By Red Hugh
While everyone knows Labour got a real kicking – down from 37 seats to seven, and most of those lucky to scrape in on the last seat – Enda and Fine Gael – got a pretty hefty kicking too losing 26 seats, down from 76 to 50.
The fact they are still the biggest party going into the negotiations to form the next government sort of obscures what has actually happened to them.
Before the election, FG were, according to the pundits and the polls, expected to hold on to most of their seats thanks to ‘the recovery’.
Their strategists devised the simple plan to keep telling us all what a great job they had done to steady the economic ship. It should have worked too in that the economic stats were starting to turn – employment was up and emigration had stopped haemorrhaging our brightest and best.
It was a reasonable platform to go to the country.
When they came to power in 2011 most reasonable people accepted the FG/Labour coalition had an all but an impossible job after the complete and utter ruin left by the last government.
There was sympathy for them, and an understanding that they needed time and space. But a perfect storm of arrogance and stupidity allied to some seriously right wing tendencies got them back on to the rocks pretty quickly.
It began with Big Phil ‘Hulk’ Hogan telling people who already had wages frozen the Universal Social Charge imposed that if they didn’t pay the water charges – which no one had voted for/supported in the first place – their supply would be ‘cut to a trickle’? It went down badly. We don’t like being threatened.
We then had the property tax announced in a way that Hitler’s SS’ would have been proud, a senior Revenue official coming onto the 6:1 RTE news threatening people who might think of not paying that they would be a)jailed or b)have the money taken out of their wages/salaries/dole either at source or from their personal bank accounts. She wasn’t for answering questions either.
And, finally, I suppose by the time they began taking medical cards from cancer patients, one even from a man dying from Motor Neurone disease, and making little effort to get the most vulnerable off the trolleys in hospital corridors the plain people of this country had had enough.
But there was another agenda at play while all this was going on. While hammering the bejasus out of the working people our leaders were, simultaneously, sucking up to the banks by covering every bond holder’s debts, playing doormat to the Troika in a way that was embarrassing, arse licking Angela Merkel at every (photo) opportunity, helping Wolfgang Schauble, the modern day German/EU financial stormtrooper (sorry, I meant finance minister) quash the Greeks, and just about rolled over to get their collective bellies tickled by any big wig who just happened to be passing.
Just once had the showed any gumption, any balls to stand up for us it might have been so different.
Now, six weeks after the election, there is a sort of scorpion dance between Enda and Micheal, both wondering whose sting will do the most damage.
And not only are they worried about being government, they are also worried about leaving the opposition wide open for Sinn Fein, a party which always plays the long game, to exploit.
So, to bring this epistle to an abrupt end, Enda and Micheal right now don’t know whether to s…t, shower or shave.