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And while we’re speaking about the Green Party… August 31, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
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Some people were puzzled by the sudden emphasis on the Green Party in the Independent and other parts of the media this last fortnight or so – including this one the other day… . Most striking in one way was the following report from the Independent which under the headline ‘How we pay €500 a year in ‘green’ stealth tax’ suggested that:

FAMILIES will soon be paying more than €500 a year in ‘green taxes’, new figures compiled by the Irish Independent reveal.
And in a double blow, consumers already facing a 5pc hike in electricity charges due to an environmental levy could be hit by a second price rise as early as next month.

Some would note the discrepancy between the headline and the sentence that follows it… but… this would be made up how?

The green levies — totalling more than €500 a year — are a cornerstone of the agreed programme for government between Fianna Fail and the Greens. These include:
• The new electricity levy of €32.76 a year for a household.
• At least €175 for domestic water charges.
• Up to €275 a year in carbon taxes on petrol and diesel.
• As much as €55 a year for carbon taxes on home heating oil.

Interestingly in a piece in the same paper the certainty of some of the above melts into something quite different (by the way the average electricity levy will cost €32.4 according to the Irish Times – one has to admire the extra precision of the Independent in adding on the .36c)…

Last December the first tranche of the carbon tax was introduced in the Budget which saw motorists hit with a hike in fuel prices as petrol rose by four cents per litre and diesel by five cents.
It has been estimated that people living in the countryside could face bills of up to €275 a year.
In May the price of kerosene home heating oil rose by 8.4pc, meaning a typical 1,000 litre delivery of kerosene rose from €620 to €670.
There has also been speculation that flat-rate domestic water charges could be introduced in the next Budget in December when the Government will slash another €3bn in spending, despite previous promises to first install a system of metering. The Department of Finance has already mooted a water charge of €175 per home per year.
The green charges don’t end there. Since February, landfill levies have risen by €5 to €30 per tonne of waste being disposed of at dumps.
There is little doubt that this will filter into household bin charges eventually.

Interestingly the Irish Taxation Institute has a link to the original article on its site with no explanation.

As it happens the media themselves indicate that the introduction of water charges is highly unlikely any time soon, not least because there’s no metering system in place. A flat rate services charge has been mooted, but this seems equally unlikely because the government will have enough problems to contend with at the next budget and they’ve already dismissed the idea of a flat rate water charge as unfair. Now, this is not to say that some of these may manifest themselves and sooner rather than later, but… As it now stands they simply don’t exist in the form presented in the Independent and to pretend otherwise is absurd. Indeed it diverts attention from the things that the government has actually done.

During the week myself and a friend were, as one does, going through the constituencies and doing a rough tot up of seats FF is likely to lose. From a current base of the mid-70s (assuming most of the semi-detached FF TDs jump back aboard, and there’s little indication that they’re planning to go it alone, we worked out a rough estimate of about 20 to 25 seats lost. I’ve talked to AK at the Irish Election Literature Blog and he thinks that this is on the low side and it would be a fair bit more, although that comes with the caveat of who is leader. I’ll say no more on that since I know AK will be discussing these matters in greater detail over the next while.

In any event while catastrophic for Fianna Fáil it still leaves two opposition parties (in particular) searching to make gains. 30 + seats distributed between Labour and FG – clearly some will go elsewhere, but those are the big guns so to speak – doesn’t push Labour much over 30 odd, or FG much over 65. Good results, again no doubt about it, but they’ll want – and need – more, and some more than others as they attempt to maximise their influence at Cabinet.

Where to find that extra ten or so seats that might confer on either party the gains they require? Well, there’s SF, but SF may be okayish, may even pick up the odd one or two. The former PDs? Noel Grealish might just hold on, having badged himself Independent at a reasonably propitious point in the last three years. And that leaves a couple of Independents and the Green Party.

Now few would argue that the GP is in the first flush of rude good electoral health. They’ll be lucky to get two or three TDs returned. Very lucky. But, that’s two or three TDs denied to the opposition.

Even if FF losses are greater – say due to incumbents retiring, it doesn’t matter. The opposition can’t count on that taking place, so they will focus their fire on whatever targets will gift them increased seats.

Small wonder then if we begin to hear a media chorus about the GP, because some will not merely want to see the political corpse buried but with a stake or two through the heart. And this works other ways as well. FF must be aware of this as well, profoundly so – so who knows whether they too are happy to stir the pot as well. Tough on their current partners if they lose out in various election races here and there (and this might explain the sudden change of heart – more or less – of the GP over Anglo-Irish Bank – a sort of warning shot as it were across the bows of their partners).

And that chorus won’t just be about the GP, expect further left, SF and Independents to be down-rated – as it were – in the nearish future as they too are pushed aside. There’s going to be a lot of guff talked about ‘wasted’ votes soon enough.

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Comments»

1. FergusD - August 31, 2010

So is it the case that in the RoI there is no charge to consumers for water?

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Budapestkick - August 31, 2010

Actually we pay it through our PAYE tax. Thankfully, we haven’t yet been forced to go through what England and other countries have: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/1704/1/PSIRU_Report_%289820%29_-_2008-04-W-over.pdf

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FergusD - August 31, 2010

OK. Metered water bills may have their advantages though, there are advantages in encouraging water conservation, although perhaps more so in drier countries than Ireland!

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