Water story – or is the LP changing its narrative slightly? March 7, 2017Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
Odd piece by Pat Rabbitte in the SBP at the weekend – and it links into a point made by IEL here in comments in relation to the Stephen Collins story on water charges in the IT last week. Rabbite examines the issue and like Noel Whelan and Collins finds FF wanting. In particular he argues that ‘one would have expected the party that originated water charges in 2010 would have little difficulty in adopting the Commission proposal at that ere ought only charging ‘for excessive use’’. Perhaps so, and yet could one not argue similarly that one might have expected the party that was vehemently opposed to such charges in the 1990s might have remained so into the 2010s? That would, of course, be the Labour Party.
Indeed rather entertainingly he writes that ‘Labour’s original stance that every household should have a generous water allowance with charging for excessive use looked like becoming the marjoity position of the Oireachtas Comm9ttte until the latest U-Turn by FF’.
But again, that wasn’t Labour’s original stance on water charges – at one point. They were firmly against. Why is it that that change isn’t explained?
And why is it quite so incomprehensible to him that FF, for all its flaws, might not want to impose water charges, for entirely political reasons of course, given that they showed no huge appetite to impose same pre-crisis? Indeed it is this long running sense of water charges as proving a sort of political virility outside all proportion as to their actual importance (for the right) that is fascinating.
And what of this comment of Rabbitte’s?
There is no denying the damage that the water controversy has done to the LP. There is no comfort for the party in the knowledge, that, even for some people in the public protests, the issue was not water at all, but austerity. But water was the last straw and political circumstances inducing a by-election fell kindly for the protesters.
Of course it wasn’t just water. Of course it was austerity. Water became token of austerity. And rightly so. And it was never ‘just’ austerity. Austerity had very real impacts – continues to do so, will do so into the future.
What’s particularly interesting is that he appears to be wanting to say that for all that LP was hesitant or reluctant to introduce water charges, at least in the form they appeared.
…there is no denying the conflict that took place [between FG and the LP] on water. It was exacerbated by the original decision, driven by the troika, to complete in two to three years what experts advised should take five to seven years.
But hold on, here he seems to be saying that at best the LP was only concerned about the timescale, not the actuality of water charges.
Yet he complains that the FG/LP government ‘published a minimum average household charge, before the local elections urged by FG… however it was the the decision by someone in FG to organise the leaking of the charges before the cabinet met that led to the worst knockdown brawl between the two parties’.
And he continues:
The FG-LP government might well have fallen arising from that cabinet meeting. FG ministers underestimated the significance of charging for water. Five out of six LP ministers were present for the water item and all made their feelings vehemently known.
Does that mean that they were completely against it? And…
Some in the party may now regret that Labour did not withdraw after that dispute.But local elections were imminent and could the party justify collapsing a government that was created to handle the biggest economic crisis since independence?
Then as now there were and are bigger issues facing the country. But to create a new dispute that,we are told, may lead to a general election when the issue is narrowed to charging for excessive use is almost beyond comprehension.
Yet, yet, yet, he himself admits that at a more parlous time (from his perspective) the LP was close to collapsing the coalition. And he himself admits that LP Ministers were ‘vehemently’ against water charges.
Yet he takes FF to task for adopting a similar position?
All very strange.
And as IEL notes, Labour has recently been ‘full in their self praise recently over their role in bringing in water charges’. This column by Rabbitte appears to diverge every so slightly from that. How on earth does he/they square that circle?