Tag Archive for Michael Martin

Why a Gallagher victory means the end for Fianna Fáil

Gallagher giving it the full gun

The cliché goes that it ain’t over till the fat lady sings, even if in Dana’s case it was over as soon as she opened her mouth, but it’s not far off now.

Seán Gallagher will be Ireland’s next president, and his election will mark the end of Fianna Fáil.

Think about it.

Crushed in the general election, the party that destroyed the country decided not to openly run a candidate, leaving the way open for one of their own to run.

In their hysterical chasing of Norris and McGuinness, the media missed it completely, despite how obvious it was.

In short, if it talks like Fianna Fáil, walks like Fianna Fáil and looks like Fianna Fáil, it is Fianna Fáil. Gallagher is Fianna Fáil, through and through.

But by the time the electorate realised what had happened, Gallagher had streaked ahead in the polls, and it was too late for his unmasking to make any difference.

Freed from having the Fianna Fáil brand on his non-existent posters, Gallagher could take the ideology but not the burden of recent history. It was a stunning coup, with far-reaching consequences for Fianna Fáil.

Despite the role having no direct influence on either, Gallagher spoke about jobs and entrepreneurship; that he will be able to deliver neither is beside the point.

The voters- especially the younger ones- liked what they heard. And while we were watching Norris, the spectacularly inept Gay Maitchell and Dana implode, and Michael D was desperately trying to keep his trap shut, Gallagher snuck up behind him and hared off into the lead.

What this affirms is that the majority of Irish people still have Dev in the their DNA. In a blind political taste test, they cannot choose the left, the liberals or those more nationalist than themselves.

Like kids with their faces pressed to the Christmas windows in Clery’s, they are naturally drawn to the small-business, small-minded, Galway tent set- the possibility that, whatever happens, they will be looked after. And screw everyone else.

And that is also why Fianna Fáil in their current form are finished.

Gallagher has shown that the people have not fallen out of love with their politics, but  with their party.

The brand of Fianna Fáil is now so toxic that, if they have any political common sense at all, it will never again be put before the people.

Enda Kenny’s crown as hide-and-seek champion of Ireland is under serious threat from everyone in Fianna Fáil- none of them have been seen or heard from since the campaign began, lest they infect their last man standing- Gallagher.

In 1989 another overblown Irish institution was in a similar situation.

A couple of years of hubris and spectacular arrogance were coming to close, and on New Year’s Eve the acolytes gathered in the Point Depot, as the O2 was then known.

The leader of the gang closed the show with a promise to go and “dream it all up again”.

U2 transformed themselves and came back bigger than ever.

Fianna Fáil in their current form will never achieve that, but that is what is needed.

U2 kept the name and changed what they stood for. Fianna Fáil will do the opposite, keeping the same tired, discredited policies and practices, but ditching their name and with it, their recent past.

And why wouldn’t they?

It worked for Seán Gallagher.

A man who one day may be president of Ireland, and Gay Mitchell.

Bosses don’t often give compliments, but I remember one in particular being lyrical the night before an event.

We were sitting by my desk late one night, ties loosened, going through the last details before the event started at 0800 the next morning.

“You’ve done a great job- the concept, the execution, the whole lot has been brilliant. I really appreciate that.”

“Thanks,” I said, “but we’re not there yet. One more major thing will go wrong before the curtain goes up.”

Ten minutes later, the phone rang. The keynote speaker’s mother had just died.

Michael D is probably basking in the glow of praise from his political masters at the moment, safe in the knowledge that the Aras is his for the taking.

Any hopes David Norris had of winning are receding by the day- he gambled on secrecy with the clemency letters and as always when you do that in politics, he lost.

Gay Mitchell is another man whose gamble has backfired.

The decision to administer at political punishment beating to Martin McGuinness echoes Fianna Fáil’s efforts to stop the march if Sinn Féin in the last general election.

On that occasion the Party of Dev were soundly defeated, their leader Michael Martin left looking like a petulant, argumentative and selfish child.

So too with Mitchell. The man is a skilled operator, and his bullying demolition of McGuinness’s character on the Dunphy Show would have been complete, were it not for the bravery of the host and the fact that McGuinness was sitting in the studio with him.

I’m not 100% certain that Mitchell agreed with the party tactic of going after McGuinness, and by Tuesday he was rowing back from his vitriolic position, but by then the harm had been done.

What we now know about Mitchell the candidate is that he is the youngest of nine children and he hates McGuinness with a passion. His attempts to drum up support with his “Party of the Treaty” rallying cry will come up short.

Much has been made of the fact that the Irish people are as a rule politically conservative, and that is who Mitchell is trying to appeal to, but this tends to fade somewhat in relation to the Aras.

Our last two presidents have been women, one of whom was a Labour party candidate. Mitchell would do well to note that in modern Ireland we may still be conservative, but our conservatism doesn’t stretch as far up the Liffey as the Park.

The Irish people are looking for a figurehead, not a statesman, and over the past week Mitchell hasn’t looked like either.

Davis, Gallagher and Dana are falling away, each seemingly limited and pigeonholed, all the while applying for a job that requires breadth of vision.

The reason the other four candidates have the upper hand is not because they are better; it is becasue that they have long been in the public eye as politicians, and their visions are better known to voters.

All the while, Michael D is still fighting the right election but like the death of the keynote speaker’s mother, there is still a chance for him to stumble, not least given the way the Irish media has chosen to cover the campaign.

Every day, we are faced with new “controversies” and “scandals”, and it’s worth taking a look at a few of those non-stories.

Davis earned around €400,000 over ten years on various boards- big deal, it’s about €40k a year over the period. Not exactly Celtic Tiger wages.

Norris appealed for someone to be granted citizenship – politician uses office to represent people shock! Lazy journalism, complete with the “gay lover” smear angle. It died on the news stands on Monday morning.

Mitchell is against the death penalty and wrote a letter on behalf of a pro-lifer like himself convicted of murder- now, remind me again of why we are supposed to be surprised?

McGuinness was involved in murder and intimidation- would we expect any less from a man who has admitted being in the IRA?

For years we’ve been told that Sinn Féin and the IRA are one and the same, yet some would lead us to believe that the fault is with McGuinness, not Republicanism with a big “R”. You can’t have it both ways.

No doubt there are people going through Michael D’s rubbish looking for something to spring on him, but I doubt there are any serious skeletons left to be dragged out of his closet.

Even if it doesn’t come from Michael D’s corner, there will be at least one more major twist in this election yet.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it was around McGuinness, as too many powerful people cannot abide the thought of him representing them.

But as long as Michael D keeps on the straight and narrow, the prize will be his.

 

100 days, or more of the same?

Bang bang, we're all dead.

Usually, I wouldn’t get involved, and the reason is simple.

The hundreth day of this administration is no more interesting than the 101st, or the 79th, especially given the fact that the current government took the baton from the last government and just kept running the same race.

But here goes.

There have been no surprises. As expected, all that has happened is that this government has continued on where the previous one left off, generally giving the weakest in society a good kicking whilst not holding anyone to account through either incompetence or indifference.

Either way, it’s not positive, and it won’t bring this horrible situation to an end any time soon.

More cannot be expected of Enda Kenny; he is after all a career politician who continues to live by the maxim that you’re never as good as they say you are, but you’re never as bad either. No boats will be rocked with Enda at the helm.

Nor can more be expected of Labour, who as usual have parked their principles at the door in return for a taste of power.

The Micháel Martin charm(less) offensive hasn’t disappointed either; it would be interesting to see how he would rate his own record in office, given that he gives the current regime “three out of ten”. If he is honest, he and the rest of the party should call up Vincent Browne and ask for a loan of the shotgun and whiskey that Enda so churlishly declined.

Of course, the promises made by Kenny and the rest haven’t been fulfilled, nor had they ever any chance of coming to fruition. And the bailout renegotiations were the shortest in history.

Ireland: “Can we renegotiate the bailout?”

Europe: “No.”

Ireland: “Grand.”

All this was simply a continuation of the former government’s tried, tested and failed tactic of trying to hoodwink the markets. And it failed again.

If there was another election after 100 days, I reckon the turnout would be close to zero because Irish politics has finally reached its nadir. There is no difference between any of them any more.

But then again, maybe expectations are so low that people wouldn’t even bother punishing them anymore. And Michael Lowry would still get elected.

After all, this is Ireland, where the facts count for nothing. This is Ireland, where there is as much accountability after 100 days as there is after four years- none.

This is Ireland, where upon your death you can be declared the greatest patriot who ever lived, despite handing the keys of the country over to the IMF and the ECB.

Enda tells us that we have to do more with less, and he would do well to heed his own advice. There are entrepreneurs and ideas and schemes out there that are being stillborn, either because they can’t get credit or because the instigators don’t know which agencies can help them.

These are people who, having been robbed of their jobs, their equity and their pensions, are happy to take the risk and try to get themselves back in employment, but instead they get more of the same.

“We can’t lend to you”.

“That’s not our remit, it’s more for *insert state agency here*.”

“That’s great but we have no resources”.

I wrote to Enda recently with a few ideas, suggesting that he and his government focus a little more on engaging the diaspora - and not just in the US, the UK and Australia – in helping our country in her time of need. If I recall correctly, the last line I wrote was along the lines of “there are thousands of us overseas ready, willing and able to help. Put us to work for Ireland”.

Needless to say, I didn’t receive a reply. But let’s do it anyway.

Let’s take 100 days to do what this government could not or would not do.

Let’s take 100 days to preach the good word about our country, and tell the world that despite the preponderance of greedy sycophants at the top of the tree, there are still hard-working, smart people available.

Let’s tell them how beautiful our country is, and how much craic it is, and how great the food tastes. Tell them about Jedward and Dave Browne playing the guitar for 100 hours in Temple Bar, and how Dunphy and Giles are better than anything else in the world when it comes to football punditry.

Because after 100 days of more of the same, if we don’t do it, no-one else will.

Ireland’s image is damaged abroad, and we need to fix it before we can start doing business again. Our bond yields are evidence of that.

But if we do what we always did, we’ll continue to get what we always got.

And we deserve better than that.

Meet the new boss…

Michael Noonan- hope springs eternal...

At first I thought there was something wrong with my TV.

When watching Dáil proceedings, a low humming could be heard.

I switched TV, but the problem didn’t go away.

I alerted the people at the Dáil, but their technicians were baffled by it. Then we copped on.

The humming wasn’t because of some technical fault.

It was actually Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams purring on the opposition benches, as the parties all around him scrambled to rearrange the deckchairs on our rapidly-sinking country.

Contrary to popular belief, it now appears that the big winner in the last election was Gerry, not Enda, and the big loser was Eamon Gilmore and not Mícheál Martin.

Martin was always destined to be cleaned out, but it was Gilmore who promised us “Labour’s way or Frankfurt’s way”, before promptly giving us Frankfurt’s way almost before the final count was over. “Gilmore for Taoiseach” indeed.

The strutting confidence of Kenny and Noonan has all but disappeared, as Michael meekly declared today that he “hopes” that  promise to cut the Irish bailout interest rate will be honoured.

A marked difference from their promise in the now-legendary – and quickly forgotten – five point plan. “Fine Gael will take on the big vested interests that have contributed to the current crisis – the bankers, the bondholders, the developers and the unions”.

They all remain untouched, much as they would have had Martin somehow miraculously won. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

And so to Gerry, purring over Sinn Féin’s policies which were proved right, simply because by not being in power, he cannot be proved wrong.

It has turned out more or less as he predicted- we’ve swapped one for the other. The policies are no different.

The only real triumph in the face of this lack of creative thought by our government alternatives has been the writings of David McWilliams.

His ability to recast and rephrase the same or similar arguments and solutions has been remarkable, yet no matter what innovative ideas he comes up with, it seems that those in power will not listen to them, just because of where they come from.

It’s like turning down the cure for cancer because it was discovered by Jack the Ripper.

And this is essentially the choice that Irish people will face in the next election when it comes to Adams.

Will they be able to look beyond the skeletons in the Sinn Féin closet and effect real change, or will Adams and the party be condemned to continued atonement for the sins of the past for the foreseeable future?

 

Nobody Loves You When You’re Down And Out

Life is a bed of roses for Labour leader

A few months ago it actually seemed possible. In the middle of Garglegate and the attendant witch hunt, it was whispered and then said out loud- Eamon Gilmore could be Taoiseach.

Those sporting blue shirts under their canvassing macs now openly mock the notion, but for a brief, fleeting moment Ireland was on the cusp of becoming a modern democracy.

Instead of being defined by what side they took in the Civil War, parties would now nail their colours to more traditional masts of right and left.

But what began with a socialist bang has now gone out with a whimper, and Labour only have themselves to blame. Their decline in the polls is hardly down to the political skill and charisma of the likes of Enda Kenny and Mícheál Martin – they have none.

Labour’s ills are very much of their own making, and they were made at the very top. When Enda Kenny was bunkering down and staying out of the limelight, Gilmore and Joan Burton were turning on the righteous anger- and the Irish people immediately turned off.

Though wonderfully hospitable and generous neighbours, Irish people are not natural socialists. Eight hundred years of occupation means that a dislike of and contempt for government is inbuilt in our DNA, and voting for bigger government goes against their nature. For most Irish people, casting a vote for Labour is like political chemotherapy – it might get rid of the cancer, but it’s still not something to look forward to.

At this point in time, the Irish electorate don’t want righteous anger- they have enough of that themselves. What they want is leadership, not the pointless political posturing Labour pursued.

Burton’s bizarre performance on Vincent Browne when she attacked all round her gave birth to the Moan Burton tag, and simultaneously put paid to her ambition to be finance minister.

And as for Gilmore’s righteous anger, that is long gone and he is now reduced to begging the electorate for transfers to shoehorn Fine Gael into a coalition they do not want. The man who would be Taoiseach may now end up outside government altogether, splitting the leadership of the opposition with Gerry Adams as Míchael Martin looks on enviously from the back benches.

There will of course be no shame in that for Martin- he was given an impossible job, and having any TDs at all in the next Dáil wil be a triumph for him. Nor does he seem like the sort to be ashamed of anything anyway.

Not so for Gilmore and Burton, who will be looking wistfully across the chamber at the government benches and wondering what might have been if they had taken the age-old saying to heart- better to keep your mouth shut and have everyone think you’re an idiot than to open it and confirm their suspicions.

Irish Politicians – Networking Or Not Working?

Open the papers, turn on the TV or check out your favourite blog, and the message is the same – this is Ireland’s first social media election, and commentators are queueing up to tell us how important Twitter and Facebook are going to be. But will the iPhone and the Android make a big difference at the ballot box? WIll the independents tweet their way into the Dáil? Will Enda’s ridiculous e-valentine force the electorate to fall out of love with him?

The answer is – probably not. Social media is becoming more and more important, but except in very limited circumstances it’s not going to make a difference.

The reason is simple -it’s a medium, not a message. Enda’s beloved five-point plan is still a five-point plan wheter it’s the subject of a Facebook group, a blog, a tweet  or one of those appalling campaign videos that are fast becoming the trademark of Fine Gael.

No matter where Gerry and Pearse go, they will still have to deal with questions about Sinn Féin’s bona fides on the economy.

And whether it’s a webcast or News at One, a viral video or a LinkedIn group message, Mícheál Martin still ruined the country (it appears that even he has been destroyed by the HSE, as setting it up seems to have given him amnesia). No amount of tweeting (even as gaeilge) will change that.

Social media is only useful in terms of spreading ideas – it does not create them, and as yet there is still a marked absence of big ideas in the campaign to date. The parties are still skirting each other like teenagers at a disco under the watchful eye of the ECB chaperones, but Twitter will not come up with an answer to the bank bailout disaster by itself, no more than it can ask the pretty socialist by the far wall up to dance for you.

But what social media will do is level the playing field. A Twitter account, a blog and a website cost next to nothing, and a PR person recently told me that a Facebook page is actually more valuable than a bespoke website these days. These simple tools combined with the few hours of donkey work involved in reaching out to various networks can help candidates at the lower end of the campaign financing ladder to even out the discrepancies.

I’ve been impressed so far by the likes of Kate Bopp and Michael Loftus, and less so by the main parties, for one simple reason – the independents are managing to come across as much more human than the auto-generated, knee-jerk trash being spouted via the communications departments of the major parties.

Whilst Kate is linking to audio recordings of debates and Michael is using Twitter to build a network, it is frankly embarrassing to see the strategies being used by some of the people at HQs who really should know better – canvassers breathlessly retweeting “great reaction on the doorsteps tonight, voters srsly concerned about quality of silage in West Cavan” when in fact no-one mentioned it at all.

The debates are even worse. It wouldn’t surprise me if FG had people lined up to tweet “thought Kenny did well there”, even for the TV3 debate that he didn’t show up for. The affirmation of the leader and the manifesto in 140 characters or less has become the new “we are where we are”.

Social media users see through this formulaic rubbish, and the Fianna Fáil canvasser who has the guts to tweet “got handed my arse by a single parent about USC tonight, and rightly so” will most likely win their candidate a damn sight more votes than our silage-loving canvasser mentioned above. Despite the possibility of anonymity, honesty is paramount in the not-so-brave new world of Twitter and Facebook – everything else is just anti-social media.

Those involved in the media in general are never slow to overestimate their own importance, but the truth is that very few commentators have any actual sway at all. The likes of Constantine Gurgdiev, David McWilliams and Miriam O’Callaghan have the capacity to reach a vast number of people, but for most tweeters the reach is limited and the effect equally so.

And yet one of the few growth industries in Ireland during this election has been that of social media commentator; but whilst it is interesting to hear what others are saying, it’s far from scientific and definitely not representative. Vincent Browne starts every show by mentioning the blog, the text line, the hash tag and the e-mail address, but the only thing that ever gets mentioned are a couple of tweets by Colm Tobin (not the novellist) before he looks at the headlines in tomorrow’s papers (Vincent, not Colm).

This election will not be decided by social media, no more than it will be decided in Brussels or Frankfurt. This election will be decided in the think tanks at the HQs of the major political parties – the party that comes up with the creative solutions to solve this country’s problems and the cojones to implement them will win the day. Those that don’t risk being wiped out, their places taken by independent candidates providing a fresh voice, if nothing else.

So far, we still haven’t seen any big ideas, on Twitter or anywhere else. And time is running out.

Note: Non-Twitter users can follow the Twitter activity of many candidates in #ge11 on http://www.politweets.ie

Gloves Come Off For TV Debate

Seconds out, round one...

As the contestants prepare for the debate which is due to begin in about an hour, you can be sure that someone, somewhere will be playing the Rocky music to psyche themselves up. My money is on Mícheál Martin, but it could just as easily be Enda “the Empty Chair” Kenny. Much of the rhetoric will be about struggles and battles, and at least one paper will go with the “Valentine’s Day Massacre” headline, no matter what the outcome.

When it comes to public speaking, one of the best I’ve ever seen was not a politician but a boxer. Dubliner Steve Collins was super-middleweight champion of the world in an era when super-middleweight was about the toughest division in boxing. I brought him to Canary Wharf in London to talk to a sales team who were spread out around the world, all working alone trying to create new business. The Celtic Warrior wasn’t polished, but to this day those who listened to him still talk about him, and for a public speaker there is no finer accolade.

Collins spoke about life in the ring, and the tactics he’d use to get an opponent to break his rhythm. He’d mimic his opponent’s movement, his footwork and head fakes, and choose his moment carefully. When the time came, he’d throw in a little nod of his own- if the opponent followed he was on the hook, and a couple of seconds later he would be on the floor. Boxers call this tactic “lead and pace”, and anyone tuning in to RTE tonight will see plenty of it.

Collins also had a memorable response to a question about how he dealt with the thousands of blows aimed at him. “In my line of business, you’re not going to last very long if you keep letting people hit you in the f**ckin’ head,” he said gruffly. He reckoned in his entire professional career, he’d only really been hit maybe two dozen times, or less than once for every professional bout he undertook. Boxing is about power, but it is also about concentration and control, and Collins had the nous and the discipline to know that and keep a cool head, even when the other guy was trying to knock it clean off his shoulders.

Expect to see the others lead and pace Kenny into trouble. He’s quite an arrogant man and won’t like to be shown up, so Martin and the others will try to make him appear arrogant and lose his temper- if he does, he’s done for and won’t last six months in office.

Martin will ride the blows- he hasn’t lasted this long in politics by standing still, and his abdication of responsibility for the last fourteen years shows him to be quick on his feet.

But the one with most to lose tonight is Eamon Gilmore. A good performance on The Week In Politics last night has thrown him a lifeline, but if he turns on the indignation as he has at recent press conferences he’ll seem boorish and petty. If he can take the moral high ground and refrain from personal attacks when defending his tax policies he’ll be fine. If he can’t he’ll be on the ropes from the get-go.

As David McWilliams pointed out this morning, the debates are a sideshow and won’t tell us anything that will be of any use; like professional boxing, money now steers everything and what happens in the ring is almost secondary.

But as the country fights for its future, it may well offer some pointers as to who we have in our corner, and how they’re going to help us fight back.

It’s Not Just The Parties That Set The Agenda

Fine Gael functionaries in Leitrim deal with Bobby's questions

In the end, there was no empty chair. Plenty of empty rhetoric and a bunch of hollow threats and empty promises, but no empty chair. So who were the real winners last night?

At a stretch, bearded Bobby in Leitrim made the best case- if he had been slightly more eloquent and cut short his rant a little, the man who called Kenny out before being thrown out himself would have been the major winner in last night’s debates. As it was, they threw up nothing, apart from another chance for the parties to repeat their messages again.

There is a truism in communication that the listener cannot be told what to think, but they can be told what to think about. People are most influenced by others around them – family members, friends, co-workers, team-mates etc., and it is by discussing the issues of the day with them that we come to our own conclusions.

By focussing on what you are good at – or indeed what the other crowd are bad at – you control what people talk about in the pubs and factories around the country, and that is what ultimately gives you a chance to change their minds.

No election poster or canvasser in the world ever convinced someone to change their vote; we don’t trust them the way we trust our friends and family, and rightly so. They are in it for them, not us.

Seen in the context of this election, Mícheál Martin is hoping to look forward and to conveniently ignore the fact that the banks stole the country on his watch. There will be no more “sorry”, no more excuses, for a good reason – there is simply no chance that they can convince us that what anything they did in government was of any benefit whatsoever. Their legacy is tarnished beyond repair.

Instead, he and the rest of Fianna Fail would have us suspend our better judgement, ignore the past and give them another crack of the whip, as if everything that happened was beyond their control. Frighteningly, about 16% of voters have already bought this line of reasoning.

For Labour, the balancing act is more difficult. Irish people have a pathological aversion to paying tax, and any mention of raising them will cause voters to run a mile. But without taxes there can be no stimulus, and besides, the burden of the ECB/IMF debt cannot be serviced without money coming in to the state’s coffers. It is easier for Labour to concentrate on attacking the opposition than pushing their own agenda.

Meanwhile, Enda Kenny and Fine Gael are in pole position and the election is theirs to throw away- and with the defensive tactics they are employing, they could yet do so.

Kenny’s charisma deficit is a major flaw, but not fatal; what could prove fatal is his mealy-mouthed excuses for not engaging with the other leaders, and his clumsy efforts to avoid the arena in which he is least comfortable.

If he were straight with the electorate, they’d probably forgive him. No-one likes a chicken, but for once the public is well-prepared to accept a leader who doesn’t pretend to have all the answers- having been fooled into believing that Bertie Ahern, Charlie McCreevy and Brian Cowen had somehow become economic geniuses because they could engineer a property boom, it’ll be a long time before they trust anyone again.

Kenny would do well to study the steady hand at the tiller that is displayed by Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeld – since taking over the Moderate party, Reinfeldt has reinvented himself as a statesman, carefully delegating responsibility but always seeming in control.

He, like Kenny, is charismatic in person but it doesn’t transfer well to the medium of TV, and the first step to solving this problem is to acknowledge it and not try to force it – we’re trying to elect a leader here, not a host for the Late Late Show. Instead, Kenny has in turn tried to run away from it, and then tightly control it by broadcasting his own public meeting on the internet. In doing so, he has made himself a laughing stock.

SInn Féin have been a bit schizophrenic, mixing some excellent contributions with some seriously shoddy ones, especially on economic issues. The opposition has managed to create the impression that they can’t do detail, and that is likely to stick unless they either buck up on the homework or shift the focus entirely.

The outcome of this election depends on who manages to dictate not what we think, but what we think about. The revelations this morning that Anglo may need another €15 billion would, in any other country, have buried Fianna Fail forever.

The no-show by Enda Kenny and his subsequent kicking by bearded Bobby would have put paid to Enda’s chance of being Taoiseach, had there been a credible alternative. Eamon Gilmore had the chance to show that he was that alternative on the TV3 debate, but didn’t – or couldn’t – take it.

And that is essentially what we should be thinking about – the lack of a credible alternative to the politicians that have repeatedly failed us. There are still no big ideas, there is still a yawning chasm in the credibility of all the leading politicians, who in effect allowed this to happen.

But it works both ways – we can’t tell our leaders what to think, but on the doorsteps and in the media we should be telling them what to think about, such as burying the bad banks and providing a future for the country that is not overshadowed by debt and death on hospital trolleys.

By communicating our own agenda loud and clear, we can at least get them to talk about it among themselves, and maybe even change their minds as we go along.