The Coalition… July 19, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
Backroom in the Business Post makes an excellent point this last weekend. S/he writes that though the government sought to start with a fresh slate after the previous incumbents:
…as the months have passed, some of the old habits of Fianna Fáil in government have begun to resurface. Some days Enda Kenny does a passable impression of Bertiespeak, albeit with his soft Mayo accent. Ministers show occasional flashes of arrogance or impatience at an opposition which seeks to turn every drama into a crisis. Labour is getting particularly tetchy with Sinn Féin.
I hadn’t really thought of Kenny’s performance in those terms, but there’s definitely something to it. The mannered pauses, the increasing tendency to waffle, and the sometimes oddly personalised attacks on opposition spokespeople. All present and accounted for. As for the Ministers, where has Backroom been for the duration of Phil Hogan’s tenure as Minister? Though the point about the LP and SF is well made, one R. Quinn most recently being the exemplar of that.
Of course what this government doesn’t have is the stench of five austerity budgets behind it. That’s what did for FF in the end, well that and the bank guarantee and the arrival of the IMF, and the list goes on. And that there was an ‘emergency budget’ in there. That was bad. Very bad.
And for all the problems facing the Coalition there is a sense that they’re a safer pair of hands than their predecessors. That’s thin stuff on which to set out the next election stall but it’s not nothing, as was the case for Fianna Fáil.
But if as Backroom seems to argue the Government does simply align with an FF lite approach in presentation and activity as much as in policies – which is of course the case – then it will be ceding the field to both SF, and potentially FF in a smaller scale way.
Backroom notes that Kenny has said that the Budget will be dealt with in private, in direct contradiction to his and FG’s statements out of office. It was ever thus, naturally. But it shows how simply taking office has shaped responses. And I’d go a little further in suggesting that taking office in a context where decision making has in large part been handed to external bodies, even if only for oversight, has been enormously problematic. FG and the LP to a much lesser extent may think that that provides them with cover in terms of decision implementation, but I doubt it.
Funnily enough Backroom echoes a point made last week by Cormac Lucey when talking about ‘balanced’ budgets, as if they were politically neutral and entirely divorced from ideology. S/he says:
Backroom would suggest that the government ask every special interest group which makes a submission seeking special treatment or extra spending to identify where the money should come from (apart from the mythical ‘efficiency’ savings).
The Irish people are not fools. They are well aware that everything has to be paid for. Debating how we make those choices in an open and robust way would obviously be much better that the current shadow boxing that goes on.
The thing is that the answer to many of these requests from government would be quite straightforward. Increased income taxation and a proper property tax at higher levels. Unfortunately, as we know, that’s an ideological non-starter with this coalition.
And it’s that that for all Backroom’s correct calls for reform of various governmental and budgeting processes that shows yet again the terrain upon which his/her argument is based. I hesitate to call it reactionary, or perhaps it is reactionary, but one way or another it’s wedded to the orthodoxy.