Sunday 25 September 2016

The butter knives are out for Alan at Labour's tea party

Published 22/05/2016 | 02:30

New leader: Brendan Howlin Photo: Frank Mc Grath
New leader: Brendan Howlin Photo: Frank Mc Grath

No country for old men? Hardly. We can't get rid of them. How many times has Enda Kenny been down and out by now? And still people don't believe him when he issues a decree that he will be staying on for the time being. He's just saying that, they say. He has to say that. He will go sooner. These are the same people who predicted his demise before, during and after the election. The ones in the know.

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Those of us more ignorant of these matters would look at Enda and surmise that the man has no intention of going anywhere.

He has discovered that wanting to hang on is seemingly enough to make it so - a Nietzschean will to power, literally. And the young men will be kept busy at the coalface of housing, water, health and social welfare, while the older man reigns supreme, busy only at keeping power.

Alan Kelly possibly thought he had done his time at the housing and water coalface. And he possibly thought that it was time for a younger man to be in charge. But he didn't reckon with another older man, who felt that his time had finally come; another older man insisting on a coronation. So Kelly, whose crime is apparently Machiavellian ambition, was out-Machiavellied by the refined, respectable Labour family, and the sincere and earnest Brendan Howlin.

Kelly was like a gurrier who saw a bunch of old dears having a tea party and decided he'd take over the table, only to stagger away with a butter knife in his back. He may be an ambitious and aggressive hot head but he was no match for the genteel grandees of Labour.

Some would date Kelly's demise back to the infamous 'Power is a drug' interview with Niamh Horan in this paper. But in truth, it happened on The Late Late Show. Kelly had been warned through the media not to do it. Joan and Brendan had tried to show example, both refusing in media interviews to confirm their plans f or stepping down or stepping up, stressing that it would be impolite not to give the family the news first.

But Kelly, brash and crazed for the drug of power, did it his way. He went directly to the country.

He went on The Late Late on his best behaviour and announced he was stepping into the ring, that he was taking a shot at the title.

It was all a bit too public, too Fianna Fail, too showbiz, too Conor McGregor, for the genteel grandees. And while Alan thought he was talking to the nation, he was in fact only talking to six other people and he perhaps shouldn't have chosen to talk to them through the Late Late. Within a week, he was back in Ciss Ryans in Portroe, drowning his sorrows, nurturing his singed wings.

Down, but not, you suspect, out.

And the genteel Labour tea party went on; all of them looking as if butter wouldn't melt on their scones. And they all agreed pleasantly that Alan is very valued and his time would come. When he is older and wilier, maybe. And to bastardise the poet, they sang, these lords and ladies of Byzantium, of what is past, or passing, or to come.

Sunday Independent

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