There’s a standard formula to every recent Irish budget:
1. The leaks. People forget there was a time when leaking the budget, even accidentally, got you fired. Ask Phil Hogan. Now it’s standard.
2. We all assume that the German parliament has given it a good going over. You know, like reading it whilst our senators are going to councillors’ mothers’ funerals.
3. Every pressure group does the same trick of isolating its wish list and comparing it to the whole budget: “For a measly €40m out of a budget of €50,000,000,000 we could buy a hat for every lesbian badger in Ireland, and stamp out lesbian badger head-cold in a generation! If this government cared about the self-respect of badgers, that is.”
4. The same people who sneer that you “can’t put a price on dignity” nearly always can, especially when it comes to the budget of their NGO/Quango, salary and pension packages.
5. The hard left always react hysterically, and call for a general strike against “the most right wing government since Pinochet!” They always predict that the young people are finally rising up in socialist revolt. Seven of them turn up at the rally outside the GPO. Incidentally, the same seven who attended the meeting to plan the GPO rally. There had been fifteen at the meeting, but there was a split. Somebody made a remark about Trotsky’s address to the 3rd Soviet Tractor Production Council, someone denounced someone else as a Kerenskyist, and it all kicked off from there.
6. The hard right proclaim it to be another “Tax is theft” budget and denounce the government as “the most left wing government since Allende!” Save for one who denounces Pinochet as a Chardonnay swilling social democrat who might as well have been a Guardian columnist. They at least have the sense to hold their “rally” in the Market Bar on a Saturday night.
7. Labour once again bizarrely manage to transfer limited tax revenue from poor people to the middle and upper classes. Again!
8. Am I the only person who thinks it is actually astounding that TDs are voting through billion euro spending plans they have only just seen? Seriously? Would you buy a car as casually as that?