In a little over three weeks we are to have a General Election.
For those of a foreign bent, the setup here is pretty simple. There is Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael who are basically the same party only with different names. Their manifestos are almost identical and the outcome is basically down to which can promise the most outlandish claims, which can find more dirt on the other and a reliance on the stubbornness of families who wouldn’t change allegiances if their lives depended on it.
The rest of the candidates aren’t worth considering as none can beat the Big Two. Labour committed suicide by going into a coalition with one of the Big Two which is always the death knell for a party. The Greens suffered the same fate [thank God] so we will at least be spared the mud-huts and diet of nuts and grass philosophy. Sinn Féin are another also ran as they haven’t a chance of a majority and no other party will go into coalition with them.
The fighting has already reached the point where Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael [commonly referred to as FFG] are digging up as much shit on themselves. This is easy pickings as each side of the party is wallowing in tons of ordure. Fianna Fáil is of course the mob famous for back-handers and brown envelopes which dumped us squarely into a massive recession and debts of billions due to their promises to bond holders. Fine Gael s very slightly less dishonest but its record in government isn’t exactly squeaky clean – a housing/homeless crisis, a health service which deteriorates by the day and is way past its sell-by date [not to mention a two billion Euro hospital and a one million Euro printer!] and farmers bringing Dublin to a standstill over beef prices.
So the outcome is a foregone conclusion. FFG will win. Big businesses will be well looked after with tax breaks and the like. The health system will continue to rot away. The homeless will remain homeless and the rest of us will be lumbered with loads more taxes.
As for all the promises they’ll make over the coming weeks … Hah! Dream on.
A wee case of Deja Vu.
We had one of those General Election things over in the UK a month ago, it was lots of fun and, in its outcome, quite revealing. There were similar families over here, of whom it was believed they 'wouldn't change allegiances if their lives depended on it' but, in the event, they did, and in vast numbers, dumping their generations-old loyalties in a trice. Some probably had to hold their noses to vote against type and still dare not admit it to their neighbours but, if they did, they might find their neighbours also rebelled against history, such was that surge of change.
So it is possible for the electorate to deliver a shock to the system: admittedly we'd had a practice-run with the Brexit referendum a few years earlier which gave folk a rare and novel opportunity to disregard their leaders and they found it didn't hurt – maybe you need a similar chance, why not have an I-Exit Referendum, join us on the outside of the EU and then start to rediscover the democracy that you too sacrificed over 45 years ago.
There is a world of difference between the two elections. The Conservatives and Labour came up with wildly different manifestos. Add to that the fact that it was essentially a rerun of the Brexit referendum and an electorate who was sick and tired of the subject and just wanted it done.
Our lot are just concerned with getting themselves into power. Once there, the only difference will be how much more we are taxed and how much of a bollix they'll make of the economy.
I would dearly love an I-Exit choice but there is little chance here. Most of the electorate sees the EU as a benevolent mother, guiding her child through troubled times. If only….
You're right, of course, about the different politics of the UK case, but the big message from the UK election was that there is a limit to that tribal loyalty: once pushed beyond the limit, those loyalties can evaporate. The Brexit issue, particularly its muddled handling by the Labour Party, proved a deceit too far for even some of the most hardy of their traditional supporters in the old mining and metal-bashing areas – any future Labour Party leadership will henceforth take those tribal voters for granted at its peril, which may then change the face of UK politics even more.
Our last election was a bit different as just for once there was clear water between Labour and Conservatives (Labour currently being extreme left wing and pro EU, Cons being fairly middle of the road and all for Brexit). Usually, despite all the shouting they are (like your FFG) effectively the two cheeks of the same arse, Lab may do more for benefits and put up taxes, Cons may do more for business/banking, and usually put up direct taxes less. In reality the actual difference is more noise than action.
You’re right, of course – the Brexit referendum result over here really was a watershed moment for everyone – firstly for politicians, who got the shock of their lives when they realised that their carefully-crafted image of reality as “everyone-loves-the-EU-as-much-as-we-do” was – err – just plain wrong; but then the utter shambles that followed in Parliament with foot-stamping a-plenty, sulking, threats, insults towards voters, capitulation, clear lack of forward planning, the every-trick-in-the-book approach of Remainers to get their own way, and a level of Parliamentary debates which would have had trouble making any headway in a sixth-form debating society, left politicians with nowhere to hide the deeply incompetent, immature, small-minded and self-serving nature of all of them – high and low, on both sides of the debate and on both sides of the Commons.
It was at the same time both satisfying (to see them all squirming and so obviously out of their depth) and embarrassing (this is our Parliament, for goodness sake. The so-called Mother of Parliaments – and this is how it reacts when their own constituents refuse to sit down and shut up as expected). Right up to the election they were still clinging vainly to their own, self-invented story that people didn’t really mean it when they voted to leave, that they were just a bit cross, or dim, or they liked Nigel Farage too much because he drinks pints, etc, etc, and that – as they'd had the benefit of their (the MPs, that is) “wisdom” on the matter since the Referendum, they’d all realise how silly they’d been and vote accordingly to make sure that Brexit didn’t happen after all. Then the election happened and – whoops! – looks like they were wrong again!
Ireland, having benefitted much more from their EU membership than the UK has – maybe not so much in recent years, but certainly within clear living memory – are much bigger fans of it. So it’s unlikely to be an I-exit vote that stirs things up over there (unless you know otherwise, Gramps). But the point I’m making is that if enough people (in any country) are pushed too far over any issue – and it really does only have to be one issue – which they feel strongly enough about, then they’re capable of making their voices heard over and above the voices of those who claim to speak for them, but rarely do. So there may be hope for Ireland to give their politicians a bit of a boot in the backside yet. Maybe not this election – but there will, of course, be more in the future …..