Friday 24 January 2020

Editorial: 'Phoney war now gives way to political bludgeoning'

'Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will soon be telling us how his team has done an incredible job fixing a country banjaxed by Fianna Fáil'. Photo: PA
'Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will soon be telling us how his team has done an incredible job fixing a country banjaxed by Fianna Fáil'. Photo: PA
Editorial

Editorial

The election starting gun has not been fired, but already echoes of Harold Macmillan's famous declaration - "most of our people have never had it so good" - are reverberating around Merrion Street.

The Tory leader was riding high in 1957 on the post-war economic boom, with full employment and unprecedented revenues. Sound familiar?

A year on, the 'Daily Mirror' ran a famous cartoon caricaturing Macmillan.

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Penned by Vicky (Victor Weisz), it showed the cabinet in full back-slapping mode under a caption which read: "We've antagonised the workers, the middle-class, pensioners, tenants, farmers - why we've practically united the country."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will soon be telling us how his team has done an incredible job fixing a country banjaxed by Fianna Fáil.

But it was Micheál Martin who got his retaliation in first, taking to RTÉ to tell the nation how the Blueshirts had fallen flat on their faces on health and housing.

The phoney war is definitely over and the political bludgeoning begins in earnest.

Mr Martin said the Government was fixated with its image, adding no one bought the argument the "good times are here again".

Scarcely had Mr Martin replaced his stiletto in his sock, when an indignant Regina Doherty took up the cudgel. Fianna Fáil could not be trusted to take care of the economy if it had still not learned the lessons from the past, she said.

Even now, the party cannot take responsibility for the economic crash, she claimed.

The only thing she could see eye to eye with the Fianna Fáil leader about was that, like Mr Martin, her party could also not see itself in coalition with Sinn Féin. For her part, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald seemed none too perturbed about getting double cold-shouldered. She has "made it clear" after the next election she will talk to and listen to everybody "because that's what adults do".

She was scarcely surprised Mr Varadkar and Mr Martin "do not want Sinn Féin about the place" because "they know full well that we will bring about change".

For his part, Mr Martin felt Sinn Féin must also change.

He would not share power with it until he was satisfied only elected representatives were pulling the strings.

So with the smell of electoral sulphur already heavy in the air, the only sign of harmony came from a most unlikely quarter.

An upbeat Boris Johnson on a visit to Stormont was raving about a "moment of hope".

"Never mind the hand of history on my shoulder, I see the hand of the future beckoning us all forward," he said. If it was all about hand holding and new horizons up North, it looks like tripping each other up at every available opportunity will be the order of business down here for election 2020.

Which, if nothing else, proves "democracy" is alive - and kicking. And that's even before the voters join in.

Irish Independent

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