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

It’s a hard wired genetic response, whether it is to exploiting natural resources offshore or fracking or even postcodes. A section of the country just can’t help itself, and comes out in opposition to everything. There is even a standard pattern:

1. A proposal is made by a company or body. The benefits in terms of revenue or employment tend to be so over-hyped as to trigger scepticism everywhere, even amongst people in favour of the project. Why do we have to oversell everything?

2. In the area concerned, muttering starts, normally led by a local nut who votes No in every referendum and disconcertingly mentions the Bilderberg Group and fluoride in every conversation. But he’s retired with time on his hands and is a wiz with mail merge, having the database from previous local campaigns such as “Stop Dublin stealing our clouds!” and “No to WiFi near St. Enda’s. There are children there for God’s sake!”

3. The usual malcontents, Sebastian from South Dublin, furious with Daddy for running away with Olga from Olgastan and making Mummy cry and tell them that “they have to be the man of the house now” after a bottle of Tia Maria during Murder She Wrote, arrive to “smash capitalism” (Daddy was a capitalist) and stand up for the “ordinary people” in the area.

4. The local opposition TDs and councillors start calling for an independent public inquiry because that’s what they always call for, and it’s not like they have to fund it out of their expenses, is it?

5. The planning process gets bogged down in court injunctions and walkouts and demands for a tribunal into the planning process. Vague allegations of corruption are applauded by the usual paranoid mob. The integrity of the process hinges entirely on whether it agrees with the No side.

6. Planning permission is granted. It is appealed to An Bord Plenala. They approve it. It is appealed to the High Court, then the Supreme Court, then the European Court. Judicial corruption is alleged every step of the way. Huge legal bills are run up by the protesters who then complain of being economically ruined by huge legal bills they ran up travelling through a legal system they “knew” to be corrupt in the first place.

7. The opposition wins the general election, and sets up a public inquiry because it has nothing better to do. The opponents of the project do not contest the election declaring the political process corrupt and “exclusionary to ordinary people”. You know, like voters. On polling day a group of young protesters meet to beam positive energy at the ballot boxes as they are carried out by the Guards.

8. The public inquiry approves the project. The protesters accuse it of being corrupt, and announce a campaign of civil disobedience, which seems to involve a lot of interpretive dance and giant Macnas style heads. One protester sprains his wrist when a giant Che Guevara head falls on him. He sues the state for not banning giant heads of South American communists.

9. The project starts with much civil disobedience, delaying the project’s completion by years. When it is completed, and starts providing tax revenue to the state much later than planned because of the delays, the people who delayed it are first in the queue with demands as to how the money should be spent.

10. 20 years later, when the project is no longer viable, the people who originally opposed it demand it be subsidised by the state as a vital contribution to the local economy.

 
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An Occasional Guide to Modern Politics: The Young Sellout.

We must work WITHIN the alien's human eating system to achieve change!

We must work WITHIN the alien’s human eating system to achieve change!

His father had been a socialist utopian in his youth, marching in his long hair and droopy moustache For a Marxist Paradise. He grew out of it, of course, and now keeps an eye on his pension portfolio, but there you have it. What’s the old saying? If you’re not on the left when you’re young, you have no heart, but if you’re not on the right when you’re old, you have no brain?

Our hero is worse. He has no soul. From the moment he joined the party’s youth section, he was a trimmer with a wet finger in the air constantly turning political direction. He wants to be in politics, but has almost no interest in politics. Ask him what his political values are, and he comes out with phrases that sound like they were tested by a focus group in 1998. He talks about how he is “proud” to be a member of a party, like a 1980s Japanese salary-man singing the Toshiba company song.

Where’s the rebelliousness of youth? Where’s sticking it to The Man? He doesn’t do that. He works with The Man, confidant that The Man will recognise his pragmatic loyalty to the party and reward him with a nomination in the forthcoming local authority elections. Put him on the telly and he wears his confirmation suit and tries to parrot what the party grown ups say. There’s nothing, NOTHING more mortifying than watching a 15 year old come out with stuff like “what young people want is fiscal rectitude and a cut in Capital Gains Tax.”

Remember that old TV series “V”, about the giant lizard mouse eating aliens disguised as humans, who came claiming friendship, and then set up a Nazi youth style organisation? He would have signed up. “We must work with our Alien masters, and as minister of state for Human Consumption I look forward to…”

And most of all, he’ll read this blog posting and think I’m writing about him.

 
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An Occasional Guide to Irish Politics: The Fairweather Revolutionary

“We’re not taking it any more! It’s time the country be taken back by the ordinary people! Feck the bankers and the political parties! It’s time for a country based on social justice and equality and housing and health and education as rights! Yes to free healthcare! Yes to free education! Yes to…sorry, say that again…you want to pay for free healthcare by doing what?…means testing children’s allowance….now, hold on a minute there…putting Capital Gains Tax on private residences…wait there one minute now…the rich should pay higher taxes, but not ordinary people like me, yes, I know I bought my house for €300k and it’s now worth €500k, but that’s MY MONEY….tax MY profit???….to fund free healthcare and social justice?…….get away from MY money, d’ya hear, that €200k profit is MY money, not yours! Get your stinking thieving hands off my filthy lucre!”

 
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Some things I have learnt about Irish Politics (repost).

Posted by Jason O on Jan 27, 2016 in An Occasional Guide to EU Politics, Election 2016, Irish Politics
I knew your father/mother/social welfare officer well!

I knew your father/mother/social welfare officer well!

The first election campaign I was ever directly involved in was the 1991 local elections, where I canvassed for Jeananne Crowley in the Pembroke Ward, a seat I’d contest myself in the 1999 elections. After that, I campaigned in local, general, European and by-elections, and in a number of referendums. And that’s not counting the internal party elections I campaigned in. Between 1991 and 2005, when I resigned from the Progressive Democrats, I experienced a fair bit of Irish politics, and came across what I would regard as fairly solid general rules of Irish politics. They are general, there are always exceptions, but broadly speaking I believe they’re true:

1. With the possible exception of Sinn Fein and the Alphabet Left, and maybe in by-elections, there is no longer such a thing as party machines in the traditional sense. Successful candidates have to effectively build their own teams of, for the most part, personal loyalists. Many if not most of the party members who turned up to vote at the convention will not end up knocking on doors.

2. Irish people vote for people over ideas nearly always. People are far more likely to vote for a person they like but disagree with politically over a person they agree with but dislike.

3. It is possible to be interested in the politics of ideas, or the politics of winning elections, and never have anything to do with the other. Indeed it is getting more and more likely.

4.  The one characteristic a successful candidate absolutely must have over everything else is physical stamina, and a willingness to keep knocking on doors and talking to people over and over again. It is possible for a stupid candidate to be elected again and again. A lazy candidate will probably only be elected once, and only because he/she is related to someone.

5.  The lack of knowledge displayed by voters, and their pride in that lack of knowledge, about how the political system works, and how decisions are made, will never cease to amaze you.

6. By international standards, it is relatively easy for a small group to change things in Ireland if it has determination, courage and organisation. The failure to bring change has usually been because of a lack of one of those three factors. The Provisional IRA and the Progressive Democrats proved that.

7. Irish people take a masochistic comfort in believing that an uncontrollable force, be it the Brits, the IMF, or potatoes, is responsible for their woes, and are comfortable with people knowingly lying to them.

8. “The Rich” are people who earn €15k more than you per annum. “The Ordinary People” are your friends and family.

9. The fact that we ask candidates the same questions in both local and national elections explains a lot about why Ireland is the way it is today.

 
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An Occasional Guide to Irish Politics: The Unlistenable Politician.

pol books2Every time you see or hear him about to speak, you give him a chance. He’s an important senior politician, a leader in our country. His opinion matters.

Forty five seconds in, you’re flicking over to something else. Anything else. It’s not that you disagree with him or what he’s saying, after all, there’s some pleasure to be had screaming “You’re a f**king eejit!” at the telly or the radio. That would mean he’s actually said something.

No, it’s worse than that.

Every single time he says nothing. Every single time. He talks and talks and you can hear the cogs in the brain lining up the next trite offend-nobody vague platitude into the breech to be fired at us.

He’s like a football pundit who doesn’t really have any interest in football.

It’s not lies. It’s not offensive. It’s just nothing. It’s all a bit of a chore, one of those offshore gas drilling platforms that has to burn off the excess gas every while, only with him it’s words, all safe and harmless and meaningless.

We’d actually be better served if he just read out funny words he came across in the dictionary, or told us about an episode of  “Elementary” he watched recently, or rolled up a shirt sleeve and showed us a rash and asked us what caused that, do we think?

 
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State of the parties.

Posted by Jason O on Jan 4, 2016 in Election 2016, Irish Politics

So: eight weeks out, what’s the political landscape looking like?

Fine Gael: the blues are in solid form, with a clear identity, a clear pitch, and a clear electorate. Stability, stability, stability, and keep other people’s hands out of your arse pocket. Won David Cameron an election, that did.

Fianna Fail: in better shape than the media think. If you stop comparing FF to the old days, a party on 17% is doing well in a modern European multiparty democracy. Yeah, there’s a hint of the 1977 manifesto about their pitch, but guess what? There’s votes in that. Don’t forget the FF organisation hasn’t forgotten how to pander on the doorsteps. They’ll do better on the day than people think.

Sinn Fein: If you take the long term view, and they seem to, election 2016 will be another solid step in their Slowly Slowly Catchy Monkey strategy. Put it another way: if Labour had been this patient five years ago, we really would be talking about Gilmore for Taoiseach.

Labour: still not sure what their pitch is or towards whom? Labour feel like the old Irish Home Rule party refusing to believe that things have changed. Pity: they haven’t been that bad in government, but they promised so so much. Don’t forget, this happened to them in 1997, and that was when the country actually had money. Labour thinks so much about getting into government they never seem to imagine there will be a moment when they have to go back to the voters.

Renua/Social Democrats: the sushi parties. An acquired taste that some people are mad about but others wouldn’t touch. Both have a fair pitch, almost a mirror pitch. But will they have enough votes to be more than just what-label-are-they-wearing-today? candidates? Would do well in a list system.

Alphabet Left: will do grand giving it loads, up the revolution and all the rest. And refuse to actually play a role in any decision making after the election. The Madonna’s “Vogue” parties. Go on, think about it.

The Independents: the entertainment. I’ll wager that some of these guys by the next election will be some of the most hated politicians in the country, by their own constituents. Mostly for not being psychic about every single on of their voters’ intimate wishes, running away from unpopular decisions, or bringing down the Dail.

Copyright © 2018 Jason O Mahony All rights reserved. Email: Jason@JasonOMahony.ie.