Monday, December 6, 2010

Another call to patriotic duty?

Tomorrow afternoon we get to hear Brian Lenihan's final budget as Minister for Finance. Of course it's not really his budget anymore as the EU/IMF have effectively provided him with some figures to wrap up in English. We already know a reasonable amount of the contents of the Minister's speech, the details on tax credit reductions, tax bands, PRSI reform and some form of property tax are the items I will be most looking out for.

Depending on what Michael Lowry and Jackie Healy-Rae come out with this evening, the most important thing to look out for during the first round of speeches is who exactly is in the chamber. Were Mattie McGrath or John McGuinness to be absent then that sends a strong signal that the election has started. Similarly, Lucinda Creighton's absence can be taken as a sign that the vote will be carried.

It will also be good to hear Michael Noonan giving the budget riposte from the FG benches. One of my favourite memories as a young fella with only a passing interest in politics was Noonan's response to a budget during the 1st Gulf War where he described the various cuts as Scud Missiles fired at the poorest in society. His turn of phrase will be a marked improvement on the humming and hawing of Richard Bruton who despite always homing in on the important figures, never really managed to land proper blows on the Minister.

Finally I hope that RTE do the right thing and finally cover all four of the main speeches rather than cutting away to their panel as soon as Lenihan finishes. The people have a right to see the opposition spokespersons putting their point as one of them is likely to end up being the Minister for Finance in early 2011 who is going to have to implement the mess that the current government leave behind.

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