Buying the election
FIANNA Fail, the Taoiseach said yesterday in Westport, can win the next election if they remain disciplined, coherent and united. As he spoke, an event occurred on the other side of the country which may have a greater influence on the outcome than any of those virtues.
This was the publication in Dublin of the latest monthly set of Exchequer Returns, which show the property boom still steaming, employment and consumption still spectacular, and tax revenues pouring into the Government's hands faster than ministers can spend the money.
When Finance Minister Brian Cowen presents his annual Budget to the Dail in December, he can give away ?2.5bn or more and still restrict the deficit to 0.8pc of gross national product. He can thus claim to be prudent, responsible and generous: virtues which in the public mind more than equal those of discipline, cohesion and unity.