In one of the great political coincidences of our time, Alistair Campbell has been wandering around the radio and TV studios of Ireland for the last week or so, giving his two cents on anything and everything to anyone who’ll listen. Famed as the Godfather of Spin, Campbell worked closely with Fianna Fáil as Blair and Bertie delivered the goods on Northern Ireland. Both men would manage to eclipse this achievement; unfortunately, it would be for all the wrong reasons.
Campbell is a master of language, and how he must have loved the last Fianna Fáil government and their ability to pulverise and morph language to suit their needs. Because when the last government spoke they may not have been lying- but they sure weren’t telling the truth.
Take the shining example of the EU/IMF bailout. Reuters journalist Jan Strupczewski broke the story on a Friday afternoon, citing sources that had informed him that Ireland was in talks with the European Commission and the ECB about a bailout package. The response Strupczewski got from the Irish Ministry for Finance was very telling- “there is no application for emergency funding from the European Union”. Now, essentially what the spokesman said was true- no application had been made at that point – but inside the meeting room, Ireland was desperately begging for a financial lifeline.
We may not have agreed to go to bed with the ECB at that point, but their hand was up our skirt and there was only ever one way it was going to end.
Lenihan is seemingly addicted to misleading the nation, and tonight he was at it again. Challenged by Michael Noonan as to whether he had “permission” from the IMF and the ECB to the postponement of a €10 billion tranch of recapitalisation for our busted banks, Lenihan said he believed he had an “understanding” with them. Which is not the same thing. Once again, Lenihan may not have been lying, but he sure wasn’t telling the truth.
Of course, what Lenihan was trying to do was post-date a bad news story until such time as the next government is formed, when he will have long since joined the ranks of the unemployed and is far removed from the madding crowd. It’s not enough that they should have to publish the GDP and unemployment figures destroyed by his ineptitude – he had to give them a €10 billion welcoming turd as well.
Like his current and former party leaders, Lenihan seems to believe that the Irish people will somehow forget who was at the wheel when the Irish economy was driven off a cliff, that he will somehow, in the fullness of time, be recognised for his wonderful management of our economy. For this fantasy alone, he and his ilk must be banished from the corridors of power for good.
And for their inability to talk the straight talk when the country demands it most, they should be hammered on the doorsteps, as well as the ballot boxes.