A SELF-EVIDENT truth is seeping into the collective brain of the Cloth Cap Brigade and Fine Gael. Poll after poll is confirming that the Labour Party is b..lixed – a phrase congenial to the taste of the linguistically gifted writers of the Indo/Sindo.
Fate, you see, has come knocking at Labour’s door. Languishing at 6% in the polls, the prediction is that the party will not return a single TD in the next general election. They’re in a doomsday situation.
Horrific as the prospect is, West Cork Biblical evangelists (our readers!) can take heart in the fact that what’s happening to Labour is an inspirational moral lesson: eventually every politico gets his just deserts!
If the reader might permit us to indulge in a little Bible bashing, here is what the plain people of Éire now sayeth: ‘Woe to the politico by whom the offence cometh. Our Promised Land doth lie battered and bruised but vengeance will be ours. Hence, behold the licking of chops in expectation of the Big Day when the righteousness of a righteous electorate will not save Labour from the awfulness of its transgressions.
‘And the people will proclaim: let us not praise those servile agents of physical toil who sinned in the house of the Blueshirt for it was the Labourites who were wise but turned to godlessness. It was they who acted wickedly towards the covenant of promises that first brought them to the Temple of Kildare Street.
‘And it was they who plumped for the property tax, the water tax, this levy and that levy; and as enforcers for the impious fat cats they became despised of all men. It is Labour, then, that must suffer the blast of the people’s wrath! Hallelujah and pass the voting card!’
Election on the way
So, as the people enthusiastically gird their loins to cast Ms Burton, Declan Kelly and pals into the Vale of Tears (along with the sulphurous remnants of the Workers Party), the omnipotent ruler of the Blueshirt universe, Enda himself, has put an early election on the front burner.
He’s been encouraged to do so by the adviser-buckos, consultants, counsellors, touts and tipsters now emerging from the woodwork and warning that the longer he waits to call a general election the more Fine Gael will suffer at the polls.
Like the rest of us, Kenny can see the writing on the wall. But the sixty four thousand dollar question is how to cobble together a pact that would maximise a Labour transfer vote to help Fine Gael cross the 50-seat threshold. The danger is that were the electorate to see what’s afoot, it would be stricken with a serious bout of projectile vomiting.
Yet, rumour of another FG accord with Labour is rife in political circles (pubs!), as is the necessity for Kenny’s ‘amici curiae’ to exude a quiet confidence when promoting the legend that a two-horse FG-Labour team could win the election despite what the polls are saying.
We know it’s nothing but a confidence trick, but for Labour it’s their Last Chance Saloon. Ironically, if the proletarians are to benefit from any sort of patronage while wandering through a barren political landscape like lost souls in Hell, they’ll have to get the vote out for Fine Gael!
Of course, once the election is over, Fine Gael will not be coalescing with a pulverised Labour Party. Question is: with whom will they seek coalition?
Could Enda do business with Mickey, the flawed leader of a stagnant party? Yes! In recent polls FF hit a possible 36 seats.
Have no doubt but the F&Fer camp will be Kenny’s first port of call. After all, the two right wing parties are practically indistinguishable. Equally, if he had to, he’d break bread with the ragtag bunch of independents and others (polling at 42).
But not with Sinn Féin, which is cementing its 28-seat expectation. Establishing political relations between the General O’Duffy boys and the Republicans would be a bridge too far.
In the meantime, FG is hoping that a fattening of the electorate, increased capital spending (housing, social welfare, health) and flaithiúil-style Lotto lolly doled out to every sporting club, charity, women’s group, crèche, and arty-farty organisation in the land might swing it for Kenny. All beefed up, needless to say, with outrageous promises, tall tales, cock and bull stories, and brazen lies.
No patronage here
Let’s be clear about this. The delightful support and encouragement that Cork mini-minister Dara Murphy displayed to an auld Cork Corpo butty Joe O’ Callaghan by appointing him as his publicly-funded chauffeur had nothing to do with political patronage.
The lucky transporter, a failed FG Dáil aspirant and former Lord Mayor, simply was the best man for the job. Besides, according to Murphy, with wages amounting to a measly €631 a week the position was not exactly commensurate with the ambitions of a high flyer! Indeed!
Murphy earlier raised eyebrows when he employed his wife Tanya as his personal assistant. However, it goes without saying that she, too, was the best person for the job because she knew more about hubby’s work than anybody else!
Of course, there’s nothing unusual about FG-Labour TDs behaving like employment agencies. Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett employed his daughter Jacqui, Brendan Griffin hired wife Róisín as well as cousin Tommy, Andrew Doyle took on sister Eithne, Bernard Durkan son Tim, Arthur Spring brother Graham, John Wall son Mark who is also a county councillor, Willie Penrose brother Johnnie.
Seán Sherlock employed sister Una, Paudie Coffey wife Suzanne, Peter Fitzpatrick daughter Grace, Kathleeeen Lynch husband Bernard (a former WP activist who was also the best person for the job on the grounds that ‘not everybody could do it’).
As for Minister Ciarán Cannon, in charge of the aptly named Skills Department, he slotted the missus into a secretarial job while making his brother-in-law a chauffeur.
And, of course, the redoubtable John Perry gave the job of parliamentary assistant to wife Marie after Dame Enda dumped him as minister for small businesses. The one-time minister defended his decision on the grounds that she had been filling the position for seven months previously ‘on a voluntary basis’.
In all, 25 of our 166 TDs, about 15% of the Dáil, have employed relatives to carry out administrative and other duties. Taoiseach Kenny declared some months ago that it was not a wise thing for politicians to employ family members. He made no mention of political cronies.
Letter writers to the press have suggested the time has come for Kenny to publish a list of Oireachtas members and Irish MEPs who employ people closely connected to them, and the roles they perform.
Yeah, responded the cynics. Great idea, but do pigs fly!