Jude Collins

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Brian bows out

Having just watched Brian Cowen resign as leader of Fianna Fáil, I'm tempted to say "Nothing in life/Became him like the leaving it", but of course he's not leaving political life, he's going to be Taoiseach for the next seven weeks. Will he run for re-election in Laois/Offaly? It's hard to say. Probably he will since he has a loyal following there, but if he does, it'll be like the proverbial decapitated chicken, still walking because it doesn't realise it's dead.

Cowen says he has resigned for the good of the party. Given the level of contempt that has swirled around him in recent months, inside and outside his party, it's a credible statement. He's also credible when he says he has always done what he believed to be the right thing. But as he made his statement and fielded questions from journalists, I was struck by his overall demeanour: that of a plain, honest and intelligent person. If you think for a moment on the candidates in the running to succeed him, there is none who could have conducted him/herself with Cowen's poise and dignity. Leave aside the question of whether he's a competent economist or his policies make sense: he projects a self-belief and ability that is impressive. Hell, I'll admit it: I like the guy. Create a mental picture of him, then place beside him his near-anointed successor, Micheál Martin. Do you begin to see how literally and metaphorically lightweight Martin looks, in contrast? In fact when I think of Martin, my thoughts go to a Fianna Fáil politician who had the same mild manner, the same soft-spoken style, the same inoffensive way with him. Will Fianna Fáil rue the day they elected as their leader a man who bears such an unnerving resemblance to Bertie Ahern?


  1. Hard to believe anyone would want to be the leader heading into an election that should see Fianna Fail get creamed.
    As an ardent Irish Republican, I don't share your admiration for Brian Cowen. Sure, he is a proficient and articulate communicator in both an gaeilge and bearla, but his actions this week demonstrated his arrogance and disdain for the intelligence of the Irish electorate. I can't remember too many instances where Brian did or said anything to embrace or promote the re-unification of our country.
    It worries me that the next Fianna Fail leader might be Brian Lenihan who callously told consumers that shopping up north was unpatriotic.
    Michael Martin's contempt for Sinn Fein does not augur well for Nationalists that have repeatedly elected Sinn Fein members to represent them.
    The impending demise of Fianna Fail from a political mafiaso masquerading under the title of 'Republican Party' to a humble little party is a cause for celebration and not a sad end to a great and historic tradition.

  2. Thanks for thoughts, Roibeard. I'm in agreement with much of what you say, but I was trying to stress my response to Cowen's performance on TV. Alongside Martin he looks like a blunt honest man. He may not be same - you don't get to lead a political party by being a simple straight-forward chap - but there are styles that grate and styles that don't, and I find Cowen's doesn't. Plus to attribute to him the sole responsibility for the screwed-up economy is to attribute a bit more clout to him than he is capable of delivering. Or was. Past tense. PS. What's your projection for SF seats?

  3. I was thinking of what Emerson said,
    "The true test of civilization is, not the census, nor the size of the cities, nor the crops, but the kind of man that the country turns out."
    When I think of Fianna Fail, Bertie Ahern, the brown envelopes and suspicious deposits of money into bank accounts, coupled with Brian Cowen's tawdry efforts to showcase election candidates this week, I am nauseous and your fine words about Brian Cowens poise and intelligence make me want to gaggle. God save Ireland.

    In answer to your question, While I expect voters to give Fianna Fail a cold shoulder, I don't think Sinn Fein have endeared themselves enough to the Southern electorate to make substantial gains.
    I think if they double their representation to 10 they can be satisfied. I can see them winning 12 seats.

    Would you care to share your forecast?

  4. Mmmm. I'd go some way with your analysis, but I'd be a bit more generous of SF's chances. At the moment I'd put them around fifteen. That said, I don't know any reliable forecaster of election chances, particularly media guru forecasters.