Why George Hook wants to run for the Dail
As George Hook begins to doubt his beloved Fine Gael, he mulls over the idea of running for election himself
It is common knowledge that, since I was granted the franchise, I have faithfully cast my vote for Fine Gael. For the first time, I am having doubts, and am not sure what will happen when I enter the polling booth at the General Election. I think it was Neil Blaney, but it could have been any disgruntled politician over the last 30 years, who said, “I did not leave the party, the party left me”. I am not a member of FG, but I feel like Blaney.
The big three political parties in Ireland, in their rush to get elected, are united in a give-away election campaign. No doubt the success of Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen in that regard has energised the Coalition into a belief that a Budget pandering to the people’s need for freebies will guarantee success.
Recently, while taking a break from rugby-watching on TV, I considered the possibility of standing for the Dail. The Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown constituency is interesting this time around; it has been reduced from a five-seater to a four-seater. The position is further complicated because the Ceann Comhairle, Sean Barrett, is automatically re-elected, so that leaves three. I am considering standing as a Michael Collins FG candidate, to appeal across the party-political divide to the middle classes, who see their views and beliefs are no longer represented.
So what is George Hook’s manifesto? The priority is the homeless issue. It is a disgrace that the fastest-growing economy in Europe cannot house its citizens. The British reaction to 250,000 made homeless by the Blitz in World War II is instructive. I would demand the appointment of a TD with complete control over the issue.
He would be granted extraordinary powers. Council employees would be required to work a seven-days-aweek rota to get boarded-up, empty properties back on the market. There would be an immediate purchase of modular housing for urban areas to clear the backlog. If Britain could clear a quarter-of-a-million backlog, surely we can do one of 700 families? At the same time, I would propose that Ireland refuse to take migrants from the Middle East conflict until the domestic housing crisis is resolved. Furthermore, any new arrivals would be required to go through the same process of investigation as those currently in camps around the country. I would demand that the government give a commitment to the final figure to be accepted, rather than the interim figures, which have steadily risen from 650 to 5,000.
Hook will campaign for no tax reductions until the country is self-sufficient and not borrowing to pay for its day-to-day running. Contrary to established wisdom, rather than having fewer people pay tax, more people will pay it. The reason is simple. The citizens should feel ownership of the country, and believe that they are making a contribution to its success.
On my watch, there will be no increase in wealth taxes. Despite the bleatings of Paul Murphy and Sinn Fein, we already have the highest rates in the OECD. We also tax the transfer of wealth, making it almost impossible for parents to leave the family home to their children. I would challenge Michael Noonan to raise the inheritance tax to €500,000 per child.
I believe all welfare benefits should be taxed and means-tested. The idea of universality of social welfare would be ended, and millionaire parents would no longer receive child benefit.
There would be an absolute pre-election commitment by me to no coalition with members of the hard left or Sinn Fein. The promise would be clear and unequivocal. The government supported by Hook would, like my hero Winston Churchill, promise “blood, toil, tears and sweat” until we take our place amongst the nations of the Earth, fearless and free.
The news from China’s economy bodes ill for the rest of the world. We are not yet out of the woods, and, on the doorsteps, I would tell people that the country will be run like their households. We will put money aside for the rainy day and be careful with what we have. We will try, like them, to “neither a borrower nor a lender be”.
The opinion polls have indicated an appetite for independent candidates. Why not me?