Rage – that’s the word of the moment in the south. The people of the twenty-six counties are consumed with rage that their government has screwed up so spectacularly and that it’s costing them, the people, so dear. The Irish cock-up that’s rocking all of Europe has three layers: the gobshites, the incompetents and the victims. The gobshites are the bankers who lied, overstretched and helped themselves to bloated bonuses. The incompetents are the government who mishandled the accounts, allowed the bankers and property developers to roar ahead full steam and led the state into a quagmire. The victims are the people.
A morally-appealing analysis but it doesn’t stand scrutiny. The bankers are of course gobshites – that’s in the nature of banks. But the banks didn’t put a gun to the head of the public, whether ordinary Sean Citizen or big-bucks Donal Developer, when it lent more than it had to lend. It was consenting adults who did the business, a joint misadventure. As for the government – a shower indeed. But remind me who was it voted them into office? And were they forced to make the choices they did? People get the kind of government they vote for, and people share the blame for government mismanagement.
The thing is, of course, to learn from your mistakes. Do better next time. And suddenly, stunningly, next time is now, or at least next month. The general election which was just over the horizon has suddenly come roaring up, its hot breath sending the government coalition reeling back in a paroxysm of finger-pointing: it was all Fianna Fail’s fault, it was all Brian Cowen’s fault, it was all the Greens’ fault. So come January, the Irish people living south of the border will be given a clean slate and have a chance to draw a new government picture.
What will it contain? Not Fianna Fail for a start. There’s unanimous agreement on that, including within Fianna Fail. The general thinking is that Fine Gael and Labour will benefit. Hooray! …Although, um, Enda Kenny as Taoiseach…He wouldn’t be Brian Cowen, which for a lot of people would be a definite plus; on the other hand he would be Enda Kenny, which for a lot more people would be a definite minus. As for Labour: the defender of the working man and woman, the party that sees through the sham that is government plans, the party that has its own clear and better alternative, which is to…What? Well, they’ll definitely not do what Fianna Fail did, for one thing, and they’ll…Mmm. Funny thing, I can’t remember just what it was that Labour plan to do. Apart, that is, from getting into government as quickly as possible. But what will they actually DO different? Ummm…
Have you heard about the man who finally, miraculously made it to dry land, staggered up the main street and was hit by a large truck? God preserve us all from the economic brilliance of Eamon Gilmore.