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Comment & Opinion | News

Kenny is far from inspirational but he has more right to lead than Cameron

Enda Kenny (right) has 15 years more experience than David Cameron
Enda Kenny and the lesser-experienced David Cameron

 

NOEL GALLAGHER’S music hasn’t been up to all that much since around 1995 but when he speaks he’s usually not far off the mark. 

A while back he was slagging off a variety of politicians. His view on the British Prime Minister was most interesting.

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“I don’t mind him, to be honest. No one actually takes him seriously, do they?” he told the New Statesman.

What’s most damning about this comment is that Cameron, holder of the highest office in the land, is portrayed as an inconsequential figure — so much so that to have any strong conviction about him is to be almost foolish. The fantastic thing about Gallagher’s observation is that it’s absolutely true.

When I look at politicians I ask myself a question. Would I respect this person if they were my boss? In Cameron’s case the answer is certainly not.

Whether or not you agree with an individual’s policies and convictions is moot (though I’m not sure what Cameron’s are. I wonder if he knows either).

The “boss test” is based on gravitas.

If I were cast into a role tomorrow where my manager was, in fact, “Dave” then I wouldn’t be dismayed. He seems like a pleasant enough chap. He’d be reasonable to deal with I imagine.

You’d get on with your work as usual, doing your best possible job, but the boss would be somebody whose opinion and direction were to be politely acknowledged — while all the time you’re forgetting what they’re saying before their sentence is complete.

The trouble with Cameron is that he is just so negligible; a ruddy-cheeked, soft-skinned young gent who looks like he’s never done a proper day’s work in his life.

Cameron has experienced personal tragedy, something which should not be made light of. When it comes to economic matters, though, he comes across as somebody who has no experience of what the world is really like and has no real understanding of life, and what it involves for most of us.

It’s not just his Toryness that imbues him with this detachment. Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband both fail the boss test for similar reasons. I actually quite like Miliband. He seems to have a kernel of principle.

He lives a few streets from me (albeit in vastly different circumstances, that’s London for you). I’ve seen him around and he looks like a decent man — you can tell these things. But there’s no way he should be running this or any other nation.

Aside from being career politicians cloistered in the Westminster village, they are all far too young for high office.

There are few shortcuts to wisdom. It is hard-earned through the passing of the years and decades. A 60-year old has seen more, heard more, experienced more joy and pain and thought about how everything in the world fits together than a 44-year-old has. And, crucially, they never use the phrase “going forward”. Yet in this country the move is towards fresh faces and away from deep lines. This is a pity.

Enda Kenny, for me, passes the boss test. He’s no intellectual giant and is not by any means an inspirational figure. But he has a certain presence thanks largely to the weight of years behind him.

He’s been knocking around that Dáil since Haughey was a pup so, you’d think, he must have learnt something. When that bunch of FG rebels — led by the likes of Leo Varadkar — tried to oust him while in opposition, and elevate Richard Bruton, well, he made fairly short work of them.

I remember Varadkar on telly before the vote, shaking his head as if out of regret and sympathy for the deluded old man, telling presenter Pat Kenny that he knew his side had the numbers to win. But what did he really know? Not as much as he does now, that’s for sure.

By all means, youth should be given its chance to shine — but not at the expense of superior, more experienced options. People of advancing age are almost routinely assumed to be stuck in their ways and resistant to change. That’s unfair.

Most of today’s 60 and 70-somethings seem to me interested and engaged in the world. They also have the capacity to put things in proper context, having lived through far more than we younger folk have. And seeing as we’re all going to have to work until we’re about 86, it would be good to think that we’re not going to peak at 42.

If they undertook a few tours of duty in the world, the Camerons, Cleggs, Milibands and Varadkars might have something of substance to say — in about 15 years.

Trouble is, in the climate they are helping to create, nobody will get the chance to listen to them by then — instead a 23-year-old intern with a clean shirt and an unblemished CV will have their hand on the tiller, going forward.

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Ronan Early
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Ronan Early is Sports Editor and columnist with The Irish Post. Follow him on Twitter @RonanEarly

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