Saturday, May 26, 2007

Normal Service resumes shortly (II)

Phew! At last I can return to a normal existence. Having done my bit for the country (I'd a covert role of some political importance in Dublin South Central which I cannot disclose), I can revert to my normal diet of pointless self-examination. But some quick thoughts before I kick Election 2007 to the kerb.

It is quite humbling and very impressive to see so many people put themselves through the election process. Regardless of their political leanings, I have a new found respect for them all. Everyone seemed gracious in defeat or magnanimous in victory. Shame the same couldn't be said about their local party workers. Can we introduce a new rule that says when your candidate gets elected he (for it invariably is) should under no circumstances be hoisted aloft like some incongruous footballing hero. I didn't see one candidate look comfortable in his grey suit being held precariously by four equally grey, doddery old fools. Put the man down and let him at least pretend to be somewhat statesmanlike.

I thought that I'd be delighted to see Michael McDowell crushed again. But I was surprised at how sorry I felt for him and his family. It is hardly a surprise that he took the result so personally. This is the problem with conviction politicians. But Michael, I suppose Bill Clinton said it right. "You can't say you love your country and hate your government!". But my disappointment was tempered by the more outrageous de-seating of Joe Higgins. Some things are just not fair - like Cyprian Brady getting elected with less than 1,000 first preference votes when Mary Lou had a plunging neck line and a nice choker.

Reviewing how I wrestled with my decision, I'm not surprised atall by the election results. I could never find a good reason why change was going to be so good. The FG 'contract' was a stupid play that hamstrung Enda more than I think people will concede. He should also lay off the "I'm so confident that I'm the right man" routine which fools no-one. Instead, he should quietly accept that he has every right to being Taoiseach and then act like he is. Then no-one would need to be convinced, especially himself. Labour's 'we want a change in government' line was a none too subtle signalling that a FF/Lab government could be presented as a change in government. The number of women representatives in the next Dail will be even less that the pathetic percentage of the outgoing Oireachtas.

PR has an inherent fault in that it promotes division and coalitions become inevitable. As a country we were in danger of becoming like the Italian democracy. When the Labour party split again and possibly Fine Gael, our rainbow alternative could end up comprising 7 or 8 colours from a diverse gene pool. So it was important that the two main parties made gains or held their own to stop the increasing fragmentation. It would be best for the Labour party to pass on the option of becoming FF lapdog 'cos as the PD's can testify they'll end up being the losers in the next election. The landscape is right of a realignment of the 'left' or at least social democrats to provide a viable alternative to the market-forces politics of both main parties.

A real result would be if FF in the national interest reappointed Mary Harney as Minister for Health in a FF/PD/Green coalition. This would have the advantage of being a sufficient majority for some tough action to be taken against the vested interest that are Doctors and Nurses. Radical reform of the health service could be achieved. Of course that won't happen, because FF don't have the national interest at heart and our democracy wouldn't thank them even if they did.

It was particularly nice to see the Irish Times being found out for what it really is - the paper of the upper class minority record. Having had the information since last October, it ran a drip feed campaign designed to undermine FF's only real asset - Bertie. For 10 days, it ran the election agenda. Unfortunately, it mis-calculated several things. Irish people don't mind when someone is taken down a peg or two but it gets quite indignant when you continually kick a man when he's down. The smear campaign prevented any rigorous critique of FF policy and galvanised its supporters to get out and vote. The attention on Betie took the necessary spotlight of Enda Kenny until both he and Bertie debated together. Not surprisingly, Bertie has more experience in tv debates. Despite what the papers wrote, Enda got his ass kicked and it is a testament to his hard work and like-ability that he did so well electorally.

I'm pleased that so many people got engaged with the election - there are clearly lots of practical problems (Thursday vote, ropey register, constituency boundaries) - but it is healthy that so many people took the trouble to decide. For this reason alone, the country got the correct result and unlike what the Irish Times might say, getting the government you deserve is no bad thing for a democracy.

Enough already,


Blogger John of Dublin said...

Hi Paige. Good article. I'll get around to my own views (which are similar) in the next day or so.

11:53 p.m., May 26, 2007  
Blogger Omaniblog said...

Well welcome back. I wish you wouldn't disappear and leave me bothered that something untoward might have happened to you. A simple 'I'm off to do some very secret undercover work' would suffice.
I can see the you and John of Dublin have minds that have met. Two more astute people I couldn't hope to find.
It's you remark about the 'left' I find myself wondering about. I'll miss Joe Higgins in the Dail: I enjoy many of his rants and his oratory. But I feel we need a new voice which isn't a 21st century rehash of 19th century speak. A voice (ideally a clutch of voices) tuned to the reality of economic and political change. Too much has shifted. Even Fine Gael are in favour of decent social services for all...
But most of all I want to say that I loved your piece. You bring eyes untrammeled by party, ideological or customary convictions and engage, with wit and insight, both issues and readers.
We are fortunate to have you out there on your undisclosed mission.

7:03 a.m., May 27, 2007  
Blogger Paige A Harrison said...

Thanks, Guys. It is great getting feedback and brilliant when it is so positive. The problem I have with everything that I write is that the minute I read it back, I can see nothing but its flaws. I want to re-write it 'cos it doesn't say exactly what I want to say. But I am pathologically incapable of rewriting the same thoughts.
As a result, so many posts get written but discarded.

11:11 a.m., May 27, 2007  
Blogger Omaniblog said...

I'm interested in approximately what you say.

2:16 p.m., May 29, 2007  
Anonymous Michael Nugent said...

I just got around to reading this and it's a good analysis, Paige.

The real difficulty with the fragmentation is that, because of Fianna Fail's electoral strength and policy flexibility, they can almost always stay in government by going into coalition with whoever can get them over the line while giving away the fewest cabinet seats.

At the moment, I can't really see what will change this.

2:07 p.m., June 18, 2007  

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