Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics
 
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Review: Batman vs. Superman

Posted by Jason O on Mar 29, 2016 in Movies/TV/DVDs

Batman supermanI’m not a huge fan of  Zach Snyder as a director. It’s not that he isn’t a competent director, because he is. But his style, all speed and shadows, can be frustrating. Put it this way: I can’t tell you what the Batmobile looks like, and I’ve seen the movie. That and his obsession with slow-motion “symbolic” shots makes the movie so much longer than it deserves.

That’s not to say it’s a bad movie. Ben Affleck gives a good performance as a grizzled world-wary Bruce Wayne, and Henry Cavill isn’t bad as Clark Kent. Gal Gadot steals every scene she’s in as Diana Prince, helped in particular by a thumping soundtrack and in particular one revealing scene from her history. But none of them are likable the way Tony Stark or Steve Rogers are.

The problem for this movie, and its position as DC’s launch vehicle to create a rival to Marvel’s Avengers, is that Marvel have set a very high bar, and this movie doesn’t reach it.

It’s joyless, dour, nearly totally devoid of humour, and even the CGI looks more like CGI than Marvel’s does. Put this movie in a league of superhero movies and it comes in way down the list, way past both Avengers movies, all the Iron Man movies and The Dark Knight trilogy. And I write this as someone who regards himself first and foremost as a Batman fan.

This isn’t a bad movie, as I said. It entertained. But, like Man of Steel before, it’s not a movie you’d be rushing back to watch a second time.

 
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The price of peace?

Posted by Jason O on Mar 22, 2016 in Events, Politics

I wrote this after the Paris attacks. Still applies today, with some changes.

It’s hard to fight an idea, and that’s the problem with IS. This isn’t Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union where there was a clear command structure and someone at the top to negotiate with, someone who can then give an order and hostilities cease. Radical Islam isn’t like that. There isn’t a boss, just loose networks and cells and feeble minded young foot soldiers willing to give their lives in pursuit of an idea.

The truth is, we’ll probably never eradicate the idea, or the threat, just learn to contain it better. Paris last year, or Brussels today, is maybe, God forgive me for saying this, the future.

The way it is going to be.

Yet there might be a way to stop the attacks. We could try to deliver on their idea, to the extent that we no longer become a target because we deliver better on it than they do.

In Ireland we could start by rounding up the small number of Irish Jews. The Chief Rabbi of Ireland, former justice minister Alan Shatter and others. Take them all to the Curragh under armed guard and then what? Maybe execute them, live on television so that IS can see our commitment to their idea? Or, to avoid the bloodshed, maybe transport them to Iraq and hand them over. At least we would not be the ones actually killing them, right?

Would that be enough? Maybe not. What about the gays then? Maybe round them up. Bit tricky, as we don’t have a list, but you know, start with Panti’s Twitter feed and go from there. True, it’ll be awkward, having celebrated passing marriage equality, but needs must. We could even use the marriage equality campaign’s email and activist list to identify more of the gays we will need to kill.

That won’t be the first instance of irony either. To placate the idea, we’ll probably have to ban all the non-Islamic religions, and pick up their advocates too. Bishops, priests, again it’d almost be funny to see David Quinn and Panti both staring at the same firing squad, but that’s the price.

Would that be enough? They’re not mad on the whole women equality thing, so strip women of their rights, just to be safe. Clare Daly, Averil Power, Ruth Coppinger, they’ll all have to be put in their place because there’ll be no room for uppity women with their notions of being equal to men. Burkas all around, no girls to go to schools, maybe beat the women who can read just to get them used to their new place. Would that be enough? At least it would solve the gender quota issue.

As we’d watch our sisters and mothers and daughters become chattel, as we watch our Jewish and gay and lesbian friends get shot dead, as we all praise Allah and punish the non-believers and especially those Muslim traitors who dared stand with the Jews and the gays and the women, maybe that’ll be enough for the believers in the idea to stop attacking us because we are implementing the idea better than they can.

Let’s do it all across Europe. Stop bombing IS. Maybe start bombing Israel instead? They’d like that, right? All across Europe we could round up the Jews again, raid the synagogues, watch the Jewish schoolchildren holding their German identity cards which told them they were equal citizens shaking in their hands as they are separated from their non-Jewish friends.

Let a religious police beat Dutch girls in Amsterdam who dare wear short skirts. Close Anne Frank’s house, because after all, the Nazis were right. Same with Auschwitz and Birkenau. We’ll have to rewrite our schoolbooks obviously. As for all those refugees fleeing IS, maybe order the Royal Navy, the Irish Navy, the Italian Navy to open fire and machine gun them in the water?

The truth is, if we surrender enough to the idea, the attacks will probably stop. If we don’t, the chances of us completely eradicating the terror cells are slim. In a continent of 500m, it’s impossible to stop every three or four poisoned fanatics with a bomb vest or a machine gun. We just can’t stop them. We may even stop most of them, but we just can’t stop them all.

The truth is, surrender is the most effective option.

But you know what?

Fuck them. Let them come with their bombs and their guns, and let them face the barrels of Muslim British soldiers or Muslim French cops or gay Dutch special forces officers or female Belgian cops. We’ll put them in the ground, and the next ones too, and then mourn our losses. Because what we have in Europe is a different idea to IS, and it is an idea worth fighting and yes, even dying for.

There is a high price we will have to pay to defend our synagogues and magazines (and airports and Metros) and gays and women and all religions and yes, our Muslims too.

The alternative is not peace, but a living death watching our Jewish friends and neighbours and all those others whom IS deems not fit to exist disappear off in the back of a truck or in a train carriage.

No. This is Europe. This is our way of life. Out on a Parisian night, flying home to family, travelling on the Metro, men, women, gays, straight, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, atheist.

This is our idea. This is our continent, our way of life, and it’s the right way of life because millions want to come here and live it too.

Paris was strong. London was strong. Madrid was strong. Brussels is strong.

Fuck them. Let the terrorists come at us. Europe can take it.

 
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State of the parties.

Posted by Jason O on Mar 21, 2016 in Election 2016, Irish Politics

kirk lizardSo, a quick snapshot on where the parties stand after the election:

Fine Gael and Fianna Fail: both need to tread carefully (or should that be thread, given the complexity?) Fine Gael need to ease off on the We Won The Election, because this election was about them and they were clearly rejected. Having said that, FF want to cool off on the We Doubled Our Seats So We Obviously Won thing too. Don’t forget, FG got a kicking, but are less unpopular than FF because they got more votes than they did. That’s how we tell.

The first party to start showing a bit of humility will gain.

Both parties are like Captain Kirk and that Giant Lizard (readers can decide who is who), circling each other looking for the advantage. Both are also aware that all options come booby-trapped. A grand coalition will help the Shinners, a minority government may end up being responsibility without power for either party, and another election is really the nuclear option.

This still all feels like we haven’t started yet.

Sinn Fein: have nicely extracted themselves from responsibility for government and with new voices like Eoin O’Broin and Donnchadh O’ Laoghaire are set for the long haul. The future of Gerry is the next big issue for SF: they know he’s the obstacle to breakthrough.

Labour: a nice lie-down in a dark room will do Labour the world of good. Staying out of government is a good idea.

The Social Democrats and the Greens: both parties have the same problem. As Catherine Martin’s extraordinary performance in Dublin Rathdown showed, the Greens have managed to claw back their transfer friendliness. Both parties should be very weary of getting involved in government if another election is on the way, as it’s not unreasonable that both parties could pick up votes from a bad tempered electorate in another poll.

The Independents: the Mala of the Dail, to be moulded as needed? What’s interesting is that the Independents fortune can change so rapidly. If you are needed for government formation, you’re valuable. If you aren’t, and other Inds are seen to be bringing back the pork, it’s time to sweat. Let’s not forget that the country is littered with former one-term  Independent TDs going all the way back to Sean Dublin Bay Rockall Loftus.

 
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Coming soon to HBO*: “Threadneedle Street”

bank-england-logoWhen the governor of the Bank of England dies suddenly, and his obvious successor Sir Guy Acheson (Rowan Atkinson, in a surprising straight role) is ruled out because of a shares scandal, brilliant but maverick economist Steve Darblay (Episodes’ Stephen Mangan) finds himself appointed Governor of the Bank of England, in the middle of a currency crisis, by the ruthlessly ambitious Chancellor of the Exchequer Tom Parrish (Hugh Laurie.)

For Darblay, his appointment not only places him in the driving seat in dealing with everything from interest rates to the future of the euro to who goes on the new £5 note, but also a target for Acheson who feels bitterly wronged but also that the new governor is not exactly from the right side of the tracks.

With his former Cambridge tutor Bill Burke (Roger Allam-The Thick of It) and even more brilliant economist (and former girlfriend) Yves Cassidy (Lenora Crichlow-Sugar Rush) at his side, Darblay gets ready to take his seat at the most elite of the world’s councils.

Guest starring Delaney Williams (The Wire) as US Fed Chairman Matt O’Malley and Sidse Babette Knudsen (Borgen) as ECB President Martina Delacroix.

Special appearance by Stephen Fry as the Prime Minister.

*I wrote this as a joke, but as I wrote it I thought “Jesus, I’d watch this!”

 
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Supposing drink stopped working? A short story.

Posted by Jason O on Mar 18, 2016 in eNovels & Writing, Fiction, Irish Politics, Not quite serious.

No one can be sure for certain when it was first noticed. But it is certainly fair to say that it came to official attention following a row in a pub in Castlebar. The Guards had been called to a heated altercation between a number of customers and the publican, an event not exactly unusual on a summer’s Saturday night. On arrival at the pub however, the Guards had been surprised to discover that drink, although being the issue, was not the usual catalyst.

This was not the usual row between men full of jar. Indeed, it was the lack of jar that was the issue. The three men had been rowing furiously over an accusation by the two that the publican was watering down drink. Others had got involved, some siding with the publican, some with his accusers. But what struck the Garda sergeant the most was the fact that here they were in a pub near closing time and hardly anyone was pissed. There were a small handful well-oiled, but most people in the pub were fully sober. On a Saturday night?

The sergeant calmed the situation, pointed out that watering down drink was a criminal offence, and ordered his younger partner to collect a few samples for analysis.

This was the first submission to the state laboratory, but by the end of the week twenty submissions had been made by both the Gardai and the consumer authorities, all following up complaints by consumers.

Two weeks later the issue had reached the media, as a scandal involving publicans watering down drink.

Except they weren’t, the minister for justice was told as he was being briefed. One or two samples were found to have been diluted, but the vast majority were perfectly normal. Just as the minister started wondering whether some sort of national mass hysteria was beginning to take hold, the minister for health asked the Taoiseach for an emergency meeting.

This drink thing has nothing to do with alcohol tampering, he said. The national infectious diseases monitoring unit had discovered something living in the water supply.

The Taoiseach paled. Normally, being prime minister of a small European country involved just keeping a lid on public expectations about spending. But this was one of those Hollywood moments, he thought, like when the president is told that Martians have invaded. He stiffened in his seat and stuck his jaw out like Martin Sheen did on The West Wing.

The minister was quick to calm the meeting. It’s not dangerous, per se. It’s an unknown parasite that lives and replicates within the human body. Completely harmless. But there is one thing.

The Taoiseach shifted in his seat. He was a fan of zombie movies and his head was spinning.

The parasite metabolises alcohol at an incredible rate. Essentially, it burns up alcohol before it can intoxicate the consumer. If you have it, you can’t get drunk, no matter how much you drink. The European Health Agency and the World Health Organisation have never seen anything like it.

The Taoiseach exhaled. Thank Christ for that. He had visions of blowing people’s heads off in Merrion Square with a shotgun.

Completely harmless, he asked.

Completely, the minister agreed. It got through most of the water supply because it’s harmless. Normally if something dangerous gets into the water supply, outbreaks of illness are what alert us within a few days. But this thing has been active for weeks. It was only when people started complaining about not getting pissed that we were alerted.

What’s the solution, the Taoiseach asked.

Ah, said the minister. That’s the problem. At the moment we don’t have one. This thing is pretty much a superbug. Resistant to everything the doctors have thrown at it. That’s why the EHA and WHO are working on it. We’ve asked the CDC in Atlanta for help too.

I don’t want a load of feckers in yellow spacesuits walking around the place, the Taoiseach said. The minister nodded.

Of course, I’ll have to tell the Dail. How widespread is the infection? The Taoiseach asked.

The minister grimaced. With the exception of Donegal, where we have isolated their water supply, the whole country. Pretty much everybody has it and it has the alcohol neutralising effect on about 98% of those infected.

But aside from the alcohol thing, it’s harmless? The Taoiseach asked.

If anything, the minister replied, it’s slightly beneficial in that it speeds up metabolism. Good for weight loss.

The Taoiseach scribbled that point down. If he was going to tell the Irish that drinking no longer worked, he was going to need every scrap of good news he could find.

*****

The news was met with the usual Irish mix of bemusement, cynicism and suspicion. The leader of the opposition was quick to point out that under this government, even drink doesn’t work.

The publicans and the drinks industry called for a national emergency to be declared, and then proceeded to do the standard Irish two-step of denying the real cause for concern, plummeting alcohol sales, and instead latching onto some other more respectable reason for their anxiety. This is an attack on craic, one spokesman said, raising concerns about the effect on tourism. Another industry voice suggested darkly that this would lead to the Irish people turning to heroin instead. We could all end up out of our heads on horse, he said.

Joe Duffy was inundated with conspiracy theorists suggesting it had been the EU, UN, feminists, the Germans, protestants, Muslims, German protestants and Coca Cola. One call pointed out that this happened after Ireland had voted for same-sex marriage. Is it a coincidence, Joe? I don’t think so. It’s the pill, Joe, said another. It’s turned us all into fairies who can’t hold our drink. Surely the opposite is what’s happening, said Duffy. You’re obviously in on it, Joe. Typical RTE was the reply.

A number of TDs called for the army to be called in to start drinking the national alcohol supply to keep the drinks industry alive. We’re talking about jobs here, they protested. Each deputy was quick to stress how his county was obviously suffering much harder than any other county.

Within a month, the HSE working with its international partners had wiped out the parasite from the water supply. Curing the infected, however, was another matter.

We have found a cure, the minister for health told the cabinet. An American pharmaceutical had amongst many of its obscure patents a forgotten experimental drug which can wipe the infection from the human body, with little or no side effects.  We’re fast tracking the testing to make sure, but we should be able to start treatment very soon.

The cabinet applauded, amidst much joking about dying for a whiskey.

The health minister dampened down the noise. I’m afraid, he said, it’s not as simple as that. The company that owns the patent is looking for around €30 billion to provide the medication.

The cabinet erupted. They can’t do that, said the social protection minister.

Yes they can. We can put pressure on them, publicly, but legally they’re entirely within their rights.

Can’t we just copy the drug? One minister asked. After all, don’t we actually have it for testing and analysis?

We do, the health minister said. The problem is that because there are so many pharmaceuticals here we have very strict patent protection laws. If we do that they can take us to our own courts and get the money that way. And that’s assuming you can find another pharmaceutical willing to manufacture 5 million doses for you, and not get sued themselves.

Let’s just change the law, the agriculture minister said.

Hold your horses for a minute, there, said the minister for enterprise. We rely on foreign companies here for huge employment and investment. If they start thinking we’re one of those countries that just confiscate property on a whim…

This is a national emergency, agriculture said.

Nobody is dying, enterprise replied.

You would say that, agriculture replied, jabbing a finger at the famously tee-total enterprise minister.

The Taoiseach raised a hand. We can’t just confiscate the drug. Can we negotiate?

Health shrugged. Possibly, we might get some leeway on the payment period and that, but not much.

The news about the drug and its company, Haardnex of Texas, leaked soon after. The Irish online community were very quick to decide that Haardnex had “obviously” invented the parasite and put it into the water supply to hold the Irish people ransom. Thousands marched in protests, although the size of the protests started to dwindle when they got mocked on American and British television for marching to demand the right to get pissed. Protestors who brought their children, trying to somehow justify how this was “all about the children” were roundly laughed at on Youtube and Snapchat.

Demonstrators got more and more annoyed at the attitude of foreign journalists who refused to take the issue seriously, especially when they attempted to explain that being drunk was part of the Irish culture yet painting the Irish as a nation of drunks was a racist stereotype. Foreign news crews had to receive Garda escorts.

Eventually, the Taoiseach spoke to the Irish people. We have negotiated, he said, a deal for €25 billion to be paid over ten years to Haardnex in return for the treatment. Given that it is such a huge amount of money, it is my intention to put this vote to the Irish people in a referendum.

The run-up to the vote involved bitter debates in the media and amongst families. The Yes campaign ran on the slogan Sure Didn’t We Bail Out The Banks! and that this was all about saving a crucial part of Irish culture. The campaign was well-funded, with the drinks industry and unions representing the Gardai and social workers, two groups that had lost significant overtime since the outbreak calling for a yes vote. The No campaign was much smaller, and open to physical attack in the streets for being Dry Shites.

The polls were much more evenly balanced, with polls recording that whilst the vast majority wanted the cure, they weren’t happy at having to pay for it. On the radio and online some suggested that once the government had dispersed the treatment it could renege on the deal, but lawyer after lawyer dismissed that possibility.

Day after day debates were held about the influence of drink on the country, the fall in domestic violence and road fatalities, and the fact that obesity figures had shown a marked drop. Cannabis sales were definitely up, the Gardai confirmed, whilst pointing out that alcohol-related public order offences had collapsed. A&E waiting times also fell sharply. The argument that it was harming tourism was disproven by the fact that tourists, who weren’t infected, and could avail of a cheap vaccine, could get drunk. Indeed, that tiny percentage of Irish drinkers who either weren’t susceptible to the infection, or lived in Donegal, found themselves being ostracised by friends. Story after story about how Donegal still got drunk continued to irritate the rest of the country, to the extent that drunken Donegal visitors started getting beaten up in Dublin, Cork and Galway.

American commentators were quick to draw a line between the American love of guns and the Irish love of drink, and the fact that both countries were willing to accept a high casualty rate in return for their right to use the product in question.

Is it possible, the No campaign suggested, that this is not the worst thing to ever happen to the Irish people?

On polling day, the last poll suggested the deal would be rejected by a good ten percentage points.

It passed by 80%. Donegal voted No.

The End.

 
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Let’s hear it for the character actors

Posted by Jason O on Mar 13, 2016 in Cult TV, Movies/TV/DVDs
Boris McGiver

Boris McGiver

Are you a Robert John Burke fan? What about Delaney Williams? Or Timothy V. Murphy? Or Reg E Cathey? Or Jayne Atkinson? Or Boris McGiver?

Never heard of them.

Yeah, you did. You just don’t know it. Every good TV show from The Wire to Sons of Anarchy to Law and Order SVU to House of Cards has been made good not just by good lead actors, but by the character actors

Jayne Atkinson

Jayne Atkinson

around them. We call them character actors, and it’s a slightly misleading title because it hints that they’re sort of limited to playing a similar type of character all the time, which isn’t true, although it feels that way.

Robert John Burke

Robert John Burke

Is there anyone who doesn’t think of the words “Internal Affairs” and automatically think of Robert John Burke? If anything, some become so good that writers actually start basing characters around them and their sheer presence on screen.

Unlike series regulars, who have time to build a character and their personality and quirks, character actors are usually turning up for a

Reg E Cathey

Reg E Cathey

once-off and yet still have to create a fully credible 3D character. That takes skill, and if you look at the various actors named here, every one of them is an equal peer to the series lead when they’re on screen with them.

In fact, we have now, rightly, reached a point where producers have realised that the really good character actors aren’t just someone to fill in scenes with the series regular but are

Timothy V. Murphy

Timothy V. Murphy

now adding value as audiences not only recognise them but know that a Reg E. Cathey or a Jayne Atkinson always bring something worth watching to a scene, and want to see more of them.

So here’s to the character actors. Some break through to lead, some do a “Stephen Toblowsky” and become a character genre in themselves, but all deliver.

To jog memories as to all those from above, you’ll have seen Boris McGiver in

Delaney Williams

Delaney Williams

House of Cards and Person of Interest, Robert John Burke in SVU and Person of Interest, Delaney Williams in SVU and The Wire, Jayne Atkinson in House of Cards and Criminal Minds, Reg E. Cathey in House of Cards and The Wire, and our own Timothy V. Murphy in Sons of Anarchy.

 
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The speech Enda should give.

Posted by Jason O on Mar 10, 2016 in Election 2016, Irish Politics

An-Taoiseach-Enda-KennyGood evening.

As you are aware, it has been some weeks since you the Irish people elected the 32nd Dail. In that time, with the existing government clearly rejected but with no obvious alternative government endorsed, it has proven very difficult to form a new and stable government to do the people’s work and ensure that the recovery experienced in some parts of the country is now spread out nationwide.

Towards that goal, I’d like to take this opportunity to explain to you the options I believe that we as a country face.

The first option is a coalition between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail. This would be a partnership of equals, with equal seats and the rotating of the office of Taoiseach and Tanaiste. In addition, it would be my intention to introduce a system whereby, as in the North of Ireland, the deputy has access to all the papers and decisions of the Taoiseach before they are made. I have no doubt that both parties could agree a worthwhile and ambitious programme of work for the next five years.

If coalition is not an option for Fianna Fail, we should consider minority support by Fianna Fail from outside the government. As part of that, and in return for a guarantee of fixed support for five years, we would agree a programme of legislation and a liaison committee so that Fianna Fail can play a part in every major decision the government makes and share in the responsibility of those decisions. I would stress, however, that such a government would need a clear and fixed period of support from Fianna Fail to be viable, and that there should be a formal written agreement as such.

Finally, if neither of those options suit Fianna Fail, then I shall have no choice but to advise the president that he should dissolve the Dail and call fresh elections.

I sincerely hope Fianna fail can see their way to finding agreement with us. This country faces serious challenges and needs a stable government, and I believe our two parties can deliver that government.

Remember, if the UK votes to leave the European Union in June’s Brexit referendum there will be no Fine Gael or Fianna Fail, only Ireland. I have no doubt that Micheal Martin and I can step into the European Council as one with the same goal, to do what’s best for our country.  Despite our political differences, I have no doubt as to the patriotism of Michael or his party.

Let me also stress that my position as Taoiseach should not be seen as an obstacle for the formation of a stable government. I have been honoured to have served as your Taoiseach for the last five years. But I am also aware that no one man is more important than this office, and if my replacement is the price of five years of stable government than so be it. The country comes first.

Finally, let us not forget that 100 years ago future members of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael did serve together in the first provisional governments. De Valera, Collins, Lemass and Cosgrave fought together and achieved the almost impossible, defeating the British Empire and creating a free nation. We then fought a bloody and pointless civil war that scars our politics even today.

It’s time. The country comes first. Great sacrifices were made in 2016. Asking Fine Gael and Fianna Fail to make mere political sacrifices today in 2016 is but a very minor thing in the shadows of those great men and women.

Good night.

 
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One single reason why Brexit is a really bad idea.

Posted by Jason O on Mar 8, 2016 in Brexit Referendum, British Politics, European Union

Watching the British debate over Brexit one would be forgiven for regarding both sides of the argument as slightly hysterical. One side say that Brexit will destroy the British economy. The other that Brexit will unleash a new Elizabethan age, setting Britain free to sail off towards Asia.

You could spend months, as we probably will, arguing the details.

But for me, here’s the single biggest reason that Britain should remain.

The European room isn’t going away.

European integration is often painted in the UK (and Ireland) as a bit of a cult obsession, about building a superstate. There are, no doubt, some who believe in that goal, but that is not the reason why many moderate and mainstream continental office-holders continue to support the EU.

The first time I realised why continental Europe views European integration so differently was standing in a railway station in Paris, and seeing destinations on it that in Ireland you’d only see in an airport. It made me understand how on top of each other European countries actually are, and not just for trade, but shopping, work and school.

So many Europeans think nothing of crossing the border every day.

That mentality forces their elected leaders to work together. To respect each other’s workers and products. To want each other’s cars and trucks and drivers to obey the same laws. To want to ensure that other countries care for your people when they are visiting. To help each other’s police chase terrorists and sex traffickers across Europe.

These issues are all resolved in the European room, by ministers sitting and meeting and discussing and arguing and finally agreeing.

They will continue to be discussed post-Brexit and they will continue to affect Britain. Britain has been affected by events and decisions made in Europe for thousands of years, from the Vikings to Napoleon to Hitler. Why on Earth will that suddenly stop post-Brexit?

And here’s where it gets tricky: once the 27 members have decided a position, it becomes much more difficult for Britain from outside to get that position changed.

That’s not hyperbole, it’s simple logic. Imagine being a member of any club where one member refuses to attend meetings and then demands later that whatever everybody who attended the meeting decided be over turned. The rest simply won’t agree, especially not for a member who deliberately chose to vacate their place at the original meeting. British demands will require the other 27 countries still in the room to return to the room and carefully unpick agreed deals with each other to suit a country not in the room. Really? It’s like giving Canada a veto over anything decided in Westminster.

This is the issue at the heart of Brexit that eurosceptics choose to ignore. That there will be a place were most of Britain’s closest allies will meet and decide issues that affect Britain and Britain won’t be there.

It is, quite simply, odd.

If anyone advocated the same logic for NATO, the WTO, the WHO, the IMF, the G8 or the UN eyes would roll.

Eurosceptics keep pushing a vague idea that Britain will still somehow have some form of say over what the rest of Europe decides and debates. But that is also the logic for Britain withdrawing its ambassadors from across the world on the basis that “if it’s important I’m sure they’ll give us a call.”

Britain is important to the rest of Europe. But the idea that other countries in a room will put Britain’s interest ahead of their own is very courageous. Best case scenario will have British diplomats hanging around the wheelie bins outside the European Council building hoping to buttonhole the Swedish or Irish foreign minister to stop a directive that will inadvertently hurt Britain. This is how Britain sees itself? Hanging around the bins at summits?

Finally, on a non-technical point, how weird is it that Britain decides to walk off the pitch because it’s too hard and the other players are just too rough? The idea that Britain can handle the Chinese but not the Belgians? Please.

Britain has legitimate complaints about the EU. But if anything, it has been the hesitating by the door that has prevented the UK’s leaders from going full throttle in Brussels to get what Britain wants. Perhaps, after a clear yes, a British prime minister could go into the council without worrying about what the Daily Mail says and get a better deal? Just look at Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Britain was powerful enough to do a deal with France and Germany and block JCJ. But only if it had a serious candidate it would support. That’s the problem: even if David Cameron had nominated a serious British candidate the right-wing press would have called him a traitor rather than hailing it as a huge success. No serious candidate would have been insulting enough to the rest of Europe.

That’s the post-Brexit challenge: a British PM with a mandate to face down those who would sabotage Britain leading Europe.

 
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6 awkward facts about the refugee crisis.

Posted by Jason O on Mar 2, 2016 in European Union, Politics

1. Europeans don’t really want a load of dead bodies washing up on their beaches, nor do they not want to not help. Yeah, it’s that convoluted, but we are Europe.

2. Despite wanting to do the right thing, we don’t want a sudden surge of millions of immigrants arriving in Europe. Especially Islamic immigrants because of, you know, the thing.

3. We also know that by letting loads of immigrants arrive we will bring out the Inner Nazi in many of our citizens, and with that destroy the beautiful border-free continent we have built since 1957 instead of marching across each others borders with pointy helmets and questionable facial hair in the traditional manner.

4. As with every European problem, we know we have to solve it but don’t want to go far enough to actually solve it, which would involve either:

A) amassing a Vast European Army to invade Syria, shoot everybody who doesn’t look like they at least tolerate Guardian readers, and appoint a Pro-Consul like Paddy Ashdown or Nicolas Sarkozy to run the place and continue to mow down every IS nut in a bulging jacket and possibly the odd Russian “little green man” trying to stir up trouble,

or

B) annex part of North Africa, turn it into initially a vast refugee safezone to redirect everybody who tries to get into Europe, and eventually A Little Piece Of Europe where refugees could build a life for themselves under the watchful eyes of the above Vast European Army and said Pro-Consul.

6. Instead, we’re more likely to pass laws that we won’t enforce, shout at each other as the Russians prise away their former colonial underlings with the support of various hard-right traitors pretending to be patriots, and watch as this, the greatest, most  free, most peaceful, most prosperous Europe ever falls apart in petty nationalist bickering as China looms over The West. Oh, did I mention make deals with would-be Turkish tyrants and abandon the Greeks and Italians who rightly point out that this is a European problem and it’s grossly unfair that they be dumped with it?

Copyright © 2017 Jason O Mahony All rights reserved. Email: Jason@JasonOMahony.ie.