Friday 13 December 2019

John Drennan: It's Blackadder Biffo as Cowen comes up with 'cunning plan'

It took the Sketch some time but we finally realised why a great depression hangs over the Dail like a Dickensian fog.

This was the week a political system that is more cosseted than a Turkish emperor's new courtesan realised there really was a recession out there.

In fairness, as part of their response the TDs did immediately try to reach a consensus on 'a cunning' plan' -- you there down the back, stop drawing cartoons of chimpanzees trying to repair a TV -- to resolve our crisis.

Even before it emerged that the great plan consists of an unworkable economic strategy and an unreachable economic deadline, those of us who experienced the terrors of the appeasement process were less than enchanted.

It may be the case that when it comes to our Budget nothing will be answered until everything is understood; there is a need to decommission the Department of Finance and the State is still looking for all the bad loans that our rogue bankers have stored in a series of underground bunkers.

The problem, however, is that, like the peace process, it would take 10 years for that lot to agree on how we will appease a group of fiscal terrorists known as the bond markets.

In fairness the Sketch could also understand why the Opposition appeared to be so nervous about the 'consensus' talk for having Biffo as a consensus-generating 'facilitator' was like putting Father Jack in charge of an AA meeting.

Still it could have been worse, for we suspect the real concern exercising the Opposition was that once they entered the Taoiseach's office, the Ward Boss would leap out of a cupboard and, after an hour of Bertie, the two lads would agree to postpone the elections and keep FF in office until 2016.

Back in the Dail, the Sketch was also embracing the national consensus.

There may have been a brief hiatus in our 'Backing Biffo beyond the edge of reason' position but like the Greens and his FF backbenchers we have confidence in the Taoiseach's capacity on the 'Dig for Victory' front.

He has after all been digging for over a decade now and, dear Lord, look at the size of the hole he's made.

At least our Taoiseach is consistent and keeps on digging. Last week, however, the Sketch realised Biffo could restore the morale of the nation with a new bestseller.

We think Mr Cowen is the perfect man to author something along the lines of Biffo's 100 Phrases for Covering up Failure.

The latest example of the Taoiseach's ability in this area occurred when anti-national interests, otherwise known as the Opposition, were attempting to criticise our Finance mandarins whose forecasting skills resemble that of granny sticking a pin into the list of Grand National runners.

Mr Cowen was having none of this critique of his insider pals, and grandly informed us that while the forecasts were wrong, we should not be complaining because, given the circumstances of the time, they were 'justifiable'.

Isn't it good to know that outside of old favourites such as 'commercial sensitivity and market sensitivities' the idiots who get forecasts wrong can claim that they were 'justifiable at the time'?

Mind you, we suspect if having made a 'forecast' that you will arrive home having consumed two pints and actually return with 12 the 'justifiable forecast' line won't work with the wife.

We were further unnerved to discover at Leaders' Questions that some official had provided Mr Cowen with economic tips in the sort of large type normally found in books for old dears with poor sight.

It wasn't precisely titled 'Economics for Biffos, sorry, Dummies' but as Cowen leafed nervously through pages with titles such as 'big issues' we would really have preferred not to know he needs this sort of comfort blanket to deal with the intellectual might of Enda.

In so far as we recall things, Bertie used to have that sort of stuff at his fingertips.

Still the week did end on a small note of consensus after Joe Costello raised the virtues of a noise nuisance abatement Bill. As Biffo stared grimly at Joan Burton, who was rising to speak, for once we suspect Mr Cowen was thinking what we, the Government and the rest of the Opposition were thinking.

Sunday Independent

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