Tuesday 17 October 2017

Johnny Fallon: Honest and accessible ... Dan Boyle’s memoir from the government bunker

Former Green Party leader Dan Boyle
Former Green Party leader Dan Boyle

I HAVE to admit I was looking forward to reading Without Power or Glory: the Greens in Government by Dan Boyle. It offers the kind of insight that can prove invaluable in understanding politics. In time to come there will be many books dealing with the crisis stricken Cowen government but this is the first from someone so close to the action.

It is very easy to dismiss a government you don’t support, blame their failings on incompetence or lack of ability. To truly learn the lessons though, one should never be as condescending, or arrogant, as to believe that they are all just corrupt or inept. Politics is so many shades of grey and understanding where everyone is coming from and their reasoning is the key to better decisions.

The book itself gets off to a slow start. There is a lot of name checking of various people in the Green Party that most people will never have heard of, but this can be put down to the politicians desire to show gratitude to the team. Boyle starts the book by saying ‘We went into this with our eyes wide open’. That line alone will cause some controversy. Boyle discusses how the Greens approached getting ready for government, he admits that they knew certain positions like that taken on the EU and Shannon would not be tenable in government. However despite the numerous committees the Greens established to look at the issues they made no public progress to prepare their membership or voters for the fact that many positions would have to change in government.. The desire to increase seats outweighed the necessity of admitting that some policies simply could not be sustained. This calls into question their real preparedness for government and whether they truly understood what it involved.

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