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Submission to Right 2 Water Campaign

category national | elections / politics | opinion/analysis author Saturday May 02, 2015 19:40author by Pat Waine Report this post to the editors

Democratic Input and a left policy platform

The piece deals with how an initiative by R2W should be addressed. It argues for a left alternative to be clearly presented in any initative that is democratic broad and open.

Democratic Input and a left policy platform are key to any new initiative coming out of the Water charges movement.

The recent initiative by “Right 2 Water” could represent a real move to form a fighting working class alternative to the right wing parties that have dominated Irish political life for decades.
However a conference of handpicked people who were deemed to “represent” us all was a poor attempt to start off the initiative. The Union leadership within “Right to water” invited the three pillars along on may day
1. The unions involved had their representatives
2. The Political parties who support R2W had their representatives.
3. The community sector including water charges campaigns had their “representatives”.
The local water charges campaigns had no input into who represented them at this conference , It could be argued that the unions and the political parties were at least able to select who represented their organisations at the conference but local water charges campaigns were not given that opportunity.
Democracy
Democratic input is vital as is a democratic structure in any political initiative if we hope to build a mass movement out of it. The key question that all activists should ask about the democracy in this initiative is.
Should the water charges campaigns select who represents them? The answer is clearly yes.
We as a movement need to see more democracy brought into the decision making mechanism if our movement is to thrive. Hopefully for the second conference this will be corrected.
Need for left initiative
Before deciding on a political policy platform I think that it is vital that we start at the beginning. We need first to agree what brought us to where we are and then set about fixing it.
In Ireland since the formation of the state we have been governed by right wing free market economics.
The main parties of established Ireland have opened the economy to spivs and speculators both national and international and these have fed off our people and our national resources .Witness how shell was treated in Ireland and how nearly all our national utilities are now in private hands. The recent move by Government with regard to the transport service is a continuation of that privatisation policy. We must clearly stand against that philosophy of Neo liberalism.
No to Privatisation and no to the neo liberal agenda!
Water Charges
We should all support the scrapping of Irish water and water charges but we must also clearly call for non payment if that movement is to succeed in achieving our goals. No Government will take any of our demands seriously if we cannot deliver a mass boycott of the water bills. Holding a conference based around the water charges campaign without making a call for people not to pay the water bills is an incredible mistake by our movement.

Wages and workers rights
We should ensure that under any Government supported by our movement that workers are treated fairly with not just a statutory minimum wage but a living wage. To assist workers achieving this we need to remove Industrial relations law that prohibits effective industrial action. We only have to look at the recent dispute at Greyhound where the unionised workers would still be standing outside their place of employment if they had remained within the strict Industrial relations law.
We demand that the industrial relations act be repealed to ensure that workers have a right to effectively defend their living and working conditions.
Housing and building in Ireland
We should demand a mass campaign of house building by the state to clear the housing list and provide employment to building workers also. We should also address the need to change the building regulations to have water harvesting and conservation mechanisms included by law. These were also demands we made way back in the original water charges campaign in the 1990’s. We need also to address the price of land and initiate law to cut across land speculation which was one of the drivers in the property bubble that later crashed our economy.
Health services
All health services should be provided free at the point of use including GP services. Nowhere in the public services is it more clear where private operators are lining their pockets out of human misery than in our health service/and related areas.
The “Voluntary” health Insurance scam should be made voluntary ie in private hospitals and should not be included in our public services. All should be able to access services based on medical need and no other criteria.
Police services
Our police service should be democratically controlled and really answerable to public scrutiny. Structures should be put in place to ensure that this is the case and that local communities decide the policing that is enacted in their areas.

Politics and coalitions
We should clearly set ourselves to the left of the political spectrum. Not for any macho reasons but because we believe in left economic solutions. The right have failed the Irish people , the middle have moved to the right. We have to give people a clear perspective for change. Change that can answer the needs of the people and show a way out of the mess that is Ireland today. I believe that a movement showing a left perspective would achieve a huge response from working people if it was backed up by unions and fought for in a real way within the working class. I believe that any movement we support should refuse entry into any coalition with the parties of the right .This should be fundamental to our thinking and guard against the mistakes made by Labour down through the decades.

Wealth tax
A wealth tax should be introduced and a cap imposed on Corporation tax that ensures that we at a very minimum achieve full compliance with any rate that we decide on. By this I mean if we have a corporation tax at 18% all pay 18%.

Conclusion
These are my early views and I have tried to cover some of the issues covered in the Document by Right 2 Water “Policy Principles for a progressive Irish Government”. The fundamentals for me are that we should have a democratic forum to debate the way forward that includes the campaigns nominating delegates going forward etc. That we clearly map out a left perspective opposing the rule of the parties of the right, ruling out coalitions ,defending workers rights and supporting people with a progressive taxation system that ensures all pay according to their means.

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