Every year it arrives like clockwork. I’ve never met him, cannot vote for him but yet he thinks I’m important enough to merit a Christmas Card. I don’t know if he thinks that Kilkenny and Wexford should bury the hatchet and celebrate the nativity together but I don’t think he understands Wexford nor most other counties for that matter judging by his performance on last night’s Late Late.
John McGuinness’s 15 minutes of fame started on the late late show. Nearly 25 years on from the establishment of the PD’s (they haven’t gone away yet, you know!) and the right wing demand to get the state off the back of business and 7 years of a PD minister in the Department of Enterprise and Employment John complains that the department still doesn’t understand the business sector. John went on to say that the future of the republican party depends on the encouraging the small business sector! Heavy stuff that, poor old WB Yeats had it wrong when he wrote about fumbling in the greasy till. There’s a new type of victim in the Gospel according to St John the latter day martyr. It’s business!
Like many who watched, I wondered how John could isolate in his mind the people who will lose Christmas bonuses, the overcrowded classrooms, the reduction in hospital services which John supported so that the Banks could be re-capitalised in order to get money flowing to small business and to end the credit crunch.
But when you run the rule over the current crop of Fianna Fail back benchers who are faced with losing their seats at the next election, many of them are accountants and solicitors, the type of profession that thrived during the boom. This sort of logic is aimed at them and maybe John sees himself as Des O’Malley once did at the head of club that will push Fianna Fail further into the hands of business and further away from its origins in every community in the country. The days when Fianna Fail drew candidates from within a community and could rely on the deep well of volunteerism are gone.
A new type of social partnership is needed according to John. John says unions should get real and do what they do in Germany. But there’s a fear going round workforces in Ireland and it started in the last few months. Workers worry that management and owners are taking advantage of the economic downturn to deliberately re-structure not from the point of protecting the business and jobs but to maximise profits. All of this started on John’s watch as Minister for Trade. The former minister should note that in countries that he referred to, those governments moved to protect jobs much better than he did, when the German ambassador pointed out a few home truths about the Irish business class John’s government rebuked him for pointing out the glaring obvious.
I’d be delighted to see Fianna Fail take on John’s vision. This will further deepen the vacuum that exists between Fianna Fail and communities and create opportunities for the Labour Party. I think real Fianna Fail people are very uncomfortable with McGuinness. If his former senior minister was to go public and remark about him she’d be hounded in the media. John will find out during the year that FF do croneyism very well but not Neo-Thathcherism. So if its cutbacks he favours, spare the tax payer the cost of my card this year, no offence taken but most of all Happy Christmas, John!