Where do we go from here?
Every morning this week the radio alarm has blared into life just as the business news goes out on RTE.
And this morning, trying to remember what I heard all week through the bleary haze, it worked out as follows.
One morning. Stocks up. Joy to the World. Next morning fall in Tokyo, nervously waiting Wall Street to open. Woe is me. Next morning. Another rally. Phew, what a relief, the worst is over. And then the next morning. Bank shares plunge again. And so on.
The uncertainty unbelievable. Nobody knows what’s going on. Really. And the stock markets are such an unreliable indicator. But they are the only one they have. The amount of shares being traded in Irish banks, for example, is infinitesimally small. But such is the general jitters out there that even tiny movements (especially when the price is rock bottom) can induce panic.
And so it has been with the Government. We wake up every morning trying to make sense of the astounding events of the day before. And I think that with every press conference and with every new announcement the Government thought it had finally pulled itself out of that deadly undercurrent into calmer waters.
No such luck. Every morning they woke up in the hope they were Kilkenny only to find that were actually Waterford.
One of my great achievements as a political writer is the consistency of my predictions. Nobody has got it more wrong more often than me in Irish politics over the past five year. I cherish the day earlier this year when I said on national television that Hillary Clinton would be handing over the bowl to Bertie Ahern in the White House next year. Or the day I predicted that Sean Haughey would get the leg-up as junior minister on News at One, only for Mary Wallace (Mary Wallace!) to get the nod a half hour later from the Anorak.
I think I’m a bit safer with this one. The Government will give no ground on the education cuts. It can’t afford to. If it does, it’s not going to weather the storm. It will be gone within a year, with Brian Cowen fighting enemies within and without his party, having being cursed with a reputation as a vacilator and a political weakling.
It’s going to be tough. The teachers will march next week. Street and protest politics will come back and the Government will find itself trying to quench bush fires on all fronts.
There is no predicting to it. What’s unfolding in the world is so complex and so multi-faceted that all this talk of a recovery in 2010 and 2011 has to be taken with a shovel-load of salt.
Where do we go from here? Who knows? The Government don’t know. The opposition doesn’t know. The wider world doesn’t know.