Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics
 
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An Occasional Guide to Irish Politics: The Left Wing Nutjob.

Posted by Jason O on Feb 23, 2011 in Irish Politics, Not quite serious.

Slogans not stuff!

Slogans not stuff!

Everything! Is written! With exclamation marks! His answer, and it’s nearly always a he, is that “the people” should take to the streets! That seems to be the answer to everything, as if the people standing on Molesworth Street can have a moral effect on drink driving rates. He’s big into the working class standing up for themselves, but don’t for the love of Marx, try to get him to define the working class, because you’ll make his nose (And possibly brain.)  bleed. Apparently a taxi driver isn’t, if he’s self employed, unless he comes from Jobstown, but a junior doctor is, unless he comes from Blackrock, or he studies hard and becomes a consultant, whereas he is then no longer working class, but if he opposes health cuts, then he is working class again. You think there’s be some sort of wallchart available, given out with the Socialist Worker. Maybe you could collect and swap stickers: ” I’ve two hardworking working class bin men, so I’ll swap you one for a fascist Anglo Irish plutocrat.”  

His greatest contempt is reserved not for those on the right, but his fellow travellers on the left. He’s much happier picketing the Labour Party than Fianna Fail, or denouncing the People’s Left Party for splitting from the Left People’s Party (Insert appropriate Life of Brian sketch here.) and given a choice between patiently implementing a policy that might reduce hardship on someone, or denouncing everyone else for not implementing a socialist republic immediately, he’ll happily go with the latter.  

It would be wonderful if we could cede a county or two to him to run, and put his socialist plans to the test, as we all look on, eating cornettos and nudging each other. Maybe Leitrim, where he could tax the rich and spend to his hearts content. Until the rich left, and the money ran out, and, of course, he doesn’t do cutbacks, so…how long would it be before he announces that the rich do not have a right to leave, and what is needed is some sort of wall…   

 
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An Occasional Guide to Irish Politics: The West Brit Nutjob.

Posted by Jason O on Feb 23, 2011 in Irish Politics, Not quite serious.

The truth is, images of the young Margaret Thatcher stirs something in his boxers.
The truth is, images of the young Margaret Thatcher stirs something in his boxers.

” We must join NATO immediately!” He declares, normally at a Fine Gael meeting, although its not his first political venue of choice. He had joined the PDs, and been aghast to discover that it was not, as he had expected, been the Donnybrook branch of the Tory party. Curiously, despite his odd accent, he’s no British ties at all, but instead fomed his opinions in school as a result of severe beatings from the local GAA heads who turned his head against all things deemed culturally Irish.

He reads British newspapers, and is far more interested in British politics than parochial Irish nonsense, and would be quite happy if we were to rejoin the UK, our “Natural home”. Somehow, he’s managed to get himself onto various British cultural mailing lists, to the extent that he gets invited to dos at the British Embassy, after which the ambassador, having spent twenty minutes listening to his gushing views on Britain, asks the resident MI5 spook to start running psychological profiles on all future guests, as he’s fed up talking to “mentalists”.

He’s no time for the EU, which upsets his tidy little plan, and spends a lot of time on British political websites ranting against the evils of Brussels and the Euro. He tends to be lauded on such sites, as proof that “Even the Irish can see what’s going on here!”

Then his mum makes him come down, have his tea, and finish his homework. 

 
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Candidates I hope win.

Posted by Jason O on Feb 23, 2011 in Election 2011, Irish Politics

First, my friend Averil Power. She’s in the wrong party, but she’s the real deal in terms of being someone who is in politics to do good. Incidentally, and I’m writing this in a personal capacity because I’m livid about it (and I suspect Averil will be mortified if she reads this, but it has to be said), she’s also been subject to a vicious campaign of abuse and moronic conspiracy theories from the usual gutless anonymous web warriors on account of whom she happened to fall in love with. I suspect that the great majority of them will never have a relationship vaguely close to what she and Fionnan have. But then, that’s hardly surprising, as I suspect that the closest most of them have come to romance involves a computer, one hand and their trousers around their ankles. Anyway, a Fianna Fail made up of people like her and Barry Andrews would be a Fianna Fail possibly worth keeping.

John McGuirk, in Cavan-Monaghan, is a political bruiser and to the right of me. But he’s serious about his politics and its power to change society, and an opinion worth having in the Dail, if only to shout at when he comes on the telly. Ditto Joe Higgins. This will probably be the only time both are mentioned in the same paragraph anywhere.

All the Green TDs. I’ve a post later today explaining why, but suffice to say, Irish politics will not be well served by their absence, in the same way the absence of the Progressive Democrats is denying voters a particular choice.

Ruairi Quinn, the voice of moderate reason in Labour and one of the only Labour people who does not look at people in business like he’s reaching for a wooden stake and a crucifix.

Victor Boyhan, the last PD, running in Dun Laoghaire, and one of the most decent people you will ever meet in politics.

Stephen Donnelly, running in Wicklow as an independent, and endorsed by people close to me whose opinions I trust greatly.

Finally, and I’m not endorsing him (not that he’d welcome an endorsement from the likes of me anyway!) Eoin O’Broin of Sinn Fein is a thoughtful guy, has a sense of humour and the ridiculous (very important for a politician)  and another fella worth having in the Dail if only to shout at.

It takes balls to put your name in front of the people. Good luck to them all on Friday.

 
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Fine Gael’s Social Agenda.

Posted by Jason O on Feb 22, 2011 in Election 2011, Irish Politics

Given Lucinda Creighton’s recent remarks on Twitter here, I thought I’d repost this post from last week. It seemed relevant.

It’s funny the way an issue bubbles up to the top of the political surface. Over the last two days, polls showing Fine Gael heading for a possible overall majority have suddenly had all sorts of people sitting up and pondering what that means. What’s particularly interesting are the numbers of people raising Fine Gael’s social values. This particular article has been sent to me by a number of different people, for example. Now, let me be clear about something before I continue: Leo Varadkar’s position is perfectly defensible from a moral and political standpoint. It is not, by Irish standards, a radical or extremist view. In addition, Leo should be congratulated for actually being willing to voice an opinion on a controversial subject, and for actually having a coherent set of ideological values by which to steer his political decisions. But what is worrying is the fact that this will be the first time in modern Irish politics that we may elect a government with prominent members who actually have a clear conservative social agenda.

Does this matter? Yes it does. If one considers gay rights, for example, will Leo and others with a conservative social agenda push for the appointment of conservative judges? Will the new Fine Gael government actively oppose moves on same-sex marriage, or refuse to broaden civil partnership rights, or maybe even reverse them? I don’t know the answer to these questions, and that surely means that they are worth asking in a campaign. What I do know is that having a government which has prominent members actively in favour of a conservative social agenda would be a major new departure in Irish politics. Sure, Fianna Fail were not enthused about same-sex marriage, but they weren’t ideologically committed to stopping it either. Could we see a situation where a socially conservative Fine Gael could be faced by a new Fianna Fail that, whilst not being socially liberal, could permit its TDs to vote their own conscience on matters like this? Will this allow Fianna Fail to finally adopt Des O’Malley’s Standing by the Republic values?

We have never had a Fine Gael government not tempered by Labour’s social liberalism before. It’s hyperbole to equate Fine Gael with Sarah Palin or George Bush, but not with, say, John Howard’s government in Australia, which actively opposed gay rights. If that’s what we are about to get, we need to wake up to it. 

 
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Interesting TV: Washington Behind Closed Doors.

Posted by Jason O on Feb 22, 2011 in Movies/TV/DVDs

Before there was The West Wing, there was Washington: Behind Closed Doors. The 1977 six hour mini-series is a not very subtle dramatisation of Watergate under the presidency of Richard Monckton (Jason Robards), and boasts a panopoly of the big TV stars of the day including Robert Vaughn, Cliff Robertson, Stefanie Powers (before Hart to Hart) and a scene stealing Andy Griffith (who would later go on to play Matlock) as LBJ mirror image Esker Scott Anderson (“Hey, hey, ESA, how many kids you kill today?”). Curiously never released on DVD, it is available to see in full on Youtube, and whilst very melodramatic,  soapy and clunky by modern televison standards, quite enjoyable for the performances. One thing that really stands out are the “modern” spin techniques, thought ground breaking at the time, used in the fictional Monckton campaign, which we now take for granted.

Incidentally, it’s based on a novel, The Company, written by John Ehrlichman. Yes, that John Ehrlichman. Worth a look. 

  

 
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Election 2011 Notes.

Posted by Jason O on Feb 21, 2011 in Election 2011, Irish Politics

As we enter the last three days of on-air campaigning, a few observations:

The Greens: Watching the Greens launch their Oil Free policy yesterday, one can’t help wondering at times how insular they can be as a party. Yes, it’s an important policy, but do they really believe that’s the issue they want to use what little media attention they get on? Do they really believe that’s what might save a few final seats? Really?

Labour: If someone had told me two months ago that the party headquarters with the greatest feeling of dread as polling day approached would not be Fianna Fail but Labour, I’d have thought they were mad. Yet there must be Labour people going into the toilet to puke with every new poll. And sitting Labour TDs suddenly looking at the running mates they were going to elect with their huge surpluses and getting nervous. Have I started seeing more Eamon Gilmore posters suddenly appearing in Blackrock?

Fine Gael: If Labour are puking, you can just imagine how giddy they are in Blue Central. People forget, but Fine Gael just never win anything, so this is such a novelty for them. Bet there’s a run on the morning after pill on Sunday and Monday morning. It’s really quite amazing how randy electoral success coupled with the pressure cooker of an election campaign can make people. People you’d never dream of end up in bed together. Of course, I was a PD, so what would I know?  

 
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Beware the Fianna Fail Cockroaches!

Posted by Jason O on Feb 20, 2011 in Irish Politics

When I read this, I thought I’d repost this:

Many years ago, a wise and respected member of the Labour Party once shared with me his theory that Fianna Fail could not survive two terms in opposition. He came to this conclusion because he felt that FF had so many members who were not attracted to the party for ideolgical or even historical reasons but because it was where the power was, and once FF could not deliver power over a long period, those people would eventually scuttle elsewhere, most likely into Fine Gael, cash in hand, desperately trying to buy their way into the affections of their new masters.

Fine Gael have to be very careful about this, because it will be very easy for a new deputy, flush from victory, to find himself surrounded with ex-FF Latchycos (One of the great Irish words) offering to buy National Draw tickets, etc, and suddenly FG is infested (and that is the right word) with the bastards. And as Jack Lynch, Des O’Malley, George Colley and Bobby Molloy discovered, once they’re in, they’ll overrun the place.

Curiously, the lack of power will suddenly leave FF as the clean party. Who’d a thunk it? 

 
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An Occasional Guide to Irish Politics: The Voter in denial.

Posted by Jason O on Feb 20, 2011 in Election 2011, Irish Politics

Denial: Not just a river. The funny thing is that he is, as a rule, deeply cynical about politics and politicians. He doesn’t normally believe any of them. But when Gerry Adams or Richard Boyd Barrett or Joe Higgins promise him on the telly that a vote for them means the reversal of cutbacks and a painless future for all, his ears prick up. That’s what he wants! Along with his promised public sector pay increase and his pension contribution restored and above all, someone else picking up the tab. They are saying exactly what he wants! It’s incredible.

When his brother-in-law challenges him as to why the other parties would not just implement those policies if the solution were that easy, his brain shuts down but his Adams/RBB/Strasbourg Joe fuelled gut kicks in: Because they are bastards who hate people like him. Cowen, Martin, Kenny, Gilmore, the EU, the IMF, the bond markets, An Bord Iascaigh Mhara, they all meet to plan how to actually hurt people like him. They actually laugh, in between lobster stuffed with pheasant stuffed with foie gras, as they cut his pay.

The answers are so simple: We have gazillions in oil and gas and fish just sitting off the coast waiting to be tapped, and the rich will sit quietly and pay for everything if we just had the bottle to order them to.

Everything is someone else’s fault, and they should pay. 

 
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God, I’d love to see Richard Boyd Barrett run someone else’s country!

Posted by Jason O on Feb 19, 2011 in Election 2011, Irish Politics

Richard Boyd Barrett: Ireland's Hugo Chavez?

Richard Boyd Barrett: Ireland's Hugo Chavez?

Yesterday, I got what was by far the most exciting election leaflet of the campaign, from my local United Left Alliance Socialist Workers Party People Before Profit Save Our Seafront Irish Anti-War Movement Save The Baths candidate Richard Boyd Barrett. It is truly a work of beauty.

Over four pages, it seems, by my reading, to pledge a reversal of every single cutback, and then to meet the demands of every single pressure group for extra spending. It promises free houses to anyone who wants them (from NAMA) and that essentially people can stop paying their mortgages as RBB in government will prevent all repossessions. It pledges to nationalise all our national resources, which presumably means that the taxpayer will pay for the drilling and refining, and reap the profits or carry the losses accordingly. In other words, RBB’s government will run our natural resources with the same effectiveness that the Irish state runs, say, Iarnrod Eireann or Dublin Bus.

In fairness, it also outlines how it will pay for everything. RBB will end the bank bailout, and create a “public banking system”. I don’t know what that means for people with savings in the banks, but I assume RBB would guarantee them. He’d impose a 5% wealth levy on the super-wealthy (not defined) whom, he says, have assets of €122 billion. So that’s €6 billion right there. He will tax people earning over €300k, of whom he says there are 37,000.

It’s heady stuff, and would be fascinating to watch. There’s no doubt, RBB as Taoiseach would be the most radical leader we had ever had, and would transform the country. But the flaw that troubles me is that the vast sums of money needed would all have to be sourced from internal taxation (as we would have told the bond markets, presumably, to f**k off) and RBB assumes that wealth creators would sit around, year after year, as he milked them.

RBB is an idealist, but he doesn’t see to know much about human nature. Still, people can’t claim that there is no choice in this election.

 
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Election 2011: Review of the Week.

Posted by Jason O on Feb 18, 2011 in Election 2011, Irish Politics

The state of the parties as we head into the last week:

Fianna Fail: The Martin strategy, depending on who you talk to, either hasn’t worked or it has staunched the bleeding and kept the patient just breathing. FF people are now hoping that their soft voters are just too ashamed to even admit to pollsters that they will vote FF, but will do the business on the day.

Fine Gael: The Invisible Man strategy has worked, if the polls are to be believed. The prospect of a single party FG government has thrown a new factor into the campaign, and one which may not just effect FG. Enda’s low expectations entry into the debate worked a treat.

Labour: Labour will gain seats, but will have to confront the reality that a critical mass of Irish people just don’t subscribe to the values that Labour attributes to itself. However, Labour’s very possible ascent to the position of official opposition is a glimmer of light in the dark.

Sinn Fein: Gerry Adams’s strong performance in the debate hit just the right note for his target audience. SF on target to deliver solidly for themselves.

The Greens: John Gormley’s strong, frank performance in the debate will, the party must hope, help bring back that crucial 5-7% of the electorate who might vote Green. But will it be enough, or is iy just too late? The FG landslide presents the Greens with a last throw of the dice and a clear message: Given the last week of Labour and FG beating the crap out of each other, we are a more likely coalition partner to hold FG in check. But will they throw the dice?

The ULA: The noise from the target seats is good. Joe, Clare Daly, Thomas Healy and Mick Barry all apparently looking serious, despite the lack of national coverage. Or maybe because of it?

Finally: TG4 are right to be proud of the debate. But given the Irish language and west of Ireland slant, it resembled, to me, something similar to watching the US Israeli Lobby question US candidates as to their agenda.

 

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