The Progressive Democrats, the Seanad and political reform

I left this comment on Des O’Malley’s article in today’s Irish Times, which is titled ‘Let’s get rid of the sideshow that is the Seanad and focus on what matters’

If Des O’Malley and other erstwhile PDs are worried about the sources of the ‘public disillusionment with the political system’, they may wish to look in the direction of the free market economic doctrine that they so enthusiastically supported, and continue to support. (But they won’t)

The effect of this doctrine has been further concentration of decisive political power in the hands of unelected bodies. It has achieved this through the denigration and dismantling of public institutions. The doctrine followed by the PDs held that health, education, housing, transport and communication should all be provided privately to the greatest degree possible. Public servants were not to be trusted.

Control over these areas has been increasingly concentrated in private hands, safely beyond the capacity of the public to ensure equitable provision. All of the main political parties now share the political and economic perspectives of the Progressive Democrats. They have no intention of using the political system to build public and universal institutions in the interests of equality. Instead they intend to stick with the doctrine.

So the public disillusionment is rather justified.

What the quadrillion or more articles calling for political reform published in the Irish Times since the onset of Ireland’s economic crisis have resolutely left out is the consideration that there are different kinds of political reform.

Political reform can be made in the interests of the working population, or it can be made in the interests of multinational corporations, financiers and so on. In the context of an economic and political crisis that is stripping away job security, welfare state provision and driving down wages and living conditions in the interests of financial capital, it ought to be obvious that any call for political reform that does not deal with the perspective and predicament of the victims of such a crisis, but rather holds forth in general terms about effectiveness, efficiency, policymaking and so on, is fundamentally fraudulent, and on the side of the people making off with the loot.

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