Thursday 23 March 2017

We need a hero, Enda, to go on a solo run for power

Forget a cosy coalition, many of us are crying out for a single-party government that can revive the economy, writes Aengus Fanning

The gulf between what the political parties do in their own self-interest, and what the national interest requires, is widening not narrowing, despite the recent rhetoric of politicians.

The next few days will be the ultimate test of their truthfulness when they insist that they have put party games aside and are now solely concerned with what is good for the country. But when all three main parties seem to want a Fine Gael-Labour coalition in pursuit of the Holy Grail of 'stable government', am I alone in smelling a rat?

What good is 'stable government' if it is not able to govern effectively for the economic good of the people? What good is 'stable government' if it is rendered inert by the dead hand of Labour?

Our politicians must, even belatedly, think economics, not politics.

I believe that it is Fine Gael's duty to try to form a single-party government.

They know deep in their hearts that, in partnership with Labour, they have no chance of implementing effective public spending cuts, no chance of getting the economy to grow.

The memory of Dick Spring browbeating Garret FitzGerald into economic paralysis in the mid-Eighties recession, much milder than this one, is still a powerful one.

Labour's 'poacher-turned-gamekeeper' argument -- that they know from the inside best how to reform the public sector -- cuts no genuine ice in Fine Gael.

This is the biggest national emergency in the history of the country, and it is not good enough for Fine Gael and Labour to argue that the crisis requires 'stable government' when what they really mean is they would like four or five years in office with Cabinet positions allocated in proportion to their seats. Fianna Fail, in turn, would like Fine Gael and Labour to get into bed together so that, as the main opposition party, they might have some chance of recovery.

Enda Kenny must show courage and conviction in going for a single-party government, even if it has to rely on the kindness of strangers in the House, in order that his party's economic policies can be implemented.

Nothing could be worse than if Fine Gael and Labour were to tear up their manifestos, and make a great show of negotiating a 'programme for government', the real purpose of which would be to enable them to share power.

This is not just good enough in such desperate times.

After all, the Lemass and Haughey-MacSharry minority governments are regarded as among the best in our history.

The risk must be taken. I don't accept the conventional wisdom which says that the international markets want 'stable' government, ie Fine Gael-Labour.

What they want is able government, not the blundering ineptitude, nor the inertia and procrastination, nor the abdication of responsibility that we have seen.

What our people want, and indeed desperately need, is a common-sense, competent government, capable of action without analysing things to death, and of restoring confidence and growth to the economy.

I had reconciled myself to the idea that government from Frankfurt was not such a bad thing -- that is, until the ruthlessness of the bailout shook the scales from my eyes. These things are too serious for the political game still being played.

People's lives are being blighted, many are either destitute or facing destitution, and for thousands there is no recovery from where they are.

'Life is real! Life is earnest!' said HW Longfellow.

This is our last chance to avoid a grim economic wasteland stretching into infinity like the set of Waiting for Godot.

If Kenny and Fine Gael have the courage to take the risk, they should go for it. The national interest must, at long last, come before party politics.

I'll quote Longfellow again, addressing it to Enda Kenny:

'In the world's broad field of battle,

In the bivouac of life.

Be not like dumb, driven cattle!

Be a hero in the strife!'

Go for it, Enda!

Sunday Independent

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