Railroad governance: scalded to death by the steam

For once the trainwreck metaphor isn’t overworked when you cast your eye across the piled-up carnage of the current Fianna Fáil-led coalition. It applies equally well to their reduction to the status of front of house staff for the ECB with little fiscal freedom of manoeuvre, or any number of unedifying episodes involving bankers and developers and the two premier league exponents of the parish pump, Lowry and Healy-Rae, the coalition’s guarantors, and, in some respects, the public face of it’s moral compass.

The airbrakes finally failed with Cowen’s ill-advised railroading of the Greens into a position where the future electoral health of Fianna Fáil was being privileged over any actual standard of governance. Placing chosen candidates into ministries in an attempt to bolster their re-election may not be that Machiavellian, but in the context of the kind of Jesuitical logic being applied by Fianna Fáilers like Mary Hanafin whereby Cowen was not suitable as a leader of the party but would suffice as a Taoiseach, it is hard to imagine it’s appeal to the electorate. The only thing that can now be said for certain about the general election date, now, is that it will be long before 11th March.

While few will have any sympathy left for the Greens, their treatment by Cowen last week wasn’t really out of keeping with the general modus operandi of his party.  Populist and clientelist, Fianna Fáil has, in effect, been a methodology rather than an ideology. Anyone looking for the roots of the current crisis needn’t really look beyond previous tactics in the likes of dismissing the original No vote on Lisbon and what now appears to have been a wholely misleading campaign in the successful pursuit of a yes vote in the re-run. That Fine Gael and Labour were equally complicit in Lisbon 2 doesn’t bode well for what appears likely to be the next coalition.

For a party that has been prone to listening to guidance from men dressed in black, Brian Cowen may find some irony in the following lines as it is played on some country and western loving midlands radio station:

They found him in the wreck, with his hand on the throttle.
He was scalded to death by the steam.

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