Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Labour of Love in the General Election 2011

Lismore Labour Women with Ciara the Candidate!
Today has  been a  historic one for Ireland - the 30th Dáil (Parliament) has just been dissolved and the road to the General Election 2011 Campaign is open. Until the dissolution of the Dáil the campaign posters couldn't go up in public places - not that that stopped some of them stealing a march on their opponents - I saw posters for another candidate (not Labour!) this afternoon in Waterford City - about 3 hours too early!

The Labour Selection Convention 25th January 2011 Waterford
Since two Labour Party Candidates for Waterford Constituency were selected last week I've hardly seen hubby Jan - he's been appointed Director of Elections for Ciara Conway's campaign. Seamus Ryan is the other candidate for Labour. He's based in Waterford City and Ciara in Dungarvan, so there's good countywide representation. Hopefully they'll both get plenty of canvassing done across the county in the coming four weeks leading up to the General Election which will take place on Feburary 25th. If you like you can scan the Labour Party policies which they will bring into government should they be in that position in a few weeks time - which looks like a distinct possibility, if they can negotiate a coalition deal with Fine Gael.

Labour Waterford Women supporting Ciara for the Dáil
 The ruling junta party Fianna Fail (take as read - there should be a fada (á accent) over the "a" in Fail but I prefer it without - more appropriate!) has just bit the dust after being in power for 61 of the last 79 years. For the past 14 years they have brought the country to its knees with their self-serving economic stroke politics of favouring jobs for the boys, propping up dynastic political families with no claim to serve other than taking over the seat of a father or uncle, and creating a housing and property bubble that made millionaires out of developers while crippling people with mortgages for inflated house prices that will never recoup their original value, leaving thousands in negative equity and with job losses, at risk of repossession.

Ciara's campaign launch - Director of Elections Jan speaking
 It's probably a good idea to comfort eat our way through this recession. My previous post is a good example of this, with the recipe for a slow-cooker casserole. Cheap cuts of meat do well in slow-cookers too, so that's another plus! Since the start of the year I am down about €150 a month nett with the new USC - an nice innocuous-sounding acronym for the most inequitable charge we've seen since the pension levies of 2009. This Universal Social Charge is hitting poorer lower-paid workers far more than higher earners, as it draws into its net people previously exempt, because they were deemed too poor to pay levies like health and income levies if they had a medical card.
Ciara speaking at campaign launch

Ciara and her Director of Elections Jan
The charge is now levied on all earning above €4000 p.a. - in other words, everyone in work. So while I might be hit with €150 per month less take-home pay, someone on half my salary could be disproportionately hit and lose €100 - €150. By the way, under the Croke Park deal the public sector didn't get any wage cut - our gross pay stays the same. Just what's in our pocket at the end of the month is down. So it's like a pay cut of about €2000p.a. for  me, and I would bet if I was being means-tested for anything like a grant for college it's my gross pay that'd count!

I wanted to mark this historic day as I hope we're on the cusp of a new age in Irish politics, with Labour at the forefront, even in coalition, where they'll bring in their key policies of Jobs, Reform and Fairness. These aren't mere waffle, as their modus operandi is clearly outlined in the Policy document.

We had Ciara's launch last night in Dungarvan and there will be canvassing and campaigning ad infinitum and ad nauseum for the next three weeks. Fianna Fail canvassers will get a rough time on the campaign trail so even though they go into the campaign with a new leader after Biffo/Brian Cowen bowed to the inevitable opprobrium heaped on him by his own fellow party members, Micheál Martin, his successor, is tainted with being in the cabinet and Minister of key portfolios during the years of excess and waste otherwise known as the Celtic Tiger.

Surely the words of former Minister for Finance Charlie McCreevy will come back to haunt the Soldiers of Destiny (a.k.a. Fianna Fail) - If I have it, I'll spend it, was his style during his giveaway budgets during the boom years. Trouble was, we didn't actually have it, it was all built on the bubble of property and development that was totally unsustainable and has come crashing down around us in the past two years, leading us to the arms of the IMF and the ECB, our new taskmasters. It looks like we'll be indentured to them for many years to come. Time for Bono to start a Drop the Debt campaign, as I suggested in another post. Little chance of that!


Mimi said...

Amen to all that! You've put it in a nutshell.
There are just 2 things I'll add to it: 1. Because of the "Pension Levy", the press still go on about how much the public service costs, based on gross pay, forgetting that we give back 60% of it, so when they mention 19 billion in public service pay, it's really 7.6 billion. And now they're talking about saving 5 billion on it???
Maybe if we just worked for nothing?
I read this eve that B Cowen will get €166,000 lump sum plus €145,000 pension for the rest of his life, and that it would cost 6 million to buy such a pension. For a man who bankrupted the country...
And, even at that cost, I think we're well rid of that crowd. They are a band of self-serving thugs who have been in power for far too long, and should never be allowed be in charge of anything again.
I hope they get their come uppance on the doorsteps.
Best of luck on the campaign trail!

Stephanie V said...

Well done for getting involved! It should be an interesting ride and I'm looking forward to your reports.

Election fever seems to be gripping the world as people all over the world demand change. We're a darn cranky lot out here in the grass. Pols beware!!

Catherine said...

Thanks for your comments- Mimi - there are so many questions to answer I don't know where to begin even asking them! I don't know how many people think I don't pay any pension contribution or didn't before the last levy, when I look at my payslip I pay out over a quarter of my gross pay in taxes and levies, and this ghastly USC is taking another €150 pm out. The campaign trail is interesting - gets nasty at times but at least we're not batting for FF! Watch Ciara on The Week in Politics tonight 10:30

Kitty Catastrophe said...

Ciara is my cousin! Great to see some photos from her launch, I hope the campaign goes really well for her, she's a great candidate. Not that I'm biased or anything...

Catherine said...

Kitty Cat - I told Ciara yesterday her cousin had commented! Spent a wet day on the campaign trail canvassing in Tramore with her until we were rained out of it! Small world! She's flying it and hopefully the momentum will continue at the polling booths!