Labouring Under New Politics



From top: Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney; Tony Groves

There are more than a few banker clichés that I grew up with. I’m sure many of them are not unique to the banking fraternity, but they were certainly retold at every conference I attended. Lately, they’ve started reappearing, and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

The first tale told is that the director driving a BMW is displaying ambition, whereas the director driving a Mercedes is displaying achievement. As infantile as this is, there are many who give this consideration when purchasing their cars. I’m a BMW guy, SAD!

As I heard this regurgitated again recently, I remembered another boast of the Mercedes man. Many moons ago, as a young subordinate, I was “privileged” to drive to one of these conferencess with one of these directors, sitting inside one of these brand new Mercedes.

Stepping inside it back then was like stepping inside an Apple Store long before the advent of the iPhone. I must have looked impressed, because the director told me that if I look at the features of the car (and there were many) that I’d see them in about ten years time on a Ford Mondeo. Technology, much like neoliberal economics, is a trickle-down process.

The same can be said for Irish Politics. When Tony Blair swept to power in 1997, he became the first Tory leader of the British Labour Party. He ran on a promise that “things can only get better” and aimed his message at what he identified as “Mondeo Man”. Blair cleverly rebranded this move away from social democratic values to free market economic ones as “New Labour“.

The party replaced promises of delivering equality for the libertarian myth of equality of opportunity. They moved away from the idea of government delivering social justice, to a free market that would improve economic efficiency.

They spoke of hand ups, not handouts. In essence they Out Toried the Tories. And Mondeo Man loved it. Under the New Tory Labour things did indeed, for a while, get better.

Without rehashing the disaster that became the “free market” financial crisis and the other lingering global aftershocks, we know now that the New Labour “third way” was used to build an economy based on Rent Seekers and very little innovation. Many historians are now pointing to the New Labour phenomenon as the birthplace of the Brexit phenomenon.

Much as Mercedes features take years to filter down into the less salubrious car manufacturers, so to does political ideology. Particularly here in Ireland. Leo Varadkar has said he is not Right Wing, but had he been born in Britain he’d have been a Tory. Simon Coveney is Fine Gael royalty.

Both men advocate that the free market will improve economic efficiency and therefore provide equality of opportunity down the line. This is despite all the recent economic data running contrary to this.

The Budget Projections for 2017 said that unemployment would fall to 7%, it’s down to 6.2%. Yet Income Tax is a few hundred million below expectations. The government are said to be perplexed.

Fine Gael are demanding that the Revenue Commissioners investigate this and get back to them, post-haste. But in truth there is no mystery. The income tax levels are behind because the real economy is growing on lower paid workers and the Gig Economy.

It’s important that we realise that New Politics is old New Labour. It’s crucial that we see that our candidates for Taoiseach are economically Tory Blairites. Only then can we have a honest conversation about the type of society we want to build.

Do we want to a fairer society, where everybody is afforded access to social justice, or do we want a country where a few drive new Mercedes and the rest sputter along in a 20 year old Ford Mondeo, that will never pass an NCT?

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz

Tony Groves is a full-time financial consultant and part-time commentator. With over 18 years experience in the financial industry and a keen interest in politics, history and “being ornery”, he has published one book and writes regularly at Trickstersworld


38 thoughts on “Labouring Under New Politics

  1. Lord Snowflakee

    Oh jaysus spare us such forced analogies

    Good try though Tony in fairness, *10 times better than your previous attempts, fair play

      1. know man is an island

        I actually agree with Lord Snowflakee Tony and I wouldn’t be your biggest fan up to now

          1. Owen C

            Make that a hat trick actually – much better than the Rent Seekers nonsense.

            Question though – is it not a case of “New Labour/Politics is the worst form of government, except for all the others”? Not like Socialism getting good advertising right now down in Venezuela.

          2. Tony Groves

            Ah here, the lack of outrage is an outrage ;)

            And as for the least worst option, I do think we can aspire to do better than that. But I’m an optimist.

  2. Sheik Yahbouti

    Those boys can out-Blair any Blairite. The ‘conversation’ about what kind of country we want is long overdue, but how do we get it? The last election proved that no matter how you vote you never get what you voted for.

      1. Sheik Yahbouti

        From your mouth to ‘God’s’ ear, Tony – but when? Your humble Sheik is not immortal, the matter is time sensitive so I can “go gently into that good night”.

  3. Cian

    This is the Direct Taxes section from Revenue’s FISCAL MONITOR for the first 4 months of the year

    For each month of 2017 Income tax is greater than 2016 – averaging €20m extra per month.
    However, this is not as much as Revenue were projecting: they wanted an extra €80/m so this is about €60m per month below target.
    April was better – only €19m below target.

    Income Tax receipts of €1,642 million were recorded at end-January, which represents a marginal year-on-year increase of 0.5 % or €8 million.

    Income Tax receipts of €1,482 million were collected in February, which represents a 6.0% (€95 million) shortfall against target. On cumulative basis, receipts were more or less flat, (down 0.4% or €14 million) when compared to same period last year.

    Income Tax receipts of €1,294 million were collected in March, which was 4.2% (€57 million) below the monthly target. This represents a 6.2% (€76 million) increase compared to March 2016. On cumulative basis, receipts were up 1.4% (€62 million) year-on-year, but down 3.9% or €180 million against profile.

    Income Tax receipts of €1,762 million were collected in April, which was 1.0% (€19 million) below the monthly target. This represents a 0.8% or €14 million increase compared to April 2016 and on adjusted basis up 6.9% or €114 million. Cumulatively receipts were 3.1% (€198 million) below target, but up 1.2% (€75 million) in year-on-year terms and 2.9% on an adjusted basis.

    1. egghead

      And this contradicts Tony’s point how, or did you just feel like a bit of Copying & Pasting?

      1. Cian

        Neither. I was interested in the numbers so went off to research it.

        I’m always cautious when people say things like “Income Tax is a few hundred million below expectations” – I would prefer a *bit* more accuracy when we’re talking about €100,000,000s.
        Context is also important. What are we comparing this against?

        So, if that sentence had been written “Income Tax is over €200 million (3%) below expectations” it would have made more sense to me.

        I was also surprised at the variability of the months – they range from €1.29bn to €1.76bn… but I suppose that depends on the number of paydays (Fridays) in the month.

  4. dav

    The next big credit bubble to burst will be the one funding all these new car sales since 2011 – won’t be anywhere as big as the 2008 crash, but it’ll be a nice kick to the boll*x with britexit and trump isolationism in play..

          1. dav

            Ah, perhaps, but you won’t have much appetite to lend for car purchases and nobody buys a car with cash..

  5. DubLoony

    Car analogy went over my head.
    Thing about Blair is that he was new Labour & all that went with it.

    FG are Tories, Covney & Leo they don’t give a damn about inequality, poverty & lack of opportunity anyway.

      1. dav

        Don’t know much about cars but I know this, Audi drivers are moose knuckles ….

  6. perricrisptayto

    Moose knuckles……………………oh boy,
    I have’nt heard that one since my bar mitzvah,
    i laughed till i cried.

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