Right2Change is a political initiative aimed at bringing together political parties and forces that could form an alternative government after the next general election in the South. Right2Change developed out of the trade union-led Right2Water campaign established by Unite, CWU, Mandate, OPATSI and the CPSU (who have since left).
The Right2Change unions presented political parties and independents with a set of policy principles and three questions as the basis to forming a pre-election political pact. The real aim of these union leaders is to try to piece together an alternative government built around Sinn Féin.
In the South, the Socialist Party is part of the Anti-Austerity Alliance, which has three TDs (all Socialist Party members). In reply to Right2Change, the AAA wrote: “The AAA is open to participate in government but not a government that includes any parties associated with austerity or a government whose policy is based on operating within the strict fiscal rules set by the EU or capitalism. We want a government that will scrap the unjust taxes and charges and reverse the draconian austerity cuts that have been implemented; a government that immediately sets about the transformation of the economy on the basis of democratic public ownership of the key sections of the economy to ensure people’s needs not profit is the basis of society. The transformation of Syriza, in only six months, from being an anti-austerity party into leading a pro-austerity government shows that real change can only happen if a government is made up of parties or TDs who are prepared and committed to break capitalist rules….”
There are significant problems with the Right2Change proposal of a “progressive” government built around Sinn Féin. In the North, Sinn Féin have been implementing austerity for years and the Stormont House Agreement contains £4 billion of new austerity and a massive cut in corporation tax – measures that Sinn Féin has already signed up to. Sinn Féin leaders have also stated that they are prepared to go into government with pro-austerity parties such as Fianna Fáil and Labour – two parties that have inflicted massive attacks on working class people.
The AAA and the Socialist Party are not prepared to be part of any government that implements austerity and that isn’t prepared to break EU and capitalism’s rules in order to tackle the massive problems facing working class people.
Sinn Féin is based in only one community in Northern Ireland, and its politics and actions contribute to the sectarian division of the working class. The legacy of Sinn Féin and the Provisional IRA’s actions during the Troubles is a major contributing factor to ongoing sectarian division in the North.
The Socialist Party has already warned against the dangers of a sectarian split within the trade unions if some unions develop political connections to sectarian parties. Those in the leadership of Unite, such as Brendan Ogle, who are courting Sinn Féin, are playing with fire and are opening up the prospect of driving a sectarian wedge between Unite’s Protestant and Catholic members, with the potential for the first sectarian split with the trade union movement in over 60 years.
The Socialist Party by its actions has demonstrated that we will put the unity of the working class in Northern Ireland first and that we are genuinely committed to the building of a mass movement, North and South, against austerity. The Socialist Party / AAA TDs are struggling for the creation of a mass movement of working class people against austerity and the formation of a REAL left government in the South that will challenge the rule of the 1%.