Easy to mount a small donkey: a letter to the Irish Green Party

Monday 4 May 2020 10:28

Dear friends in the Green Party,

You’re about to enter talks with two rightwing parties. Don’t be fooled by the usual description of them as centrist; do centrists allow homelessness on the scale we have it in Ireland? do they run down the public health service so that every year we have a trolley crisis and huge delays in basic treatment? Remember both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are responsible for the privatisation of state assets such as Aer Lingus and both have allied themselves with developers. The austerity which has harmed the poor, the ill, the disabled so much comes from them.

Perhaps of greater importance for you is the fact that within FF and FG there is a cordial loathing and contempt for the Green Party and green policies. Whatever they say in public, in private they are already scheming to find ways of negating your influence. I have no doubt that the post COVID crisis will be used as a weapon to sideline the green agenda. The money won’t be there because (on past record) they have to fund PPP projects for motorways, bail out companies and build more apartments for vulture funds. There will be no large scale public housing projects and green targets for greener housing will be shelved ‘for the duration of the crisis’, which by a curious coincidence will last at least three and a half years. Remember who funds FF and FG.

When that time is up your ‘partners’ will gear up to destroy you. They did it before. You will enter the next election with a few cosmetic green policies in place, no substantial restructuring of how the economy or social life works in this country and your biggest boast will be that if you hadn’t been in government everything would be a lot worse. You know how that worked for the Labour Party. Prepare for the same fate.

Your present number of seats comes because a substantial number of voters is convinced of the need to tackle climate change and to change how Ireland functions. Do you seriously believe that the Right is interested in abolishing fossil fuel use? Who funds Climate Change deniers? Not the Left. Be assured that a large number of your natural voters are left-wing. Many will have voted Sinn Féin or Solidarity PBP or any of the other smaller left parties. That substantial subset of your supporters will evaporate as soon as you sign this deal. They will not come back.

That subset expects you to advocate for green policies but it also expects you to have social policies. Many of your younger members have been inspiring on both counts and have done much to convince us that we could risk voting for you again. You are now about to prove us wrong a second time. 

My advice is stay out. Let them cobble themselves a coalition from the rightwing independents or run with yet another minority government. Stay as you are and in the next election you stand a chance of having enough power to actually get your policies through. My father had a favourite saying which you should think about. He used to say: It’s easy to mount a small donkey. You are that donkey.