Voting for a Left alternative
THERE are nine days left. Seats will be won or lost on the basis of what each of us do and say in the remaining days of the campaign. Every vote is crucial. Including transfers.
For Sinn Féin, securing transfers is vital if we are to make breakthroughs across the country. Enormous thought and energy will be spent on identifying and securing those preferences.
But what of our transfers? How will we vote after placing our initial preferences for Sinn Féin candidates?
For this writer, it’s very simple. I will vote Sinn Féin, Labour and Green.
My reasons for doing so are straightforward. I want a Left alternative government.
I want a Left, republican, green alternative in my local council, in Leinster House and, in time, nationally.
I want a Left alternative that promotes job creation, public services, environmental sustainability, social and economic equality and human rights.
In the 26 Counties, this means that Sinn Féin, Labour and the Green Party must form an alliance to break the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael stranglehold on local and central government.
But haven’t Labour ruled out a coalition of the Left? Isn’t Eamon Gilmore positioning himself to enter government with Fine Gael? Surely a vote for Labour is a vote for Fine Gael?
Unfortunately, the answer to these questions is yes.
But, in order to strengthen the hand of those people inside Labour who are arguing for a Left alliance, we have to demonstrate that the numbers stack up. We have to show that a Left alliance is not just politically desirable but numerically possible.
But aren’t the Greens propping up a Fianna Fáil government? Haven’t Green TDs supported cuts to vital public services and bail-outs for developers and bankers? Did they not pass two Budgets that punished young people, pensioners and those with special needs?
Yes, and the electorate will punish them for all of these decisions.
The Green Party is not the problem; Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are. Building a Left alternative in the 26 Counties will require the involvement of the Green Party, their policies and those people who vote for them. Our objective should not be to punish them but to detach them from Fianna Fáil and engage them in our alternative.
Despite knowing that neither Labour nor the Greens are currently interested in building a Left alliance, I will vote for them anyway.
Some on the Left find it easier to dismiss both Labour and the Greens. But, as always, disunity on the Left benefits only Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.
Our job must be to build the Left republican alternative we believe in. It is not enough just to make the political arguments. We have to win them, with other political parties, trade unions, civic society and, crucially, the public.
As with any process of political change, someone has to take the lead. Should it surprise any of us that that someone is Sinn Féin?