As opinion polls keep rolling in and showing either a FG/Labour coalition of a majority FG government, perhaps its time to turn some attention to what is likely to happen in the few months after the election.
If any of what FG and Labour is saying is to be accepted then the incoming government will be putting a negotiating team together to present to the big players in the EU. So, what will they have behind them going into the talks?
A bad deal. They will have the people who allowed the IMF/ECB walk all over them – it wasn’t a negotiation – continuing to tell the ‘other side’ in the EU that they continue to stand over the ‘deal’ struck. The supporters of the deal in the media – Stephen Collins, Shane Coleman et al – will continue their mantra that there is no other way.
Their stated position. An acceptance by FG and Labour that all that is required is an adjustment on interest rates and perhaps some extension in timetable for repayment. There is disagreement on this between FG and Labour and this is likely to widen as the election campaign unfolds.
And thirdly, and I believe crucially, the knowledge that FG, at least, share objectives of the IMF in so far as the cuts imposed on services will disproportionally impact on the public sector. This ‘deal’ actually furthers the agenda of those who want to continue the process of rolling back the state. The pain borne by ordinary people (caused by those scoundrels in the previous administration, they will claim) is worth the maintenance of the deregulated economy with a weakened public sector and flexible workforce.
Ideology and vision has been absent from the public commentary of this election, but it is crucial in determining how future talks with the IMF and EU pan out. I cannot trust FG any more than FF in this regard.
Labour need to be challenged on all of this. They have weakened their own position by voting through the finance bill and signalling a reluctant acceptance of the IMF/EU deal, whatever about their recent tough talking on renegotiation. If they are serious about the future, they need to look a few weeks ahead and realise that they are going to be eaten up and spat out by both sides in that ‘renegotiation’.