Middle-class FG will defer naturally to wealthy elite
A vote for Fine Gael is a vote for the infliction of some hundreds of billions of debt on to the Irish people, writes VINCENT BROWNE
IF YOU are voting Fine Gael on Friday, you had better know what you are voting for. Fine Gael could not possibly be as incompetent as Fianna Fáil and in that respect it will be better. Neither does it have loyalties to failed policies. Not yet. The party will be new to government (only three of them will have been in cabinet previously). Several of them will be younger, but there will be very few Fine Gael women in cabinet.
Be clear, in electing Fine Gael to government, you are electing a group of middle-class men, with little sensitivity to the cruelties and inequities of the policies they espouse and who will defer, by default, to financial elites, as did Fianna Fáil. That is the culture of Fine Gael.
Just read the lines and between the lines of its manifesto on the banking issue and ignore, if you can, the gibberish of the following commitment: “A Fine Gael government will seek a mandate from the Irish people to renegotiate a more credible, fairer package that is better for Ireland and for Europe.”
How could a party in government seek a mandate without either a further election or a referendum? And what would be a more “credible” package? The present one is all too credible anyway.
But those questions aside, doesn’t this and the other elements of its chapter on “Banking and Debt Distress”, drip of deference? There is no hint even that we will not tolerate the present arrangement. Not even an explicit commitment that we will notrepay bondholders not covered by the bank guarantee, as happened recently when Brian Lenihan paid €750 million to Anglo Irish bondholders notcovered by the guarantee because the ECB instructed him to do so!
Yes, there is a bit which states: “Fine Gael in government will force[my italics] certain classes of bondholders to share in the cost of recapitalising troubled financial institutions. This will be done unilaterally for the most junior bondholders [owners of preference shares, subordinated debt and similar instruments] but could be extended – as part of a Europe- wide framework – for senior debt”.
You can bet your bottom dollar – if you still have it – that Fine Gael will notforce any classes of bondholders to do anything and will notdo anything unilaterally. Enda’s new best friend forever, Angela Merkel, would not be a bit pleased. However much Angela loves Enda, she loves German banks and German voters even more.
Once there is a mindset that the appeasement of financial elites is in the national interest, ahead of the interest of the people (the argument of course being that these interests overlap), then the interests of the people will be subordinated to the interests of those elites. It happened with the bank guarantee of September 2008, which all parties supported, including Fine Gael andthe Labour Party (Labour later voted against the Bill because of disagreement on technical elements of the enabling Bill, but it supported the principle of the guarantee).
There is not a smidgen in the manifesto suggesting that Fine Gael believes the imposition of the bank debts on the people of this country, irrespective of the hardship this causes, is wrong and that it will not tolerate this.
So if you vote Fine Gael you vote for the infliction of some hundreds of billions of debt on to the Irish people, debt that is not theirs. More specifically, you vote for the repayment of this debt by cuts in social welfare, cuts in health, cuts in education, involuntary redundancies of tens of thousands in the public service and/or cuts in frontline services.
Yes, it is true Fine Gael has promised there will be no involuntary redundancies in the public service or cuts in frontline services, but it is not feasible for them to get 30,000 reductions in public service numbers without refusing to replace frontline workers who leave on retirement (12,000 of these); and they will not get a further 18,000 voluntary redundancies.
The full rigour of the EU-IMF agreement will be brought to bear. Cuts in jobseeker’s allowances (to “reform” the labour market); cuts in child benefit; in single mother’s allowances (a deterrence to teenage pregnancy!); more “flexibility” in employment law (more labour market “reforms”, easing the dismissal of workers); fewer teachers; more illiteracy, more inequality, more poverty.
Meanwhile, the new taoiseach will still be paid more than the British prime minister. Bankers in our insolvent banks (utterly reliant on State support) will be paid half a million or more. Nama will pay out exorbitant fees of lawyers, accountants, estate agents and other “professionals”. The higher rate of income tax will remain untouched, lest the “wealth creators” go into a sulk.
And it won’t be much different if there is a raggle-taggle of Labour ministers added on. Frankfurt’s way or Labour’s way?
What a laugh!