Political class get their just deserts
The starkest feature of today's Millward Brown opinion poll is the icy disdain the electorate have displayed for the political class of 2013. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael may continue to be the best supported of the Irish political parties. But, as both languish in the doldrums of the low to mid 20 per cent mark – where they hang between mediocrity and annihilation, neither attracting nor securing support – a disillusioned electorate has implicitly rejected them. And though Sinn Fein and the independents may grin hungrily over their somewhat more impressive showings, the true market value of the support these enfants terribles have secured by default is compromised by their status as vulture parties who prey on the crie de couer of despair.
The chill our electorate feel for politicians is personal as well as ideological. Of the party leaders, only Micheal Martin, with a 34 per cent satisfaction rating, even approaches the territories of modest respectability. The rest – including Mr Adams, whose ratings are a truer reflection of the state of Sinn Fein – would do well to eschew the colossal indifference they normally display when confronted by the loathing of the electorate and engage with the reasons behind their status.
Were they to do so, our elite would find it none too difficult to discover the source of the abhorrence they are held in. The Sunday Independent has consistently argued, against a backdrop of no small amount of vilification, that the great strategic flaw of the Coalition has been its creation of a state that is at war with itself. This has not been a deliberate decision but it is the inevitable consequence of the instinctive caution of these small conservatives. This contention was confirmed by last week's reports by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and the National & Economic Social Council, which revealed that a government and a mandarin class, most of whom are not themselves in the first flush of youth, have presided over the hollowing-out of the lives of the teeming middle-class masses of families with young children.
It hardly took an ESRI report to inform the citizens of middle Ireland, and particularly working families with children, that this is the case. The great Achilles heel of a Government, which we believe, with certain exceptions, to be informed by good intentions, has been the consistent policy of preserving the perks of powerful insiders they fear to take on, at the expense of the less organised young and the aspiring outsider classes. No country can thrive if its young, or middle-aged, are sacrificed on the altar of securing some belated respectability for our banks. And this is only one example of the evolution of a twin-track country where every arena of policy from public sector reform to health insurance has been carved up in favour of a wealthy possessor class.
Ireland may, by the close of this Government's reign, be allowed to re-enter the bond market. It will, however, surely represent the hollowest of Petain-style triumphs if this merely secures the pensions of individuals such as Rody Molloy, Brian Cowen, Patrick Neary and Kevin Cardiff. Today's poll represents a judgement by the citizens on an elite that has created a house divided between the private and the public sector, the embedded and the new public sector, the banks and the citizens, the employed and the unemployed, and the young and the aged. It should teach this administration that even if you smile while sowing poison all you will reap is ashes.