Fianna Fail has been found out – clearly and comprehensively – and it is hurting badly as a result. Never before in the 83 years since it was formed has the party stood so bereft of camouflage to cloak its real nature.
Fianna Fail lived a lie for so much of its history that it arrogantly assumed it could never be exposed in he way it now is. It was a party of the gombeen when that class had its fingers on the majority of greasy tills in the newly formed state.
It became the party of the speculators and the developers from the 1960s when groups of assorted cowboys of that ilk saw big opportunities with the ending of protectionism and the beginnings of economic development based on foreign investment. They bought Fianna Fail which has remained in their pockets through the bribed rezonings of the ‘Eighties and ‘Nineties. It went further in its most recent period in power since 1997 and handed 20% of the economy fully over to them to profiteer as they wished.
From the 1960s, of course Fianna Fail also embraced the multinational corporations throwing massive subsidies to them to set up here and making a significant part of the economy dependent on faceless corporate executives in glass towers from New York to Tokyo.
But all the time Fianna Fail masqueraded as the party of the small people. In the 1920s when the Labour Party was too cowardly to lead a movement against the punitive tax on small farmers to pay off the debts owed by the State to their previous landlords, Fianna Fail had no problem with the illegality involved in a boycott. It won the support of a significant number of the small farming community which remained an important base despite selling them out subsequently on numerous issues.
As industrial workers came to have a greater social weight in the 1960s and ‘70s Fianna Fail posed as their friend also. The party even developed its very own mascot aimed at winning and maintaining working class support, one Bertie Ahern, the man in the anorak.
The masquerade worked for a whole historic period largely because of the nature of the opposition. Fine Gael was the party of the rancher farmers and sections of big business. When there were opportunities of building a serious Left alternative to both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, especially in the 1970s and ‘80s, the labour Party in its usual cowardly fashion, opted instead to put Fine Gael into government and then supported swinging attacks on the living standards of working people utterly discrediting themselves in the process and allowing Fianna Fail to pose as the friends of their victims.
Had Fine Gael and Labour won the 2007 General Election, a version of the same process could have been repeated. We would have had a hapless Coalition carrying out cuts in services and living standards similar to the current government, while Fianna Fail would try another makeover to try and crawl back again. However that didn’t happen and for once the party is cornered with nowhere to hide.
The disastrous consequences of the policies of the real Fianna Fail are glaringly obvious to all. The Fianna Fail of the speculators carries the responsibility for the merciless crash of the profiteering driven bubble in the housing market.
The neoliberal, multinational embracing Fianna Fail carries full responsibility for the consequences of handing over vital infrastructure and services to be sweated by vulture foreign capitalist. Thus at a time when broadband is critically needed everywhere in the State, many areas are lagging behind because the vulture capitalists to which were given our telecommunications infrastructure have been too busy sweating the assets rather than investing for the common good.
And 1150 highly skilled SR Technics workers, are seeing their livelihoods slaughtered because Fianna Fail gave their publicly owned Team Aer Lingus to more vultures.
This is the background to the current economic crisis in the State. It is also what is mercilessly stripping away the subterfuge with which Fianna Fail played at being the workers’ friend.
This the context also in which the former Minister of State, John McGuinness, now tries to pose as the salvation of Fianna Fail. It is a posture that should not impress. He carries as much responsibility for the current disaster as the leadership of his party just like all the other backbenchers who for twelve years supported all the policies that have now reaped the whirlwind in which they are caught.
So Fianna Fail faces the Local and Euro Elections on June 5th mercilessly exposed as the party of the speculator, the vulture and the crony capitalists. Among those who will line up to punish them none will be more angry than those whom they succeeded in fooling for a very long time. They and many more will line up to wipe out Fianna Fail for their treachery and then wipe their feet on the hapless Green Party which has chosen to be the doormat for the party of the speculators.
(Originally published in the Daily Mail , April 29th)