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Graham Shepherd: Treaty is a cynical deception to provide a cushion for capitalists

While gorging on the fat of the land a few years back there were two words not to be mentioned. "Socialism" was one and "capitalism" the other. Now suddenly, these political twin pillars are the talk of the time and the Fiscal Stability referendum has put them firmly back in the political frame.



In a dictionary, a capitalist is described as an investor and speculator, and as such, much money was poured into Ireland by such people. One of the certain credos of investing and speculating is that it is also gambling, and in the case of Ireland, they were betting on the continuing manic growth of a distorted economy.

So we now have this political spectre called the Fiscal Stability Treaty -- I mentally call it the Featherbed Treaty -- which is basically the investors wanting all their money back, thereby changing the basic criteria of capitalism when it no longer suits them. Capitalism has to anticipate loss, and where necessary accept that fact. It should therefore be called the Featherbed Treaty, to soften their landing.

This treaty is a cynical deception. Having reneged on the rules of how money markets work, our political establishment prays that the investment will continue to their advantage, but, as intended, it will be to the detriment of the majority of our population, a reminder of fraudulent pyramid schemes.

History is littered with ignorant and tyrannical regimes imposing more and more taxes on the populace as they screw up their ability to govern, and lose any concept of decency and moral authority. Any true democracy thinks foremost of the welfare of the weakest in the community.

At the inception of the EU in 1973, there was a fear that the whole Common Market was just that, a kind of dealers' cartel. Some hopefully believed it was not, but it has turned out to be definitively the case. Though many excellent social policies came about to lure us out of our more reactionary mores, it was still on the back of the money monkey.

But we went along with it all, especially after the overwhelming 'Yes' vote to join at that time. The Labour Party advocated 'No'.

I campaigned on this issue with the party. After the defeat, it then seemed counterproductive and churlish to vote against the subsequent treaties, be they Maastricht, Nice or Lisbon.

Yes, we must and should go along with it. With China to the east and the USA to the west we needed to be a powerful Europe, but the currency deals came before the political marriage. Pregnancy before affection and commitment.

Recently, the Labour Party, in a baleful marriage with a right-wing party, abdicated their responsibility to those in Ireland who may have a persuasion to the political left. A chance in a double generation was presented and squandered because some old hands in the party saw this as the last chance they could to get into power, and swallowed some principles to do so.

But the real betrayal was to throw away the greatest chance to build a coalition of the left since the foundation of the State. This betrayal will not be forgotten.

Fine Gael should have been left to take the flak of recession, especially as it is the servant of business and the markets, and always has been. It should have been left to hoover up the detritus of misguided investments while Labour built its party and prepared to take power at the following election.

Instead the Labour party has left it to a raggle taggle with open-necked shirts and exotic hair styles, or to those who occupy the dark, atavistic caverns of Sinn Fein, to offer the opposition that should have been Labour's responsibility.

Fianna Fail is really out of the picture, though, horror of horrors, it might return. Travelling through the curtain of the booth to arrive at the ballot paper can sometimes be a long and diverse journey in the mind.

So now the fundamental problem is coming to maturity with this fiscal treaty. But the argument of growth versus austerity is very two dimensional, compared with what is at the heart of our relationship with Europe. Greater ideas beckon. It is time that Labour picked up its binoculars.

Reading over the referendum leaflets, which came through my door, I have an instinctive feeling that Labour voters do not really believe in this treaty. I say this as someone who has voted Labour all my political Iife, except during the time I was living abroad for 15 years.

Where do I go now? It is a more serious question for Labour than it is for me. Meanwhile, let's see what the Greeks say.

Graham Shepherd is a writer and design consultant

Sunday Independent