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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: July 19, 2008 @ 10:26 am

    Cowen and the vision thing

    Harry McGee

    I happened to be looking through the Fianna Fail manifesto this week. I’d say that well over half of the promises made will be as empty as the Government coffers.

    More school buildings – don’t think so…

    Decrease in taxes – absolutely not.

    Extravagant promises to improve health services – they have collapsed and are now on an emergency drip with np prospect of recovery.

                                                     

    Cowen – and you’ll remember he did all the running during the election campaign – gave himseld a get-out clause. In his own strangled language all of this was predicated on growth of 4.5 per cent going forward.

    To give him his due, he said that NDP infrastructure projects would be prioritised in the event of a downturn.

    The opposition isn’t really in a position to crow. They all made big gestural promises too. I wonder would Fine Gael’s generous stamp duty package really have prevented the property market crash or have made the whallop feel even more painful.

    It’s clear from speeches that Cowen has made since becoming Taoiseach that he has been keen to push an image of a thoughtful, visionary statesman (his speech about redefining Ireland’s relationship with the US is a case in point.  He has a reputation for caution, of a politicician-manager.

    This is the point that I am making. Even if he wants to break out of that, to  come up with novel solution, he finds himself hamstrung by his circumstances.

    Sadly, unlucky general that he is, it has proved impossible for him to lift the gloom surrounding the economy.

    It’s already obvious why he would have preferred to have waited another year to get the captain’s hat and avoid all the blame for the ship with hole in the hull, that’slisting badly to oneside and, to use the lingo of the business world, facing a challenging sinking-fast scenario.

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      Harry, one of the big aspects of Cowen’s persona that was trumpeted as a clean break from Bertie was that he was supposedly a real straight shooter, tell it like it is, no BS kinda guy.

      I’ll admit he is not advising those who see flaws in the economy to top themselves unlike he predecessor, instead he just wants people to adopt an attitude of if ‘you can’t say anything nice, say nothing at all’. In the light of this repeated mantra of ‘don’t talk down the economy’ surely that straight talking man guff is gone for good much like the Irish summer we saw such signs of in May?

    • dealga says:

      I honestly believed at the time that FF were trying to throw the election.

      I figured a recession was clearly on the cards (the credit crunch being a catalyst at most) and voters, being what they are, would have blamed the new government for their woes.

      Meanwhile a rested, rejuvenated FF would be sniping away with abandon from the wings, absolved of all blame for the downturn, ready to sail back into power in 2010 or so, just in time to take the credit for the recovery.

      They should have listened to me.

    • Claire says:

      FF’s manifestos have made for good fiction for a lot longer than last year’s offering: FF promised a completed Metro North by 2007 in their 2002 election manifesto.

    • fall flags says:

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