New Politics: A user's guide
As we approach the end of the first year of New Politics, most people still don't know what it means. The truth is it means whatever you want it to mean. Gerry Adams, for example, believes it is connected to his arse, hence his slogan "New Politics: My arse", replacing his previous slogan "Talking out of: My arse".
For Enda Kenny, New Politics means that you can stay on as Taoiseach, simply because you say so. It is unclear at this point whether anyone wants Enda Kenny to be Taoiseach. He even lost the election. But under the rules of New Politics, he can just decide to be Taoiseach. And we all just resign ourselves to that fact. Increasingly, we are resigning ourselves to the fact that Enda Kenny may never stop being Taoiseach. He even has the Pope in on it now. Apparently it would be awkward for the Pope to meet a gay Taoiseach. Because living in the Vatican, as he does, the Pope has never come face to face with a homosexual. Right.
For Leo, New Politics means reinventing the chicken and chips circuit as the pizza and beers circuit. Leo has some kind of vague ministerial job, but his main role is as an agony uncle for backbench TDs and journalists, who all come to Leo when they need a chat.
Simon Coveney chose a bizarre interpretation of New Politics. He decided that it meant that you should try to do your job well and that you might get rewarded for that. Everyone agreed this was a mug's game. Until about last Wednesday, when his bonkers strategy briefly came good for him. Then we suddenly discovered that what was posing as a set of new measures for the rental sector was actually some class of a cockfight between Simon and Barry Cowen. Barry Cowen, by the way, is a New Politics version of Brian Cowen. His brand is that he reminds people of Brian Cowen just enough to seem familiar, but not enough to worry them.
The rental issue was classic New Politics: a pointless row between the Government and another party who everyone assumed was in the Government. That's another aspect of New Politics. Nobody is quite sure who is in the Government. Some people who are in the Government aren't even sure if they are in the Government or not. Shane Ross regularly forgets which side he is supposed to be on. In a classic New Politics move last week, he actually refused to back up the other minister in his own department on the matter of gender quotas. The high water mark of New Politics will be when Shane Ross finds that he can't agree with himself on something and he walks out on himself.
Meanwhile all politicians from all sides agree that New Politics is working well. One senior source summed it up for us: "We all still have our jobs, don't we? And that's the important thing."