Editorial: Weary Coalition near to collapse
AS Labour wilt at the very edge of annihilation and Fine Gael bid fair to follow, the Coalition may feel they are well entitled to plead that their current status resembles the legal equivalent of "cruel and unusual punishment".
They may have sinned, but, a Tanaiste and a Justice Minister have fallen on their swords and the shade of political death circles a further half dozen cabinet members. Far from being sated the electorate, though, appear determined to intensify their policy of avenging the death by a thousand cuts they have been experiencing with a thousand cuts of their own. Such, indeed is the pleasure the voters are taking in "putting manners" on those such as Enda who gets far too much enjoyment out of "putting manners" on us no political party is safe, for, having initially dined on Labour, the black death of political unpopularity is beginning to spread among the ranks of FG.
Yet, astonishingly, despite the clear statement of intent by the voters, the complacent political establishment, or certainly the higher echelons of Fine Gael, appear to believe the electorate are merely off on some sort of a frolic. Far from being concerned, the belief up to now is that at some point the incorrigible electorate will return to their senses and return bearing muttered apologies and sheepish eyes.
The Coalition and Fianna Fail would be wise not to be over confident, for the fate of the 'Celtic Tiger' tells us that 'frolics' can actually get out of control. That same denouement means that as we gaily beckon Sinn Fein and Gerry Adams into the Taoiseach's office, the voters should at least pause for a moment to consider the long-term consequences of our accelerating Sinn Fein/Independent frolic. In fairness, the vast and ever accelerating failure of our political elite to live up to the spirit of the democratic revolution means it is somewhat difficult to see where one passes the red line separating appropriate chastisement from justified annihilation.
The Coalition will argue in its defence that at the worst it has in office lived up to the minimalist principle of the Hippocratic Oath to at least 'do no harm'. But while the Coalition has facilitated a mild recovery it could be argued that harmlessness may be its greatest vice. Great change is not achieved by the sort of less than elegant lassitude which has swept over an increasingly enervated Coalition that too often has inflicted harm because it has been busy doing nothing.
In the case of this Coalition when it comes to issues as diverse as reform of the HSE, policing or of politics itself, too often the inclination of this administration has been to politely retreat from the point of conflict when rougher beasts enter the field. As we dawdle towards an anticipated 'seismic' reshuffle, nothing epitomises the spirit of utter temerity that has seized them more than the failure of the Taoiseach, out of either fear, pity or wounded pride, to remove, if only for James Reilly's own good, the crushed body of his Health Minister from the field of political battle.
If he has the wit to realise his Government needs a new direction, Mr Kenny should note in politics the "blood and bandages" of character and courage rather than tribal partisanship is the greatest virtue of all.
The ongoing failure of Mr Kenny, and the rest of our class of effete political eunuchs to appreciate this, suggests the electorate are not being cruel or unusual in their judgement – and only incipient annihilation can secure the attention of this lot.