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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: March 2, 2010 @ 10:46 am

    Titanics, Deckchairs and Zhou en-Lai

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    Another cliché of current political discourse (see also previous post) is that a cabinet reshuffle is like moving the deckchairs on the Titanic. I don’t believe I have used it myself but plead guilty that I was in the presence of people who did, and failed to protest.

    The Titanic hit an iceberg and went down. The Government was confronted with an iceberg and has been trying desperately to defrost it. That’s a tough and painful proposition and a lot of peopel are going to lose fingers and toes (continuing this awful metaphor) in the process.

    Curious that recent opinion polls suggest a certain stasis in the public mood. Curious also that the resignations did not affect the Government’s standing. Are we having a Gordon Brown moment here?

    Like Zhou en-Lai’s response when asked for a verdict on the French Revolution (another cliche of political discourse!) it is too early to say. All now depends on the world economy turning around. If I were in government (and thank goodness I ain’t) I’d be trying desperately to hold on until next year, probably June 2011, before going to the country.

    By that time the green shoots might be flourishing. Two worries for Cowen: the Greens and his own backbenchers. There seems to be some internal tension in the Green Party.

    Deirdre de Búrca solidly proclaimed the party standpoint in public for some considerable time but has now turned into the leadership’s sharpest critic (in that context the forthcoming Green “convention” in Waterford on 2-28 March should be worth watching, assuming the former Senator is in attendance.

     The Fianna Fail backbenchers up to now have been all hat and no cattle, as they say in George Bush country. But maybe, just maybe, they might take their courage in their hands at some stage.

     Interesting to read an interview with Enda Kenny where he suggested the Greens might consider crossing the floor of the House. Green shoots indeed.  

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      Politicians still don’t get it – nor dare I say do the well-fed political journalists who hang around the Leinster House bubble.

      The political debate has long since moved on about the mess created since 1987 (the rot started then and manifested itself some years later) and people have judged that politicians are all the same – except for different reasons.

      Fianna Fáil is down to its core vote – getting those people to give up that ghost will take some doing and not even Enda Kenny or Eamon Gilmore have the skills needed to address the mental state of Fianna Fáil’s core voter.

      People know FF are not fit to govern and whether the election is this year, or 2012, they’ll pass judgement. Every time Brian Cowen claims credit for making hard decisions to put the country on the right track, people immediately ask, who was it that put it on the wrong track in the first place. The answer is staring back at them from Biffo’s overweight mug – don’t underestimate how off putting it is to see a fat (lets face it he is fat) well fed politician in times of recession.

      They also see Fine Gael and Labour and accept they will form a far better government. But people don’t just want a far better government anymore. They want a far better political system and there is not one piece of evidence that Fine Gael or Labour have stepped up to the mark on that issue.

      All the policies in the world on Good Bank/Bad Bank etc or NewEra mean nothing when all people see are former Fine Gael leaders taking Oireachtas pensions on top of private earnings, when they see not one single Fine Gael or Labour rep, (be they TD, MEP, Cllr or Sen) provide and publish receipts by the cent for what they claim, when they see well heeled Fine Gael and Labour reps claiming attendance allowances and accomodation costs they can well afford to pay from their basic salary, when neither party publishes full accounts of where they get their money from.

      People have more or less decided the way they’ll vote and come what may Fianna Fáil is going into a long spell in opposition and the Greens will be joining the PDs as an ex party.

      The country is falling apart and Biffo thinks its ok to take up to Easter to decide on a reshuffle that will result in no improvement in the government’s decisions making process. The same tired old failures will sit in different chairs because Biffo prizes loyalty to party above any ability.

      There’s no buzz at the prospect of a new government because people know it won’t, based on existing evidence at least, do anything to provide the sort of monumental radical reform the country needs.

      There’s nothing from Fine Gael or Labour to set expectation of real change coming and what it will change on it’s first day, week, month, year in office.

      I passionately believe Fine Gael will be a better government but even I can’t muster up much actual excitement and it’s nothing to do with Enda Kenny – no matter who was leader of Fine Gael or Labour – until I see proof of them changing the way they run themselves it’s hard to convince others they’ll change the country.

    • dealga says:

      Pointless comment obviously – but I was utterly convinced this time three years ago that FF strategists wanted to throw the election. An Irish recession was pretty much guaranteed, even if wasn’t coupled with a global downturn and I figured FF wanted to let a coalition government take the blame for it (just like Obama is being blamed for Bush and Clinton’s boom mistakes) before sweeping back in in 2012, possibly with a majority, and comfortably in situ for the 2016 Rising centenary.

      I still believe that once Cowen (and Martin and D. Ahern to an extent) twigged Bertie was finished and contemplated not being in power, even in bad times, it was too much to bear and they pulled out all the parish pump stops to ensure they were returned to office, without actually having a clue what they intended doing once they got in.

      And we, the dumbasses, facilitated it.

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