Thursday 22 August 2019

The corridors of power need a gale of wind to blow away the cobwebs - I'm the windbag for the job

Nigel Farage, who likes nothing better than being photographed with a pint in one hand and a fag in the other, has become a diplomatic kingmaker
Nigel Farage, who likes nothing better than being photographed with a pint in one hand and a fag in the other, has become a diplomatic kingmaker

John Daly

I'm thinking seriously about a political career. Your reaction may be that it sounds like a typical mid-life crisis, but the notion is not as mad a notion as it sounds.

Look around - an Italian comic has upturned his country's political system, an American businessman with peculiar hair and zero political experience is the US president-elect, and a UK bloke who likes nothing better than being photographed with a pint in one hand and a fag in the other has become a diplomatic kingmaker. 2016 has clearly been the year of the disenchanted voter, with electorates across the Western world letting out a collective howl of anger at out-of-touch, self-serving political elites.

Donald Trump, Nigel Farage and Beppe Grillo have caught the mood of millions on a platform of supposedly understanding the lives of ordinary people and "going to bat for the little guy".

Tapping into the anger of the ordinary man has already changed the world, and it's not over yet. On that basis, who could disagree that Ireland is wide open for a fresh gale of wind to blow away generations of political cobwebs - and I'm just the windbag for the job!

Winston Churchill opined: "A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen." He was close to the mark, but John B Keane hit the bullseye: "If Caligula could make a consul of his horse, why should anybody be surprised if a politician makes an ass of himself?"

The first thing any political campaign needs is a good slogan, and the past is an obvious territory for inspiration. Clearly we can't do a Melania on it and plagiarise Obama's "Yes we can", or JFK's "A time for greatness". And the 1928 vow of Herbert Hoover to put "a chicken in every pot" seems a non-runner for an Irish population more in love with pasta these days.

Election posters are another warning from history: "Trust the Greens, we won't let you down," or the PDs, "The best is yet to come." Fine words, and look where it got them. And if you really want to feel the shiver of somebody walking on your grave, cast the mind back to that famous billboard: "Let's take a step forward together," showing Bertie and a smiling young couple. I wonder how many times their rent has increased over the past year?

Brevity is a cousin of victory when it comes to slogans - a fact aptly proven by this year's "Make America great again". It's short, sharp and fits on a baseball cap. With that in mind, I'm going with, "Show me the money", which pretty much sums my political philosophy. For a back-up motto, we can borrow again from the 'Jerry Maguire' film: "You had me at hello." Bound to go down a treat with the rural vote.

Any decent campaign needs top-notch technical support, and inviting the Russian cybercriminals who apparently derailed Hillary's campaign to come on board will be first on my list. If they haven't already hacked my email, that is. Also key is publicity - any kind you can get. Flann O'Brien nailed it when he remarked: "Our ancestors believed in magic, prayer... and trickery. I think it would be fair to sum that list up as 'Irish politics'."

Success is as much about theatre as good governance, so it's no bad idea for aspiring politicians to take a leaf from the Jackie Healy-Rae handbook when it comes to making a spectacle of yourself.

Organising monster rallies complete with burning turf sods atop a sea of pikes, the Kerry TD offered voters an exciting alternative to another boring night in front of the TV, and went on to top the poll every time.

On the hazards of canvassing, he said: "I had some fierce escapes from dogs, but I nearly bled to death after this cock drove his spurs through my shoe and cut my vein. I bate the bejabers out of him."

So, as I start my journey to the doorsteps of Ireland, the words of another legendary campaigner, Fidel Castro, will be my guide: "It does not matter how small you are if you have faith and a plan of action."

Come to think of it, if things don't work out for me in Leinster House, there's a vacancy in Cuba...

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss