The queen mother is reported to have said: “If I do that, how can I look the East End in the eye?”
Taoiseach Brian Cowen might do well at this time to consider the wisdom of this regal lady who did not even depend on the ballot box to keep her position.
If Mr Cowen wants to look the country in the face when he applies the fiscal axe, let him set example by first putting his own household in order. Start with the most glaring examples of over expenditure in public life, like the scandal of sitting TDs getting state pensions, the scandal of unvouched expenses for TDs, the literal galaxy of junior ministers with their retinue of chauffeurs and office staff, quangos that duplicate the work of government departments, the many other recipients of grace-and-favour sinecures attached to government.
After that he might consider if the present number of TDs and senators might not be over-representation for a country of our population?
He could go on to peruse the salary scales of these politicians and compare them with the counterparts in larger countries.
He might have a look at his own too in this regard and consider why the Taoiseach of a country of some five million people earns more than the US president, not to mention the presidents and prime ministers of every other country in Europe. When he has done at least that much he may just be able to return to the ordinary people of this country who gave him power and, like the British queen during the London blitz, look them in the eye when he demands whatever sacrifices are necessary because of the disastrous situation he and his predecessor have led us into. As things appear to date, he is behaving more like another queen, one Marie Antoinette of France, who learned the hard way how dangerous it is to be out of touch with the people, to goad them by demanding of them sacrifices which one is not prepared to make oneself.