Among the strange cultists of the Sunday Independent, John Drennan was noteworthy only in the sense of resembling Milos Zeman (in terms of health, physique and intellect) after a two-year long pub-crawl, a truck full of woodbines and a stressful fifth divorce. Within the weirdly insular world of the Sindo, a closed system where everyone who writes for it has convinced themselves that they’re geniuses by (1) constantly saying so and (2) using high circulation figures as a thick, fortified shield against the vagaries of reality, it is entirely possible to never be right about anything and also consider yourself to be the greatest political commentator / restaurant-reviewer / literary critic / fashion correspondent in human history.
Of course, since most of the Sindo commentators see no reason to ever leave the compound, they can pretty much avoid the experience of hubris indefinitely. Not so John Drennan, who ill-avisedly entered the real world, with predictable consequences. This decision also led to the creation of the world’s most amazing Amazon product page.
This is the story of that Amazon product page, a thing of beauty that will, like Milos Zeman, outlive Drennan himself.
To set the scene, about three years ago the Sunday Independent hive-mind decided that what the country really needed was a new right-wing party, a sort of PDs Mark II. The fact that there was absolutely no evidence for this whatsoever was no problem for the hive-mind, who decided that they would find this constituency of opinion by simply reporting its existence until life imitated art. This was a bold strategy and the hive-mind saw its messiah in the form of Lucinda Creighton, an up-and-coming blueshirt who broke the Fine Gael whip because of her passionate advocacy of bringing the full weight of the carceral state onto the heads of any woman who didn’t want to bring their pregnancy to term. Supported by innumerable Sindo puff-pieces, Creighton was pushed forward as the redeeming angel of the Irish right, and soon began work on a new party. The project attracted the worst people in Ireland, including snake-oil property charlatan Eddie Hobbs, various oddball Falangists and, of course, John Drennan, who became their Director of Communications and Political Strategy, a sort of low-budget Joseph Napolitan.
Unsurprisingly, Renua was a car-crash, pretty much imploding on launch as the more respectable right-wing independent TDs stayed well away, leaving Creighton and a handful of anti-abortion backbenchers whose political and media skills were . . . unsophisticated. Moreover, it was unclear what political space the party was supposed to inhabit, given the overpopulation of the Irish right. Renua failed to attract any significant support, aside from one prominent celebrity. In the end, the project was a complete failure; the Sindo, having spent months hyping it up, ditched Renua almost immediately. Having hoped to run a candidate in at least each Dáil constituency, the party limped into the 2016 general election with just 26 candidates and a set of policies (a three-strike law, a flat-tax) nicked from the US Freedom Caucus that were well to the right of Ireland’s Overton Window. The result was the loss of all their TDs and the gradual abandonment of the party which, despite having no prospect of ever winning a seat anywhere, inexplicably soldiers on.
It was in the heady period between the launch of Renua and the electoral implosion of Renua the that Drennan decided to write a book, which bore the title: The Great Betrayal: How the Government with the Largest Majority in the History of the Irish State Lost its People.
Obviously I didn’t read this book, nor did anyone else including (most likely) Drennan’s editor or immediate family. The timing of its release, just before Drennan left the Sindo to become Renua’s spin-doctor, suggests that it was meant to act as a self-serving attention-drawer to highlight Drennan’s political acumen and vision; a sort of The Audacity of Dopes. This leads us nicely to the Great Gatsby of Amazon Product Pages.
The following fact must be borne in mind at all times throughout examining the product page: John Drennan, as Chief Strategist for Renua, bears a large chunk of the responsibility for the biggest political farce in recent Irish history, a total, unmitigated car crash which should have ended the careers of everyone involved.
The first thing to note is the super-lengthy title which seems to echo high-status works like The Spirit Level or The Better Angels of Our Nature. The difference is that this is a soggy pile of nothing written by a public house patron-botherer. How did the publisher attempt to push this bilge? (I obviously haven’t read it, but I can categorically state that it is awful).
From penalty points to water charges, funding cuts to tax hikes, The Great Betrayal is a cutting assessment of the upheavals, egos and scraps that shaped the 31st Dáil by Ireland’s most sagacious political pundit-turned-political operator
Yes, that’s the blurb. That’s how the book describes John Drennan, Renua’s Chief Spindoctor.
Written with the unique insight of one of the most original observers of Irish politics, The Great Betrayal provides an entertaining and enlightening narrative of a government that, in the eyes of many, betrayed the hopes of the Irish electorate for a democratic revolution, almost immediately after being elected with a thumping majority.
Blurb: Please stop saying nice things about John Drennan, it’s not going to end well for you.
The Great Betrayal is required reading for anyone wondering how it all went wrong and where we might go from here.
It definitely isn’t.
Again, I obviously haven’t read this book. Luckily, at least one other person may have. So I leave you with the words of the product’s sole (1 star) reviewer, whose eloquence far exceeds my own.
how the hell this book turned up on my kindle its about the I r a and I m welsh I have even been charged for it !!! now its gone from my library anyone else had this problem