LAST week the Blueshirts’ favourite organ-grinder, the Indo/Sindo newspaper group, announced that because of Fianna Fáil’s ‘utter lack of credibility’ and the fact that Mickey Martin had been a member of a government that fell apart when the Troika came to town,’ Fine Gael would launch ‘a full-scale personalised attack’ on him.
Indakinny’s slimy plan is part of a strategy to detach traditional Fianna Fáil voters from their first love, the Fianna Fáil party, and instead get them to vote for Fine Gael. Having discovered that one in three FF voters regard Fine Gael as a good choice to ‘secure the economic recovery,’ Kenny’s scheming advisers are fully engaged trying to turn negative FF opinion into votes for Fine Gael.
To spice up the campaign, shifty pals in the meeja will disseminate the most appalling allegations about Mickey and Fianna Fáil. Really terrible things like ‘Fianna Fáil wrecked the economy’ and that Mickey and three of his crew – O’Dea, Ó Cuív and Brendan Smith – were actually cabinet members in the last government. (Wow! What a revelation!). Inda’s strategists believe the horrendous news will make the punters’ blood run cold and, in shock, they’ll embrace the civilised Blueshirts.
Which, of course, begs this question: where did they get such a balmpot idea? The Beano? Even more extraordinary is the fact that the most reputable meeja group in the entire Western World, the Indo/Sindo, is prepared to facilitate a ‘black ops’ campaign that owes more to the Pink Panther than it does to Mossad.
At this point, your humble scribe must pause, take a deep breath and imbibe a fortifying thimbleful of Kilbeggan before confronting the second phase of Fine Gael’s covert operations. The one about FG activists, politicos, canvassers and commentators being urged to preface remarks about Our Mickey with the smart-alecky ‘he looks like a shiver looking for a spine to crawl up.’
Now, that’s a nasty and very, very ‘personalised’ comparison. Worse still, it’s not even original.
Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating coined the phrase and bettered it many times with such gems as ‘I suppose that the Honourable Gentleman’s hair, like his intellect, will recede into the darkness.’ Or the infamous: ‘Thanks for those comments, and just because you swallowed a f------g dictionary when you were about 15 doesn’t give you the right to pour a bucket of s--t over the rest of us’.
Aussie wit is like a faint glint from a rusty knife and, in their attack on Our Mickey, Fine Gael would do well to take fewer leaves out of Paul Keating’s book!
But there’s another way for Fine Gael and the Indo/Sindo to ‘do in’ Our Mickey. Why not leave the man alone? After all, he’s currently doing a perfectly good job of politically ‘doing-himself-in’!
Litany of errors
Because one way or another he’s doomed, unable to escape public opprobrium for being part of the gang that bankrupted the State, drove in the pegs for the Galway tent and helped propagate the sense of entitlement that allowed FF politicos live like Saudi princes.
Yet, we should also bear in mind that although Mickey was not much of a Health Minister, Trade Minister, Education Minister or Foreign Minister, he always remained a decent Turners Cross boy with his feet firmly on the ground, loyally doing his job and happily following the orders of his superiors, the Squire, Don Berto and Mr Biffo.
And is it fair to say that a decent bloke like Mickey should take full responsibility for the catastrophic collapse of the FF vote in 2011 when, after ousting Biffo, he led his party to its worst result in 85 years – a loss of 57 seats and a drop in popular support to 17.4%? Sadly, yes.
We can go further. One would have expected a FF recovery in the four years since the Disaster but, according to the polls, that ain’t happening. The party remains stagnant in or around 19%, and Mickey carries the can for the party’s increasing irrelevance.
Not one FF policy sticks in the memory. Media coverage centres on gender quotas, conventions and the return of Mary Hanafin. At the same time, he keeps repeating the mantra about not going into coalition with Fine Gael while spluttering banana oil about having no truck with Sinn Féin.
He’s even switched off the farmers. Fianna Fáil launched its Agricultural and Food Policy at this year’s National Ploughing Championships and it went down like a lead balloon, derided for falling well short on ‘practical ideas or measures that would make any impact on farmers.’
New coalition moves
Yet, behind Mickey’s back some mockya manoeuvring is taking place with Fine Gael. FF Justice spokesman Niall Collins said that in the event of a FG minority government, his party would use its position ‘to effect policy change where possible’. He didn’t expand.
Controversial Willie O’Dea said something similar but that too came across as gobbledegook. After much effort, encryption scientists eventually concluded that after the general election Fianna Fáil would not oppose Kenny as Taoiseach – assuming Fine Gael were the largest party but without a Dáil majority. Such a proposal is anarchic and would lead to political mayhem, as the FG government would be prone to collapse at the whim of Fianna Fáil.
In fact, should the numbers add up (a big ‘if’), coalition with Fine Gael would be the likely outcome for the F&Fers. According to a recent Clive Byrne-Amárach poll, very few people believe Mickey when he says he will not lead Fianna Fáil into a coalition with either Fine Gael or Sinn Féin.
SF takes a more pragmatic approach, arguing that Blueshirts and Soldiers of Destiny should merge into one party. ‘There is no discernible difference between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael anyway,’ said Aengus Ó Snodaigh. ‘When Fianna Fáil were turfed out of office after wrecking the economy, Fine Gael just continued to implement their unfair policies of targeting working families and the most vulnerable in society. They should probably just merge and get it over with.’
Committed to nothing
A nice thought but unlikely to happen. So wherein lies Mickey’s future: coalition or coalescing? It has to be one or the other, because if he continues to commit his party to nothing, he’ll end up as the most useless FF leader Ireland ever had.
On the other hand, a heave against him would make people happy if it led to his exit as leader. The party then would be in a position to commence a process of reconstruction, and Martin’s lack of vision and his intimate connection with Fianna Fáil’s toxic past could be swept easily under the carpet.
But, best of all, if Mickey went, we wouldn’t have to endure the Fine Gael-Indo/Sindo’s excruciating hatchet job on him!