Vincent Browne, the acrid archangel or smiling serpent of Irish political discourse with three decades of discoursing behind him, did not say the above in a manner full of energy and disgust. It was said in a sigh, an exasperation of will during another period of pathetic political performance, circa the Cowen phase. Given TV3’s audience numbers it may have been missed by the majority of the nation, but Vincent’s sad state of mind undoubtedly represented their feelings on the establishment. The country’s collective head was so done in at that stage the pain in our collective consciousness could not have been subdued by any level of collective Solbadene capsules or forgotten about with collective stociousness. Still, Fianna Fáil’s loss of power and the manner in which it occurred provided the country with some respite in many a witty headline, “Fianna Fáilures”, “Fi-NAH Fáil”, “Fianna Fáil-Out of Office”, “Fianna Fall From Grace” but these proved not to be near to the cure. Our head was not done out, so to speak, but this leaving of office presented us with an opportunity for change, something we hadn’t bothered with during the previous decade of apathy borne of grandness, and maybe this possible shift in governance would cure our head’s poor concave ailment.
However, and as funny as it may seem now, with the election that followed quickly after, there was still hope. The Labour Party was claiming to have the only road map to financial independence and dignity and appeared as an honest to God legitimate option as a main party, while Enda Kenny seemed to nearly come true on his threat to electrify the Fine Gaelers into power. Even parties whose legitimacy had been constantly questioned, and by that open remark I exclusively mean Sinn Féin, were looking like real choices, actual alternatives. After more than a decade of Fianna Fáil + Friends governance, after the need to get someone to blame for financial collapses were being laid very comfortably at their door, the actuality of a government full of actual alternatives was serious and was real.
Ah. Life. Oh Life. Oh lifffffee. Oh life. Do-do-doo-doo. Ah.
The Labour party has, as all Labour parties have done, shown its main core party value to be that of compromising itself beyond soft socialism and into the dead centre, evident in coalition with Fine Gael. Water charges, homelessness, and welfare cuts have showed the complete lack of will that Labour has and shows the disconnect between parties and the people they supposedly represent.
This new thinking iss visible in the seismic loss of Fianna Fáil seats, the rise of independents that no one is ever really sure about and the advent of Renua Ireland and the Social Democrats. With Labour at anywhere between 7-10%, in some polls even 4%, and Fianna Fáil at 21%, Fine Gael around 28%, Sinn Féin balancing around 20% and independents on 25% the polling unsurety is surely unsettling for an electorate that has been comforted throughout history by the fact that there would always be, at the very least, a government of some sort. What in the name of Ivor Callely silk pajamas will happen?
Who will go out with who? Will the Social Democrats lose the good will they have gained and go into government with Enda or Martin and be eaten alive like the Greens and PDs before them? Or will civil war politics finally come to an end, not by virtue of a new government forming free of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil but by a government of solely themselves?
Or will we all be blind sided and in fact be shocked by a Troika of the AAA/PBP groups along with the Social Democrats and Sinn Féin taking the reins? Or will something magical happen? Will we overcome and actually turn away from the establishment parties which have been corrupt in basic and plain public sight? Can we become hopeful again and lose our jadedness?
Well, Vincent won’t be holding his breath. Not with the illness, nor with hope. And really he has seen it all before, God love him. At least he can relax and sit it out. His mercies are small, but they still are merciful. He might be distracted. He might smile. As with most things, we think about a problem less once we don’t see it.
Don’t like what’s going on? Don’t look. It might help.
Otherwise, it might – proverbially speaking – do your head in.