Labour, a party in the death throes

De Facto

Liamy MacNally

In a statement last week, An Tánaiste, Joan Burton, said that questions about the government’s failure to secure an EU deal on its legacy bank debt are ‘redundant.’ Why? Because the country is no longer in a bailout situation and the economy is surging forward!
It would be great if someone close to her would be kind enough to wake her up, even gently. Such statements have no place in today’s Ireland, following the recent dose of FF/Green government and a similar mould under FG/Labour. In case she has forgotten, Irish taxpayers bailed out the banks to the tune of some €25 billion just after the crash to recapitalise them. And that was for starters!
Over €30 billion was needed for Anglo and Nationwide, which ended up as a promissory note from the government. Anglo and Nationwide then used it as collateral to borrow money from the Central Bank. This meant the government had to pay over €3 billion every year to IBRC (Anglo with a new name) until 2023 with smaller payments to follow until 2031.
The government pays IBRC. They pay the Central Bank and they destroy the money. The reason is simple – Ireland is not allowed to ‘print’ money. Under the Maastricht Treaty only the ECB can do that!
And the reason the government ‘bailed out’ Anglo is because if the bank failed then it could create a crisis across Europe. Instead, the Irish taxpayer was forced to stem the threat to Europe, thanks to our politicians. Was the burden shared across Europe? Cue the famous line – ‘Will we get a receipt for this?’ Then cue the answer!
The promissory note was eventually ‘changed’ into a long-term debt repayment plan, with Anglo IBRC liquidated. It means the debt was spread over 40 years, so future generations will also bear it. There is nothing ‘redundant’ about that Ms Burton.
It makes you wonder about Labour. It has completely lost its way politically. No longer does it seem interested in ‘the working class’ or any class, apart from the elite that it now serves. It appears to have traded its interest in political realities to being a cheerleader for social issues.
This is the same Labour leader who cocked her nose at the procedure to use the Public Appointment Service (PAS) when appointing people to state boards. Former ICTU secretary general David Begg was appointed directly by An Tánaiste to chair the Pensions Authority. She is a Minister. She is entitled to make direct appointments, but why bypass the PAS?
With no reference to the PAS all it does is scream ‘stroke politics’ is still alive and well. Move over Fianna Fáil…and Fine Gael. Sure, Ms Burton will justify her decision. That’s what politicians do. Apologies do not come easy to Irish TDs.
She now faces a vote of no confidence in the Dáil this week. Labour needs that attention like it needs a headache. For some reason it seems that the party has a political death wish. It has sold out on most issues and frankly, stands for very little, if anything. What a way for a party of the working class, to be subsumed by a corporate mind set.
Labour will evaporate at the next election, thanks to successive members in government being more interested in sustaining the lifestyles of the elite rather than their membership. All those in power will ride off into the election sunset with their pensions and allowances saddlebags bursting to obscenity.
Those who are valued and trusted members of the party will be left to pick up the pieces of a shattered political landscape. Grassroots Fianna Fáil members know the feeling. They experienced it after the last election. It is a leadership betrayal.   
Labour, as it stands, is not fit for purpose; more intent on cosying up to a media- friendly liberal social agenda far removed from the harsh reality many members face, coping with the austerity virus. The Labour elite must learn that party members cannot live on a social legislation agenda.
Once again, a political party has been sold out to appease the mutual benefits of corporate and EU interests. That’s what needs to become redundant.