George and Michael: Surprise, Surprise!

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Two scenarios.

Scenario A:   Kid wakes on Christmas morning and finds Santa has brought him a wonderful Play Station thingy. Whoops of delight as he gets ready to enjoy his toy.

Scenario B: Kid has been told because he failed two subjects and pulled the cat’s tail he’s getting nothing – nada, nought, rud ar bith – for Christmas. Kid wakes on Christmas morning and finds Santa has brought him wonderful Play Station thingy. The house echoes to his screams of delight.

Question: which kid is more happy with his present? My guess is the second.

Is there a political equivalent of this? There might well be. Yesterday tens of thousands of vulnerable families were bracing themselves for painful tax credit cuts. Then at the last moment, George Osborne stood up in the House of Commons and said there’d been an unexpected £27 billion he’d found down the back of the sofa, so the tax credit cuts were off. Huge sigh of relief from the tens of thousands who were expecting the worst. Happy? Well yes, you could say they’re happy.

Meanwhile, what’s happening south of the Black Pig’s Dyke (copyright P. Warbeck)? Well blow me down and call me crazy: the Department of Finance has declared that €1.74 billion more has been collected from the public than had been the government target. Now although Fine Gael haven’t said it, you can be sure that, with an election roaring up on the horizon, some of that unexpected cash (“It had rolled under the fridge – we were so surprised!” – FG Minister for Finance Michael Noonan) will be used to distribute pre-polling booth sweeties.

With all these pennies from heaven showering down, it seems almost churlish to ask the question: can George Osborne and/or Michael Noonan count? Are they to be trusted to stop money slipping down the back of sofas and under fridges? With their misjudgements (happy though they be) in the billions, would it not be fair to classify the pair of them as economic illiterates?

16 Responses to George and Michael: Surprise, Surprise!

  1. jessica November 26, 2015 at 10:21 am #

    In michael noonans case, he has been enforcing economic policy derived from Europe.

    This is good fiscal policy and guaranteed to result in delivering an improved economy after years of moderate austerity. Germany did the same to themselves so it works.

    What has happened is economic growth has out performed the step plan due to unexpected favourable conditions. Some feel that in hindsight the austerity program and level of borrowing enforced by Germany and France was too high and we would be entitled to further money refunded from unnecessarily high borrowing at the higher than usual interest rates so there could be more money coming back later also.

    This extra money hasn’t come out of nowhere, it has been in plain site and growing, we know the southern economy debt to gdp will be in the black ahead of schedule and that we will be eligible for the lowest rate of borrowing again next year.

    That will put the elected government back in control of our economy for the first time since the bail out.

    I think it is more important than ever we have responsible economic leadership. Yes, we should use the money for relief for the people, but through sensible economic policy and capital projects to boost jobs, the unemployment rate is still too high for example.

    Lets hope the next government is not elected off the back of an xmas giveaway or equally spin about money down the back of sofas.

  2. Iolar November 26, 2015 at 10:26 am #

    It appears that the influence of Mao Zedong is alive and well in Westminster and the Marx brothers appear on the H
    ill from time to time. It is circus and cake time before the elections.

    Karl Marx appears to be making a return to Ireland given the tone of public debates from Donegal to Kerry. Anyone following the debates will have noticed the increasing number of participants who are not aligned with any of the parties in the current right wing government. A recent debate featured an articulate 12 year old who is less than impressed with austerity measures!! The most pathetic response from the platform was,

    “Today’s radical is tomorrows conservative.”

    It was a case of shoot the messenger, however, the electorate will have its chance to articulate grievances in the ballot box in the near future. It appears that the Israeli Defence Forces are literally shooting the messengers also. Some Palestinians will not see the light of day in Bethlehem this year.

  3. Jim Neeson November 26, 2015 at 10:47 am #

    Lets see how much Arlene(as First Minister or Finance Minister) finds in her January Budget!!!
    Surely there must be a lot as we are not now paying those Fines imposed by Westminster for not agreeing to Tory austerity.

  4. Cal November 26, 2015 at 11:53 am #

    Arlene Foster has already signalled her reluctance to re-allocate the tax credit fund negotiated under a Fresh Start to other welfare claimants. She wants the money put into other departments.

    SF negotiated a deal on the premise of proposed tax credit cuts and made no provision for ensuring the money set aside stayed in welfare if the tax credit cuts fell by the wayside.

    Which, given the Lords debacle and opposition from his own back benchers, a significant climb down by Osbourne could have been foreseen.

    SF really have negotiated an absolute pig on a poke.

    • billy November 26, 2015 at 7:46 pm #

      she wants the money put into other departments…cant wait to hear their half baked ideas and excuses.

  5. Jim.hunter November 26, 2015 at 1:09 pm #


  6. Belfastdan November 26, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

    What George Osborne didn’t say yesterday was that tax credits have only gotten a stay of execution. They will disappear completely in 2020 when Universal Credit comes into force.

    Its all smoke and mirrors.

  7. Michael Eden November 26, 2015 at 2:33 pm #

    They’re nothing but a bunch of charlatans, the lot of them.
    I wouldn’t trust them to go to a shop for a pint of milk !

    • Ryan November 26, 2015 at 7:34 pm #

      Peter Robinson would trust them to go the shops for him….

  8. Perkin Warbeck November 26, 2015 at 6:17 pm #

    Dominic Behan

    What’s happening down here in the Free Southern Stasis? As it says on the tinsel, Esteemed Blogmeister, nothing much in this happy land of Hibernia South.

    Re. the Black Pig’s Dyke. While one’s inner Dominic Behan would like to claim it as one’s own, but alas that would be a deal out of kilter with the facts as we know them. To clarify the allusion: Brendan Behan once said in a fit of chronic contumely of his younger sibling: ‘The only works Dominic has not claimed credit for are The Dead Sea Scrolls’.

    (Contumely is a daaarling word, Joxer. Possibly the most interesting word in the German Q’s English: a noun which gaily flounces around in the peacocky glad rags of an adverb)

    Dominic, while a clever and natural-born lyricist (from Arkle, Take it down from the Mast, The Patriot Game, Come out ye Black and Tans to Liverool Lou, McAlpine Fusiliers etc etc) tended to claim credit for more than he was perhaps entitled to, including traditional melodies penned by the prolific A.N. Other.

    The Black Pig’s Dyke / Clai na Muice Duibhe, alas, dates from leprechaun folklore. It refers to, ahem, a series of discontinuous linear earthworks in southeast Ulster and northwest Connaught which, according to tradition, were created by (gulp)_ the tusks of a huge black boar.

    Designed, primarily, to prevent cattle rustling which is a tradition which extends from the time of Cuchullain himself to the contemporary world of Setanta Sports.

    Though in fairness, going forward, Perkie’s inner pernickety word picker tends to use the more tender-gender friendly Black Sow’s Dyke. The reason is simple if not pure. One does not wish to attract the wrath of one, Senator Ivana Bacik, now does one? One decidedly does not.

    The good lady senator, it will be recalled, chaired the recent Battle-axe Raid of the Gooley-run Abbey Theatre, amongst other things. Like airing her root vegetable radish political views in every other media monopoly studio even while holding down her day job in TCD as Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology, Penology, and Presidents in Waiting of a Female Persuasion.

    Truly, a multi-tusking bore.

    Rave on and save us from ourselves alone, Queen Maeve

  9. Ryan November 26, 2015 at 7:31 pm #

    I think we can all expect the Southern Government to suddenly and amazingly find a few billion here and a few billion there down the back of the sofa or in the ceramic piggy bank that lay forgotten in the kitchen cupboard as the General Election approaches next year. What a wonderful coincidence! Now the likes of Labour and Fine Gael can help the people whose benefits, jobs, etc they have been viciously cutting back to the bone over the past 5 years!

    Of course none of this has absolutely nothing, I repeat: NOTHING, to do with getting votes….

  10. neill November 27, 2015 at 9:39 am #

    Aye just like SF wrapping themselves around the 1916 rebellion anniversary that’s obviously got nothing to do with votes at all…

    • Jude Collins November 27, 2015 at 12:12 pm #

      I think it’s fair to say that SF have always seen the Easter Rising as a pretty important date in Ireland’s drive towards independence, neill. I agree they’ll have their eye on votes but I do think the veneration of 1916 preceded the drive for votes.

    • jessica November 27, 2015 at 2:24 pm #

      “Aye just like SF wrapping themselves around the 1916 rebellion anniversary that’s obviously got nothing to do with votes at all…”

      Yes neill, lets hope it does indeed inspire renewed enthusiasm for irish independence. It would be great to finally achieve full independence and have our very own independence day to celebrate. Ireland will not be complete without it.

  11. billy November 27, 2015 at 12:41 pm #

    see the unions getting involved now with protests advertised on social media for outside sf/dup offices on saturday.wonder who will turn up votes to be gained and lost here.