According to the right wing narrative running alongside the economic crisis across Europe, citizens and governments should accept the consequences of the crash.
That, despite its cause being the multi- billion euro scams between the business and banking elites, and the failure of the European Central Bank and governments such as the Irish, to intervene and stop what was happening.
That’s why the British and Irish governments are now unquestioningly using austerity to manage budget deficits. The welfare cuts introduced in Britain and which the Tories want to impose in the north are one result of the austerity model used by both the Irish and British coalitions.
When Peter Robinson spoke last week about economic realities, he conveniently forgot the biggest economic and social reality of all. British Tory cuts are designed to destroy the Welfare State. Now the DUP has been sucked into that position.
The Welfare State was first proposed by William Beveridge’s report in 1942. The British Labour Party then established it after WW2. Its ethos was, and is, that when citizens fall on hard times, the state should help them.
The current Tory government is ideologically opposed to the Welfare State, and state support for its citizens. Welfare cuts are fundamentally about rolling back the Welfare State.
Sinn Fein believe that economic growth depends upon thriving business and industry, investment, innovation and job creation. However, the economy must also support workers’ rights and protect the working poor, and jobless.
Enforced austerity is not the way to rebalance damaged economies. There are alternative strategies based upon economic stimulus measures. That is why welfare cuts are exactly the opposite of what is needed here.
Welfare cuts formed no part of the northern Executive’s Programme for Government.
The DUP claim no alternative exists. That is a bogus position to justify their choice to embrace a Tory agenda and the slash and burn economic policies being pursued by British millionaires in the conservative cabinet against the working poor and disadvantaged from all sections of the community here.
The DUP should change its decision.
Sinn Fein chooses to stand in defence of the Welfare State. The trade union movement in the north and across Ireland should now declare unanimous and unambiguous opposition to the proposed cuts.
Trade union activists should join together with other political parties and Sinn Fein, to defend the Welfare State. That is a non-sectarian and cross community agenda. It is common ground for orange and green, the churches, business and civic society.