When is a commitment not a commitment? When it’s an election ‘commitment’ – natch! June 28, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
Funny reading Niamh Connolly and Pat Leahy in the SBP talking about how ‘the government has signalled a softening of its election commitments not to raise income tax or cut basic rates of social welfare’. Is this genuinely a surprise in these times? If one looks at the state of contemporary politics in Europe (and perhaps further afield) commitments given to electorates, with all due solemnity, are put to the fire as and when the need arises. One need only consider the situation in Greece where a three party coalition of sorts (and Democratic Left there should hang their heads in shame for participation) is ‘committed’ to an array of improbable outcomes. Perhaps there will be a significant renegotiation of the IMF/EU ‘bailout’ but most likely not, or at least not to the degree that they proposed prior to the vote. The great surprise in Greece is not what ND, PASOK and DL did, but rather what SYRIZA didn’t, by not even opting to play the game of government formation but instead standing aside. That’s unusually – perhaps even refreshingly – principled given the stance they went into the contest with.
In the Irish context we see how this is devolving to a question of competing commitments.
Fine Gael believes the commitment on retaining income tax rates can be kept, as there will be property tax and changes to income tax reliefs and exemptions to factor into the equation next year.
“But it’s difficult to see how it’s all possible on the social welfare side.
“The problem is, how do you cut social welfare without increasing income tax?” the source said.
Fear not. Class base will dictate all.
And this post isn’t written from a position of an absolutist antagonism to pragmatism. Situations arise which overwhelm political parties, societies and groups. And sometimes there are occasions where there will be significant changes in policy due to events. It’s not that which rankles, so much as a sense that this is now standard operating procedure, that political parties will say the minimum required to gain electoral office and then will renege on that minimum.
Is it any wonder that there is a continuing disconnect between political activity and citizens and that this deepens all the while? It’s a truism, but one built on fairly solid evidence, that the Labour Party is cruising towards a significant rebuff at the next election with only the scale of that rebuff in question. But this wasn’t a surprise sprung on them a day after Government was formed. And that in a way is the real problem.