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

Daleks endorse David Milliband.

Posted by Jason O on Sep 17, 2010 in British Politics, Not quite serious.

The Dalek Empire has endorsed David Milliband for the leadership of the British Labour Party. A Dalek spokesperson said: “We were standing around shouting “exterminate” at each other for a few hours when one of us asked who we were endorsing. It’s not common knowledge but we are an affiliated part of New Labour, indeed John Reid poll tested the idea of deploying us into sink estates to deal with anti-social yobbos. Polled quite well, actually, except that some people thought we might add to the traffic congestion. Anyway, we are endorsing David Milliband. We quite like the idea of a creature bred in a political laboratory mouthing empty slogans continuously being in charge of everything. It works for us.”


How Fianna Fail won the 2011 election.

Posted by Jason O on Sep 16, 2010 in Fiction, Irish Politics, Not quite serious.

An Taoiseach, Brian Lenihan TD: Saved FF from wipeout.

An Taoiseach, Brian Lenihan TD: Saved FF from wipeout.

“Here in the RDS, as counting continues, it is becoming very clear that Fianna Fail have not suffered the meltdown that opinion polls over the last 12 months have been projecting. Fianna Fail look certain to pass the 61 seat mark, a loss of 16 seats which given the circumstances is a result I think many Fianna Failers will be quite happy with. Although Fine Gael have reached 59 seats, and are hyping it as their best result since 1982, the fact is that there is bitter disappointment in the party that they are not the largest party, something which many in Fine Gael had been taking as a done deal for the last two years. I’ve spoken to at least two Dublin Fine Gael deputies who have said that it was the so-called Enda Factor that failed to deliver extra seats in Dublin, and halt the rise of Eamonn Gilmore.

Labour’s 40 seats, their best result ever, has been arrived at by a solid if unspectacular performance outside Dublin, and a strong swing to Labour in Dublin and Cork at the cost of every other party, where the party has won two seats in five constituencies. The Greens and Sinn Fein will be returning to the Dail with possibly a single seat each, although both Martin Ferris and Paul Gogarty are still in the hunt for the last seats in their respective constituencies. 

Sources in Fianna Fail are expressing relief at the results, and Taoiseach Brian Lenihan is being hailed as the key figure in Fianna Fail’s fightback, following Brian Cowen’s resignation for health reasons last Christmas. In particular, the Taoiseach’s frank televised apology for the government’s failings, shortly after taking office, has been highlighted by pollsters as the moment that Fianna Fail began to recover. Fianna Fail’s decision not to contest last June’s presidential election, instead endorsing Labour nominee Fergus Finlay, stunned the political world, but saved the government party over 750,000 euro which Labour and Fine Gael had to spend fighting each other in the campaign. Finlay, although not seeking the FF nomination, refused to reject Fianna Fail votes, and was elected. But what really turned the campaign, according to polls, was the debate between the three party leaders, where Lenihan suggested that he intended to nominate some non-Fianna Fail people to his cabinet, and where polls say that the FG leader was vague and unconvincing about his own policies.

As results come in, the Taoiseach has conceded defeat and announced his resignation as Taoiseach. He intriguingly suggested that Fianna Fail should not rule out serving in a government led by Eamonn Gilmore, pointing out that he was willing to discuss any option which was for the good of the country, including serving under Gilmore. This has caused an angry reaction within Fine Gael, with one deputy claiming it would be unconstitutional for the government to be led by a smaller party, although we have yet to find a single lawyer who agrees. Sources within Labour have responded sharply to the comments by Fine Gael, pointing out that Fine Gael does not have a right to decide Labour’s course of action. They also compliemented the Taoiseach on his “gracious” decision to resign promptly.

Finally, one Fine Gael deputy has told me that if Enda Kenny is not Taoiseach by teatime on the day the new Dail convenes, he will, and I quote, be “on his arse” by supper. Back to the studio.”


The Titanic Syndrome.

Posted by Jason O on Sep 14, 2010 in Irish Politics

Watching “Freefall”, the documentary about the banking crisis and its effect on Ireland, it’s easy to find Bertie Ahern’s “None of dem smart fellas said nuttin” act wearing a bit thin. We paid him €400k a year plus a very tasty pension, and so he should have been asking. Having said that, there’s a nuggest of truth to his point that no one would have thanked him for cooling down the economy, and indeed, there would have been massive popular opposition. It’s easy to forget that the big issue at the time was not getting prices down or reducing demand, but how to increase supply.

If Captain Smith of the Titanic had turned his ship directly into the iceberg, and rammed it, he would almost certainly have saved it and all aboard. Yet he would have gone down in history as a nut who wrecked his own ship.

It is easy to pontificate now about why we let the banks lend so much money. But a government that had restricted access to ordinary aspiring homeowners, or attempted to reduce the massive job-creating and tax-generating engine that was the construction industry, would have gotten pretty short shrift from the Irish people.

As a people, we don’t do foresight. We do historical fingerpointing.   


National euphoria as gap between rich and poor ends with departure of last rich person.

Posted by Jason O on Sep 13, 2010 in Irish Politics, Not quite serious.

Assorted NGOs, trades unions and left-wing political leaders were celebrating last night as the last businessman left Ireland for the UK. “This is truly a special day for those of us who want to build an Ireland of equals.” Sebastian Fuxby-Bidlington, chair of People Before Everything, told the media.”There are no more millionaires in Ireland, which means that the gap between rich and poor has now narrowed to its closest since the 1970s.”

Sean Beard, head of ICTU, echoed the remarks.”The highest paid workers in the country are now public sector workers, working in the people’s businesses for the people.” Beard pledged that the public sector would now expand rapidly to absorb all the unemployed from the now non-existent private sector. When asked as to how the state would fund the additional cost, Beard pointed out that the profits from the public sector would “fill the state’s coffers to bursting”. When challenged as to how a public sector, with a very well paid workforce, could make a profit without passing on high prices to the public, Beard reassured the media that the point of having a state owned enterprise would be that it would sell its goods and services at “a fair price”, and that the state would subsidise the prices to the public to keep them “fair”.

Beard was then asked how the subsidy would be funded. “By taxing the rich.” He remarked curtly.

But weren’t the rich now the workers in the enterprise being subsidised? The government was going to increase taxes on state employees to fund the salaries of state employees?

The press conference broke up in acrimony, with Sebastian Fuxby-Bidlington condemning businessmen for not staying in Ireland to be taxed for trying to exploit the ordinary working people of Ireland by staying in Ireland.


President Carter was a visionary.

Posted by Jason O on Sep 11, 2010 in US Politics

Despite the fact that I’m on the centre-right politically, many of my political heroes are on the left. The Kennedys, FDR, Harry Truman, Pierre Trudeau, LBJ, and amongst those, one of my greatest heroes would be President Carter.

He’s been much maligned, and painted as a political failure, but I think that Jimmy Carter was a visionary who won office too early, and was doomed to inherit a presidential term (1977-1981) of which the key events (oil crisis, Iranian hostages and Soviet invasion of Afghanistan) would have destroyed whomever was in office.
His governorship of Georgia was one of healing the racial divide, and his winning of the 1976 election, coming from absolutely nowhere, was a stunning achievement which transformed American politics. In terms of his key issues he was right in his analysis. He was the first president to get serious about the need for liberals to adapt to the realities of the restraints on government spending, and he rightly predicted that the failure of the US to get to grips with its energy needs and reliance on foreign supply would cause it problems in the future, and this was before global warming. He was also the first president to get serious about human rights,  and people forget that the military buildup that eventually broke the Soviet Union actually began under President Carter, something the Republicans try to airbrush out of history.

It took the Democratic party a generation to realise the need to bring moderate separate church and state Christians (like Carter) on board, having surrendered the Christian vote to the hateful fire and brimstone crazies.

The truth is, the Democratic Party needs more candidates with the moderate. compassionate qualities of Jimmy Carter.



Posted by Jason O on Sep 10, 2010 in Movies/TV/DVDs

I’m looking forward to NBC’s new conspiracy drama, The Event, which premieres on Sept 20th in the US, and on Channel Four in October. Starring Blair Underwood as the US President, and one of my favourite character actors,  Zeljko Ivanek, as the head of the CIA (Go on, google them. You’ll go “Oh. Those guys!”) it looks like fun, although having watched the trailer you can’t helping thinking either aliens or vampires. Having said that, I’ll be weary to commit to watching the damn thing. Why? Because I’m sick of long running shows with either endings that don’t actually wrap up the story properly (Lost) or else get cancelled before they can finish the story (FlashForward/Dark Skies), which always leaves the danger that The Event could become The Disappointment. Surely it’s time that we pass a law that every TV show must have to film a 15 minute mini episode that wraps the plot loose ends if it is cancelled. Surely as loyal viewers we’re owed that. Now there’s something useful the European Parliament could be doing.

Peter Morgan’s The Special Relationship, starring Michael Sheen and telling the story of the friendship between Blair and Clinton, will be shown on the BBC on the 18th September.

Finally, I don’t normally watch Eastenders, but I did catch last night’s episode where a fire burnt down the Queen Vic. What I particularly enjoyed was how the residents of Albert Square attempted to douse the flames by shouting at them. Marvellous.


I was originally joking, but…

Posted by Jason O on Sep 9, 2010 in British Politics, European Union

A little while back, I made a quip on Facebook about how the Lib Dem left and Tory right could be brought around to the coalition if the parties agreed to referendums on PR and EU membership. I was taking the mick at the time, but I’m not so sure now.

The thing is, it is beginning to dawn on many Lib Dems that AV, even if the referendum is won, may actually do more harm to the party than first past the post, whereas PR would actually allow the party to lose votes and still get its fair share of seats.

The problem is, AV has been agreed to in the coalition programme, and surely the only people who can change that are the two parties. But supposing a group of Lib Dem and Tory MPs jointly wrote to their leaders calling for a referendum on PR (for the Lib Dems) and EU membership (for the eurosceptic Tories)? Something for both sides, and something that may actually create two referendums that the public may be enthused about. Both parties will take different sides, but there’s no harm in that. The key factor for both groups of backbenchers is that although they may disagree with the central propositions, both agree that it would be up to the British people to decide.

Cameron really would not like it, as he would have to come out on a Vote Yes to Stay platform, but so what? It resolves the issue.

What would be interesting will be how Labour would respond to an EU referendum?


John Gormley is in danger of becoming Jim Hacker.

Posted by Jason O on Sep 7, 2010 in Irish Politics

John Gormley has finally discovered the ultimate irony of sucessive governments neutering of local government with the carry-on over the Poolbeg incinerator. Just picture the scene: The minister for local government, responsible for appointing the city manager of Dublin, to enforce govt policy against the elected members of the city council, is now engaged in a legal battle with that self same city manager because he is trying to implement a policy against the wishes of the council for whom he has been given specific powers by the minister’s office to overrule.

In fairness, it’s not Gormley’s fault. Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour have all conspired to keep the status quo because A) They don’t trust their own councillors to make good decisions, and B) In a very Irish way, their own councillors oppose been given the powers because they then will be blamed for (the cheek!) using them. That’s not Gormley’s fault.

However, if the upcoming Dublin Mayor does not have the power to bend the county managers to his democratic will, that will be John Gormley’s fault, and he could find himself being humiliated by a newly elected Dublin Mayor demanding more powers, and JG finding himself in the surreal situation of defending the overcentralised political system he went into politics to change. Shades of minister Jim Hacker rejecting a petition started by a young MP named, eh, Jim Hacker?


“Meeting” Tony Blair.

Posted by Jason O on Sep 4, 2010 in British Politics

A few thoughts on meeting Tony Blair today, at his book signing. Firstly, it was a surreal experience in the speed and management. We were led through (with individual escorts) the most oddly obtuse pathway through Eason’s (up three floors), and seperated into individuals to an extent that it was almost like a 5 second private audience. Save for the enormous number (10?) of security (ERU commando style) personnel and assistants surrounding him. What was curious was how much healthier he looked in real life then on the telly. He was cheerful but perfunctory, which given the amount of bodies he was getting through (pardon the pun) was understandable.

As for the demonstrators outside: They included that group that opposes the Good Friday Agreement and condoned the Omagh bomb: Is there anyone Richard Boyd Barrett will not enter a Von Ribbentrop style pact with against his People’s Enemy du Jour? I also enjoyed being “shamed” by them, and really enjoy the far left/right telling me that I “should not want to read Blair’s book”. One always enjoys annoying the book burners.

Additional: Can’t say for certain, but it looked to me like there were far more people buying the book than protesting.


Did Glenn Beck strangle a male prostitute to death? No he didn’t. But let’s talk about it anyway.

Posted by Jason O on Sep 2, 2010 in US Politics

One of the more disturbing things I’ve come across recently is this poll figure from the US saying that 18% of people polled believe that  President Obama is a Muslim. What’s particularly worrying, indeed surreal, is that the number of people who believe that he is a Christian (which he is, although I can’t believe we actually have to discuss this stuff) has dropped from 48% to 34%. In other words, people who actually were aware of the truth have now swung over to believing the lie.

What is truly scary about this is the Goebbels-size lie that it is, that no matter how much light is thrown on this nonsense it continues to grow, against all rational thought. It is hard enough trying to convince people of real things in the world, but for the President of the United States to actually have to expend time, energy and effort dealing with this nonsense is quite extraordinary. The other aspect of this thing is what a media created story this is. If you ran a poll asking whether Glenn Beck had once strangled a male prostitute to death (which he hasn’t, by the way) you will get a small percentage who will say that he has. If you then report that story, that creates attention for the ludicrous proposition, which almost guarantees that the next poll will show an even higher number of people believe that Glenn Beck once strangled a male prostitute to death. Then people start googling as to whether Glenn Beck strangled a male prostitute to death. Go on, do it now. Which now means that there is a media story that says that a growing number of people believe that Glenn Beck strangled a male prostitute to death, even though he didn’t, and the proposition is outrageous. This is how this crap gets traction. 

The one hope is the argument made by some pollsters that many voters tend to make an emotional call about a candidate, and then look for a rational reason to justify that belief. The fact is, the sort of people who believe that the President is Muslim regardless of the facts are people who will probably never vote for the guy even if he personally put a bullet ino the back of Osama Bin Laden’s head.  

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