Sunday Independent Stupid Statement of the Week October 31, 2010Posted by Garibaldy in media.
Shane Ross has once again cut to the heart of the problem caused by the collapse of neo-liberalism and the southern state embracing it wholeheartedly, and then selling its soul to protect speculators and bankers. You’ll never guess who.
The leaders of social partnership owe Irish taxpayers big time. Few people have yet rumbled the way that some union leaders plundered the country’s coffers. It was a social partnership benchmarking cabal that recommended the 9 per cent pay hike for the public service in 2002. It was union leaders who landed gigs galore on the boards of well-paid quangos, appointments given by grateful governments to insiders in return for keeping middle and lower paid staff in line.
The union leaders led good public servants up the garden path into the fantasy land of double-digit wage increases, accompanied by guaranteed jobs and pensions. The outcome is today’s bewildered public service, nursing an understandable grievance while the sheriff knocks at the door. They had been led to believe that they were the chosen people.
The social partners were the most powerful pillars of the State’s hierarchy during the Celtic Tiger years. They sidelined the democratic forces of the Dail. Brian Cowen repeatedly doffed the cap to them during his time in Finance. His speeches were filled with sycophantic promises to “consult” the boys with the beards.
Incisive as always. And in no way ignoring major issues. Unsurprisingly, this is a message repeated elsewhere in the Sindo.
John Drennan offers another scapegoat – the Brits. Or at least, the south’s post-colonial mentality, especially that of the political class.
However, now that a great politics of reform is needed our ‘doss house’ — as Brian Hayes so eloquently called it — of a parliament is so riddled with the vices that come with a colonial mindset that they are neither temperamentally nor politically equipped to rat out their real bosses.
Except this of course shifts the blame from where it really lies – in the wholesale adoption of neo-liberalism. It’s a smokescreen, implying that had the people in the Dáil not been who they are but had adopted the same ideology, a different outcome would have been possible. That’s simply not the case.
Brendan o’Connor also seems to think the answer lies in a renewed version of the recent past, this time by scrapping our “can’t do” culture.
If Ireland’s economic success was a form of madness, then maybe we need more madness. Maybe it is time to send in the clowns again. And let’s cherish and nourish the madmen who dare to dream, and who, if only some of them get it right, are our only ticket out of this.
The fact that we’ve seen what neo-liberalism can’t do – provide a sustainable economy for the people – seems to have escaped him.
Speaking of neo-liberalism. Here’s Marc Coleman, whose trip to Germany seems to have produced a rush of blood to the head, and delusions of grandeur that spouting neo-liberal tripe is an act of boldness comparable to the world-historical act of Luther nailing his 95 Theses to that church door.
Thesis 1: As the jobs and wealth creator for the nation, the private sector must not be burdened by taxes to fund public waste or overpay.
Thesis 2: Wasting taxpayers’ money must be a criminal offence.
Thesis 3: Bloated hierarchies should be replaced by cost effective structures, lean and Lutheran, with fewer but better managers.
Thesis 4: Public sector salaries shall be cut to levels 15 per cent above EU norms or five per cent below private sector earnings, whichever be the lower.
Thesis 5: Semi-state companies should be sold as far as possible and competition increased to lower the cost of living.
Thesis 6: Neither tax hikes nor welfare cuts should occur until Thesis 1 to 5 have been implemented
Thesis 7: A taxpayer’s charter should index tax bands and credits and the protection of key reliefs.
Thesis 8: The State should not tax the family home
Thesis 9: No person in publicly funded employment should comment on economic policy, this being a conflict of interest.
At least number 9 would spare us having to listen to or read Colm McCarthy as he sharpens his knives still further.
Vox Pop from Claiming the Future event. October 31, 2010Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics.
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Many thanks to D O B for forwarding this.
Some feedback from Creating Our Future… October 31, 2010Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
I’m just posting these comments from sonofstan and Tomboktu up so others can read them…I hope they won’t mind.
That was a bizarre day.
There was much to cringe at, and I might as well get it out of the way: the music for a start – Mary Coughlan, a folkie doing ‘Talkin’ bout a Revolution’ samba drums, a Gospel choir – it was like being stuck inside the collective head of the Galway Arts Festival in about 1987. And a day that starts with Leonard Cohen and his vacuous chocolate box ‘poetry’ is a day that doesn’t deserve to live in my world…
The format was such that it’s not really possible to give a report, since what you experienced very much depended on what table you found yourself at. Tomboktu sets it out above and it followed that – the voting wasn’t nearly as exciting as the Eurovision though – Equality romped home in the values category: next years event will presumably be in its beautiful capital city.
From talking to others, I reckon my table was a little odd, in that there were 4 out 6 members of political parties (SWP, Labour, CP and Green)and 4 out of six who self- identified as ‘left’ and not the more usual ‘progressive’. I don’t think it would be fair to pick out comments made by individuals in that context, though, so a veil descends…
Where it all got decidedly cheesy was in the revival meeting stuff from the stage – ‘aren’t we all great entirely to be here’ -and the uncritical acceptance that new media by itself was so wonderful, it would probably bring us to the promised land, tweet by tweet.
There is a lot of justice in the notion that it’s the LP at prayer, but still, getting 1,000 people into a room to talk about politics is not something many parties could do, and if it were an LP/ ICTU event, it certainly wouldn’t have gotten the numbers…..
As to CL’s question – I don’t think anyone has a clue, and the notion that policy can be somehow done without politics was embarrassingly present in a lot of the stuff I heard.
I’d really like to hear what anyone else who was there thought, though.
I was relieved when almost everybody at my table complained about the wording of the options in session 2A:
2a Economy and environment
Change the current development model and define and measure progress in a balanced way that stresses economic security and social and environmental sustainability. Ensure that natural resources are developed sustainably and benefit the common good over private profit. Drive a strong indigenous economy through links with appropriate Foreign Direct Investment, state-owned enterprises and investing in specific local enterprise strategies. Regulate banking to change the culture from one of speculative banking to one where currently state-owned banks and new local banking models focus on guaranteeing credit to local enterprises and communities. Prioritise a legally binding national sustainable development strategy that caps resource use, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and implements measures to protect our life support systems.
My table-mates asked: What did the organisers mean by “current development model”? What is “appropriate” foreign direct investment. They also said the phrasing tried to pack a number of different ideas into a single option, and the language used was not good for communicating with people who didn’t spend their time analysing policy.
As we went through the sessions, our table got more awkward, giving more time to proposing different points and different wordings for existing points than we were giving time to ranking the suggestions that CoF had offered. At about the third round of voting, two members objected to voting for the ideas at all.
We pointed out that combating and preventing corruption was missing from the set of priorities. One person complained about the one proposal among the set of twenty that looked out to the wider world (in session 3a):
Ensure Ireland’s global role, foreign and economic policies and international relations advances the rights of impoverished and exploited people in the countries of the global south.
It was described as ‘patronising’ that Ireland’s role in the World is seen solely as focusing on the rights of people in the global south. It also needs to deal with the impact of the EU, the WTO, the IMF, etc. on people in Ireland and the “developed world”.
The biggest problem with the structure channeled discussion in to a task that, in my opinion, was “safe” for CoF: ranking the sets of suggestions they had produced. Now, in fairness, there was the chance to add suggestions, but the software and the time available for each the sessions meant that was very squeezed (and literally in the case of the text boxes on their web interface).
For me, the test about the day as a whole will be what happens with the suggestions that were made from the floor (both new points outside the pre-set agenda and proposals to change the wording of points), and whether the CoF people make any real effort to take on board those views. That will be much more difficult than the task today was, as it will need developing a system for longer, considered debate and a decision-making mechanism that allows details and alternatives in the specifics of proposals to be considered and selected from. (For example, on the “Your Ideas” pages of the Claiming Our Future website, I count four different suggestions specifically about low income, and a few others on caps or other restraints at the top of the income and wealth ranges. The differ in details, and there would need to be a piece of work done on developing a coherent proposal or set of linked proposals.) It will have been little more than a cynical exercise if all that comes out of it is that the CoF people now claim they have a mandate for what their ideas and deal only with those.
I was also heartened to discover I was not alone in the criticism of the exclusive use of the Internet (and an email account) to enable people to register and participate.
(I am also confused how the votes were collated. There were 100 tables, and each ranked four sets of five proposals. For session 2a, the total number of votes comes out at 1394. For the other sessions, the total votes were: 1403, 1329 and 1394 (again).)
Thanks to Ed for forwarding this to me during the week, an entertaining, and in some ways quite humble, non-speech from Steve Kilbey at the induction of Australian stalwarts The Church to the ARIA Hall of Fame in Sydney during the week.
Give that man a show, indeed.
Perhaps the best part is when Marty Willson-Piper (like Kilbey, clearly the bearded look is in) gives his thoughts on the preceding twelve or so minutes…
Tony Wilson…After the FAC. October 30, 2010Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.
Seven tracks for late Autumn… October 30, 2010Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.
And since this is a music themed morning… here’s seven tracks I’ve been listening to amongst others recently.
Enjoy, if you can!
We’ll start with a sensitive, compassionate and soulful singer songwriter… Mr. Luke Haines.
21st Century Man
His latest album is, to my ears, excellent.
Now a bit of goth…the enormously entertaining…
O Children – [note to the band, not sure I'd have taken a Nick Cave song title as my name] Pray the Soul Away
Actually if you’re not so gone on that you should hear Luxury Stranger who for some incomprehensible reason think that it’s an astute career move to try to blend a note perfect version of the cure with… er… Husker Du. Not my cup of tea, but… it takes all sorts.
Next up some Oi! I’m listening as well to the Angelic Upstarts these days. Sort of goes with the times. Unlike the Upstarts The Business were…erm… no friends of the far left but they always had a snappy power, more than a little bit metallic, so to speak.
Harry May – The Business
Now here, given the week that’s in it, is a paean to the European Union in an EBM stylee. God only knows if they mean it.
Killing Joke – European Super State
The Beach Boys meet feedback… again…
Girls – Big Bad Mean Motherfucker (thanks by the way to nineteensixtyseven who recommended them).
A big shout to all the losers, misfits, bumpkins, rednecks and whoever…from the Monster Magnet linked…
The Ribeye Brothers – Lonesome Rhodes
And last but not least file under “Gary Clail wouldn’t get away with that today round the Houses of Parliament”.
Tackhead – Hard Left
Now there’s a band who deserve their own “This weekend I’ll…”
This weekend I’ll be mostly listening to…AC/DC’s PowerAge October 30, 2010Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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I’d sort of drifted away from AC/DC in the late 1980s and 1990s – as one does. I hadn’t disavowed metal, but my tastes had run more to all things stoner rock. Anyhow, I happened around 1999 to be in a bar, Manitoba’s (owned by Handsome Dick Manitoba, once of New York punk stalwarts and all round tasteless but entertaining guys, The Dictators) in East Village where the Fleshtones were playing a gig. That was entertaining enough, all standing on the bar on their part, wandering through the crowd and out the front door while still playing their instruments. But as good, in its own way, was the jukebox which included Sin City, a track I hadn’t heard in fifteen or so odd years. After the stale nonsense of much of late 90s indie, which had been near permanently ruined for me by electronica and dance, it sounded like a breath of fresh air. And still does.
We were recently talking about The Saints, but chances were that if you were into punk in London in 76/77 you would encounter AC/DC’s sinewy take on the blues in various clubs. It was amped up, unpretentious, speedy. And just as Motorhead were another band that could transcend genres at a time when genres were amazingly impermeable (just ask anyone over 35) so AC/DC was able to slot neatly into the energy of that period. Of course this was anathema to AC/DC themselves who were entirely antagonistic to the idea that they were ‘punk’, but given that much of punk was mining a not dissimilar seam of charged up blues and hand me down rock and roll it is possible to see this as an example of parallel, or even convergent, evolution.
It’s hard to move past the image of many groups, I think that’s all the more true of the really large international acts whose brand overshadows all else, but when I think of AC/DC I think of a remarkable simplicity in what they do. Now, that’s a mixed blessing – quality control varied over the years and little will persuade me that the 1980s were a fertile time for them after Back in Black and a number of tracks on For Those About to Rock. In fairness their second last album, 2001’s Stiff Upper Lip is a return to form, a series of songs which once more dig deep into the blues…
But for me however iconic Back in Black, truth is that it’s the earlier Bon Scott era that I really love. From High Voltage to Highway to Hell they had a run of albums that connected viscerally to rock/metal. Riff after riff produced as if it were the easiest thing in the world, which in a way it was – at that time.
Bon Scott was a sly knowing presence, he was a little older than the rest of the band, and gave the appearance of having the time of his life. And he sang about bad times as well as good, and in a way that locked directly into what can be considered a genuinely working class discourse – for better and worse.
But it’s the songs as well, displaying a wit in the lyrics, an economy and unexpected nuance (the guitar lines in ‘What’s Next to the Moon’, the pulsing bass on ‘Down Payment Blues’ or the laid back riff in ‘Gone Shootin”) and a power that propels them forward. And again, look at the times. These songs are for the most part short, none overstays its welcome. And one stone classic in the shape of ‘Sin City’.
What’s Next to the Moon
Gimme A Bullet
Sin City (live)
This week on the Irish Election Literature Blog… October 29, 2010Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.
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Another round-up from AK on the IELB, and some extremely timely pieces of election literature here…
From 1991 a leaflet for Labour candidates John Byrne and Carmel McKenna running in Bray. Carmel McKenna ran for People Before Profit in the 2007 General Election.
An ad for Irene King running for Kevin Bolands Aontacht Eireann in the 1973 General Election
A Leaflet for the 2009 Socialist Youth Summer Festival.
From Dermot Looney ‘Fed up with Fianna Fail -Look to Labour for a real alternative’.
From 2004 Roy Hassey running for the SWP in Waterford.
Finian McGrath -Fighting for Jobs on The Northside.
A video from the UK promoting the Robin Hood Bankers Tax.
“Launching a Left Challenge for the Next General Election” featuring Cian Prendiville , The Socialist Party ‘Dáil Candidate for Limerick’
A flyer for The 1% Network Halloween treasure hunt around Ballsbridge -October 30th ….Come in Fancy Dress
Meanwhile back at the Seanad… October 29, 2010Posted by WorldbyStorm in back at the Seanad.
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…I’ve missed a week or two of this. But no matter, the debates aren’t that different from last time we looked in. A Bank Holiday this week so naturally the Seanad sat for…er… two days.
Let’s start with a quick word from Senator Jim Walsh (FF) about ‘the real cost of our public service’.
Senator Jim Walsh: There has to be accountability; we can no longer continue to hide. At the time I was critical of the Government for failing to take action against those who were culpable and criminally negligent in the HIV scandal. People died as a consequence of the gross negligence of individuals within the service and there should have been accountability.
Another aspect of the case which is a concern – this has arisen in other inquiries we have examined in the House, such as the Dublin-Monaghan bombings – is the failure of people to keep proper records. There has been criticism in this instance that the inquiry had tremendous difficulty getting any details on the records of social workers and the management of social workers within the system. That is intolerable when we have all sorts of management procedures in place. People in the public service are extremely well paid now, so the lack of performance in this area, or any area of the public service, is no longer acceptable.
I would like an earlier debate than is proposed on the Croke Park agreement and suggest we could debate this on a weekly basis. Last week, I raised the issue of lecturers and professors within our universities who are paid in excess of 50% more than their counterparts in Britain. It is on the public record of these Houses in recent times that many of them only lecture for six hours per week. I know they do research and spend time on preparation, but these conditions bring into focus the amount of money being paid and the lack of value we receive for it. I would like to highlight that the Chief Justice in Ireland receives €130,000 a year more than the Chief Justice in the United States.
Senator Jim Walsh: We cannot continue to pay these kinds of salaries. When I listened to the Dáil debate yesterday, I heard Ministers focus on what people in the public service who earn less than €100,000 get, because it was a good soundbite, rather than focus on the real cost of our public service.
It’s a bit hard to divine his intention, is he saying that 100k plus salaries are more typical of the public service, or is he simply complaining about the public service full stop? Who knows?
Meanwhile who could shoe-horn the public sector into a discussion on savings… who indeed, who indeed?
Senator Eoghan Harris: Senator O’Toole drew attention to the fact that our savings amount to over €100 billion. Some €88 billion of that is private savings and commonsense tells us a considerable portion of it must come from public servants such as the one who resigned recently on a pension of €155,000. What will he do with it? His children are presumably reared and his House is presumably paid for so he is probably saving it.
Senator Eoghan Harris: We must find some way of extracting that idle €88 billion. One of the ingenious suggestions is that the Government should borrow from its citizens instead of borrowing abroad. It could set up a national bond, as was done during the War of Independence, where the citizens take part of the national debt at attractive rates. Look how effective the SSIA scheme was. If the Government offered an attractive rate of return and the scheme was guaranteed to the citizens, it would release the €88 billion fairly rapidly.
I draw attention to the fact that this is not a poor country. A sum of €88 billion does not argue a poor country. In that respect, I was baffled to read on Aertel on bank holiday Monday that Ireland is the number one international choice for inward investment. I did not read that in a newspaper, I did not see it on television and I did not see it reported as the number one item on the news. If we are the number one inward investment destination in the world, I would have thought it was worth headlines or that the Government would have its public relations staffers selling the good news. We hear so little of it.
The odd thing is that there is indeed a ‘national bond’ of sorts as Paschal Mooney pointed out in the next minute:
Senator Paschal Mooney: I am glad that Senators O’Toole and Harris raised the question of savings. Members on this side of the House and our colleagues in the other House have had discussions with the Minister for Finance on how this can be utilised in the national interest. In the context of the Minister coming to the House, perhaps this can be teased out in more detail. As currently instituted, the national recovery bond term is too long. Most of the people who have money are near or at retirement age and a ten-year term proves to be too long to leave the money in place. Perhaps a reduced period of between three and five years should be available. I wrote to the Minister in this regard and the matter is being actively discussed. The post office savings bond, which currently holds between €3 billion and €5 billion, can be used immediately by the Government unlike the national recovery bond. It is paying a rate in excess of 3%, which is competitive with the commercial banks. I ask for a more proactive marketing campaign targeted at the people who have money, as pointed out by Senators O’Toole and Harris.
Then some thoughts about the Roscommon abuse case…
Senator Eoghan Harris: I support Senators Norris and Walsh in their belief that the fundamental problem in Roscommon was a dereliction of duty by public servants. There have been other reasons adduced and there is much merit in Senator Alex White’s belief that in the background a certain amount of foot-dragging was caused by the constitutional protection afforded to the family. This certainly causes people to look over their left shoulder at the Constitution. Perhaps public servants are now looking over their right shoulder at the Freedom of Information Act. Many journalists informally agree that the Freedom of Information Act, which was meant to illuminate large policy decisions and protect the public purse, may be inhibiting public servants from making decisions they should make. Nevertheless, that does not excuse the failure of the will, what the Greeks called akrasia, a failure to do one’s duty. In that respect, I wonder what kind of training public servants now get in the culture of decision making, of integrity and of standing up and having some basics of moral courage. Parnell said that the Irish people had huge respect for moral courage because it was such a scarce commodity in Ireland. There is a lot of truth in that in the public sector.
Mention has been made of a right wing organisation supporting the children. It calls itself a Catholic organisation, but I think that is a travesty of Catholicism. It is just a fundamentalist family organisation. Its support reminds me of Lenin saying the Communist Party should support the bourgeoisie. The organisation in question supported the children as a rope supports the hanging man.
A perhaps more measured contribution…
Senator Ivana Bacik: I, too, welcome the debate on the Roscommon abuse report. Like others, I am appalled and saddened by the terrible failures of the State it discloses. It does not bear thinking about that for 25 years, from when the family concerned first came to the attention of social services in 1989 to 2004 when the HSE finally took some of the children into care, these six children were subjected to such horrific abuse. I know we all feel that way.
Senator McDonald is correct that it is not just that there were failures during that lengthy period by individual social workers or the health care system but also that there was a failure by the political system to provide the legal and constitutional framework within which this family would have been treated differently and within which, as Senator Alex White stated, there would have been a different threshold for intervention. The children’s rights referendum is essential because it would provide that different culture or legal or constitutional framework within which social workers and the HSE would be able to operate and intervene at a different and earlier stage to prevent this type of appalling abuse from happening.
Other Members referred to the Kilkenny incest report and the Sophia McColgan case. Many brave individuals, young adults, who were abused as children have come forward in order that this would not happen to other children. We owe it to them to ensure we change the framework to ensure this does not occur again. I urge the Government to set a date for the holding of the referendum. There has been much debate and work done on the wording. We are all agreed that it is essential the rights of the child come before the rights of the marital family. Unfortunately, there is undue deference in our Constitution to the rights of the marital family, enabling the type of sinister intervention we saw in this case to have occurred by a right wing organisation. That, too, must be investigated.
It gets more heated too…
Senator Rónán Mullen: I am not sure that today is the day to debate this important report. It seems to me to be an exercise in window dressing because I wonder how many of us will have had an opportunity to give it the scrutiny it deserves. If we were operating in a mature fashion we would be debating this report early next week, having had an opportunity to consider it properly. Instead, we will have bland statements to the effect that the Seanad discussed it and were we not wonderful but that is no substitute for genuine concern for children’s rights and welfare.
We are being invited to believe by some that if we had passed the proposed constitutional referendum we would have less of this kind of abuse. I found Geoffrey Shannon’s intervention on “Morning Ireland” this morning to be deeply cogent, very clear and wonderfully passionate. Nothing I have heard here today was any substitute for the clarity and the depth of knowledge with which Mr. Shannon spoke. He made it very clear that it is no excuse to invoke the absence of better constitutional protection for children’s rights. I am open to that debate and if we can give extra constitutional impetus to the need to intervene in favour of children’s welfare, by all means we should do so but we should not cover up or make excuses for people who were in radical dereliction of their duty—–
Senator Rónán Mullen: —–by trying to use this to gain some political leverage for a constitutional referendum proposal which needs to be debated on its merits. There is a certain denial about the failure of people to simply do their duty. Red herring no. 1 is the Constitution. It is not an issue. The law was in place. People in this House have been quick to condemn the Church, and rightly so, for not coming up to the moral mark even when the law was not as clear as it should be about what needed to be done in the area of reporting yet they are making excuses for people who did have a clear legal mandate—–
And in truth for once this is serious…so let us leave it at that.
That Sunday Business Post poll… October 28, 2010Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
Many thanks to AK from the IELB (and in way this parish too) for the following analysis of the most recent Sunday Business Post poll.
Looking at the poll initially it’s Fianna Fáil’s 18 per cent that catches the eye. 23 or 24 per cent was assumed to be their bottom line as despite everything they had been solid at that level in Red C Polls since April.
As a sample Fianna Fáil polled just over 18% (74,302) of the vote in the 2009 European Elections in Dublin. On the last count Eoin Ryan had 76,956 votes. Fianna Fail are now at 14% in Dublin and even less transfer friendly.
Look at 3 seaters such as the two Tipperary’s. Fianna Fáil have 3 TDS, on 18% they could possibly lose all three seats. That’s how bad it is. Six months ago they would have easily held on to two. At that level few if any FF seats are safe. Not alone that but it’s going to be almost impossible to implement any kind of vote management in lots of constituencies where there are two incumbents. Fianna Fáil’s predicament in Dublin is exacerbated by the demise of the PDs, one of their major sources of transfers.
Again Fine Gael are solid with a gain of 1% to 32%. So Kenny’s leadership is safe for another while at least. They are 5 points up from their 2007 election performance. Given the perception that they are more supportive of the Governments policies than Labour, Its hard to see them going much higher.
Labour at 27% is an increase back to where they were in June. The cost of the bank bailout must surely have been part of this gain. Whilst Labour have committed themselves to the €3bn in cuts, it is worth asking did they commit themselves to the €5bn to €7bn being talked about at the minute? I suspect too that Labour would do well to take a leaf out of Sinn Féins recent proposals “…for TDs salaries to be cut by 20 per cent and Ministers salaries by 40 per cent.”
Sinn Féin are down 1%, they have come up with some decent policies (an example above) but still appear to have an issue in terms of the 10% support barrier. It’s a pity we don’t have a decent breakdown of Independents/others as they have gone from 6% in June to 10% now. Some of it must be a shift to some of the Parties on the Left but it would be interesting if they could separate Independents and small parties.
Back then to Fianna Fáil’s prospects…
Pat Leahy in his analysis made an excellent point regarding the drop in Fianna Fáil’s vote.
Why this change and why now?
One of the most important messages of the long and regular series of Red C polls is that a lot of the political flim-flam that preoccupies the political classes and political media goes over the head of ordinary voters. They simply don’t notice or care what politicians are saying most of the time. However, some events do break through and register as profound and lasting movement on the political matrix. This is the first Sunday Business Post poll since the announcement of the full cost of the banking rescue (Black Thursday).
He’s right too. The cost of the Bank Bailout led many to question if Saint Brian was all he was cracked up to be and if Fianna Fáil even knew what they were doing.
It’s also a case that a lot of the disgust over the whole crisis has previously been aired towards the political classes rather than Fianna Fáil, “They’re all the same … only in it for themselves…” and other staples. Fianna Fáil now talk about ‘peoples faith in politics’ in what is an attempt to associate the opposition to themselves.
The problem now for Fianna Fáil is that we have another “event” in the Budget coming up. Last year we had Lenihan’s Levies and some other cuts that were direct to the pocket of workers. One factor that stopped a total collapse in FF support was the anti-Public sector cheerleaders who were only too delighted to see Public Servants pay being cut, ‘living in the real world’ and so on.
Now though everyone will be hit both in their pocket and through services. (as an aside I was talking to someone who works in a hospice. As patients pass away, their beds are no longer being filled. So preparations are well underway.) As we know ‘everything is on the table’ (bar of course judges pay and pensions).
The poll also asked if voters would prefer the government to make cuts in public services rather than raise taxes? 45% agreed, 33% disagreed. So we have a split over cuts and taxes and that is without even asking about the time-frame all this should be done in.
The budget cannot be done with just cuts alone. They will have to raise taxes too. There will be some of the usual ‘tough but fair’ statements about the budget. So if they are cutting, they will have to cut all payments. Child benefit looks as if it will be cut, payments for each child to be the same.
To please some of the papers they might put a limit on the number of children that can be claimed for. They will also put limits on the amount of dole money someone can get. This to hit the stereotypical family with 42 children living in a council house minting it in welfare where it wouldn’t be worth their while getting a job.
Services will be cut and I’m wondering, even with the Croke Park Deal in place can there be new Public Service Levies on the public sector. That is if that deal survives.
As for tax increases, I think they can get away with an increase in the levy. A Property Tax though is something that will kill them. How do you value a property at the minute? Then for many at the minute having a property is a liability rather than an asset. What about landlords, do they pay? What about NAMAed apartment blocks that are rented out as they can’t sell them? Then we’ll have Mr and Mrs Angry all over Ireland who are “paying a property Tax to pay public servants massive pensions”
This of course is only a small sample.
So the budget is going to hurt almost everyone. Some more so than others. Some are prepared to accept pain, others not. No matter what it wont be ‘fair’.
A few examples… On Monday I listened to Dermot Ahern defend salaries of up to 200k a year for those developers in NAMA. Then there is the simple things such as a minister using the car or jet in a manner they shouldn’t have. Even the recent corruption charges councillors, they are small fry, yet they are being charged whilst nobody has yet to face any charges as regards the effective economic collapse of our country.
So I think the budget will make people even more aware of the failings of ‘the system’ allied to them being hit in their pockets. Fianna Fáil on 14% next time?
The one question asked by those that only take in ‘events’ will be asked again… “I don’t understand why they can’t go after the bankers?”.