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Thatcher's lesson for our 'leaders'

It is to the credit of the resilience of the Irish moral sensibility that only 10 per cent of the public support the declared intent of Enda Kenny to avoid taking any action on the Lowry tapes disclosed by this newspaper. The Taoiseach may have gambled that years of austerity and the fear of years more to come have desensitised the capacity of a visibly depressed citizenry to demand action on questions of political ethics. Today's poll indicates, however, that Mr Kenny's bet has not come up. And if they are not to be seen as also-rans on questions of principle, RTE and its smirking political boss, Pat Rabbitte, who have practised hard to evade dealing with the fallout of the Lowry tapes, will have to engage in a volte face on the last, but critical, loose string of the Moriarty tribunal.

It is difficult to believe they will do any such thing in the wake of a Millward Brown poll which reveals that Ireland's political elite are as detached from the concerns of the Irish electorate, and in particular the working and middle classes, as their counterparts in 1970s Britain that led the UK to the jaws of an IMF bailout. Sadly, the sense that Ireland, once again, has learnt nothing from yet another existential crisis that was caused not only by politicians but also by deep-rooted flaws in our national character, can only have been intensified by the response to the death of Margaret Thatcher.

In this regard the visceral unease displayed by RTE over the 'hard-line' nature of Mrs Thatcher's politics was particularly revealing. Our instinctively Mediterranean culture may not be compatible with the Puritanism that informed Mrs Thatcher's moral revolution. But, those critics of Mrs Thatcher's abrasiveness should ask if our policy of appeasing banks, Eurocrats and bureaucrats, driven by a mandarin and political class that appear to be visibly out of its depth with any policy that might be more radical than gently managed decline, represents a better way. A country governed by a chinless elite, who like Petain prefer to seek safety via acts of obedience rather than courage, would also do well to ask who today stands for the aspirant Irish working classes or the squeezed middle in the manner of a Thatcher? The Millward Brown poll clearly indicates the voters, when it comes to our Coalition 'wets' who far from not being 'for turning' are not able to even organise a U-turn, do not believe the Coalition represents their interests. And they are right.

Irish Independent