From Socialist Voice, May 2010

Government and opposition strategy: the Golden Circle must remain unbroken

The rows and the bullying continue as the establishment mass media whip public opinion into a frenzy about a few politicians’ and bankers’ pensions. The calls for national sacrifice by all in the nation’s hour of need continue to beat loudly.
     There is a consensus right across the board. The air waves are filled with endless and mindless blather about politicians showing “leadership.” Large sections of rainforest go under the saw to make sure we have enough paper for the righteous indignation of the spivs and chancers who pass for journalists to be able to present what is in the “national interest.”
     But the real targets are the selfish and ungrateful public-sector workers. There is an orchestrated campaign of bullying and growing attempts in the media to isolate them.
     None of the trade unions that organise public-sector workers have yet (at the time of writing) to call a ballot of their members. Many in the leadership of the ICTU are hoping against hope that enough workers will be browbeaten into accepting the destruction of their terms and conditions.
     Their dithering over strategy and how not to respond to the crisis has allowed a huge gap to open up between public and private-sector workers. This new public service agreement that workers will have to vote on has further polarised workers and has even set different sections and grades of public-sector workers against each other.
     The tactic of divide and rule is paying dividends, both to the Government and to the private-sector employers waiting in the wings to push forward what they dare not push at this moment.
     The sending of letters to the Government seeking clarification on certain points of the agreement is just a delaying tactic, allowing the pressure to mount, while every day the crisis deepens, the credit rating of this state collapses, the debt and the cost of borrowing continue to grow, tax revenue continues to decline, and unemployment grows, as does emigration, as thousands of young people attempt to find a future somewhere else.
     Whether or not a handful of politicians give up their pensions (which of course they should) will not make a whole lot of difference to the national coffers; but it does allow for additional pressure to be brought to bear on workers: that they should follow the example of the political class and sacrifice everything for the “national good.” If the ruling class are “patriotic,” then workers must follow their example.
     The answer needs to be said loud and clear: No. Workers, small and medium family farmers and fishing communities did not cause this crisis, nor should we pay the price for overcoming it.
     The labour movement has no strategy, other than propping up and supporting the Government and EU policies of making working people pay.
     What is needed now is a strategy that rebuilds the unity of workers, regardless of the sector in which they earn a living: to build unity between organised workers and communities experiencing severe cuts in the services they rely upon—a strategy that has the potential to transform the political landscape and tip the balance of forces in favour of progressive radical change.
     The Government’s strategy is to ensure that the Golden Circle remains unbroken. That Golden Circle can and must be broken.

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