Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics

A question for my readers.

Posted by Jason O on Jun 19, 2010 in Just stuff

Every few days, I don’t post anything, usually at weekends, because I have been advised by some readers that I actually post more material faster then they can read (not everyone visits everyday, which I can understand)  and it creates a long backlog that they just have not got time to read. If I post a particularly long post, I tend to leave it alone for a day or two. Any thoughts?


Euroscepticism at its saddest.

Posted by Jason O on Jun 18, 2010 in British Politics, European Union

This from Tory website ConservativeHome. I don’t want to use the word pathetic, because I don’t mean to offend either the writer or the site, both of which I usually enjoy, but Jesus, it’s pretty sad to regard something like this as a victory. The fact that they even noticed this, which I, as a pro-European, wouldn’t have, is really just…I don’t know. You’d almost want to give them a hug and reassure them that it’s all going to be ok.


Fine Gael reveals itself.

Posted by Jason O on Jun 18, 2010 in Irish Politics

Of all the people, this is the man equal to Angela Merkel and David Cameron, say FG.

Of all the people, this is the man equal to Angela Merkel and David Cameron, say FG.

We’ve learnt a lot about Fine Gael. Fine Gael have decided that he has the mettle and the intellect to negotiate one-on-one with Europe’s other leaders. They have decided that in this time of crisis, as the country faces its greatest challenges, Enda Kenny is the very best that Fine Gael has to offer. Enda Kenny will be the man to take the place of Eamonn De Valera, Sean Lemass, Garrett Fitzgerald and John Bruton, or as he can rightly call them, his peers. Of all the 4.2m people in the country, Fine Gael has decided that Enda Kenny is the man to lead our €150 billion economy out of the storm. Enda Kenny is the man to sit in the European Council and match the rest of Europe both intellectually and strategically. Enda Kenny, say FG, is the only person suitable to be Taoiseach.

We have learnt a lot about Fine Gael.


A Book worth reading: Prime Minister Portillo and Other Things That Never Happened.

Posted by Jason O on Jun 17, 2010 in Books

pm-portilloA favourite genre of mine, this. Alternative or counterfactual history, and this book is a treat.

All short pieces outlining speculative theories from Halifax becoming PM in 1940 instead of Churchill, to JFK surviving, to John Smith living, to Portillo winning the Tory leadership in 1997. 

It’s also a fun book, summed up by one quote in it.

Chairman Mao was asked what he thought would have happened if Khruschev had been assasinated instead of Kennedy in 1963. He replied: “Well, I’ll tell you one thing. Aristotle Onassis wouldn’t have married Mrs Khruschev.”

A great gift for the politics junkie. 



So you say you want change. But really, do you?

Posted by Jason O on Jun 16, 2010 in Irish Politics

The Irish constantly say that they want change. Normally for parking meters. They also occasionally say that they want political change. But what is political change, and how do you measure how much change do you want?
Question 1: Do you want change?
Yes, I do: Continue to Q2.
No thanks, this is fine: Vote for the Fianna Fail candidates, and then do not express any more preferences. That will help elect only FF candidates who will, presumably, give you more of the same stuff they’ve been giving us for the last 13 years.
Question 2: So you say you want change. Great. What sort of change? Things stay pretty much the way they are but with different faces (A1), or fundamental changes in the way we run our society? (A2)
A1: Same stuff, new faces. Vote for Fine Gael. They’ll tinker around with a few things, and change a few minor percentages, but it’ll be basically the same.
A2: Ah, you want to actually change stuff as well? Well, this is where it gets interesting, because in Ireland, if you want to change more than just the faces around the cabinet, you have to vote for a left wing party. But I don’t want to, you cry! Sorry, but since the demise of the Progressive Democrats, the only reforming parties are on the left. The question is now how far do you want to go. Here’s your menu of choices:
The Labour Party: Believes that business is a grubby affair, and that businesspeople should be tolerated the way we tolerate spiders to eat flies. Will talk a lot about change, and do a lot of the inexpensive stuff like gay rights, but will bottle out of the really radical economic stuff, because they won’t have the guts to tell people that someone has to actually pay for all the cool stuff like childcare.
Sinn Fein: Since entering govt in the North, SF have slipped away from being hard-line socialists to just spending other people’s money as long as we don’t have to empower the Revenue to collect it. Again, will do a lot of the symbolic stuff like letting Northerners sit in the Dail, start holding United Ireland “Forums” and will start making people who don’t speak Irish feel a bit less Irish than they should. Will punish legitimate businessmen for being in business through higher taxes. Will not accept that there are any illegitimate “import-export” businesses operating in the country, especially not in the border area.
Richard Boyd Barrett/Joe Higgins.
The 100% proof of change. If you want an unarmed revolution, these are your guys. They will kick the crap out of businessmen, reverse the cutbacks, and tax the bejesus out of the rich.
If you want to live in a country that has been expelled from the EU, can’t borrow the price of a cup of cold tea from the bond markets, and no multinational wants to invest in, these are your guys. Want a country where no one will wish to start a small business and employ anyone, because these guys regard you as being inherently exploitative, this is where its at. They will ensure that every remaining business puts its workers interests first, and so runs them like CIE or Iarnrod Eireann or the passport office. 
It will be a magical socialist regime, a thrill to watch. If you have time, that is, as you serve people their quarter pounder and cheese in a Welsh McDonalds.  


Books worth reading: Reagan’s Revolution.

Posted by Jason O on Jun 16, 2010 in Books, US Politics

reagan-revolutionThis side of the Atlantic never “got” Ronald Reagan. We thought he was a bit dim, full of cloying cliches and “aw, shucks” answers and we could never understand how he managed to get elected, and in landslides too. “Reagan’s Revolution” by Craig Shirley gives a pretty clear picture as to why the man absolutely turned modern American politics on its head by challenging for the Republican nomination in 1976.

What we in Europe don’t understand is that after Barry Goldwater’s clobbering by LBJ in 1964, conservative was a dirty word in American politics. The Republican Party had a solid liberal wing, led by New York governor Nelson Rockefeller, which pretty much dominated the party leadership until Reagan challenged, and narrowly lost against President Ford for the nomination. The book tells, in very expansive detail, the story of how Reagan, an unrivalled political communicator until the arrival of Bill Clinton in 1992, went over the heads of the party seniors and appealed to the conservative grassroots of the GOP, transforming the party as he went, and very nearly denying a sitting president his party’s nomination.

This, given the detail, is a book for the anoraks, and the author doesn’t hide his pro-Reagan feelings, although they don’t affect the telling of the story. But it is fascinating in telling the pretty untold story of how Reagan began a journey which resulted in a shift to the right in American politics which exists to this day. It is also a telling tale of what happens when a party leadership ignores its base.    


Irish Politics: Sometimes it is so hard to give a damn.

Posted by Jason O on Jun 15, 2010 in Irish Politics

ballot-boxI was thinking that I should be writing something about the Bruton/Kenny thing, until it struck me that I just don’t really care that much. Yes, Richard Bruton is better suited to be Taoiseach et al, but…well, here it is:

I’ve just spent a weekend with friends of mine from the Liberal Democrats. We discussed European unity, whether nuclear weapons were needed in the 21st century, climate change, the rise of China, how a modern democracy works, and the role of religion in a liberal democracy.

I was also in Concorde and surprised by how small a Polaris nuclear missile actually is. I visited the Imperial War Museum’s Air Annex in Duxford, by the way. Just in case you’re thinking “Wow! The Lib Dems are much better resourced than I had thought!” Well worth a visit. 

Anyway, I then returned to Ireland and Irish politics and the who is up and who is down and it’s all their fault and not a fresh f**king idea for miles in any direction. The almost complete opposite of what is happening in British politics at the moment. The strangest thing is that I have never in my life encountered a time in Ireland where people were more interested in politics, yet our political system is incapable of responding to that, instead tied up in moronic timewasting events like 19th century votes of no confidence where we already know the result before the vote is even called.

People are paying good money to go to Naoise Nunn’s political cabaret “Leviathan”, or to see David McWilliams in the Abbey. People are buying books about how we got here. Yet our politicians exist in a parallel politics where actual political ideas are toxic things to be avoided at all cost. Even a general election now would involve our leaders trying to avoid saying anything incendiary, making vague promises that will ultimately disappoint. I know young candidates currently getting ready to run, making sure that their leaflets say nothing that could make people think they have a strong opinion about anything that someone might disagree with. It’s like opening a shop and only selling water flavoured icepops, because some people might not like vanilla or strawberry.

Of course we should give a damn. People gave their lives in the GPO and on Omaha beach for the right to participate and run our own affairs. But there are times when it is so, so hard.


The Guilt of The Economist Reader.

Posted by Jason O on Jun 14, 2010 in Just stuff

The Economist: They're writing faster than I can read.
The Economist: They’re writing faster than I can read.

I’ve decided not to renew my Economist subscription. Nothing to do with the quality of the magazine (which insists upon calling itself a newspaper, by the way) but because I have, like many Economist readers, a pile of unread Economists sitting on my desk making me feel guilty that I don’t know enough about why Indonesia is at a crossroads or know who is ahead in the Columbian presidential election. I find myself putting them in my car, in my bathroom, in my carrier bag, using it as gift wrapping paper (I’m not joking here. It actually looks quite well) and desperately trying to get through them, scanning them like a maniac and then feeling even more guilty because I didn’t take in that article on how scientists can now write the complete works of  John Grisham in an ant’s pocket.

On top of all that, my book stockpile is getting even bigger because I’m not reading them because I’m trying to get through the Economist. And yet, I really enjoy reading it, even though I don’t read most of the business or science bits. It’s a good magazine. So here’s the plan: Cancel the subscription, wear down the stockpile, buy it as I want to read it from the shops (at least I’ll be actually reading it up to date) and hopefully it’ll all work out and I’ll know who won the North Dakota Senate race.


It’s only a poll.

Posted by Jason O on Jun 11, 2010 in Irish Politics

Reading some of the online hysteria about this morning’s Irish Times poll, there are a few points that I feel are worth considering:

1. It’s a single poll. Let’s not go mad, cracking each other’s skulls open and feeding on the delicious goo inside. If there are two or three polls showing Labour ahead, then we are in a game changing situation, but only then. Having said that, a poll like this can be very useful for Labour for helping build up that head of steam, in the same way in a byelection anti-govt votes start to coalesce around the strongest anti-govt candidate, in this case Eamonn Gilmore. Another poll like this and even sceptics like me have to start considering the Gilmore for Taoiseach concept. But do Labour have the infrastructure to deliver, or will they just pile up double and triple quotas in Dublin?

2. If there is a pattern, it’s for Fine Gael, in that it seems to confirm what many of us suspect: That FG’s rise in the polls is almost entirely to do with factors that have little to do with FG. Is it possible that FG’s lack of bottle to deal with the Enda issue is actually beginning to affect their standing?

3. Be weary of listening to this fella.  


Simple promises worth keeping.

Posted by Jason O on Jun 10, 2010 in Irish Politics, Not quite serious.

vote-badgeI, Gavin Goodteeth, if elected to Dail Eireann, promise the following simple and achievable pledges:

1. I will put on my website receipts for anything I claim in expenses.

2. I will, each week, take one registered voter I have never met before to lunch in the Dail. For all my failings, at least a couple of hundred of you will get a decent dinner out of it.

3. I will, once a week, praise one of my political opponents ideas or proposals. We’ve had enough of yah-boo politics, and no side has a monopoly on good ideas.

4. I will maintain a daily blog that I will write myself, and will not just be an online calendar nor a collection of clichés. Unusually for an Irish politician, I actually believe in things.

5. I will not require the government to keep open a teaching job for me whilst I serve in the Dail.

6. I will take my Dail pension at the same age as those entitled to the state pension get theirs.

All these pledges are, unlike most political promises, actually deliverable. I hope you’ll give me an opportunity to prove that.

Gavin Goodteeth,

Candidate, Dublin East.


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