Monday 24 October 2016

All hail the Government for life

Published 19/04/2015 | 02:30

Ruairi Quinn
Ruairi Quinn

You wouldn't imagine Ruairi Quinn would have a lot in common with Margaret Thatcher. But on Tuesday, on Pat Kenny, he dug deep into her grave and conjured up again that knackered old bird we thought had died with her: Tina.

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There is no alternative. It was a phrase Thatcher and Co used about free market capitalism. Quinn was using it in the context of the current Government.

Quinn, of all people, should know that there is always an alternative - an alternative Minister for Education, an alternative leader of the Labour Party. But then, those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make feel indispensable. And when Quinn invoked Tina, he was probably speaking for a lot of his colleagues.

They think they've got away with it. They think they will win this election by default. They think they are the only game in town. Mainly, right now, they are thinking this because they haven't had a cock-up in a while. That is what they currently view as their greatest achievement.

The Government should actually get a sign for outside Leinster House, like one of those signs they have outside motels and churches and factories in America. "No outbreak of Legionnaires' disease, no industrial accidents and no major cock-ups for 84 days (Jesus loves you)."

Their method of avoiding cock-ups, in fairness, has been idiot-proof. If you do nothing, you can't do anything wrong. So they have been doing nothing.

They're pretty cocky now after a few months of doing nothing. They actually think they're good at it. And now the summer is here, the EU is apparently going to give them some leeway for goodies in the spring statement - which will be another one of those embarrassing two-day Dail sessions where they stand up and list out their achievements and blame everyone else for everything.

And the steam seems to be going out of the water protests. And Gerry and Mary Lou lurch from one compromising situation to another and Micheal can't hold his party together, and the independents are figures of fun more than anything, apart from the odd time Claire Daly embarrasses Enda or Joan.

So all their ducks are in a row, doing nothing. And now they think they just need to hold steady and land the plane, with a fair wind behind them and perfect visibility. But, of course, there is no such thing as perfect visibility.

And the nature of cock-ups is that you don't see them coming, otherwise they'd never happen. And besides which, people won't take too kindly to being told by some old men and a bunch of apparatchiks in suits that there is no alternative, that they are a Government for life. We have a name for that kind of thing: the Soviet era. And as Margaret Thatcher, Ronnie Reagan and John Paul II showed, there was an alternative to that. And there was an alternative to Ronnie and Maggie too when the time came. It isn't always a good one. But there is always an alternative.

Sunday Independent

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