Building a Progressive Alternative to FG and FF

20 September 2019

Speaking in advance of the Labour Party’s quarterly meeting of its Central Council, the leader Brendan Howlin TD, spoke about potential government formation after the next general election.

Brendan said: “Recent media reports are wrong to say that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are neck and neck in the polls. It would be more accurate to say they are hand in hand. The current government arrangement shows that there is no difference of economic policy between either of the centre-right parties.

“Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin are taking the electorate for granted. They’d rather the election wasn’t about the issues at all but a beauty contest between the pair of them.

“Leo Varadkar made the point in the Dáil on Tuesday that there is ‘not a cigarette paper’ between him and Paschal Donohoe on economic policy. He forgot to mention that there isn’t a cigarette paper between him and Micheál Martin either.

“Fewer than half of voters opted for either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil in the last general election, and there is clearly a strong public appetite for an alternative to their failed policies on housing, childcare and wages.

“Neither Fine Gael nor Fianna Fáil can credibly say that they are safe with the public finances, as it is only eleven years since Micheál Martin was at the government table when the economy was driven onto the rocks, and Paschal Donohoe has made huge errors in three major public investment projects: the children’s hospital, metro and rural broadband.

“As I have said for some time, it is Labour’s goal to see the development of a progressive alternative in Irish policies. That is why I have repeatedly called for Labour voters to continue their transfers to progressive parties and independents, and I will repeat that call in the coming by-elections and general election.

“Brexit is an enormous political and economic crisis, caused by our nearest neighbour. But we cannot let that distract us from the other problems we face, including the climate emergency, housing costs, failings in health care, the extreme cost of childcare and the low wages paid to far too many people in our economy. Progressives need to work together to present an alternative social and ecological approach to dealing with these issues.

“At Labour’s central council, we will discuss issues such as a public programme to build 80,000 low-emissions homes and measures to give people at work a much-needed pay rise.

“Our focus at the next election will be on what the next Government might do differently, not who leads it. Labour is equally indifferent to Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. What we’ve seen in recent weeks is phoney war between two men who have more in common than anything that divides them.

“Labour will not support any government – including from opposition – unless it delivers tangible policies to take the economy and society in a different direction from the failures of current policies that are endorsed by both of the conservative parties.

“Any decision we make about Government will be made on the issues of people’s incomes, housing, climate, health and equality for all. I cannot be clearer than that. Labour is a party of solutions, not slogans.”


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