Michael Taft: Dr. Garret Fitzgerald is not impressed with the notion that if the majority of legislators believe that Government proposals are wrong or misguided, they should vote against them. No, according to the good Dr.Fitzgerald, whatever legislators think of Government policy, whether on NAMA or public expenditure cuts, they should just bite their lip and support it. Because if the Government is defeated a destabilising effect will set in, leading to the takeover of the country by the IMF, the withdrawal of lending by international markets and our inevitable enslavement in the economic salt-mines. Our only salvation is to shut up and support Fianna Fail. Dr. Fitzgerald has spoken.
This is the extreme edge of the TINA argument (‘There Is No Alternative’,) and Dr. Fitzgerald has been hanging around at the extreme edges of late. In a previous column, he attacked anyone who dared question the desirability of the McCarthy Committee proposals:
‘. . . there is an air of total unreality about most of what has been said and written by many of those who have attacked these proposals and who are still in absolute denial about the scale of the crisis we currently face . . . We are at present a country of ostriches. It is time for everyone to wake up to reality.’
Unreality. Absolute denial. Ostriches. Wake Up. Well, I guess that puts some of us in our place. Dr. Fitzgerald was at it again in his most recent column – this time raising all manner of woe and betide if anyone dared to exercise their democratic responsibility.
‘Responsible opposition is vital if the State is to be kept out of the IMF’s hands . . . No worse fate could befall an opposition than to precipitate themselves into government by defeating measures, the rejection of which could throw our State into the hands of the IMF.’
Dr. Fitzgerald has moved from a legitimate position of supporting the McCarthy Committee proposals and NAMA, to a more extreme position that anyone opposed to such is risking opening the door to the IMF. Okay, a bit robust but it’s a tough debate. However, it turns near-hysterical when such a position denounces the democratic process itself – the very idea of the politics of choice.
For instance, if opposition parties can mobilise public opinion to such an extent that the Government is prevented from implementing the McCarthy Report or setting up NAMA; this would no doubt precipitate an early election. In such a scenario, people may wish to support an alternative approach and elect a government that reflects that desire. It is this process that is deeply disturbing to Dr. Fitzgerald. In any other country, it would be called democracy.
Michael Taft is an economic analyst and trade unionist. He is author of the Notes of the Front blog and a member of the TASC Economists’ Network.