Imagine if a politician aspiring to be in the next government stood up and made the following statement to his or her potential voters.
“The Irish economy is now in a strong recovery phase after an absolutely horrendous period, during which most citizens of the country endured an unacceptable level of hardship and pain.
"We still have many problems to work through, however.
"Sovereign debt at 97% of GDP is still too high and needs to be reduced as quickly as possible; the tax base is narrowing in an undesirable manner again as the past couple of budgets have taken too many people out of the income tax/USC net altogether; there is a massive crisis in the housing market for owner-occupiers, renters and those who need social housing; many of the country’s roads are in very poor condition after a couple of very difficult winters; many towns around the country need effective flood defences; public services such as health, education, and law and order are under immense pressure and are certainly not of the quality one would expect in a modern developed economy; the water system needs significant investment; and we have a massive demographic tsunami coming down the tracks that will have unimaginable consequences for the demand for health services and pension provision.
“Despite this, my party believes that reducing sovereign debt as quickly as possible has to be the top priority of the next administration.
"Consequently, if elected to government, we are going to leave taxation levels unchanged; we are not going to remove any more workers from the USC net in an effort to arrest the narrowing tax base; we will keep water charges in place but will endeavour to transform the system to pay-per-use and invest all revenues raised into the water system in an effort to improve water quality and the water infrastructure and encourage conservation; and we will commit limited spending to addressing the obvious shortcoming in public services and public infrastructure.
"However, we will not commit any extra money to public spending until we are confident that the systems are in place to guarantee that there will be a strong and direct correlation between government expenditure on services and the quality of those services.
“In other words, getting value for money will be the key priority. In order to achieve this, we will have to take on and defeat those vested interests that have prevented any meaningful reform in the public sector for decades past.
"This will not be popular and will undoubtedly give rise to industrial unrest, but we believe this would be a price worth paying to guarantee that all citizens of the country get better public services.
"Many of our predecessors have attained industrial peace by giving in to all of the demands of the various interest groups.
"We do not believe that this is good policy making and is indicative of political cowardice. The workers of this country are paying a lot of taxes and are not getting an acceptable level of services in return.
“Vocal minorities and powerful vested interest groups, who do not have the common good as a priority, wield way too much power in the country.
“This has helped create a society of winners and losers that is becoming increasingly nasty and fragmented. We also recognise that the Irish economic recovery has been heavily driven by very favourable external developments.
“In the event of negative external developments, we will seek to ensure that the economy is as competitive as possible and that the public finances are in a much better structural place than they are today.
“With less than four weeks to go to the election, we will refuse to get involved in mud-slinging driven by political opportunism, or get involved in dangerous auction politics that has destroyed this country too many times in the past.
"We will not get blinded by fiscal space and other such nebulous claptrap, but we will simply seek to instill a sense of realism in the electorate...”
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