Wednesday, February 14, 2007

McDowell sells own grandmother for votes

I can't help wondering if the dangling of an offer of €300 per week for pensioners might not come to be seen as the PD's Eircom and taxis moment of election 2007.

It has been just...sort of..thrown out there with no context for the increase. I initially thought it was rushed in response to the Labour tax cuts but then it is the frontpage of the PD freebie in yesterday's Indo. Why €100? Why not €123 or €94? Perhaps Michael likes nice round numbers, or he's scared of the number 23, maybe he thinks the public are too thick to work out that this money is going to be at the expense of something else.

Naturally, McDowell is not so much selling his own granny but trying to buy ours (or in my case my mother). Yet even my mother at the time of the last election when they gave the Gold medical cards to every pensioner over 70 was complaining that "sure many of those over 70 didn't need the cards as they had plenty of money to pay for visits to the doctor" and pointed out that it should have been the kids who got medical cover as a matter of course because that is when it is needed. After all, she had been a parent and had some experience of when parents help with their children's health. Most older people have been parents too.

Indeed, I suspect many grandparents in and around Dublin in particular will look at the state of the schools their grandkids are going to, the distance that their children have to travel to find a childcare place because they aren't able to live anywhere close to them.

Also, what does it say about a government that is desperately trying to get young people to take out personal pension cover when the state is stepping in and giving a massive boost to the pensions of those who didn't make such a provision. It is hardly setting a good example now is it? There are so many conflicts between this proposal and other areas of government policy it seems hard to understand it in any context except that of an election.

If the government made some effort to reduce heating and energy prices for the elderly, ensured that we had mixed communities so they weren't left alone to fend for themselves, and that their families could live reasonably close to each other such that grandparents could see their children and grandchildren that would do much more than a €100 per week.

Comfort and company is what most older people need and lack. A €100 bribe per week isn't going to provide either.