The Blanket

Labour Has Waited Long Enough

Sean Smyth


In response to Art McCabe's defence of PPP/PFI (Andersonstown News 16th September), how can Mr McCabe expect the working class of Belfast and NI to believe that private investors are going to pump their money in to public services out of the goodness of their hearts?

We have all ready seen the effects of PPP/PFI are going to have on are public services. Since 1995 the water service have replaced half of their ground work force with outside contractors - is it coincidental that we have had two cases of water poisoning? We have the Assembly budget being presented to the house in Stormont on the 23rd September when we will be told that our transport, health, education and cleansing are all to be handed over to PPP/PFI.

Mr Mc Cabe says the best way forward for NI its PPP/PFI. So how does PPP/PFI work? Say a new school costs £100 million to build, the private investor would put up say £50 million of the cost, the government would put in the other £50 million. The government would then pay the investor back over say a twenty five year period with guaranteed profits of 16,18% and at the end of the Mortgage the private investor owns the building. He is responsible for the up keep and staff wages so therefore he is more likely to introduce term time so that he will not have to pay retainers during the holidays and so attacking wages of the working class in the push for personal financial gain. PPP/PFI should be called PBP (PROFIT BEFORE PEOPLE). If Art Mc Cabe thinks that trade unionists are going to stand idly by and let the likes of Sinn Fein the DUP, UUP and the SDLP sell our jobs and our future to big business he better thing again. The four main political parties’ in Stormont would do well to remember that the Stormont elections are only eight months away.

No amount of spin will convince the working class that business is putting people before profit. It’s the working class who suffered the most during the last eighty plus years of Orange Unionism and Nationalist Catholic Conservatism rule in Ireland. Both North and South, Labour have waited long enough. The national question has been answered; we are to live in a power sharing agreement. The time is coming when the working class will have to stand shoulder to shoulder to fight for what’s right.

The working class demands are very simple:

1) Jobs that pay a decent wage so we don’t have to depend on welfare.
2) A free health service, which delivers.
3) Free education up to and including third level.
4) Homes not slums to live in.

If Art Mc Cabe thinks that multi-national corporations are going to provide this he is a gullible fool. Mr McCabe looks through rose tinted glasses when he describes PPP in America. But Art forgets to tell you about the 100 thousand homeless men women and children who live on the streets of New York in absolute poverty. Mr McCabe's argument goes up in smoke when you look at the situation in Colombia, the richest country in Latin America; but because of the policies of the World Bank Organisation and the International Monetary Fund, over 60% of the people live in poverty, unemployment stands at 25% and 19 million live on less than a dollar a day. Out of the 38,000 Colombians who were murdered last year 17% died as a result of the war between the left wing Rebels and the Government. The majority of the rest were killed by the right wing paramilitaries supported by both the Colombian and USA administrations.

PPP/PFI is all about putting profit before people. Mr Mc Cabe can put all the spin he wants on PPP/PFI but when a system lets nineteen thousand children die every day from hunger and the lack of drinking water you’ve lost the argument. PPP/PFI is good for both the Catholic and the Protestant middle class capitalist but it will do nothing for the working class except screw them in to the ground.

Come May 2003 the working class in NI will have to decide what kind of society they want to live in. And by placing a simple X in the wrong place they could be condemning themselves and their children to a live of poverty. Mr McCabe claims that if you are against PPP/PFI you are against progress and defends both McGuinness and De Brun for moving beyond ideology. But if the working class are to get any justice they need to break away from the Orange and Green sectarian politics of the last eighty years and look towards the ideology of Socialism.

The writer is an independent socialist



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