Fine Gael made water one of their ‘red lines’-they said they would never back down. Yet now we are looking at a ‘suspension’ of the charge until a commission decides what to do in nine months. This is a massive blow to the credibility of Fine Gael amongst their right wing support base.
The biggest mass movement in a generation made water a key issue for the election campaign and polarised the country – with working class areas strongly against and wealthy areas strongly for the charge.
Faced with a mass boycott the opportunist politicians in Fianna Fail realised they could win votes by inscribing ‘abolition’ of the charge on their banner. But the much vaunted Fianna Fail ‘recovery’ was nothing but wishful thinking on the part of a right wing media. Fianna Fail had their second worst election only winning back small numbers of rural and older voters.
The radicalisation of working class communities was evident in the large vote for the left. The traditions of decades were broken as the vote of the establishment fell leaving neither of the Tory parties capable of forming a government.
Instead of opening the issue of water charges to a vote in the Dail Fianna Fail cooperated with Fine Gael in a backroom deal whereby Fianna Fail wouldn’t be forced to live up to their promises and vote with the resolution from thirty nine TDs to abolish the charge and Irish Water.
They understand something we need to- that the complete abolition of the charge would be such a significant victory for people power that the weakened establishment would find it difficult to resist movements demanding housing or health or growing demands from striking workers for our share or the ‘recovery’.
That’s not to say the kind of social change we need will be easily won- it won’t. The wealthy backers of parties like Fine Gael and Fianna Fail still hold immense wealth with which they can buy politicians and the media. Rich developers are making a killing from inflated property prices and bloated rents- and will resist any move to build social housing.
But what the water movement shows is that we have a greater strength than we are taught to believe- people power works. And when the power of mass protest links up with the power of workers to strike, with the aim of building a society worth living in, our class is formidable.
This is why we need socialists in the movement. For socialists the key to changing society is that working class people stand up for themselves. We connect every single fight against the system to a vision of an Ireland where the wealth is used by the majority of people for the benefit of the majority.
People have broken from the establishment and the Church but haven’t yet been won to radical politics- in that situation of massive flux ruling class parties like Fianna Fail can try to pose as friends of the people.
We need to expose them for what they are while winning people to an understanding that we need a new society- one where we have more than a sham democracy – where votes are blocked, a society where the wealthy are forced to pay so that we can house everyone, a society where worker’s voices help in directing the policies that shape their lives.
In a word we need ‘socialism’. We need you to join us.
Text JOIN to 0863074060.