With the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Labour Party promising voters in large urban areas a 15% cut in their property tax as part of their Local Election manifesto it shows we are now firmly in election mode.
Labour have gotten the ball rolling with a big policy statement on the property tax that they introduced.
How credible is Labour’s promise to cut the tax though? There are a number of issues to consider:
1) Labour and Fine Gael introduced the property tax and it is Labour and Fine Gael who set the level.
2) Eamon Gilmore is the deputy leader of our country so he has the power to bring a proposal for a 15% cut to cabinet immediately. Why does he need to wait for an election?
3) It is Eamon Gilmore’s government that retained this years property tax centrally despite promising that the tax collected in local authority areas would be spent in the respective local authority area.
4) Where is the detail behind this proposal? Is Labour proposing cutting services to pay for this cut?
The Tánaiste also alluded to how the 15% cut would actually be delivered. He said: “I expect that where councils are led by the Labour Party after the local elections, then the Labour Party will pursue this policy in those local authorities.” This is Labour’s get out clause.
The Labour Party has been rightly criticised for breaking the promises they made in their 2011 General Election manifesto. One of their defences has been that they are in coalition and as the junior partner they have had to compromise. Gilmore’s assertion and reference to Labour led Council’s again gives them room to reverse this policy once elected.
Considering all opinion polls taken over the last 24 months have put the party at between 6 and 12% it is highly unlikely that Labour will lead any Council. What is certain is no party will have an overall majority on a Council.
The promise is therefore meaningless as it stands.