A new political party has officially been launched in Ireland. The National Independent Party (NIP), defining itself as “similar to UKIP” of Britain, has been formally registered as a political party on 14 January. This date may well mark the beginning of an escalating racist debate on race, ethnicity, migrants, asylum seekers and the wider immigration issue; a scene we know so well from the political agenda and actions of UK’s UKIP.
Over the coming days we may hear more about this new party but before all of this we need to nip some of the ‘start-up’ contradictions of NIP in the bud:
Peter O’Loughlin of NIP stated that the party’s position on immigration is “simply a question of numbers, not of ethnicity”.
Soon, Mr. O’Loughlin will possibly discover it himself but, in politics surely nothing is just ‘simply’ one thing or the other. The bottom line for UKIP is its far-right, anti-immigrant, race based (aka ‘racist’) politics and the bottom line for NIP seems to be the same.
How can a party that - simply - identifies and categorizes people by race and ethnicity, in other words, originally non-Irish people, the migrants, and then claim that this is not about ethnicity but simply about numbers. Mr. O’Loughlin contradicts himself in his own statement. Are we to assume that NIP is not going to do politics based on ethnicity and race? But they are going to focus on migrants, and to do so they will have to use ethnicity and race.
This reminds us the much used 'BUT' statements:
“I am not against migrants BUT…”
”I am not against freedom of choice BUT…”
“I am not against Muslims BUT…”
“I am not a racist BUT…”
Without exception, in each of these 'but' examples, the real sentiment comes after the ‘but’. The beginning of sentence is only an excuse, a friendly preparation for the ‘attack’ to follow.
In the draft party manifesto, a section of the mission statement is worth noticing; where the party wishes for the citizens of Ireland to engage and collaborate with them [so that] “our country and citizens can innovate and move progressively forward in an ethically and principally correct manner”.
One can’t help but wonder, what is an ‘ethically correct society’? Does a society without migrants become automatically ethical? Is a society that dicriminates against migrants an ethical society? Here, we see again that NIP is all about ethnicity and race, and populist statements on ‘how much they care about the unemployed people in Ireland’ is not sufficient to hide this genetics of the party.
The draft manifesto has a section on Immigration but not on environment, which is an area where the party defines itself as ‘to the left’ (I guess, of UKIP). The heading “Duty of Care” outlines some of the immigration policies of the party. One action is defined as “We propose an initial 3 year moratorium to be placed on immigration (except for essential economic and technical need) in order to facilitate whether migrants already in the system should be permitted to stay or be repatriated.” In other words, deportations unless the migrants are needed in this country… The practical, political, social and humanitarian insanity of this view of the world has been tested and proven before.
In the same section, the housing crisis is blamed on foreigners but not on the cuts. It seems NIP has also identified the cause of unemployment: English language students! Once we ban the part-time, limited right to work of language students, we should be in the clear.
But they seem to have forgotten a few facts. At the height of the incoming migrants numbers, and language students (who happen to choose Ireland to spend thousands of Euro on education) the housing crisis and the unemployment levels were not as high as they are now. And interestingly, and probably conveniently, they must have forgotten to find-out the reasons for huge waiting lists for housing. They would have discovered for themselves that the issue is the shortage and cuts, not the migrants taking thousands of houses away from the Irish people.
According to the Irish Times report, when it was put to him that the party was akin in its policies to the UK Independence Party, Mr O’Loughlin said “there are similarities”.
But when asked if the party considered itself to the left, right or centre, he said they had policies considered right-wing but other policies, such as on the environment, which were to the left.
It will be interesting to see a UKIP-like organization in Ireland that is defining itself to the left on environment, extremely motivated by racially and ethnically focused politic on immigration; and right-wing, i.e. capitalist PLUS MORE, when it comes to all other things such as solving the problems of capitalism and the mess created by right-wing governments.
Parties like NIP don’t appear randomly, out of nowhere. Such political entities are opportunistic reactionaries pretending to have solutions for the miseries imposed upon people. They are a far-right response to the problems created by right-wing policies.
The manifesto of NIP is a well-known blend of all sorts of right-wing economic policies and populist social visions; all mixed together using the language of nationalism along with racial scare-mongering and finger-pointing. There is nothing progressive in this manifesto. It is a bizarre copy-paste mixture of UKIP, Tories, FF, FG and old PD policies and views, with a small touch of environmentalism and a huge dose of anti-migrantism. There is nothing original in this document, nor has it worked anywhere else as a solution to our current problems.
Do we need another right-wing party to solve the problems created by bigger right wing parties? No, but we need to take NIP and its potential effects on mainstream right-wing politics seriously. NIP will never become a dominant force in parliamentary politics but they have the potential to influence the right-wing, racially motivated, racist debates in the country and push them to further right. This alone is significant enough.
When it comes to political alternatives to the government parties, Ireland needs a genuine, strong, radical political force on the left. A force that not only fights the cuts-austerity and the anti-democratic management of the country, where rich get richer and poor get poorer, but also has anti-racism in its core principles; a force that fights racism, discrimination and inequality in every aspect of life; a party that puts people before profit.
But that is not the full story or the full answer:
We need to re-build our trade unions to fight the cuts and resist attacks on all workers’ rights and conditions.
We need to build even stronger campaigns and resistance to fight each and every form of racism in this country and expose the lies and myths on immigration.
The future of the society in Ireland will be based on a struggle in solidarity and support of one another; not on racism, discrimination and hatred that will only serve to enhance the right-wing policies of our rulers.