#Budget14: Labour gets a fillip as Noonan gambles on a rising economic tide…

Well the mood music at the Fine Gael’s National Conference was pretty upbeat. They reckoned that offering free medical cards for the under fives was going to frame the post budget debate, and they weren’t wrong.

Most striking aspect of the opposition’s problem (mostly FF’s) was in trying to land a single major blow on the intricate tracework of the Michael and Brendan show yesterday.

They reduced the target somewhat by restructuring repayments on the deficit less painful. Medical cards changes substantially repackage the considerable difficulties they are having with overall health reforms.

Put simply there’s not enough money in the kitty (at least in the short term) to even begin to copy the UK’s free at the point of delivery model.

Although, as Harry Magee notes, it is Labour that might expect some fillip from these headline stories:

This time when the party put ‘political facts on the ground’ such as free GP care for under fives, protecting class sizes, and protecting social welfare rates, it more or less made good on its promises.

This time around it is perhaps Noonan and Fine Gael who will face the greater flak than Howlin and Labour. And that is in the context of Howlin always getting the short straw in terms of having to announce cuts.

There’s no major controversy lurking and perhaps Labour will sense they have had the slightly better day today, if they make adjudications in that light.

Well, will it be enough to get the Labour party through another budget or two, not least since Ireland’s jerry-built taxation system means that some low earners (as little as €30k) are burdened with high rate payments?

Much depends on rising expectations of economic growth. Noonan’s forecast yesterday was for a rise to 2%, the ESRI has been even more optimistic citing 2.7%.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • Nordie Northsider

    ‘…perhaps Labour will sense they have had the slightly better day today…’

    But only for a little while. After every budget in recent years has come an unravelling of certain provisions, which are found to be faulty or just blatantly unfair. At first glance, for example, standardising maternity benefit at €230 per week seems reasonable, but people are already pointing out that it amounts to an average reduction of €32 per week. That kind of sleight of hand only works for so long.
    Even leaving fairness aside, there is a great vagueness about much of ‘Labour’s side’ of the budget. Howlin’s costings aren’t a patch on Noonan’s and many of the projected savings seem more inspirational than quantifiable. Also the ‘goodies’ in this budget (a boost for the construction industry, for example) aren’t playing to Labour’s constituency.

  • Nordie Northsider

    ‘aspirational’ rather than ‘inspirational’. My kingdom for an editing facility.

  • John Ó Néill

    Harry McGee’s analysis is very weak in one area: “protecting social welfare rates” when those rates were cut for under 26s. On RTÉ PrimeTime Mary Murphy (a Labour National Executive member) admitted it was a cut in core rates breaching the programme for government. Given that, in the poor showing of 6% in the last Ipsos/MRBI poll, Labours strongest demographic was 18-24 year olds (where they had 10%), I doubt they are overly happy today. And the free GP care scheme for under 5s hasn’t been detailed out and, on past experience with recent budgets, the devil is always I’m the detail.

  • John Ó Néill

    …in the detail… damn autocorrect.

    By the way Labour Youth has also been venting at Eamon Gilmore since last night too.

  • Mick Fealty

    Saw that John, next stop Ogra?

  • Greenflag

    The large print giveth and the small print taketh away .To them that hath shall be given and to them that hath not even that which they have not shall be taken away from them .For that is the law of Milton Freidman/Ayn Rand / GOP/ Tory and Corporate Fascism and Neo Conservative ideological ‘economics’.

    A face saver for Labour as FG knows that Gilmore was hanging by his fingertips and looking ike taking his party back to the Dail post the next election in a taxi ,And what would poor Blueshirt do then poor boys ?

  • John Ó Néill

    Ógra? Based on current Labour business model, you openly vent so party has two public faces. When credibility is being strained by that, you then go Indy. Once you have been in purgatory long enough (eg Penrose), you are quietly re-assimilated. I assume all Labour rebel TDs will re-join prior to next election as part of change of leadership, and most are outside of the tent with that in mind.

  • Nordie Northsider

    From RTÉ’s report on the Dáil debate, here’s another example of how budget provisions tend to unravel:

    ‘Independent TD Stephen Donnelly said reducing the dole for 25-year-olds was a human rights issue, claiming it discriminated on age grounds.’

    It’s probably true that the Government can defend itself by saying that other social welfare payments do just that: discriminate on age grounds. But the accusation itself is damaging, and what if someone like Donnelly sponsors a test-case? Not good PR for Labour.

  • Barry the Blender

    Of course if there was no border then Ireland would be the economic powerhouse of europe #itsallpartitionsfault

  • Greenflag

    @Barry the Blender ,

    Read today’s Wall St Journal. Theres a nice article on a glass building on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay in Dublin and various legal entities and nominal corporate directors and Matheson’s and the Bermudas and if you read to the very end you may understand why the ordinary people /taxpayers of Ireland , the UK and the USA are getting screwed by their governments and their governments corporate supporters .

    Theres also a interesting corporation tax table which shows the ‘theoretical ‘difference between the very high corporation tax of the USA (35%) and the very low corporation tax of Ireland (12.5%) .The explanation as to why US Corporations pay little or no tax to the USA is in the detail once you manouevre your way through that glass building and a few offshore tax havens and the double Irish and the double Dutch sandwich . Meanwhile the American , British and Irish people are hung out to be crucified on the backs of corporations who benefit from deregulation and keep their profits overseas away from their countries of origin lest they be taxed at all at all . Meanwhile the American Congress and the British Parliament and the Irish Dail play musical chairs with any remaining taxplayers who are too little to join the offshore capital banksters and mobsters and yes it’s all perfectly legal .Why would’nt it be . Did’nt our politicians approve of all that carry on decades ago in the case of Ireland and the USA -centuries ago in the case of the City of London ,

  • John Ó Néill

    Labour Youth website as been taken offline now (and the @labouryouth account has gone silent). With fillips like these, who needs problems?

  • paulG

    Another failure to sort out wasteful expenditure in the civil service or replace universality in child benefit, pensions or now free medication, with a targetted system for those in need.

    This time, now that the private sector has been bled dry, they’ve resorted to imaginary savings from the Department of Health which everyone knows will never happen.

    Can’t believe the German’s bought it.

  • aquifer

    Is it time for an online retail offer of ROI sovereign debt?

    We may as well have the extra percents as the Bundesbank.

    Savings rates in sterling are crap.

    And if it all goes belly up we can go down the road and drink whatever funny money we end up with.