Blue Lines and Red Lines

23rd December, 2010

The political landscape is rapidly changing. Just as economic uncertainty caused huge damage to our country it is vital that we make sure that political uncertainty does not do the same.

Blue Lines and Red Lines

Political parties must now make clear to the electorate where they stand on the tough choices facing the country. A mandate can only come with honesty.

I believe there are certain core Fine Gael policies that should not be lost in a coalition deal.

– We should not accept Labour’s policy of taxing our way out of debt – there should be no more than €4.5 billion in extra taxes in the coming years.

– We must minimise tax increases through reduction in public service costs. If the Croke Park deal cannot deliver these savings promptly it must be re-negotiated and this must be supported by any potential government partner.

– We must also stick by our plans for patient choice of insurance and healthcare providers under a reformed health system and the sale of non-essential State assets to fund our NewERA jobs stimulus.

– Reform of the Oireachtas and a referendum on the abolition of the Seanad are also untouchables.

While we have a great deal in common with Labour, there are some policies that are simply no-go areas for us.

– Labour are proposing to push up marginal income tax rates to 59% for earnings over €100,000. That idea is populist but does not make economic sense. It will not raise much money and it will make it very difficult to attract FDI and support local enterprise, just as happened in the 1980s.

– We also shouldn’t accept their plan to hand over €500m in tax on businesses and households to their proposed Cabinet Sub-Committee on Job Creation. This is a relic of Social Partnership and a recipe for political cronyism, pork barrel politics and jobbery.

– Fine Gael should also oppose nationalisation of existing non banking private enterprises. State money should be spent on frontline services, not on acquiring assets to fulfil some dogmatic code.

The next Government must be grounded in support for Irish businesses and workers. It must quickly make the choices to restore confidence in tax payers and investors. Otherwise the politics of fudge will repeat the mistakes of the past.