Tuesday, February 09, 2010

George Lee and Negativity

I've written here about George Lee as an RTE commentator during the Celtic Tiger times (2006). He was totally negative of the Irish Economy and it's dependence on property boom etc. You could argue that he was proved right in the end although I would question if he had analysed the right reasons for the collapse. But anyhow - fair dues - he got what he wished for so-to-speak and I've no doubt his constant down-talking helped the Irish people to get more nervous and spend less and less... I think he helped talk us deeper into recession.

My impression is that George is a good commentator and observer and is very articulate. He appeals to many in Ireland because so many of us love totally knocking the government and policies. Although I lean towards Fianna Fail in my political outlook I find it hard to be specifically too critical of Fine Gael in the George resignation saga. I continue to get a distinct impression of George Lee as a knocker who is poor on driving ideas and policy. I've lost count of the number of times in the last year where I've heard George spit fire about the government and yet when challenged he offered nothing as an alternative direction. When questions such as "What would you do instead?" came up the interviewer would get vague stuff like.."Well, I'll tell you what I wouldn't do" or "We need to work out a plan". To this day I've still no idea what George WOULD DO except continue to moan and lament the way many Irish people do.

Lastnight on RTE's Frontline program, Dr. Leo Varadker TD the Fine Gael Enterprise spokesman only reinforced my own opinion on George Lee as a Moany Mary rather than a doer. If we are to believe Dr. Varadker it seems that as soon as George came in to the Dail he was given the position of chairman of the FG economic policy committee. Apparently George didn't ever call one meeting of this committee and wasn't involved in having other people on that committee. He also did not write down any policy drafts as part of this role we are told.

George was given a golden boy endorsement by the electorate. Okay, he is entitled to resign and leave politics. But what I do object to is his attitude that it was somehow Fine Gael and the party political system which failed him. He would have more respect from me if he just put his hands up and admitted that he simply is not the type of person who can drive or lead policy. It's not a sin to try and fail.

I don't pretend to know George Lee very deeply except what I learn of him through the media. But he does remind me of a certain percentage of the scores of sales and technical people I've hired and fired in my business career over the last 30 years. I've had some people who are better talkers than achievers and blame others for anything that fails around them. Then I've had real winners who put their heads down and get their goals done in spite of challenges by working with people and getting around problems. George reminds me of the former more than the latter.

I'm not saying Fine Gael don't have some internal issues to resolve and I'm sure most parties could do things better internally. But in my opinion the problem with George Lee's resignation is at least 80% to do with George and his incompatible skills for the job.