Can the centre hold?

It’s pretty apocalyptic out there. The political and economic storm clouds are gathering and darkening. And all the signs are that worse is to come.

In the middle of all this we have an opinion poll. FF are on 22% – a historic low. Like most members I’m pretty disappointed by this but not hugely surprised. The public sector pension measures were never going to be popular with those affected; people are not sadomasochists. People are angry and to a certain extent nervous of what’s around the corner. Like most workers out there I’m not expecting any increments or bonuses this year, and will consider myself lucky if that’s all I have to worry about. It’s not easy. Jobs are being lost hand over fist in the private sector.

The last couple of days have been pretty much worst case scenarios for the government. The ILP / AngloIrish transactions beggar belief. The recap scheme was followed by BoI doubling its bad debt write off the very same day. Brian Goggin (BoI CEO) came on the news to tell us he would “only” earn “just under 2 million” next year. Are these people for real? The government need to kick some ass and quick. Heads have started to roll but more needs to come. And it can’t be just about public hangings. Jesus was fed to an angry mob. Get the right heads rolling and fast..

Back to that opinion poll. I think though the government have been under pressure they’ve actually turned a corner in the last fortnight. But they’re not sellling the message. I guess it’s hard to steer a ship and man the radio at the same time. But someone needs to do it or the vacuum will be filled elsewhere. It’s already happening – I used to like Gilmore – I’ve praised him on this blog before – but I cannot believe his performance over recent times. It’s the worst kind of economic populism (Burton too). It’s easy to throw out soundbites and beat an empty drum. And it’s so hypocritical. Only a few months ago Gilmore and his apparatchiks were readying to steamroll a ‘New Labour’, Blair style reform package, through the NEC (Labour central council), stimying the grassroots and unions and centralising control in a new centre right leadership. Just ask a Labour activist about the ‘commission on twenty-first century labour’. But hey presto its in the trashcan since the winds of change started blowing – who needs ideology eh? Yet the poll suggests it’s working for them. I think it’s very dangerous. We are entering a 1930’s style era economically – and we all know how that one worked out.

I close with a quote from a favourite poem (Yeats Second Coming) – seems pretty apt in current climate:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

7 Replies to “Can the centre hold?”

  1. Donal Garrihy

    Interesting piece. Don’t think Labour know what they’re talking about. While I’m quite worried about the economic climate and the hard decisions that need to be made, I don’t think it’s going to descend into 1930s America or even post-Weimar Germany. In the modern era, parties may shift left or right in the short-term but things soon get condensed into the centre again. Shifting a bit too far either way alienates more people than it really pleases when election time comes around.

  2. captainbucko

    The government needs to take a cold hard look at itself and respond to the obvious lack of control , accountability , responsibility , managment , leadership , public relations strategy, advsiors and the employee population of the public service who have so badly managed the state – and take radical and necessary action to create an new environment where the citizens of the state have their needs met by the benefits of supporting such a party for all the people. Leadership in crisis demand more of the average politician. Work harder better faster stronger.

  3. Donal Garrihy

    Yes, the Govt has been in power since 1997 so pretty much all of the Celtic Tiger years. In the last few years, they certainly could have done a lot more to prepare for a possible hard landing (as is now the case) rather than only ever drawing attention to the ‘soft landing’ economic reports. I’d love to see to see the figures but I’d say the nation’s much-lauded tax model was too reliant on things that just dry up in recessions

  4. Arthur


    Thats a great line you used for the government in this context, ‘its hard to steer the ship and man the radio at the same time’. Why cant the government try to communicate with the people using phrases like that?

  5. Arthur

    Its a pity there is no General election coming up as the people are angry and the local FF candidates will instead bare the brunt in June and its possible the Lisbon Treaty will be voted down again on the second attempt. All these will be the wrong targets.

  6. Conor

    The Government should prioritise policy in the following areas:

    1. Balance the books

    2. Positive trade balance

    Long term goals:

    1. Discuss alternatives to ECB monetarism at the EU Council

    2. Reduce energy imports

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