The main differentiating factor between the Government and the Opposition now seems to be a slightly different emphasis in how they propose to help Michael O’Leary with his electricity bill.
So the Government will dole out €200 or so at regular intervals, while Sinn Féin favours keeping everyone’s power bills where they were last summer.
That’s a saving, they say, of €1,000 to the average household — and presumably several thousand to Michael O’Leary and others who have the burden of heating giant old gaffs.
That Sinn Féin has managed to cost its proposal at all is admirable, suggesting some insight into the price of gas over the next six months. It seems to know more than anyone else.
Even the EU leaders, who have made a vague suggestion of a windfall tax, seem unclear on who would be taxed, how they would be taxed, where they would be taxed, or how the resulting free money will be doled out.
All these shenanigans do tell us a lot about the next election in Ireland.
FF and FG are clearly going to have to make some room in the middle ground for Sinn Féin, which has shifted from the “free money for those who need it” and more towards the FF/FG “free money for all” position.
It is telling too that in a time of competitive mourning, Sinn Féin, bizarrely, seems to have managed to out-mourn the unionists on the death of the Queen.
Indeed the new King seems to prefer Sinn Féin to his actual loyalist followers, despite the fact that SF’s erstwhile comrades murdered the man he regarded as a grandfather.
On the Tonight Show on Thursday night, Mary Lou McDonald talked as much about protecting Foreign Direct Investment and supporting “our incredible entrepreneurs and small business people”, as she did about the struggling classes.
She even referred sympathetically at one point to “some of the small business people I’ve been talking to”.
So Sinn Féin is now the party of business and is closer to the UK than the actual unionists.
FF/FG, not to be outdone, have performed their own switcheroo into SF’s populist arena. Leo Varadkar even spoke during the week about the need to keep some of the free money for next winter, because free money will be needed then too.
Clearly the Government has decided to buy as many votes as possible for the next two years.
Sure the worst that can happen is that Sinn Féin gets into government and is left with the bill for all the largesse that was thrown around to try and keep it out. And poor Sinn Féin has to keep encouraging the Government to spend even more.
Our Government is not alone in trying to outpopulist the populists. Liz Truss became PM by portraying herself as the new Margaret Thatcher and her first act as PM was to promise £100bn plus in free money.
With all this free money around, much of it for people who don’t need it, no wonder Michael O’Leary says airfares will be getting dearer.