Leadership restored, we think…

Well, silly me – I missed the defining political event of the past week. I had planned to go to the big dinner given by the Dublin Chamber of Commerce at which Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen spoke from the gut and restored a sense of buzz around his leadership. Something had come up and I couldn’t go. The Taoiseach used the occasion to tell his audience (and the nation) some facts of life: living standards will go down by 10 per cent or more, and we had better get used to the idea. From the accounts of those present it was well delivered and showed both vision and determination. It was, it seems, the ‘rhetorical leadership‘ about which I wrote a few days ago. Or as one commentator put it, Cowen discovered his ‘inner Obama‘.

As I have noted before, I believe that Brian Cowen and his government are on the whole doing the right thing, but until now have been terrible at communicating it and conveying a sense of purpose and vision; maybe that is now being corrected. I would still add, however, that the vision must go beyond doom and gloom. By that I don’t mean that the government must tell us that there will be an end to the crisis some time. We all know that, and it is not breaking news. I mean that they must convey the idea of something big worth fighting for, something better, something different, something successful that will come within a timescale we can all expect to live to see. Saying that this generation may be more prosperous than the next (which the Taoiseach suggested was a possibility) is not it. People don’t get energised at the thought that the 12 per cent drop in living standards may eventually be modified to 8 per cent. They want a sense that there will be something better than anything that went before, not something a little less bad than we now fear.

But I won’t be churlish right now. This is not a bad turnaround. And I believe the universities (certainly mine) will be ready to help with the agenda.

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2 Comments on “Leadership restored, we think…”

  1. Clare Says:

    Bit sniffy of him to do it among the business community, as opposed to the nation I thought.

    If I were running communications in the government, he would have spoken much soon and more regularly. I think sometimes Irish politicians forget that they can manoeuvre and effectively control the media story. Cowen seems to have washed his hands of it, and just want to get on with the job. His words are powerful. He’s the leader of the country. He could speak and rally the troops. The media need a new story to print, and everyone wants Ireland to prosper.

    I look at Obama and Cowen pales in comparison. I’m not asking for grand rhetoric, but a five minute national address could stabilize the country and eliminiate much of the misinformation and uncertainty. The people deserve to know.

    Apologies for the long comment. Seems I’ve more to say on this than I thought 🙂


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