Belfast Telegraph

Gerry Carroll: DUP and Sinn Fein would prefer non-voters to stay at home, as they want a free run

By Gerry Carroll

Why bother voting? No doubt, that thought has occurred to many people in the run-up to this year's election. Indeed, nearly half of people didn't bother voting at all last year. Possibly as many, or more, will make the same decision on March 2.

There is widespread discontent with the Sinn Fein/DUP establishment. It's not difficult to see why, particularly after the RHI debacle. But people are cynical about the way establishment politics works. They see what Arlene Foster and the DUP have done. But then they turn on the TV, and there they are, laughing and giggling as if nothing has happened.

And then we watch as Sinn Fein puts posters up decrying corruption. Only to find out Conor Murphy strongly lobbied to keep the RHI scheme open at the same time Foster did, and that Michelle O'Neill's department organised 58 workshops promoting the scheme.

Promoting RHI "was the right thing to do at the time" she said. Very few of the electorate will agree with her.

The Sinn Fein/DUP establishment attempts to feed into this cynicism by constantly saying there is no alternative. But the question is: an alternative to what?

Nearly a year after the last election and the Executive has still failed to produce any detailed spending plans, or a Programme for Government. Cloaks and daggers is all we can expect. No wonder, then, that RHI was allowed to stay open so long.

And what of the record of the Sinn Fein/DUP establishment? What have they delivered? Very little. These are the parties that used the majority of the Assembly's borrowing power - up to £700m - to make as many as 20,000 workers redundant.

Thousands of jobs cut to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds.

And what of their much-vaunted economic "strategy"? The plan to give free handouts to the rich by cutting corporation tax.

Nothing more than pie-in-the-sky Right-wing economics - Thatcherism par excellence. And not a penny of benefit in it for ordinary people.

This is why the establishment parties don't care if you stay at home. They want you to be cynical.

What they fear is the emergence of something different that can pose a challenge to them and reach across the divide.

That's why the Sinn Fein/DUP establishment is on the offensive against PBP.

On the Shankill the DUP has been busy telling its supporters PBP is associated with "hardline republicans" and IRA supporters.

On the other side, Sinn Fein is busy delivering leaflets around West Belfast saying PBP "side with the DUP" and supports a hard border. All nonsense, of course.

Sinn Fein and the DUP don't expect to win support for their own parties by this mudslinging. Instead, their hope is to increase your cynicism, to make you disillusioned enough to stay at home and give them a free run.

On March 2, don't let them get away with it. Vote for the anti-establishment alternative. Vote People Before Profit.

Gerry Carroll is People Before Profit's election candidate in West Belfast

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