Sunday 17 December 2017

Back in business: has Labour’s invisible man turned the corner?

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore
Labour leader Eamon Gilmore
John Drennan

John Drennan

The claim by Irish politicians that they ignore opinion polls should always be taken as seriously as Bertie’s famous comment once that ‘he did not listen to the newspapers or read the radio’.

Nothing epitomizes the impact a good poll can have on the Irish politician more than the doubling of Labour’s support from six per cent to 12% over recent months.

When Labour were at six per cent the Tanaiste resembled Flann O’Brien’s tale about the man with a boil on his neck who was going around with his head bent so low ‘his snot was bouncing off the pavement’.

However, now that Labour has moved from the territories of a Green Party style meltdown to the territories of survival and re-election a new Mr Gilmore has emerged.

Having previously been as invisible as the Cheshire cat suddenly the Labour leader is full of piss and vinegar again.

Last week at mini leaders questions on Thursday the Tanaiste even dared to chop up the Opposition when they dared to cock a snoot at the government’s promissory note policy.

Looking disdainfully over at the scattered ranks of the Opposition to the gathering cheers of the normally silent backbenchers a reinvigorated Gilmore slammed the “twenty-five Deputies, including Deputy Joan Collins and Deputy Billy Kelleher, voted against exiting the bailout”.

Meanwhile in the outside world having been silent as a Trappist monk for two years suddenly Mr Gilmore is all over the media emoting about the coping classes and tax breaks and struggling middle income families.

Given his past experiences on the excessive promises front the Tanaiste is carefully eschewing any claims about Ireland turning any corners.

But, as the ceasefire continues to hold firm on the Joan front Mr Gilmore certainly appears to have turned a psychological corner.

Now as the Labour party conference begins the one thing Mr Gilmore needs for his perfect weekend is for the current Labour Vice Chairperson Lorraine Mulligan to win the battle for the Chairpersons seat against the grass-roots man Ray Kavanagh.

So what is the secret of Mr Gilmores new-found success?

Well Irish politicians may not like to claim they ever learnt much from Bertie these days, but, one key technique of Mr Ahern in times of trouble was to make himself as small, and silent and innocuous and inconspicuous as possible in the hope that trouble would get bored and disappear off to find something or some-one more interesting.

Mr Gilmore certainly adopted that policy during his internal exile in the Department of Foreign Affairs.

It appears to have succeeded too, for trouble, having got bored with Labour’s ‘Invisible Man’ has now segued off towards the eternally profitable territories of FF and SF.

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