From top: Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar; Tony Groves
We’re on the countdown to the next General Election. Leo has won the battle of the blueshirts and hot takes are taking up all the space in your newsfeed.
The spectrum ranges from sycophantic to the sick about it. Scrub away the verbiage and the only relevant point is this; the Right has found their champion.
As false messiahs go, Leo is a marketing dream. The king is dead, long live the new shiny king. But I’m not too keen on discussing him anymore. I’m too busy pulling my hair out at the ineffectual response of the opposition.
As Fine Gael plot a route to victory, the opposition flounder about like a fish on ship’s deck. Our Social Justice crusaders remind me of the actual crusaders. More infighting than enemy fighting.
The impotent reaction got me thinking of the Fifth Crusade, around 1218ce, when Christian Armies had a plan to fight through Egypt, march on Cairo and then triumphantly on to Jerusalem.
The disjointed Crusader forces were resoundingly beaten at their first battle by the united Muslim Armies of Sultan al-Kamil.
Trapped and embarrassed, the “leaders” squabbled over the terms of surrender on offer from Cairo. Then, when all hope was gone, and the Christians were faced with ignominious retreat, a miracle happened. God will provide, you see.
Word reached the camp that a huge Christian army was speeding to their aid, crushing all in its path; a powerful and unbeatable military. So vast in numbers as to leave its identity in no doubt. For only one man could summon such a force, Prester John.
It was said that Prester John ruled over the largest, richest and most virtuous kingdom known to man. His was the closest thing to heaven on earth. Milk and honey flowed in his realm of mythical creatures and miracles.
The Crusaders were ebullient; they need only hold out a while longer and Prester John would crush the Saracens and restore the holy lands to Christendom. God is great.
How wrong they were! The army sweeping towards them, crushing all in it’s path was soon to form the largest land based empire ever seen. But it wasn’t the army of the Fantastical, Prester John. It was the army of Temujin.
The Mongols were coming and they cared not for the gods of Christian, Muslim, Leoliberal capitalists, or any other deity. The only cared for Tengri, the God of War. The rest really is history.
Back to today and we have no alliance of the Left, we have no Corbyn like Manifesto of Hope. We have smaller parties pointing fingers at smaller parties, rather than drawing up a genuine contract for change that can be presented to the public as an alternative to the “people who get up early” rhetoric.
It matters not a jot who the Prester John of the opposition is; for what it’s worth my preference would be for a Prester Jane. But we are on borrowed time. Leo holds the reigns and he will, quite Rightly, call a halt to proceedings when it’s most advantageous to him.
The Left need a simple unified document that makes a number of pledges on the key issues of Housing, Health, Education, Justice and Tackling Inequality.
They need to select a spokesperson that will stand on the podium and represent ALL of them on these non-negotiables.
This document needs to be pushed through every letterbox in the country, North and South. This needs to be our very own vision of a fairer society. A four page Manifesto of Hope that can be used to rebut the new face of old neoliberal politics.
This message needs to be all that they promote between now and whenever the election is called. Infighting and mudslinging must be put aside for the greater good. Parties of the Left and parties that purport to be of the Left must put the ideals of this document above the ideals of party.
Two years ago Jeremy Corbyn was a fringe politician. Six months ago he was said to have killed the UK’s Labour Party. Today, while not likely to win, he’s dragged a right wing government back to the table to discuss social justice and given hope to millions.
Prester John was a myth. Genghis Khan was the reality. We’d all be better facing the reality now before our new leader builds up a head of steam.
I’m asking the opposition to put aside differences, focus on commonalities and offer the Irish equivalent of the Manifesto of Hope. I’m asking the opposition, are you a Genghis Khan, or are you a Genghis Can’t?
Tony Groves is a full-time financial consultant and part-time commentator. With over 18 years experience in the financial industry and a keen interest in politics, history and “being ornery”, he has published one book and writes regularly at Trickstersworld