#RealityCheck: Examining the Renua manifesto

Odran Flynn takes an in-depth look at the manifesto

For a party that bridles at being compared to the PD’s the last thing you would expect is a manifesto and commentary that espouses some of the key elements of core PD policy.

Renua aims to act as a “watchdog” if it were the junior party in a future coalition, which was a role that first Des O’Malley and then Mary Harney proclaimed for the PD’s. However by the time of the 2002-2007 government the party had become more of a family pet and the State ended up in the worst economic crisis in its history. Lucinda Creighton wants Ireland to be the European equivalent of Hong Kong which was also a mantra of Mary Harney.

 

#TeamRENUA #Rebuildingtrust

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What are the party's aims?

Tax

  • Low taxes were the prime PD policy and now Renua have careered down the same road with a simplistic 23% single rate. Despite the claim that it is aimed primarily at the low and middle-income sectors, the reality is that the more you earn the better off you would be under Renua.
  • Using the tax calculator on their own website, a married employee on the average industrial wage of €35k would be €1,500 better off in a year while the same person on €100k would benefit to the tune of an extra €13k per annum.
 

#RENUAFlatTax

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Justice

  • The justice proposals, such as “three strikes rule for serious criminal offences resulting in a mandatory life sentence" as well as making parents responsible for juvenile crime are aimed at the target market and will also appeal to those affected by rural crime. The manifesto is geared to attract votes from a certain section of the electorate, primarily the affluent right of centre.

8th Amendment

  • As was demonstrated at the launch the selected candidates are 4-1 in favour of retaining the 8th Amendment. While the party has promised a free vote on matters of conscience it also recognises that those candidates opposing the abolition of the 8th will do themselves no harm among the pro-life support base and potentially could be the decisive factor in a close contest for the final seat.

Other

  • There are also echoes of the infamous suite of Fianna Fail promises of 1977 with Renua promising to get rid of motor tax and replace it with a fuel levy. Proposals to reduce public sector pensions and to force people to work for 20 hours per week in order to claim unemployment benefits will not have the other opposition candidates quaking in their boots when they are canvassing anywhere other than the leafy suburbs.

So how realistic is it?

The manifesto is comprehensive in covering most of the main areas but it is very aspirational and while many of their proposals are worthy and in an ideal world would be acceptable to most citizens, the reality is that the funds required to implement them will not be available in the lifetime of the next government.

Renua’s flagship flat tax policy which the manifesto contends is cost neutral, has been costed by the Revenue Commissioners and they estimate that it would leave the Exchequer with a current year shortfall of some €9.5bn. That figure represents the 2015 budget for the Departments of Education, Agriculture, Food and the Marine and also Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Revenue is adamant that a single tax rate of 46% would be necessary to maintain current revenue streams. The publicity of being first in the field will be undermined by trying to explain how the key element in their manifesto can ever see the light of day.

The major mistake with this manifesto is that a niche party should concentrate on the policies that mean the most to its potential support and not try and emulate a set of policies that you would expect from a party hoping to be the lead party in government.

The reality is that the manifesto is geared to attract votes from a particular section of the electorate, primarily the affluent right of centre. On current opinion poll figures Fine Gael are some 120,000 votes down on their 2011 result and these are Lucinda’s target.

 

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