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John Gormley: The Latest Eoghan Harris Acolyte? February 24, 2009

Posted by Garibaldy in Capitalism, Economy, Irish Politics.
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Has Eoghan Harris done it again? John Gormley has said that he is “open to the concept of a national government”, something that Harris has been pushing, as discussed here previously. However, Gormley speaks only for his own party when he says

I don’t think it would be responsible for any party to say that this isn’t on the agenda

Gormley said that Fianna Fáil was not very interested in a national government, but then again neither was Fine Gael nor Labour, partly due to the past treatment of Fine Gael by Fianna Fáil. When I read Harris’ call for a national government (and by the way, we might be better saying a government of many parties than a national government lest we be accused of partitionism) I put it down to his usual hyperbolic style; no-one could take his references to being in a revolutionary situation seriously, I thought.

More fool me. Gormley makes it quite clear that elements of the government are in the grip of mounting hysteria.

We’re in a situation now that we need to think outside the box, to think the unthinkable because we need — all of us as politicians — to put the national interest ahead of our own political careers. Frankly, if Fine Gael and Labour feel that they want to take over the country — well, if they keep going on the way they are, they may not have a country to take over at all.
When it comes to these financial difficulties the Government and the opposition are going to have to work together.

He also warned the opposition that the eyes of the international financial world were on the Republic, and that they should be aware of damaging its reputation. Incredible. I was going to compare Gormley to Cassandra but of course Cassandra’s predictions were actually correct. The boy who cried wolf is another possible analogy, though again, he was proven right in the end. And, as noted by CL in the comments here panicky academics are raising the possibility of the IMF taking over and imposing 50% wage cuts. What is going on? There may well be a gap in the public finances because the government has squandered the income generated during the boom years, and because of the inadequate tax base, in large measure due to the government’s refusal to properly tax those most able to afford it, especially speculators of various types. But the idea that there is not the money in the economy available to significantly plug this gap seems to me silly. We don’t need a government of many parties: we need the political will to take the money from those who have not been pulling their weight, and getting super-rich on the backs of the rest of us.

That seems to me to be the message that 120,000 people were making loud and clear on the streets of Dublin on Saturday. In a country where there are individual citizens likely to be worth more than the two billion Euro the levy is designed to cover, surely we can find an alternative? The new TASC blog has this document from the TCD Pension Policy Research Group calling for the tax system to be used to find the funds; The Workers’ Party has produced a document calling for a range of state interventions (a stimulus package if you will), including an economically and environmentally friendly state programme of insulating houses, putting building workers back to work, while saving families money in the longer term. Harris talks of this being a revolutionary situation comparable to that faced by the Jacobins. Let’s take him at his word then. The Jacobins introduced forced loans on the rich. What is the problem with us doing the same? We could make a serious dent in the fiscal problems faced by the state, while ensuring that as few people as possible are hit. We might even find allies in unlikely places. Fianna Fáil Transport Minister Noel Dempsey has said that those (i.e. bankers) who gambled with Ireland’s economic reputation are guilty of

no less than economic treason…people should pay a price for that

I couldn’t agree more.

Comments»

1. Tim Von Bondie - February 24, 2009

Gormley may be taking his cue from Harris. Watching the Week in Politics I saw UCD historian Ronan Fanning also talking about the ‘dangers’ of when people take to the streets instead of trusting their government and parliament. What is with Irish historians that it is always 1922 and democracy is under threat from the mob? Politics is in the streets…..man!

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2. Garibaldy - February 24, 2009

Fanning’s statement is utterly ridiculous, and demonstrative of the paranoia that leads from conservative politics to fascism without much of a push. Of course, politics in the street is bad, while politics over champagne with unelected businessmen at the Galway races is perfectly fine.

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3. ejh - February 24, 2009

Fuck me, that must have been some rally at the weekend to scare them so. What did you do, parade with heads on sticks? Were there flaming torches? Did the mob break into pubs and enforce the sale of drink for prices people outside the Dublin legal and media classes can afford?

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4. D. J. P. O'Kane - February 24, 2009

All in good time, my boy, all in good time. Patience is a virtue, especially when you’re a government artist (or drawer of the dole, to be precise).

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5. sonofstan - February 24, 2009

A national government is an awful idea: those responsible for the mess need to be punished, but more than that, it’s in every other party’s interest to push FF to the margins. If, instead of being forced into the occasional unholy marriage, FG and Lab can forge their respective identities as centre-right and -left respectively,with FF an irrelevance then we have a chance of a viable politics.

The accompanying idea – that the opposition don’t want power in the current mess – also doesn’t hold water: now’s exactly the time when you could institute sweeping change, because the electorate have no comfort zone to inhabit: whereas before the last election, warnings of impending problems were treated, by the electorate, much as an aging bon vivant treats warning to cut down on the booze and the fags, this time, they’ve just suffered a massive heart attack and will take serious action if holds out the hope of recovery.

It is therefore in the interests of all the parties bar FF to push for an election and to refuse to countenance any face saving accommodation with them: but whereas Lab and FG should certainly cooperate in this, Lab should insist that they are fighting the election as an alternative government. It shouldn’t be anyone’s job or patriotic duty to keep FF honest.

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6. D. J. P. O'Kane - February 24, 2009

For Labour to present themselves as an alternative government, wouldn’t they need to contest many more seats than they usually do? Do they have plans (or even the resources) to do that?

As for the idea of a national government, it seems to be coming out of the more technocratic wing of the elite. The profiteers and the cute hoors will always have the edge over that lot, though.

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7. sonofstan - February 24, 2009

For Labour to present themselves as an alternative government, wouldn’t they need to contest many more seats than they usually do?

They normally run a candidate in most constituencies (Mayo and Donegal are the usual exceptions): they need to focus on winning two seats in a few Dublin cons. maybe extra seats in Kildare, Cork, Wexford and Waterford AND pick up in some virgin territory – the BMW generally,( outside Galway) chiefly. Which means running more candidates, sure, but if Dublin’s anything to go on, that appears to be the strategy anyway.

As for the idea of a national government, it seems to be coming out of the more technocratic wing of the elite. The profiteers and the cute hoors will always have the edge over that lot, though.

The ‘revolutionary moment’ that EH thinks he sees may be this: the death of the cute hoor. He’s assailed from both sides: younger, often ideologically right- wing, engineers and financial service pros are embarrassed by him – look at the property pin – and the poorer and older voter wants him off their back; FF could pass into history like the DC in Italy (and pray we don’t get a Berlosconi in its place….)

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8. sonofstan - February 24, 2009

And a last point: the ‘reputational damage’ we’ve suffered isn’t confined to the financial institutions – it also stick to the party that facilitated irregularities therein. So a national govt. with FF still there would send out that well known erroneous telegram – ‘the ‘wrong message’

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9. The ‘Good’ Politics and the myth of bi-partisanship… or just why we (including John Gormley) should ignore those calls for ‘National’ Government… « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - February 25, 2009

[…] by WorldbyStorm in Economics, Economy, Irish Politics, Uncategorized. trackback Garibaldy has dealt with John Gormley’s thoughts on ‘National government’ from the day before and neatly positioned it within a […]

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10. » All the baggage has to be left outside the door Semper Idem: A blog on Irish politics, mainly. - February 25, 2009

[…] Tony O’Donnell and the Cedar Lounge Revolution have recent posts on this subject as […]

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11. Unity Government in the south? « Garibaldy Blog - February 26, 2009

[…] John Gormley has been talking about the possibility of a unity government in the south. I’ve posted about it at Cedar Lounge […]

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12. Free Stater - February 26, 2009

Cowen Derangement Syndrome…

Funny, how everyone else in the country (who’s paying attention to such things) sees the versatile Eoghan Harris as rather more of a Fianna Fáil mouthpiece. All, that is, but the latest talent signing in The Irish Times….

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13. Damian - February 27, 2009

@Garibaldy: “The Workers’ Party has produced a document calling for a range of state interventions […] including an economically and environmentally friendly state programme of insulating houses, putting building workers back to work, while saving families money in the longer term.”

You mean, like [URL=”http://www.greenparty.ie/index.php/en/news/latest_news/govt_announces_new_national_insulation_programme”]this one[/URL]?

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14. The Irish Right and an Economy at War « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - February 27, 2009

[…] The Irish Right and an Economy at War February 27, 2009 Posted by Garibaldy in Economy, Irish Politics. trackback There has already been some mention here of the remarkable ten minute televisual feast that was Junior Finance Minister Martin Mansergh and Margaret Ward of the Irish Times debating the southern economy on Hearts and Minds last night. Available to us all thanks to Pete Baker at Sluggerotoole. Without him some of us may have been denied the opportunity to see Mansergh demonstrating that he is not cut out for the cut and thrust of frontline politics by nearly losing it. Noel Thompson’s introduction pulled no punches, describing the Celtic Tiger as “toothless tabby” and the south set to be the worst performing developed economy in the EU, as well as raising the issue of a European bailout. Margaret Ward has offered her account of the debate, and I want to pick up on some of what she said, and how it relates to the emerging discourse of crisis we discussed here. […]

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15. The Irish Right at War « Garibaldy Blog - February 27, 2009

[…] There has already been some mention here of the remarkable ten minute televisual feast that was Junior Finance Minister Martin Mansergh and Margaret Ward of the Irish Times debating the southern economy on Hearts and Minds last night. Available to us all thanks to Pete Baker at Sluggerotoole. Without him some of us may have been denied the opportunity to see Mansergh demonstrating that he is not cut out for the cut and thrust of frontline politics by nearly losing it. Noel Thompson’s introduction pulled no punches, describing the Celtic Tiger as “toothless tabby” and the south set to be the worst performing developed economy in the EU, as well as raising the issue of a European bailout. Margaret Ward has offered her account of the debate, and I want to pick up on some of what she said, and how it relates to the emerging discourse of crisis we discussed here. […]

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