Sunday 11 December 2016

Labour makes election time 'pitch to the rich'

Published 04/01/2016 | 02:30

Tánaiste Joan Burton. Photo: Tom Burke
Tánaiste Joan Burton. Photo: Tom Burke

Early signs are that the election 'phoney war' may not last much longer. As the extended holidays end today for the vast majority of workers, it is generally accepted that the election will be called by the end of this month, with voting in late February.

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Today we are due to get the first of the manifesto launches as Renua Ireland takes the plunge. Somebody has to be the first. But already, the main players in this most unpredictable election for decades have been busy trailing their promises by giving us a flavour of their various manifestos.

Some voters could be forgiven for thinking they are in the political land of other-way-round. In the run-in to Christmas we saw some very determined wooing by Fine Gael of lower-paid workers, with a series of pledges on income. The party has long been more readily associated with business than with poorer workers.

Today, in this newspaper, we see a straight pitch from Labour, the party founded by the trade unions, to catch the attention of better-off voters. Labour leader Joan Burton is pledging a freeze on taxes for anyone fortunate enough to earn more than €120,000 per year.

Labour has also increased the tempo in this nascent campaign by unveiling a mock-up photograph of a gay political wedding between Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, with some prominent leftist politicians also in attendance. The humour may engage voters, but whether they will grasp the underlying sinister warning of upcoming instability remains to be seen.

More broadly, the promises have only just begun as all sides set out their efforts to bribe the taxpayers with their own money.

It is the stuff of election time - and it is positive to see evidence of recession fading.

But it is also disquieting for all of us who have suffered through the past eight years of recession that was compounded by earlier years of excess and financial folly.

We must all strive to listen to reason in the coming weeks.

Irish Independent

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