Having a reputation for “being political”, recent times have led to a lot of my friends contacting me to discuss politics, share insights and opinions, etc. Politics is no longer boring. In pubs and restaurants, over a mug of tea and an ALDI biscuit (We DO like their biscuits, don’t we?) people want to discuss politics. In the last month, I have been asked by five people why I’m not running. So I do the obvious. I ask them why they are not running? They look blankly at me. Run? Run? Normal people don’t run. People like me run!
Now, let me put this in context. I don’t blame them for not wanting to run. In fact, if most people did actually run, they’d get the shock of their lives at the sheer physical effort required, the money they’d have to raise and spend (God love them, but most people seem to think that political parties pay for your election campaign. Bless), but most of all, they’d be stunned at the cynicism on the doorsteps not even towards politicians, but towards people who actively want to get involved in running the country. You decide that you have ideas that might make the country a bit better, and you will be savaged on the doors as the lowest of the low, not because you have a despicable political record, but because you are in politics. It’s really quite extraordinary.
And it gets worse: I know at least seven people, all involved in politics, none of whom would be going in for the money, all who would be serious and thoughtful legislators, one of whom would quite possibly be the most conscientious legislator of his generation, and yet none of them want to be TDs. Why is that? It’s because they know what it is like. They’ve seen friends become TDs and get involved in the nonsense that is Irish politics, not legislating, but engaged in the time wasting bunfight that is Leinster House. Just consider this from Kathy Sheridan’s recent piece in the Irish Times, quoting John Gormley:
“They all know about the game-playing. For example, there was one instance involving Ciarán Lynch [Labour TD]. I’m down there in the committee room, trying to answer all the questions these guys are putting to me, then Ciarán Lynch runs from the committee room up into the Dáil chamber and demands to know where Minister Gormley is and why isn’t he in the chamber. That’s the sort of thing that goes on, and you say, oh, for God’s sake. That does bug you,” he says through gritted teeth.”
Seriously, that’s what we’re paying Ciaran Lynch €90k a year for?
You want to know why so many good people don’t go into politics? Because despite the money being good, and even ignoring the abuse and the huge effort and the destruction of a normal family life or relationships (Notice how many political people seem to end up dating/committing adultery with each other?) it is because it is, for the most part, a waste of time being a politician in this country unless you are a cabinet minister. Not surprisingly, good people want to actually get good things done. Until we change the system, nothing else changes.