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

A Great Book Worth Reading: When The Lights Went Out.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 18, 2011 in Books, British Politics

when-the-lights-went-out“When the lights went out” by Andy Beckett is an absolute must-read if you’re interested in British politics in the 1970s, and let’s be honest, the 1970s is where so many of the political movements that affect us even now were born. The Green movement started, as did the recognition that there were economic forces in the world even more powerful than national governments. The 1970s was also the period of time when the post-war liberal consensus started to break down, and the New Right of Thatcher and Reagan began to win over socially conservative working class voters to a new type of conservative thinking.

What particularly sells this book is the writing style of the author, who along with giving a picture of the time, describes his own attempts to visit some of the key places and people of the era, including the proposed site of the airport in the North Sea  that Ted Heath wanted to build, or the TUC “Worker’s Hotel” in Bournemouth, or the fact that one of the famous IMF meetings bizarrely took place in the back of a tailor’s shop.

The book addresses many of the myths of the 1970s (1976 was the year where the gap between rich and poor was the narrowest in British history, something that has been airbrushed out of modern British politics) and paints a broader picture of the era than just strikes and the far left.

Well worth a read.  


The Berlin leak.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 18, 2011 in Irish Politics

Haha! Fooled them!

Haha! Fooled them!

When I first heard about a Bundestag committee casually giving out our budget details, I was outraged. Here we were, cooperating with a friendly power, and this is how they treat us? But the more I read about it, my opinion changed. Consider this:

The German Finance Ministry is obliged to report to its democratic masters, the Bundestag, details of where German workers money is going. That’s what they did, and it raises two questions in my mind.

The first is why did our Department of Foriegn Affairs not know this would happen, and secondly, if the government knows that VAT is to be raised to 23%, why do we keep it a secret anyway? The answer I heard, as to why tax rises like VAT and customs and excise duties are kept secret is because if people knew in advance, they may rush out to buy more stuff before the rise comes into force. But so what? The purpose of the Department of Finance is to order our fiscal affairs, not attempt to snatch extra money off the Irish people by tricking them with sudden tax rises. 


An Oireachtas “Vetting Committee” In action.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 18, 2011 in Irish Politics

Transport minister Leo Varadkar recently announced that the newly appointed heads of the CIE companies had been “vetted” by an Oireachtas committee. Andrea Pappin, the Miss Marple of political fact finding, writes about it here and dug up the relevent committee hearing here.

I suggest you read it, if only for the bitching at each other from the members of the committee about who came late, who is not being “respected”, and whose phone is ringing during the hearing. Hilarious.

Who vetted the vetting committee?

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