Tuesday 6 December 2016

A leader should also have legions of followers

Accolades from the US media mean nothing if the Taoiseach can't bring the Irish public with him, says Brendan O'Connor

Published 22/08/2010 | 05:00

When Newsweek decided that Brian Cowen was one of the Top 10 great leaders of our time, they forgot that old maxim about the one thing every leader needs -- followers. Indeed, in the little paragraph that Newsweek offers as evidence of our leader's greatness they point out that he now only enjoys the support of 18 per cent of voters in this country.

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Eighteen per cent for the leader of a party that has a normally automatic 'gene-pool' following of about half the country must, in some way, qualify as having negative followers. You would be tempted to think that you could put a monkey at the head of Fianna fail and it would enjoy the support of the more than 18 per cent of the population. The piece also admits that Cowen will probably get a drubbing in the next General Election. So somehow, without followers, Cowen still qualifies as a great leader.

The Newsweek piece further suggests that ingratitude is the main reason why Cowen's greatness is not recognised in this country. It parrots the Fianna Fail line that measures that are unpopular in the short term, but that will pay dividends in the long term, are at the root of this Government's unpopularity. But does anyone in Ireland, Fianna Fail included, really believe that old chestnut?

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