Friday 20 April 2018

Willie O'Dea: Kenny matches Thatcher for sheer conceit

The Budget confirms that the Taoiseach mistakes arrogance for strength

Willie O'Dea

During the June 1983 general election campaign, before he became leader of the British Labour party, Neil Kinnock was participating in a TV debate when the issue of Margaret Thatcher's leadership during the Falklands war arose.

Kinnock was arguing that her arrogance should not be mistaken for strength, when a heckler from the studio audience interrupted him shouting: "At least she had shown guts." To which Kinnock infamously replied: "It's a pity others had to leave theirs on the ground at Goose Green to prove it."

While his phrasing left many feeling uneasy, not least the families of deceased troops, his impromptu reply did have a core truth to it, and it is one that has occurred to me all week. Political leaders who confuse arrogance and stubbornness with strength are not equipped for real leadership.

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