Tuesday 27 September 2016

Kevin Doyle: All the good news could be wiped out with one red herring

Kevin Doyle Group Political Editor

Published 13/10/2015 | 10:26

Taoiseach Enda Kenny arrives at Government Buildings this morning. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Taoiseach Enda Kenny arrives at Government Buildings this morning. Photo: Gerry Mooney

THE weary backbencher spent his weekend knocking on doors, admiring the airbrushed picture on the election posters in his shed and studying the opposition.

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Enda Kenny ruled out an election on Sunday so that gave him some breathing space but only for now.

The election is upon us and while many pundits will argue that elections are won on the ground – many Fine Gael and Labour TDs will tell you today that it will be won in the pockets of their constituents.

It’s the economy stupid.

After seven years of bad news, ministers Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin will today get the opportunity to change the narrative.

It’s not going to be a bonanza but TDs who lurk in the background of government feel that after years of being told that we’re ‘turning a corner’, Budget 2016 might actually get us around onto the other side of the dangerous bend.

Of course, much like the country roads in the backbencher’s constituency, there are potholes to be avoided.

During the bad times it was reasonable to sell a message of ‘we’re all in this together’ – but solidarity is harder to sell when giving money away.

The Budget will target low and middle income earners, vulnerable people, families and the elderly. That’s a lot of boxes being ticked – but if one category feels that another is doing better than them the rows and backlash could start.

Next weekend the backbencher will return to his constituency hoping to have a very different message to sell on the doorsteps.

He is hoping to tell anybody who will listen that there was money for everybody in the Budget, that there will be more next year and the year after if the coalition is re-elected.

And he’s praying that there won’t be a banana skin – because for the all the positivity around Budget 2016 it will just take one red herring, one dodgy decision or one misguided policy to undo all the good news.

To steal a phrase: You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

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