Monday 24 October 2016

Auction politics is alive and well as election nears

Published 17/12/2015 | 02:30

Labour's Employment Minister Ged Nash. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Labour's Employment Minister Ged Nash. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Explaining why he steered clear of politics, novelist Louis-Ferdinand Céline said: "I have never voted in my life ... I have always known and understood that the idiots are in a majority so it's certain they will win."

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The current bidding war between Fine Gael and Labour for the hearts and minds - but mostly the votes - of the Irish electorate, bears all the hallmarks of idiocy.

Low-paid voters are to benefit by an increase in the minimum wage by more than €2 per hour if Labour makes it back into government. The merits of this or its affordability are not what matters; the priority is to shore up Labour support, even if it means a bust-up with its putative coalition partners. Fine Gael is alarmed that bumping up the minimum wage will be too much of a burden for small businesses.

Its plan to reel in the voters centres on giving working parents welfare top-ups. But Labour's Employment Minister Ged Nash has dismissed this, saying it is undignified. He is also adamant there will be no "Bertie Ahern-style bonanza".

But from the outside, it looks like auction politics is alive and well. That so many promises and goodies should be in the bag despite appeals for prudence from the ESRI and the Fiscal Advisory Council is a worry. But what is even harder to swallow is the sales pitch being touted by the Coalition that it can offer the country stability, while at the same time the two partners engage in an all-out war with each other to win votes.

Irish Independent

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