STATE of the Nation address: A Missed Message.

The state of the nation address by the leader of the present government, Enda Kenny TD left many feeling anger and all the other emotions that people have tweeted and blogged over the last number of days.

It was viewed as a softening the impending budget austerity speeches to be given by Michael Noonan minster for finance.  This was not the intention.  The intention was to address the nation and spell out the state of the nation as it presently operates.  Unfortunately, it proved to be little of any comfort to the people, given they already know quite well how we are “fixed”.


Given there hasn’t been a state of the nation address by a government leader in approximately 25 years, there was distinct remembrance to the last one.  Then we were told by Charles J.Haughey that we “…must tighten our belts…” and that “…we are living way beyond our means…”  Maybe we should have re-run that entire broadcast as it mimicked much of sentiment that was pronounced by Enda Kenny.  The only difference was that this was against the backdrop of a global crisis unseen for decades and the obvious one that it was a Fine Gael leader and not the Finna Fail one.


Historically when we hear of state of the nation address we believe that it will be something that not only captures the mood of the time but importantly offers “it’s nation HOPE”.  President Obama orates to the USA with eloquence and with firm belief in the cause, a cause of a nation together.  Indeed his speeches invigorate millions to act in positive ways.  It eludes hope and the belief that they as a nation will overcome.  Objectively, he reads a state of the nation address every year in the upper houses of the senate, i.e. to the political parties which passes off without much bravado.  However, when he broadcasts to the nation “live” people take notice.

One of the most infamous speeches was delivered by Martin Lurther King know as the “I have a dream” speech.  This captured the world and has thee most downloaded speech in History of the net.  It has been printed in every language and can be bought in every country in the world, I even have a copy of it.  What makes the speech so significant?  It reverberated across the peoples continuousness.  He spoke eloquently and with integrity about the things the political leaders didn’t want to hear.  He spoke truths that were hard to comprehend and crossed people’s beliefs systems in terms of race, gender and national pride.


What Obama and King did not do, was to speak condescendingly to the people.  Commentary by the people on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and other social mediums, inclusive of the tabloids, have all but laid this notion on Enda Kenneys speech.  When saying to people that the current crisis “…is not you’re fault…” he did exactly that.  The vast majority of the people were incensed by this as WE KNOW WE DIDN’T CAUSE THIS PROBLEM.  The speech has derided by many and made fun of in many quarters.  Regardless of autocue cameras and hours of carefully written speeches by personal aids and public relation gurus, it didn’t warrant any credible applause.  Did it warrant the people to make fun of it?  Again given the lack of perceived sincerity and understanding for the how people felt, then maybe.


Often we hear ‘the devil is in the detail’.  The detail of this speech was, well, rather non descript.  It lacked any clarity of how we can change and improve our country.  It offered no hope that we as a nation will survive.  Its did not resonate with the ‘ordinary’ voters.  It did make cross channel news reports on BBC and ITN.  Their political correspondence were left somewhat in a flap when asked to comment on it.  Why? Probably as the content did not meet any criteria of a progressive speech.  I don’t believe that it will go down as speech that enthused the people, nor do I believe that it has damaged beyond repair Enda Kennys reputation.


What I am more disappointed about is the lack of a coherent message.  A missed message that could have at least tugged on our common sense and ensured that the people watching felt, yes he’s right.  The public relations stunt had no impact whatsoever.  Harsh words maybe, but this is all it can be viewed as.  The lack of a positive message, coherent focus, and constructive plan makes this speech non-descript in anyone’s book.  I don’t believe that the students of today will be rushing to their libraries to plagiarise or quote this in any thesis or any work of note.  It will sit like so much of Irish political policy, on a dusty shelf.


A message missed in that, we were misguidedly hoping that he would shine a light for the end of the tunnel.  Act as a beacon by which we could or might follow.  Deliver the basic concepts of “we shall once again as a nation prosper”.  NO.  We got ‘…it’s not your fault’.  Jobs, jobs, jobs, yet for many we couldn’t decipher were these jobs are coming from. Could you?  Cuts in former leaders pay.  Big deal, as this didn’t warm the cockles of my heart to know they would be deducted a mobile phone allowance.  Maybe they will get a pay as you go now.  Yes that’s how ridiculous this speech was.  As I watched it with some expectation (albeit little expectation) we couldn’t but help turning away.  We glanced back briefly in the hope that he may something of substance, but to no avail.  Afterwards we stuck on the kettle and someone said we missed some programme on another channel.  The youth watching it as well, calmly played on their laptops and smirked at us watching what they called ‘rubbish’.  Yes, this speech will not ignite the young intelligent people to look at politics in another way other than to spit at it with the contempt that this may rightly deserve.