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Thursday, 18 April 2013

Eamon Gilmore, Michael O'Leary and the late Bettino Craxi

It was suggested in the Dáíl today that Labour Party Leader, Tánaiste & Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore should consider following the example of his predecessor, Michael O’Leary, who moved on from the half-way house that is being in coalition with Fine Gael and actually joined Fine Gael in October 1982.

Michael O’Leary who was, as far as we know, no relation to Ryanair’s esteemed CEO, was one of those great unheroic figures.

While Mr O’Leary was leader of the Irish Labour Party (1981-82) his counterpart in Italy was Bettino Craxi, leader of the Italian Socialist Party, whose political end was even more ignominious. 
Below is the elegy I wrote when Bettino Craxi died, back in the year two thousand. It was originally published on Irish Left Review to celebrate the entry of Eamon Gilmore’s Labour Party into this most recent coalition.

                      Elegy for Bettino Craxi (1934-2000)
                      - Bettino Craxi was leader of the Italian Socialist Party and Prime Minister.  
                                He went  into exile in 1994 following an investigation into corruption allegations
                                and died in Tunisia.

                      Poor Bettino Craxi, you’ve been taken to your grave
                      and we won’t see your likes again.
                      Your social democratic bones were barely cold
                      when your obituaries began to bitch.
                      All week long it’s been bitch, bitch, bitch.
                      But the rabble who’ve dragged your name through dirt
                      wouldn’t know justice if it wrapped them up,
                      all nice and safe, in a concrete overcoat.

                      From that hot night at the Hotel Midas, Rome
                      when you first got your paws on the laurels of office
                      you were guilty of nothing but doing the unthinkable
                      so loud, the voters heard about it.
                      You made quick work of the hammer and sickle:
                      “Outdated, misplaced, irrelevant to the real needs.”
                      Your single red carnation had such style
                       it made Blair and Mandelson cry.

                       Done with ideology, it was time
                       to bring on the dwarves, the dancing girls.
                       You gave them what they wanted,
                       filled the party with the people
                       any realist must do business with.
                       Pop intellectuals joined dubious financiers
                       and bogus architects. Oprah Winfrey
                       met Bernie Madoff in a house designed
                       by Ruari Quinn, and talked Italian for a bit
                       with the more vulgar fringes of the new rich.

                      Too many workers’ representatives
                      settle for just a share of the profits.
                      You weren’t satisfied with a bigger slice.
                      You took the lot, and kept it all for yourself.
                      And we will see your likes again.