Karl Whelan, over on IrishEconomy.ie, this week picked up on something said by the Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan TD over the weekend in a radio interview.
I didn’t hear the interview myself, and with regards to the specifics of what he did say, Karl et al have an interesting follow up here.
However, I was oddly struck by the words used by Minister Lenihan. Here’s what he didn’t say:
What I notice about them is that there’s about forty of them. There’s about two hundred politicians in all in the state. Most of the rest of them have approached me privately and said that these gentlemen and ladies are wrong.
But of course they are not prepared to say so publicly because in Irish political class, people don’t criticise other people’s policies. That’s part of our national mediocrity. If you take the Irish politicians and someone publishes a bad policy, you won’t find any reviews in the paper pointing out how bad that policy is.
If you look at the press in the United Kingdom or the United States, you’ll see robust political criticism of others policies but we’re reluctant to do it. We’re a small country, we have to meet people again, we have to go to other people’s funerals and we know and we don’t want to put the cross on someone even when they’re saying something that’s fundamentally wrong.
The bolded italics are mine. Minister Lenihan was actually talking about economists and historians, but I think that he unwittingly discovered the primary problem with Irish politics through the ages – especially at the moment within his own Fianna Fail party and their marriage of mediocrity with the Greens.