Sunday 27 May 2018

End of austerity era should be reflected in bright fresh faces around Cabinet table

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny

National politics is all about the power of persuasion to your point of view. This Govern-ment desperately needs to reconnect with popular opinion after the drubbing of local/European elections. Offering old wine in new bottles doesn't work. Enda Kenny now has a unique opportunity for an Operation Transformation recasting of the actors and script of this Government's narrative. It looks like he's about to bottle it by not dropping a single senior minister from Cabinet.

Tectonic plates shifted for the Government this week. And it wasn't anything to do with a reshuffle. The watershed was the official ending of the austerity era. A new consensus is emerging about budgetary prospects for 2015. A combination of half-year exchequer returns, revised GDP/GNP statistics, ever improving growth forecasts and contemporary budget submissions mean that the public finances have shifted from a vicious circle to a virtuous cycle.

The trajectory of deeper spending cuts, higher taxation, resulting in depressed consumer spending is set to be replaced by extra revenue, less welfare costs achieved by more consumption, investment and employment. After five hairshirt years, expect two benign budgets to accelerate the feelgood momentum. A dramatic shift is now possible in the Government's story from discipline to development.

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