Saturday 24 February 2018

David McWilliams: Office politics snuffed out Fine Gael's brightest star

David McWilliams

David McWilliams

LIKE you, I've been listening to many opinions on the George Lee episode. The one thing that has stood out in all the conversations is just how out of touch the political insiders seem to be with the rest of the population. The political insiders -- the politicians themselves, party members and canvassers as well as the political pundits and correspondents who live inside the world of the Dail -- speak of George's betrayal, his petulance and something called procedure. Of his many crimes, the idea of not knowing your place appears to be a significant offence.

On the other hand, you examine the polls taken by 'Liveline' and the like and you get a totally different picture. The average person believes George; the average person trusts him and supports his move to quit. If these polls are to be taken at face value, could it be that the political "insiders" are out of step with the civilian "outsiders"?

Arguably we have a clear division between, on one side, the wizened, "nose-tapping" cynics who believe they know how things should be done and, on the other, the wide-eyed, possibly naive, optimists who hope for change. The George Lee saga could well be the first skirmish in a long war between those who believe the system should be defended -- the insiders -- and the outsiders who believe the status quo is part of the problem. One of the most significant and consistent criticisms of George by the insiders has been that he didn't do his time. Some say he couldn't hack it. But hack what? Hack the "slowly, slowly, don't rock the boat" world of biding your time, playing the game and, ultimately, engineering a career based on climbing up the slippery pole. Of course he couldn't hack it and why should he? He wasn't voted in to do that.

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