Brian Lenihan: bruiser or bantamweight?

Now that the dust has settled on Brian Lenihan’s budget début, are we any closer to understanding Lenihan the younger?

Senior Counsel, rising political star, a first in law from TCD and Cambridge and one of the finest minds in the Dáil? Or slash-and-burn merchant, drowning in his portfolio, with a grasp of finance so shallow that he nearly flunked Leaving Cert maths?

Although Lenihan is the scion of a solid FF family, he does not fit the Fianna Fáil mould: using unionist-friendly language, avoiding the famous builders’ tent at the Galway races, and perhaps most unlikely of all, devouring French literature on holiday, rather than typical Fianna Fáil fare. The humourless lawyer stereotype invites obvious comparisons with his counterpart across the Irish Sea.

So far, Lenihan has not shirked tough decisions and has been prepared to endure criticism from many different quarters. But with the poisoned chalice of a Finance portfolio in an economic climate unmatched in its austerity since 1929 (maybe even 1873), will our Brian live up to his promise as an intellectual powerhouse and heir-to-Biffo or become the latest casualty of the credit crunch?

  • Hmmm. Putting your degree results on your CV at his age and position suggests a bantomweight I’d have thought.

  • Pete Baker

    Paddy

    I seriously doubt that using “unionist-friendly language” was to the fore in the thinking behind those particular comments..

  • Paddy McEvoy

    Pete,

    Inadvertent or not, the comments mark a departure from FF boilerplate..can’t imagine too many DUP councillors being miffed by being referred to as residents of ‘another State’!! At the very least CJH (even Biffo) would not want to be caught using such language, right or wrong..

  • Pete Baker

    “can’t imagine too many DUP councillors being miffed by being referred to as residents of ‘another State’”

    True, Paddy.

    But it wouldn’t be accurate to suggest that that was the main motivation behind the use of such language.

  • Paddy McEvoy

    Agreed. It definitely wasn’t the motivation. But letting such language slip out when fellow cabinet colleagues would never dare (Dermot Ahern, Mary Coughlan and Biffo spring to mind) speaks to the character of the man, and perhaps his unwillingness to toe the party line.

  • Brian Walker

    Paddy welcome. Lay off Lenihan for nearly flunking maths! So did I, in GCE as then was. OK I’m not a finance minister. But as Disraeli once memorably said: “They give you the figures.”

  • George

    “Lenihan has not shirked tough decisions”

    Give me a break.

    He introduces the most unimaginative budget possible, hits everyone with a 1% levy and leaves the PRSI ceiling at 52,000. That is unforgivable

    As for his banking guarantee, he’s allowing the banks to pick from a panel to sit on the board rather than imposing people and they will only have observer status. What the hell is that about.

    This government has shirked the truly tough decisions and will pay the price.

    PS: You know the sh*t is about to hit the fan when Anglo Irish has a higher share value than Bank of Ireland.

  • Paddy McEvoy

    Brian,
    Nearly flunked GCSE Maths myself (in Birmingham) and then Leaving Cert Maths (by which time I was in Navan) so I can prove my weakness in Maths in two jurisdictions! But as you suggest, I don’t hold myself out as the steward of the economy either..

  • Vanessa Feltz has a first from Cambridge. Perhaps Gordon Brown should ask her to run Britain’s economy.

  • slug

    “But letting such language slip out when fellow cabinet colleagues would never dare (Dermot Ahern, Mary Coughlan and Biffo spring to mind) speaks to the character of the man, and perhaps his unwillingness to toe the party line. ”

    No, it shows that times are changing. The language on Irish media and government has been changing for some time. There are two states in Ireland and people don’t worry about saying that any more.

  • Greenflag

    Lenihan took a tough decision despite been pressured by ‘Thunderbird’ Darling from across the water and poo poohed by the French & Germans .

    While not yet a ‘bruiser’ of McSharry ilk he’s no bantamweight . Light heavyweight ?

    We always knew the ‘building ‘ boom would dry up but who believed that the entire world economy would be turned upside down because Mr Paulson decided that saving Lehman’s would have been the worst of two evils ?

    Despite the financial shenanigans of Fannie mae , Freddie mac and the Wall St mob the single most critical factor holding down the world economy is Americas massive debt build up particularly during this administration’s term .

    America thought it could export ‘pieces’ of worthless paper if it was packaged nicely in CDO’s (Chernobyl Death Obligations ;).

    And now the Chinese and others are sitting on trillions of American dollars watching them ‘devalue’ as they surely will when the USA starts to do a Mugabe with it’s dollar printing.

    Unfortunately the emerging Asian economies are not yet in a position to act as a counterbalance to the USA to steady the world economy and the EU moved too slowly . At the same time the EU finally got it’s act together and put in a better response despite not having a ‘Federal Reserve’ a la USA .

    We live in interesting times 😉