When the cat’s away…

Last night, unexpectedly, I was called by Newstalk’s Breakfast Show and asked how I thought the electorate were reacting to the personal attacks between Enda Kenny and Bertie Ahern.

Firstly, I pointed out that my record of reading the mind of the electorate is similar to my success at becoming heavyweight champion of the world. Then I said I thought the opposition were now raising the question of the Taoiseach’s inability to produce a tax-clearance certificate for one reason- he’s in South Africa.

There can be few politicians more skilled at reading the mood of the electorate , and his party colleagues, than Mr. Ahern. But send even a mood-reading genius to the other side of the world and he’s going to have difficulties. The Taoiseach doesn’t know how these attacks on his exposed flank are going down. Most importantly, he doesn’t know how many heads might be quietly nodding on the FF benches. That’s why, despite his spokesman telling journalists that he wouldn’t take questions on domestic affairs, he had to hit back hard.

And, for the moment, that’s the best outcome for the opposition. The more he reacts, the more attention these seemingly unanswerable questions get. This is a method of baiting the Taoiseach while he’s vulnerable. Because taking a holiday away from your troubles always sounds attractive but, as Mikhail Gorbachev can attest, you never know what you might be coming home to.

1 Comment

  • Jaysus, serves me right for mentioning your ability to discuss politics in my most recent blog post (http://obriend.info/2008/01/11/why-do-a-law-degree/).

    Now newstalk seem to think you know as much about that topic as you do technology…

    My read of it is that FG and Labour have cleverly taken the opportunity of Dail holidays and a foreign trip by the Taoiseach to ‘own’ the news agenda in the ‘silly season’ just after Christmas.

    El Berto being on far side of planet means that he has to react, meaning that the potential for him to present himself in the media as a lauded statesman is harpooned by his reactions to the news at home. This is then seen by the punters in the FF party who are doubtless considering what things would be like without him at the helm. The reactions then generate further headlines for FG or Labour to respond to, continuing their ownership of the higher moral ground and front page.

    This generates a further win for FG and Labour as Bertie appears to be a beleagured character trying to dodge the issue rather than a statesman and a leader (that was what he wanted to do… just read the piece in today’s Irish Times wot he did writ wid his own pen and copyboook and consider the postion of his handlers that he wouldn’t talk about domestic issues).

    And if it doesn’t look like a leader and act like a leader, eventually someone will question openly whether it should still be leader. But since he declared his intention to retire before the next election he’s certainly a lame duck, even without all the questions about the money that was just resting in his account.

    As an aside… no-one seems to have picked up on the fact that while Bertie & Co. have deferred their pay rises it will be, as far as I am aware, still counted for the purposes of his Ministerial pension on retirement as the payrise was approved but only the actual payment has been deferred (and my money is on it being backdated when it is eventually paid out). How much might that worth to him after he departs?

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