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Half-wise before the event… February 19, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, European Politics, Irish Politics.
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One wonders if the latest news gleaned from Cabinet Papers that Fianna Fáil Finance Minister Charlie ‘If I have it I’ll spend it’ McCreevy actually warned about many of the elements that contributed to the financial crisis in 2000 is a means of in some way ameliorating the news from the latest polling data that Fianna Fáil is undergoing a resurgence of support.

And yet, it is interesting that McCreevy’s concerns were actually fairly limited. He is on record [this next from the Irish Times] as:

…[criticising] the “huge Estimates demands” submitted by ministerial colleagues to his department ahead of Budget 2000.
He also identified “widespread, unrealistically high” expectation among the public about wage increases, tax relief and current spending, which he said threatened to undermine competitiveness. The “significant uptick” in construction costs was another development which Mr McCreevy believed “seriously threatened” Ireland’s ability to maintain economic and social progress.

When it came to housing he thought that prices were “still rising far faster than prices more generally and far faster than any rate of earnings increase which could be acceptable from a competitiveness standpoint”.

But note that when it came to issues with the banks, not a word. It’s not, of course, that he was wrong about housing, or some aspects of the other issues listed. But this is a partial reading on his part.

And also note that not a word either about the dangers of taking an axe to the income tax system – or more generally about a naive and overly enabling approach – to the point of state complicity – with the financial industry.

Although in fairness, one other element, that of the approbation of various European and international bodies for the supposed ‘Celtic Tiger’ can also be added to the mix, and that would come slightly later in the day.

But let’s not remove autonomy and responsibility from McCreevy. He wasn’t someone who just wandered in one day and found a seat at the Cabinet table with the place card Minister for Finance in front him. He was central to the decision making process that led to the very outcomes we see around us today. And as, perhaps more, importantly, he was a very vocal proponent of the ideology which underwrote that decision making process.

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1. CMK - February 19, 2013

I think the purpose of this ‘revelation’ is the opposite to that implied by the opening paragraph above. I think it’s all part of the rehabilitation process for FF which is proceeding apace and that pace can be intensified now and again on the back of a good poll showing, like the one’s they’ve had recently.

It also strikes me as McCreevy’s testing the water on his ‘reputation’ and with advancing years he probably wants some reassurance that his political life wasn’t a complete and utter waste [memo to Charlie: it was].

The purpose of this seems to me to be getting it out there and into the general narrative that ‘Look, lads, we knew this could go wrong as far back as 2000 but the unions, IBEC, the builders, the bankers, the PDs, the Greens, kept pushing us. If it were up to us the crash would never have happened.’ With the intended consequence of this, in voters minds, being to give FF another chance, after all they’re only human and everyone makes mistakes. ‘Sure, it was REALLY their fault, they were doing the best they could.’

McCreevy, as one of the most strident, contemptuous, brazen exponents of neo-liberalism in this state, and an individual in a position to put his ‘ideas’ into action, deserves not a single scintilla of indulgence. This is an individual who has not a single redeeming feature, politically speaking, and every effort to try to tag his rehabilition onto that of FF should be mercilessly debunked.

Very clever, though, of FF to start subtly shifting the narrative behind the uplift of good polling figures. Proof that polling has its dangers as well as its benefits.

WorldbyStorm - February 19, 2013

That’s interesting, I’ll have to think about the idea it’s part of their rehabilitation.

Hey, I hope I didn’t indulge him at all. I think he’s exhibit A, as to the human face of the problem – which remains capitalism.

CMK - February 19, 2013

Not suggesting you were being indulgent of him, you’re assessment of him above is on the money, but I think the media, in anticipation of the good old days returning with FF’s rise, are going to purposefully ‘complicate’ a straightforward case of pure political incompetence and a series of stunningly stupid decisions. While I’m all for nuance and shades of grey – I think FF’s record 2008-2011 was unequivocally abysmal with no redeeming qualities. And the decisions of that period were built upon hubris of McCreevy et al.


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