Oliver Callan: Leo and Simon are the brand leading the bland

What a choice for Fine Gael: the first openly smug minister or the first openly generic one

Fine Gael leadership candidates Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney debate with each other at the Red Cow Hotel in Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson

Fine Gael leadership candidates Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney debate with each other at the Red Cow Hotel in Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

“The bland leading the bland” was how one Haugheyite described Fianna Fáil after The Boss was ousted. In the Fine Gael race, Leo and Simon are more like the brand leading the bland. They might claim to have policies but the battle is really about the firing of surface-to-airwave missives.

Varadkar does interviews in his running gear and is smiling more than his face seems comfortable with. Coveney does photos with his wife and children and is just saying insipid things more loudly than before.

The latter has said he wants to set up a new anti-corruption agency. Strange how Simon the Minister was happy to support all the current inquiries into scandals that surrounded Enda Kenny’s Government like flies around dung. Why should we believe his faith in inquiries when he says now they wouldn’t cut it under Simon the Future Taoiseach?

He’s been endorsed by such heavy hitters as . . . erm, Simon Harris. You know him, a young, bright go-getter in theory but not in practice. Couldn’t make a decision to save his life, or anyone else’s. He has a great future behind him. And Kate O’Connell, destined forever to be the backbencher best known for saying all the wrong things at the wrong time. She’s the verbal equivalent of Mary Mitchell O’Connor driving off the Dáil plinth, administering dents to the Coveney campaign every time she speaks.

Richard-the-lesser-of-two-Brutons had to rule himself out after polls showed his support was equal to the margin of error

Varadkar’s big name is Frances Fitzgerald, one of those people we know of but know little about. She had been igNóirín too many rank-and-vile Garda scandals to enter the contest. Another ally, Richard-the-lesser-of-two-Brutons had to rule himself out after polls showed his support was equal to the margin of error.

Leo’s big ticket item is tackling such taxpayer-robbing fiends as social-welfare fraudsters. Oh, those nasty cretins, robbing the State of dozens of euro each week. Maybe Apple can supply technology to track these dole goblins, using some of the €13 billion they won’t pay in tax?

He’s lucky he found any money left over to fund his snitching campaign after what they’ve spent so far defending Apple’s 0.005 per cent tax rate. Who else is going to stop these benefits hounds who have cheated our tax money?

Leo chases crumbs in a sudden and unexpected fit of principle, but he doesn’t have much to say about vulture funds paying joke tax on profits gifted by badly run State agencies, some of which are being investigated for blowing our money. The same man keeps expressing confidence in the Garda Commissioner.

Ill communication

Among Coveney’s other bright ideas was a pay rise for county councillors, who have a 10 per cent say in the next leader. Varadkar promised them tax cuts. He’s also a media genius, we’re told.

As head of Fine Gael’s communications in the last election, self-congratulations was the theme over a recovery they failed to convince the electorate of. Oops.

Still, the greatest trick Leo ever pulled was convincing the world his term as Minister for Health never existed.

Viewers should be warned that Leo is a pal of Macron, the Obama-esque candidate who became France’s new president with the sort of slick but detail-free palaver that put Barack in the White House for eight years of sophisticated indecision.

He also likes Trudeau, from the old French word for “trendy mannequin”. With these actionless men as heroes, Varadkar will be so polished we’ll be able to see the reflection of our horrified countenances on his chin when he becomes Taoiseach.

Why are we indulging this pair of indistinguishable private schoolboys in their posh push for power?

What a choice FG faces. The first openly smug minister or the first openly generic one. If their campaign ideas are so game-changing why had they not brought them to Cabinet before now? What a happy coincidence their personal interest at last happens to align with the national interest.

An openly gay or half-Indian taoiseach might feel new, but Leo Varadkar is not. His new-new politics will be business as usual with some different personalities in charge of the same stasis.

So why are we indulging this pair of indistinguishable private schoolboys in their posh push for power?

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.