tripe, and focus on the evidence before you. Policies.
Are FF and FG guilty of mass negligence on housing, health, education, inequality, low pay, insecure and precarious work, poverty levels, climate change…. etc. If you believe they are, and you believe we can do better, and that we deserve better, vote for change.