Saturday 1 October 2016

Labour should seek merger with Soc Dems - Siptu boss

Published 16/05/2016 | 02:30

Siptu President Jack O’Connor has called for a 'new left party'. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Siptu President Jack O’Connor has called for a 'new left party'. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

The Labour Party must approach the Social Democrats about a possible merger, Siptu President Jack O'Connor has said.

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The trade unionist believes the next leader of the party will have to develop a "coherent left alternative" based around the ideas of social democracy.

And he said the country needs to develop a European-style tax system that moves away from the "arrant, illusionary and disingenuous nonsense" that everybody is deserving of tax cuts.

"We will have to stop pretending that we can cut everybody's taxes at the same time," he said, adding that the Government must "tax wealth and those on higher incomes".

Speaking after he addressed Labour's annual commemoration for its co-founder James Connolly in Arbour Hill yesterday, Mr O'Connor said: "I think what we have to do is focus on the objective of achieving a social democratic society by the centenary of the founding of this State.

"We have six years in which to do it and against the background of a growing economy," he said.

Asked what he believes should be the priorities of the next Labour Party leader, Mr O'Connor said he hopes they "would start by building links with the Social Democratic party and then thereafter with a view to building either a new left party or alternatively creating an alliance between those two parties whenever the next election comes about, and building relationships with others who believe they are on the left".

"In my view the task of the next leader of Connolly's party is to serve as a catalyst for the development of a consensus among those who believe they are on the left to achieve political alliances to make that come about," he said.

The trade union boss said the second important task for the new leader would be correcting the record on Labour's last five years in government.

He said the narrative was unfair to the party and history would show that the election result was "bad for working people generally".

"The potential exists as it never has before through a dynamically growing economy to eliminate poverty, to end homelessness, to develop a universally accessible health service, free at the point of use," he said.

Irish Independent

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