I should start by saying that I am going to vote for Fianna Fail on Friday. This statement needs no further explanation but my intention is to offer one. I was a member of Fianna Fail when I went through college and have voted for the party in two general elections because I supported their politics and respect their history (granny's shirt was green). I consider myself a member of the party's core base. The first thing I want to outline is why I am going to vote for Fianna Fail on Friday and the second is to address other (FF)party supporters who's intention it is to abstain or vote for Fine Gael.
During the last general election campaign the two main opposition parties went to great lengths to convince us all that they were offering a real alternative but in the end trotted out similar enough policies to which the government were advocating and proceeded to lose the main debates in the week of the election. By and large all of the main parties had similar growth prediction's and arranged policies around same. The personalities in that election - particularly the performances of the then minister for finance favoured the government and allowed them to win the election. The reason the party attained power was because they had the best politicians in the country. As time progressed Bertie left us and Brian Cowen took over as taoiseach, oh and the world plunged into a deep recession. The severity of the recession coupled with our exposure to it has meant that being in government in 2009 requires a determination to reduce public spending while at the same time increasing the state income. I have heard no constructive debate surrounding alternative means of doing this. Fine Gael have wrapped themseves in a policy document that is lob-sided in favour of the carrot in a carrot and stick anology, Labour have avoided the tough questions and Sinn Fein policies are extreme. Having made these comments, it is not my intention to start a policy discussion at this time - the over-riding point I am making is that if we elected the best politicians in the country to government two years ago then that's exactly what we have in government now. Had the alternative from 2 years ago been elected I contend that they would not have been as well equipped to make some of the positive decisions that have been made over the last year.
The governments policy in relation to AIB and BOI is spot on insofar as it will allow both major banks to come through the current crisis as strong, viable and independent banks. The establishment of NAMA is not without risk but it addressess the burning issue facing the economy at the moment - credit, and is the most coherent suggestion I have heard. Criticism's of the time it is taking to produce the legislation are ignorant. The points I am making here could be argued and pro's and con's between these courses of action and different means of achieving credit in the economy from the banks will not differ hugely between NAMA/bad bank/nationalisation etc. I believe that these arguments are not the reasons so many are dissatisifed with the government - the reasons for the dissatisfaction are increases in taxation, pension levies, income levies and so on. Even a person with the most basic budgetary understanding will accept that these types of measures are not important but essential today. So if the reasons for dissatisfaction are down to peoples interpretation of how the government are balancing the books then people need to open their eyes. Who believes that an alternative government of whatever whim would be doing anything differently.
I am not speaking to other party hacks here but to traditional Fianna Fail voters - it is very easy to support a party in times of plenty but we may be experiencing a much better form of government at the moment. How difficult is it to take the decision to add a tenner onto the pension and only 8 euro onto unemployment benefit as the types of budgetary decisions we have seen over the last few years. The budgetary and strategic decisions being made over the last year are the most important decisions any Fianna Fail governemnt have made and my belief is that by and large they have got them right.
Fianna Fail are a more than a political party - they are an institution that has served this state through every situation imaginable and has always demonstrated that the interests of the Irish people are at it's core. Today the party is in power at a time when this principle towards the people of the state compels the party to implement policies that are unpopular and will increase strain on peoples financial situations. Party core voters should look past the comments of the media and opposition politicians and reflect upon the decisions the party are now implementing before casting their votes.
Fine Gael haven't changed - they were born a party of cowards and remain so - where were the current FG candidates 2 years ago when their party were faced with the difficult task of challenging a relatively popular government - lacking in testicular fortitude that's where - only to appear now when the opinion has been formed that life on the opposition benches is easy. The comments made by Fine Gael front benchers during budget debates over the last 10 years render their current mock-outrage as hypocritical a communication as you will hear.
Loyalty is a virtue - before any traditional Fianna Fail supporter decides to cast their vote elsewhere - take one thing from this polemic - the principles of our party are the same as they ever were, we are a republican party in the true sense of the word and nowhere in the true meaning of that word should running away from difficult decisions be accepted. On Friday do what you have always done, vote for Fianna Fail.