But he was naïve
My individualist instincts often align me with the one who stands out from a group, as I did on Monday in reaction to George Lee’s resignation from the Dáil and from Fine Gael. In the same way my instinctive reaction was to support Roy Keane in Saipan.
But even admitting that after asking Lee to be a candidate, Fine Gael should have asked something more of him than to just serve publicity purposes, I think Lee was incredibly naïve to presume that he was being asked on the basis of his expertise alone. If he wanted a policy role, he should have asked for one before standing, and secured a promise of this nature. Seeing him this past week, it was clear that he was simply not a politician. Unlike others who came to politics late but managed to secure a role for themselves, he had no experience in the sausage-making. Take for example Tom Parlon, former President of the Irish Farmers’ Association, who was elected for the Progressive Democrats in 2002, and secured a position as Minster for State immediately. Or James Reilly, former President of the Irish Medical Organisation, who became Fine Gael Spokesperson on Health immediately on his election to the Dáil in 2007.
But surely George Lee must have observed something of this to know that everyone in politics has to fight their case for positions. I can still understand him stepping down, what puzzles me is what convinced him to stand in the first place.
EDIT (16/2/2010): A feature of blogging as a form of online journal is the way in which it tracks a change of mind. Rather than adding a new post at this stage, I just want to add that I really cannot understand what George Lee thought he was getting into. Perhaps he should have been put on the front bench, without portfolio, from the start. But he cannot claim that he was not given an opportunity to shape policy. He was made chair of the Parliamentary Party’s Economic and Business Affairs Committee. The Dáil had been sitting since September. He could have tried to steer the policy direction of the party on economic issues from there. If he had still found that the party responded to unelected policy wonks, he might have had reason to complain. But he did not call a single meeting of this committee, which the party’s chief economic spokesmen, Richard Bruton, Leo Varadkar, Simon Coveney and Kieran O’Donnell, would have had to attend.
I don’t know what he expected, and the fault lies on both sides for not discussing that before he was selected as a candidate. But much of his criticism as he outlined on Monday does not seem to stand up to scrutiny.