Return of the Beast (or the Bull?)
Gordon Brown set off a bit of a vogue when he recalled Peter Mandelson from Europe to become a lord of the realm and Britain’s trade minister.
Now, David Cameron is at it with the return of the larger-than-life Kenneth Clarke (he and Chris Patten were the best two Tory leaders that weren’t) to the shadow portfolio. Clarke is as moderate a Conservative as you will find but also brilliant as a communicator and articulator of his vision (except that is for his connection with the smoking industry).
And there are rumours that both David B lunkett and Charles Clarke are also on the way back to Brown’s cabinet.
Who can Brian Cowen call on in a crisis? The problem is that Irish ministers only see their careers come to an end when it’s truly time to put them out to grass. Nobody is given the heave-ho becase they have fallen out of favour or because their philosophy or views are out-of-kilter (ho ho, that would be the day!) or because they don’t get on with the leader. They also just get demoted. And when they get the Arts, Sports and Tourism portfolio, they know that next time round there won’t be a next time round.
So who’s out there? Joe Walsh. Michael Smith. Rory O’Hanlon. Michael Woods. Sorry. No way Jose. More seriously there’s Charlie McCreevy. He’s already said on local radio that he won’t come back. And besides, he’s the guy that many consider is to blame for the mess that we are in with his extraordinarily generous tax breaks to developers that he kept going years after they should have been stopped.
He and Mary Harney were also the main cheerleaders for low tax blah blah blah. Nobody is shouting that too loudly from the treetops any more. It only worked when we had a property bubble. In other words, it only worked when we were all spending never-never money.
The only realistic contender would be somebody who is forgotten but not gone. John O’Donoghue was booted upstairs to the Ceann Comhairle’s office at the age of 50, despite much reluctance and resistance. O’Donoghue would bring experience and weight to the ministerial ranks though he could hardly be considered a savious by himself. However, has anyone seen him lately. He has really settled into his new role and looks fitter and more relaxed than he has been for years.
He is also, by the way, an excellent Ceann Comhairle. His first day in the job was a nightmare but since then he has used good humour and wit to control the boisterous grown-up schoolkids.
I can’t see him being moved, even if he were to be asked.