Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Confederacy of Gobshites

Some of you may have noticed there are elections in the Smoke-Free State this week. A ghastly business on the whole; just imagine dozens of mediocre charlatans wandering through some god-forsaken backwater feigning interest in the staggeringly petty parochial concerns of their constituents, and promising endless sweetners to them, and you'll get the idea. But if the Irish pretend to be interested in British politics, then you can pretend to be interested in Irish politics.

So, a guide to the whole business.

Parties: Lots to choose from, without much in the way of policy differences. Much better to pick the candidate who went to your mother's funeral or cleared the way to let you plonk a hideous bungalow on a local beauty spot. But the following are worth bearing in mind.

Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein are both republican parties. This leads to endless arguments about which is more truly committed to Ireland and its people. Fianna Fail shows this commitment by trying to be in power all the time, accepting gifts from successful businessmen and refusing to field candidates in the north of the country. Sinn Fein shows it by killing people for 60 years after Fianna Fail had given this up, accepting money from wealthy Americans who don't have a clue what the country's like and playing a leading role in the partitionist government in the occupied six counties.

Fine Gael tries to ensure its policies are identical to Fianna Fail's. The difference is that it won the civil war and then lost out in most elections since. Labour is a left wing party that cunningly adopts right-wing policies because no one votes for it outside the cities anyway. The PDs believe in having arguments and disagreeing with its opponents. This is clearly a bad thing in politics. When all else fails, they launch another crack-down on the poor. The Greens will magic sufficient electricity that doesn't come from oil or Britain's nuclear power plants if elected, because wishing for something and it being possible are the same in politics. The Socialists provide knock-about entertainment by caring about the poor and having lots of policies, all of which are complete bollocks.

Issues: on no account mention the following: a political culture of short-sighted pandering to parochial interests which leads to a major city having no drinking water for several months; the fact the economy is way too reliant on construction, house prices and personal debt and will be more fucked than George Best's liver if things go wrong; abortion.

Do mention: isn't it grand we're all rich (apart from a few stragglers)? The roads and hospitals are fucked, even though we're so rich, but we'll fix them without making the massive investments needed or giving the civil servants a colossal kick up the arse. This is much easier if you're in opposition, but it's pretty much the government's pitch too. If they spend loads of money and things are still bad, it probably means no one could do any better, right? That money was just resting in my account.

Otherwise: if you are a mucker living in an especially backwards stretch of bog, you can greatly enliven the process by electing some dubious, shameless or simply laughable character so the rest of country can laugh at you for being a backwards mucker who elects such characters to represent you.

Me? Although this is the only Irish election I'm likely to get the chance to vote in, I can't really be arsed to fly back to Cork to vote. I notice the unionists seems to have stopped fielding candidates down there; a particularly poor show. They'll never undo Home Rule if they continue like that.

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