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Yes Minister – The Irish take on things!

By In Blog, Discussion On April 28, 2016


At the time of writing this the Irish General Election was held over eight weeks ago now and we seem no closer today to a long term or even medium term political solution than we were back then. This is cannot be good for the country. It creates at the very least uncertainty.

If you take the Yes Minister view of politics it does not matter at all. This is a reference to the popular TV sitcom which ran in the early to mid eighties in The UK. That particular show posited that the country was being run entirely by the Civil Service and the elected officials were just an inconvenience elected by the public at large every few years. In fact under those circumstances the elected politicians actually got in the way and inevitably caused more harm than good.

The problem with this view is that the vast majority of people in the country do not subscribe to this and like to feel that they have a say in the future direction of the country through elections and as a consequence it has a very real knock on effect on sentiment in general throughout Ireland. This can and is being felt by professionals, retailers, manufacturing sectors at present. This will in all probability continue on until matters have been resolved and we have a stable workable government in place.

One of two things need to happen to remove the current uncertainties, we either accept the Yes Minister Proposition and everyone pushes on regardless of the current impasse or a proper government is formed allowing people to believe that it is safe to take big decisions and push on. Neither solution seems likely to present itself in the immmediate future here as we continue to grapple with the fall out from the inconclusive election in February.

The Chinese Model would at this time seem almost appealing whereby politics and government are managed and handled by the same group of people all the time and business is left to private citizens and n’er the twain shall meet as Rudyard Kipling wrote. It would be very difficult to see how such a situation would ever arise in Ireland without the necessary revolution taking place.

The purpose of this article is not to propose a solution or to provide a white knight as it is hard to see one emerging any time soon. It is simply to inform and help people to see that while things might be uncertain at present it is not necessarily the end of the world or even cause for much concern. We need as individuals or companies to ignore the current political impasse/situation in Ireland and drive on as if it does not matter or that the future looks positive in any event.

It should be noted that in Belgium after the the election in June 2010 it took a record 541 days to form a new government and that in Spain following the election of December 2015 there is still no new administration and that is now 128 days and counting. It is the longest ever for Ireland though – the previous record being 42 days after the 1992 General Election. None of these countries collapsed into anarchy either during or after the period in question.

Lets leave the last word to the peerless Sir Humphrey Appleby from Yes Minister;

We, the Civil Service, run a civilised meritocracy, a smoothly-running government machine tempered only by occasional general elections. Ever since 1832 we have been gradually excluding the voters from government. Now we have got to the point where they vote just once every four or five years purely on which bunch of buffoons will try to interfere with our policies.

Well said…….

Images: Shutterstock



About the Author

Vivian E. Nathan

A graduate in History and Economics from UCC in 1993. Vivian has spent his career working closely with owner manager businesses and has over 17 years experience in practice in both Dublin and Cork. Vivian joined the practice as a partner in 2005. Vivian specialises in providing business advisory services to progressive owner managers. He works closely with high net worth individuals providing wealth management and planning advice.

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