Tell me if this prediction isn’t true. Sometime in the near future, a government led by a Fianna Fail Taoiseach, possibly Micheal Martin, will be attacked in the Dail by either Fine Gael or Labour from breaking promises and targeting the vulnerable and all the rest of it.
You don’t have to be the seventh son of a seventh son to foresee that. You can predict it because there is nothing as predictable in Irish politics as the bastards lying to you and breaking promises. The Labour Party did it in election 2011 in probably the most widespread barefaced sleight-of-hand and fundamentally dishonest (or criminally incompetent) campaign of modern times, but every party does it.
But here’s the thing. In the words of 1980s popsters The Blow Monkeys, It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way.
At the next election, Micheal Martin should address the Irish people with a simple one page pledge, a tiny handful of specific, costed proposals that he pledges to implement. Not vague “World Class Health Service” nonsense, which is completely incapable of being measured, but very detailed promises. He should face the voters and tell them that every other Fianna Fail pledge is aspirational, and he will try his best to implement, but this small handful of acts are absolutely copper-bottomed, and he is staking his personal integrity on them.
I suggested this to a Fianna Failer recently, and he was horrified. “But what if he doesn’t deliver them?”, he asked, and that is the point. These should be pledges that are deliverable, that can be put in ads during the campaign and down loaded and stuck to a fridge and marked off. If he can’t even do that, he’s no business being Taoiseach. The key is that he creates two types of election promise: the aspirational, and the absolute, and asks voters to honestly be aware of the difference BEFORE they vote. Imagine if Eamonn had done that.
Now, here’s the Blow Monkeys: