Cllr Shaun Harkin: "There was a sustained attempt to undermine the credibility of any proposals challenging the privilege of elites."
The establishment must get “the same level of hostile scrutiny” come the next Stormont election, states People Before Profit's Shaun Harkin.
Cllr Harkin was not successful in taking one of the five Foyle Assembly seats in last week's election having been eliminated from the running at the 11th count.
People Before Profit (PBP) were successful in retaining the one MLA that they had going into this election – Gerry Carroll in West Belfast – but despite hopes of getting Harkin to join him at Stormont, the three-way battle between the SDLP, DUP and UUP that ensured Foyle was the last seat to declare a final result, squeezed them out.
During the campaign, PBP's manifesto was widely mocked by other parties and commentators.
The SDLP in particular concentrated a portion of their campaign upon PBP with Foyle MP Colum Eastwood coming under criticism for a post on social media that attacked Cllr Harkin.
Cllr Harkin says the election campaign was difficult for all smaller progressive parties and while accepting that PBP should not be exempt from scrutiny, he hopes the same level that he says his party received can be replicated to the bigger parties come the next poll.
He said: “We're disappointed we weren't able to win the fifth Foyle seat. We were certainly nipping on the heels of the DUP, and on another day that seat would have went socialist.
“It was a difficult election for many parties, especially smaller progressive parties. It's devastating that Green Party representatives, Claire Bailey and Rachel Woods, won't return to the Assembly.
“They, like People Before Profit's Gerry Carroll, have been a thorn in the side of the political establishment and were responsible for many forward looking initiatives.
“With spiralling price hikes, stagnant wages and gross profiteering, now is a time for radical system change proposals.
“However, there was a sustained attempt to undermine the credibility of any proposals challenging the privilege of elites.
“It's time for profiteering corporations, banks and the political establishment propping them up to get the same level of hostile scrutiny faced by socialists.”
Despite not achieving their aim of adding to their number of MLAs, Cllr Harkin says there are positives from this election for PBP to take.
He added: “Given all that, we're proud of our campaign and what we achieved. We're delighted Gerry Carroll held his seat for People Before Profit in West Belfast.
“Our new People Before Profit candidates in East Derry, West Tyrone, Mid Ulster and beyond fared well and broke new ground for socialist politics.
“Gerry will hold the big parties to account and fight for workers and the least well-off across all our communities. In the context of a deepening cost of living crisis, a health service crisis and climate change, Gerry's voice will be all the more crucial.
“With our strong showing in Foyle and the retention of a socialist seat in West Belfast, we have a strong mandate to continue to challenge the political establishment through Council and to bring forward radical proposals for change backed-up with people power campaigns. We'll be ready for the next electoral opportunity.
“The DUP should end its backward dragging politics of division that's fueled violence for more than a year.
“It's unacceptable for Unionist parties to refuse to respect the democratic mandate in the context of spiralling inequality, massive health service and housing waiting lists and destructive climate change.
“However, no one should wait on the DUP or the Executive to press for the 'change' they've been promised.
“Now is the time for workers to strike for real pay increases. Now is the time for mass cost of living protests to demand action on hardship. Now is the time for action to win the equal rights everyone deserves.
“People power campaigns, just as before, are going to be the key to addressing runaway inequality and injustice.”
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