After Keaveney and political rhetoric… December 19, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
The rhetoric around Colm Keaveney’s actions is fascinating to hear. Backroom in the SBP suggests that ‘Keaveney’s flounce obscures the dismal fate of Burton’. I dislike intensely this language of ‘flounce’ etcetera. It’s simply a way of demeaning what are fairly substantive political actions over genuinely substantive political, ideological and policy decisions.
But it’s not just the media who are using it. Take for example Pat Rabbitte’s thoughts as reported by Niamh Connolly in the SBP:
[he] opened up on Keaveney with a high-octane attack on the TD last Friday morning, describing his defection as “self-indulgence”.
“Any single member of the Labour parliamentary party could have gone pirouetting on the plinth, parading their struggle with their conscience saying: ‘Watch me as I agonise about this decision’,” Rabbitte said.
He lambasted Keaveney as “courting the media to save his own political neck”.
From Rabbitte complaints about TDs courting the media raise more than an ironic smile in response. But again note the use of the term ‘pirouetting’.
Rabbitte follows it up though with this:
“[Other TDs] took the hard decision to bring in a budget that offers us the prospect of protecting the poor.”
‘Protecting the poor’? Is that the point of this exercise, is that the historic role and function of the Labour Party, is that what Rabbitte considers his politics is about? Rarely has the self-defeating limitations of orthodox social democracy in the contemporary era been better demonstrated.
Mind you, on a slight tangent Backroom makes a point that is very rarely aired:
But if Gilmore is in the eye of the storm, Kenny deserves a share of the blame. He satiated the demands of what Keaveney called his “Irish Tory Party”, at the expense of his coalition partner. That was neither prudent nor wise. If trouble builds up in Labour, it will wash back on Fine Gael, and Kenny’s appeal as a leader who smiles but seldom speaks is already wearing thin.
There’s little doubt about that. The management of Fine Gael expectations both before the 2011 election and after was surely no better, and in some respects worse, than that of the Labour Party. The dissension within the FG ranks over X case legislation is a point in hand, though I’ve got to be honest, it’s a strange FG these days that courts such a vociferous anti-abortion tranche of TDs. And some of the names in that tranche – for example Brian Hayes was reported as such, though whether correctly or not is hard to make out – are unexpected for the supposedly socially liberal FG. Though one suspects that that strand of social liberalism associated with the party in the 1980s had its limits – and perhaps even its reversals.
For Backroom though there’s a slight dip towards the language of narrative.
Gilmore may be safe for now, but his political supply lines are seriously threatened. Labour in particular, and the government generally, are suffocating politically under the wet, damp blanket of office. If a few irrepressible souls bravely insist on enjoying government, most of the cabinet seem to be afflicted by the misery of it.
There is no narrative and no effective spokesmen for the project. It seems, ultimately, no project beyond the one negotiated by Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan with the troika. This isn’t change, it’s stalemate.
For all the political grief taken on behalf of advisers, they are not delivering narrative, spin or even basic housekeeping. It’s the apparatchik class that actually writes the narrative and spins it out, in between the more important occasions when their masters actually speak themselves.
There’s a lot in the above that seems to me to ring true. This government does look decidedly shabby all of a sudden – later Backroom calls it ‘premature ageing’. And yet I think the reason isn’t due to lack of a narrative, or at least mostly not. When there’s no clear means of offering a way forward out of the current period of austerity, when this government oversees Budget after Budget, like its hapless predecessor that cuts and cuts again (and taxes, but not to the same degree) then it is entirely logical that the electorate will withdraw its support.
And note Backroom’s insight about there being ‘no project’, though one suspects s/he doesn’t mean it in quite the way many of us would. Seems like there’s a project alright, not a very good one though and not a particularly effective one.