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Terrible, terrible… populism… terrible… March 6, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Wow, Stephen Collins is full-on in his critique of FF for having the temerity to say it wouldn’t support FG on water charges. For this desperate political crime Collins comes out giving it both barrels…

Fianna Fáil’s cynical approach to water charges has demonstrated that the party is unfit for government for the foreseeable future.

Do go on…

The espousal of “new politics” over the past year had helped to rehabilitate Fianna Fáil’s reputation but by lining up with Sinn Féin and the hard left in outright opposition to water charges it has reverted to the worst kind of populist politics.


It is now advocating a policy that is illegal and damaging to the environment. It would also inevitably cost the Irish taxpayer hundreds of millions of euro in EU fines.


Fianna Fáil’s approach to water charges proves it has learned nothing from its past mistakes and raises serious questions about whether it can be trusted with the levers of power.

Though he’s not completely wrong here:

It is difficult to believe but Fianna Fáil actually sponsored the introduction of water charges as part of the programme for government agreed with the Greens.

And yet. I don’t know. Yet again we see the near-fetishistic focus by a section of the orthodoxy on water charges. For Collins this is token of ‘good governance’, and yet to a sceptical eye it looks strange. Because water charges aren’t existential. The state doesn’t stand or fall on their introduction or removal. And there’s something entertaining about the following:

Fianna Fáil did not remain in power long enough to devise a system for water charging. That fell to the Fine Gael/Labour coalition which, after a good deal of dithering, made a mess of its introduction.
Nonetheless, 63 per cent of households were paying water charges by the time negotiations for government began after last year’s election.

63%? That’s a terrible terrible figure. And the lack of buy-in by the population is telling. Now Collins may think it worth defending that to the hilt, but nope, others don’t. And horror of horrors, for Collins there’s the problem that:

In choosing to ignore all of the expert advice on the desirability of a proper water-charging system and the prospect of EU fines Fianna Fáil is at one with Sinn Féin and the Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit. That says more about the party’s lack of direction than anything else.
If Fianna Fáil has shown itself to be spineless and irresponsible on the issue, Minister for Housing Simon Coveney has shown himself to be the exact opposite. He has enhanced his reputation by firmly rejecting the Fianna Fáil approach regardless of the consequences for the future of the Government.

Whereas Collins has nothing but plaudits for one S. Coveney. Though even…

Coveney can be faulted for opening the door to Fianna Fáil opportunism last April when, in his eagerness to strike a deal on the formation of Government, he conceded that the abolition water charges could be a matter for negotiation at an Oireachtas committee.
The subsequent confidence and supply arrangement between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil owes more to Coveney than anybody else. Fianna Fáil may have calculated that because the Minister had shown so much patience in the effort to put the Government together he would give way on water.
In adopting a tough line in defence of the national interest he has shown a commendable willingness not to become addicted to power at any price.

In a way there’s something terribly sad about this almost faux-macho adherence to a line of ’toughness’ and so on. It’s an empty rhetoric. And worse is the absurd point about ‘willingness not to become addicted to power at any price’. Were that true the government would collapse today as Coveney et all walked away. But they don’t. They don’t.

And on it goes… absurd predictions.. genuinely absurd…

If Coveney sticks to his guns and refuses to legislate for the abolition of water charges he will mark out Fine Gael as a serious party of government on the side of the law-abiding majority of citizens who were willing to pay their water charges. After a bad election and a torrid year in office it could even be a platform for the party’s recovery.

Yeah, FG will race to increased numbers by this approach. I don’t know. What to make of it?


1. ivorthorne - March 6, 2017

One of the things that misleads when people discuss the water charges and compliance rates is that for tenants, failure to pay meant that landlords could deduct it from their deposit. In fact, some of those who are registered as complying may have had their bill paid in that way.

I really am sick of hearing about how the “majority” paid when you have to squint to make that figure work. And even then, saying that the majority of citizens were willing to pay is a joke. I’d be “willing” to give a gunman my car keys if his AK47 was pointing in my direction but I think it would be easier to say that I was coerced into compliance with his demand.


2. irishelectionliterature - March 6, 2017

The thing is that Cowen (and FF) don’t give a shit about water charges , it was all an excuse for Cowen to act macho and appeal to the grassroots. It could have been any issue.
The thing Collins missed out on was praising Labour, who have been more than full in their self praise recently over their role in bringing in water charges .


3. Ed - March 6, 2017

“hundreds of millions of euro in EU fines.”

It’s hard not to picture a certain engorgement on the author’s part when he imagined that prospect.


4. Aengus Millen - March 6, 2017

It’s blasphemy I know but I’ve always been somewhat open to Vincent Browne’s argument that socialists parties shouldn’t be getting people in the habit of opposing taxes. Although I understand the opposition to meters, the privatization of the infrastructure and the fact that its a sort of flat tax. However I do feel the left has backed itself somewhat into a corner where any charge for overuse or anything similar will be seen as selling out. However obviously FF is not a socialist party and their opposition has always been opportunistic. I mean I guess from the point of view of someone who could see themselves voting for FF you could say that this shows that they are unprincipled but for any student of Irish political history that shouldn’t come as a galloping shock. I think its absolutely wrong to suggest that FG will benefit from this there’s no-one outside of the core that stayed with them at the last election who will support water charges. However I do secretly wonder if pretty soon FF will miss their chance and FG’s number will improve simply because they preside over a government where the world hasn’t ended.

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