Tuesday 21 February 2017

FF has broken out from its purdah and Martin is having an impressive campaign

Published 19/02/2016 | 02:30

Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin. Photo: Tom Burke
Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin. Photo: Tom Burke

The three-week election campaign is proving long and short in equal measure. Time can drag, as in the first week, as contenders play safe for fear of losing ground. But this week, time was flying, with so much to be conveyed to voters; the political equivalent of speed dating. The Government parties must communicate their achievements, particularly at a time of an unprecedented economic catastrophe. To be fair, they probably succeeded in telling that positive story even before the election was called.

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But it takes more than their record to win votes for a second time. Eaten bread is quickly forgotten. It is equally important to set out a vision and costed plan for the next five years that is credible and honest. Talking up the recovery, which has been the principle government message, is premature and not gaining traction. A better message might have been: "We are not there yet; allow us to stay the course." Instead, they, like all outgoing governments, have caved in to the tyranny of cash promises.

The biggest offer is to abolish USC, Fine Gael declaring this particular levy to be "hated". Their word, not ours. True, it is a tough universal tax, a blunt but effective instrument to raise revenue for vital public services. It may not be loved, but it is widely accepted as having been necessary in the circumstances of national penury in which we found ourselves.

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