Dear Joan, or Alex

On July 4th the Labour Party will begin counting votes on who will get to be the new leader of the party. This will hopefully be a fairly straightforward and quick poll, and we will know who will lead the party from its worst electoral defeat.

Add to the new leadership in Labour is the likelihood that there will be a cabinet reshuffle during the Summer.  This, I once hoped would be a cause for joy, but I’m beginning to get a bit cynical now.

You see, Joan (or Alex), people who had previously believed that Labour would stand up for them are sadly disillusioned.  Cutbacks and austerity in health, education and social welfare are being touted as achievements.  Surely they are the exact opposite?  Labour ministers have led the charge to cut back in their own departments in the name of keeping the Troika happy, in the cause of shoring up the gambling debts of Ireland’s elite from the Tiger Era.  Is not keeping rich investors happy the very antithesis of what Labour stood for?

And here’s the thing.  The Troika recently called for the government to keep on track with a further 2 Billion Euro in cutbacks this year.  They announced this in the middle of your leadership campaign.  This, to me, is a clear signal as to who really calls the shots.

To take a note from Minister Quinn’s playbook, it seems that the Troika think Labour’s job is to consult on the cutbacks, not to negotiate them.  So I wonder how much will actually change.

From a teacher’s point of view, I used to hope that a cabinet re-shuffle would rid education of Ruairi Quinn, and that we would have a minister who would listen to teachers, rather than his own fabled advisers. I hoped that we could get a minister who would listen to concerns around Special Needs Provision, around concerns with the JCSA, around concerns with Pupil Teacher ratios; around management of schools, around the proper resourcing of education.  Now I doubt that much would actually change.  Yes, we may get a minster who talks a better talk, but I’m beginning to think that nothing will actually change.

You see, Joan, or Alex.  I think you have forgotten the marginalised in this country.  I think that you have forgotten about just how much hardship has been endured by normal people.

I really hope that I’m wrong.  I really hope that you heard the very clear message given by the Irish Electorate in May.  I really hope that you will finally realise that Austerity has run its course.  Ireland should not be just about balancing the books.  Ireland should also be about the quality of life of all its citizens.  More so for the most vulnerable among us.

Or, to quote Gandhi: “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.”

In very many cases recently Joan or Alex, we have failed this test of greatness.  What are you going to do about it?



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