We need a programme of class war


Six months after the assembly elections our sectarian politicians at Stormont have finally revealed their programme for government. Typical of the media spin and economic gobbledegook that pervades the realm of politics in the wee north it talks of creating ‘more than 25,000 new jobs’ in the next four years as part of a package that seeks to attract 300m in Foreign Direct Investment through the unelected quango of Invest Northern Ireland and a 50m loan to small and medium size businesses.

The programme of course was positively greeted by our arch class enemies the bosses union under the umbrella of the CBI and its Northern Ireland chairman. A sure a sign of bad news for the rest of us. Terence Brannigan welcomed the ‘strong commitments to the economy and the priority attached to creating jobs.’

If the last programme for government is anything to go by these latest proposals are just spin designed to shore up a failed Stormont that administers rule from Westminster that has failed to deliver for working class people. In the 2008-2011 programme the executive delivered fully on just six of the 66 key targets.

All this in an era where young unemployment is at its highest in over 20 years and over 100,000 people including the economically inactive are out of work. West Belfast and Strabane was recently topped as one of the highest unemployment blackspots in the UK. On top of this our rulers continue to unleash 400 million worth of cuts and attacks our education and healthcare service including the recent closing down of A&E ward in the Belfast city hospital.

So what’s in it for the rest of us?

Well, the Executive continues to postpone the introduction of water charges and increasing tuition fees thanks to the threat of mass non-payment. It has pledged to install double-glazing windows in all housing executive properties and to deliver 8,000 new social and ‘affordable’ housing. The promise of a year’s free pre-school for every child is just a re-packaging of an old commitment with little guarantee that a child will actually receive a funded place.

For those who have actually bought into the false promises you might actually say there our actually nice things in Santa’s wish list.  But we all know where trusting a politician leads us especially our local liars who have little clout apart from playing London’s fiddle. Secondly, Stormont is a business with competing sectarian interests and its first interest is with the rich and powerful in society, this is why we never hear about any proposals to tax the richest in our society or raising the minimum wage. Instead, they endlessly talk about reducing corporation tax with dumb and dumber constantly flying off to Wall Street with a blank cheque for the lowest bidder- any crony capitalist will do…

On the other hand, there is a class war which in terms of workplace safety and preventable diseases has killed, maimed and injured more than in the 30 years of conflict here. Capitalism and governments conducts a class war on the rest of us, in the form of imperialism, police brutality, pay cuts, making us work for less and longer, imposing benefit cuts and the slashing of public services under the same neo-liberal agenda shared by Stormont, London and Westminster.

On the 30 November, millions of public sector workers will be taking strike action across the UK in defence of pay and conditions providing a glimpse of what is possible and the potential power we have collectively as a class.