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The lynch mob loses its rope

POLITICAL scientists may one day recognise it as "the little bang theory," a phenomenon that sucks up an awful lot of energy and produces nothing.

How else could you describe the "coup by consultation" by the so-called "officer class" in Fianna Fail?

It wasn't a heave, or even a putsch; it wouldn't even register as a significant whimper.

If politics is supposed to be a bloodsport it would appear that the vegetarians are calling the shots in Fianna Fail, thus Taoiseach Brian Cowen is still in situ.

But what signal the drama is sending out to Europe -- at a time of unprecedented economic instability, when President Sarkozy of France has his sights trained on the key plank of Government investment policy, by seeking a removal of corporation tax -- is anyone's guess.

Mr Cowen has looked at the collected ranks lined out against him, and come to the conclusion that he is dealing with toy soldiers in need of a field marshal.

He concluded that he has nothing to fear.

Just as Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny survived a walkout of his entire frontbench, Mr Cowen is hanging in there, albeit on political life-support.

But with his party boring its way to new lows in the opinion polls, and no fewer than 12 TDs jumping ship, the portents are bleak.

Those who might have been willing to strike may have stayed their hands on the basis of abject resignation.

What glory is there for a prospective new leader to assume command only to be obliterated?

Might it not be more pragmatic to let the electorate effect a clean decapitation?

The party has come to a sorry pass when its leadership has become somewhat academic.

Heads they lose, tails they lose. Though irredeemably damaged, Mr Cowen does not see himself as a typical political fall guy.

Perhaps he isn't; ordinarily the stooge is brought down by a push.

Mr Cowen tripped himself up.

'Golfgate' is just another calamity in an inglorious catalogue.

The lynch mob may have lost the rope but Mr Cowen has been further marginalised.

If his party is to avoid a similar fate authority, not bluster, must prevail.

Irish Independent