There’s a general election on Friday. It’s going to be an earth-shaking, transformative election, unprecedented in the history of the Irish state. This time, we’re going to vote for the other lot, not the usual lot. In fact, the usual lot are pretty screwed, because they broke the country. That’s not broke as in out of money (they did that to us too), but broke as in ‘does not work any more, is kaput, reinstall constitution from CD.’ In effect, the election determines who gets to rubber-stamp the economic policies dictated to us by Europe. There was this whole bank guarantee thing that went like this.
BANKERS: Round of wholly uncontroversial golf? Not that we’re having sneaky meetings behind anyone’s backs or anything.
GOVERNMENT: Sure! Shall we take your jet, or will I follow you in the government jet? Because we’re rich and nothing can ever go wrong again.
BANKERS: We’re in a bit of a hole. We got in loads of cheap money, and we lent it to people.
GOVERNMENT: That’s good. Houses! Construction! Celtic tiger! Everyone’s a winner!
BANKERS: Yeah… about that. It turns out handing out billions so some cowboys could build a concrete sprawl in a field that’s six hours commute from anywhere was a bit stupid. They can’t even flog ‘em to the Eastern Europeans who moved here to build houses for other Eastern Europeans. As I said, we’re in a bit of a hole.
GOVERNMENT: So… do you want a loan, or what?
BANKERS: Let’s go for what.
GOVERNMENT: Ok. how about we guarantee your deposits, so there’s no run on the banks.
GOVERNMENT: And we’ll guarantee the bond-holders too, and promise them that you’ll repay all the money you borrowed that you then loaned to some bloke you met down the pub so he could build 50,000 houses in a bog somewhere.
BANKERS: Er. OK. Sure. Fine. So, just so we’re clear, you’re guaranteeing us from absolutely everything. We could, like, shoot someone, and you’d take the rap.
GOVERNMENT: But you won’t shoot anyone, right?
BANKERS: Nooo…. by the way, remember that hole?
GOVERNMENT: Yep. Do we have to cover you for a few thousand? No bother, lads, you’ve been good to us and…
BANKERS: Actually, it’s more like a few million….
GOVERNMENT: Here you go.
GOVERNMENT: Fine, ok, but don’t do it aga-
GOVERNMENT: You’ve lost zillions?
BANKERS: No, no, no. We’ve lost millions of billions of zillions. A hell of lot more than the country is worth, really.
GOVERNMENT: It’s ok. We’ll get a loan from Europe to repay your debts.
BANKERS: But how will…
GOVERNMENT: The plain people of Ireland will cover your debts, never fear.
GOVERNMENT: About time we were going, anyway.
PLAIN PEOPLE OF IRELAND: What the fuck was that? Wasn’t there a Celtic tiger there a minute ago? Why did I got a mortgage for half a million to buy a half-finished bit of concrete in the middle of the North Atlantic?
Anyway, that’s how the usual lot (Fianna Fail) fucked up. In Ireland, we don’t have the usual left/right division. We’ve got the usual lot (Fianna Fail, centre right) and the other lot (Fine Gael) who are…centre right. There’s a difference, but it’s sort of like the difference between African and European elephants. They’re still elephants. Anyway, in this glorious transformative election, we’re voting for the other lot.
At least, the rest of the country is. I’m not sure who I’m voting for. We’ve had no canvassers call to the door, and very little in the way of election flyers. My vote will be based partially on a brief examination of the candidate’s policies as determined by a cursory google, and the look of their election posters. Without further ado…
Cork South Central! (Wikipedia)
Dan Boyle (Green Party): I voted Green last time. You know, a vote for green energy, carbon cuts, alternative fuels, puppies and stuff. The Green Party proceeded to go into coalition with Fianna Fail and presided over the reaming of the nation. They made lots of concerned noises, and threatened to think about maybe considering to hold a meeting to review their position on their commitment to not bring the government down a few times. If they’d had the courage to pull the plug a few years ago, then they’d be a lot higher on my list, and I’ve heard good things about Boyle himself. As it is, lads, your dalliance with the devil has doomed you all, and lost you my vote. Next time, if your party has a next time, don’t go into government with that lot.
Jerry Buttimer (Fine Gael): He looks like a gnome.
He looks like a gnome who’s obsessed with mushrooms.
I see him, in the night, scurrying through the undergrowth, rubbing his gnarled gnome hands with glee as he finds a patch of succulent juicy mushrooms. Quick as a flash, he gathers them in his floppy gnome hat before scurrying back to his underground kingdom.
Deirdre Clune (Fine Gael): I’m irritated by Fine Gael’s social policies (their equality spokeperson just came out against gay marriage, for example) and they’re a lot more right-wing than I’d like. Plus, a quick perusal of her website shows that she’s part of a political family, which is a problem in Irish politics (youtube video).
That said, she’s the Fine Gael innovation and research spokeswoman, and one of the first articles I found on her site was her talking about promoting Cork as a digital hub for gaming. Congratulations, that gets you a higher preference than the rest of your party.
Wait, this is the same party who came out with this (flash game/turd).
Sigh. Is it shallow to be judging a party based on their flash games? Probably. I don’t care. Let’s complete the trifecta.
Simon Coveney (Fine Gael): Christ, it’s an Irish politician who doesn’t look ghastly. That’s something of a novelty. Most of our politicians… well, yeah.
His eyes do tend to follow you, though, boring into your soul with intensity.
Stop staring at me, Simon Coveney.
Seems competent enough, though. I really can’t hold the flash game over them forever, can I?
Paula Desmond (Labour): I was all set to vote Labour (they’d be my other go-to party after the Greens, and I’m genetically Labour to an absurd degree), until their economic spokeswoman had a very, very bad performance (youtube meltdown) on Vincent Browne a few weeks ago.
She’s very much a local candidate, from a quick skim of her wordpress site; Ciaran Lynch is the real Labour prospect for a seat, so if I vote Labour, it’ll probably be for him.
A clutch of independent candidates coming up. This could be a laugh.
Sean Dunphy (Independent): He’s a doctor. That is pretty much all I can find about him. I’m not sure if ‘I’m a doctor’ is an election platform. I mean, it’s great that he’s a doctor, and he’s apparently pro cheaper drugs for people, but still, one likes a little more breadth in candidates than ‘I’m a doctor’.
Mick Finn (Independent): I really should use the other photo off his website, just so I could quote Jeff Winger’s ‘I don’t have an ego. My facebook photo is a landscape‘ line. Another candidate whose policies are almost entirely local.
Why’s that bad? Because. (Not actually a joke. Genuine Irish politician. Lynchpin of independent support for the current government. Really. Yeah.) I don’t mean to tar Mick Finn with the same brush, but… no. Plus, his name is a date rape drug.
Eric Isherwood (Independent): He’s running on a platform of special needs, and I respect his commitment… but, well, if your website looks like a youtube comment thread, I am compelled to dismiss you as a serious candidate.
That said, Isherwood’s streets ahead of Gerard Linehan (independent), who appears to be running on a platform of timecube and being allowed to complain to the government about his divorce or something. It’s bizarre. ‘If elected, it would create an opportunity for me to challenge the Ceann Comhairle in the Dail on the manner in which he and his predecessors, have blocked questions for oral hearing as submitted by the former T.D., Joe Higgins, the technical group, Enda Kenny T.D. and most recently Mary O’ Rourke T.D., on the irregular manner in which Judge Patrick Moran of Cork Circuit Court and others within the judiciary dealt with my family law case.’
Can you anti-vote someone?
Back to the regular parties for a while now.
Ciaran Lynch (Labour): Irritates me instantly because he uses ‘de’ instead of ‘the’ when twittering.
Voting for Labour in any event is like going on a diet by ordering the chicken burger instead of the steak. It’s marginally healthier, but it’s still greasy and covered in mayonnaise.
Look at the photo, then think ‘covered in mayonnaise.’ He appears to like the idea.
Actually, it’s more like voting for a slightly-to-the-left-of-the-right-of-centre party as opposed to voting for a slightly-to-the-right-of-the-right-of-centre party or a slightly-to-the-bastards-of-right-of-centre party. Gah. Irish politics, designed by Henry Ford. You can have any colour you want, as long as it’s black.
David McCarthy (Independent): Look at his young hair. That’s youfful, energetic hair, that is.
Actually, his policies aren’t half bad. I’ll give him a high preference.
Michael McGrath (Fianna Fail): There’s something deeply sinister about his election posters. The overwhelming impression is one of barely concealed violence behind that fake smile. Vote for me, they say, or I’ll break your legs.
Actually, that’s a pretty effective slogan.
Better than his previous one of let’s build a train oh wait we can’t.
And here is a miracle beyond compare. Behold the man who sprang from nothing not three weeks ago. A man who, despite being in the cabinet throughout the lifetime of the last government, somehow managed to repel all responsibility for anything bad ever. I speak of Michael Martin (Fianna Fail), who’s apparently bringing the Immaculate Conception back into fashion, for he claims to be untainted by Original Sin.
Ted Neville (Independent): Running on an immigration control platform. Lovely.
One of the stranger byproducts of Ireland having, y’know, an economy and money and stuff was that we actually had immigration. We had people living here who weren’t exactly Irish. Now, we’d been ok with them black people when they made up most of the Irish international football team during Italia ’90 – my grandmother offered up prayers for Paul McGrath’s knees – but them actually living here? That was new. In short, we discovered racism and decided we liked it.
Diarmuid O Cadhla (Independent): Has apparently invented democracy. Under the new system, everything gets discussed with constituents. It’s government by consensus. That seems plausible, workable and not at all a complete clusterfuck. Yep, I’m convinced. Next!
Finbarr O’Driscoll (Independent): 404 error – candidate not found.
Chris O’Leary (Sinn Fein): No.
So, after all that, how am I voting? I’ll be giving Fine Gael a slightly higher set of preferences than I expected, along with David McGrath. Labour are uninspiring, to put it mildly.
Ah, democracy. No-one tell the Egyptians that it’s a bit crap, really.