The Lads are counting on you

The Lads are counting on you

The message from the establishment parties for the election is a clear one, and it’s very important that you clowns in the electorate don’t get it wrong – you need to vote for The Lads.

They’re counting on you.

Firstly, let’s get one thing straight – you don’t matter.

Not unless you’re male, an en-tra-pan-oor, own a bank or a big building in London or Singapore, or live in a tax haven.

Your function in this is to vote for people who will look after the aforementioned, not to engage in all this crap about social justice and fairness and equality and all that nonsense.

Ireland, you see, is run for The Lads – sometimes by The Lads, but mostly for them. And you better not forget that.

Forward-looking nation that we are, there are some women among The Lads, but it is mostly men.

The Lads need you to work as cheaply as possible so that they can make as much money as possible off you.

The Lads also need you to pay as much tax as possible, so that they can pay as little as possible, and then lecture you about why they shouldn’t have to pay any at all.

The Lads also need you to pay your taxes and expect nothing in return.

That way, The Lads can start up private enterprises like creches and care homes and hospitals, and have a nice oul’ closed bid process where they divvy up the public money that they can get their mitts on.

Then The Lads can then charge you through the nose for things that you’ve already paid for, but that their mates in Leinster House have ensured cannot and will never work properly.

The Lads get to sweep up everything, from “social” housing to communications networks, and you will only ever get to own a share in them if they’re not making any money and never look like doing so ever again.

And ultimately, when it all goes wrong, The Lads will come back to you looking to be bailed out, because they can’t be expected to take these losses on their own – they’re The Lads, for fuck’s sake! Sure don’t we owe them everything!

And as for women, The Lads don’t like them much.

THey want control over their own bodies?! The cheek of them!

They want to be allowed into the boardrooms?! Over the dead bodies of The Lads!

They want to stand for election? IN OUR SEATS?!?!

If you are voting for Fine Gael, or Fianna Fáil or Labour, you are voting for The Lads.

You are voting to allow them to continue putting their hands in your pocket and take your money and your medical card and your dignity.

You are voting to return to power the guard dogs of The Lads, the very people who ensure that the benefits of trickle-down economics continue to flow upwards.

You are voting for stability – for The Lads.

You are voting for recovery – for The Lads.

You are voting for prosperity – for The Lads.

Now a situation might well arise where a few others at the bottom of the food chain might make a pound or two in the process, and that is entirely regrettable – but you can be sure that The Lads won’t be long knocking the craic out of it with a rent hike, or an increase in your premium, or your phone bill.

So remember – vote for The Lads.

They have a plan.

But it doesn’t include you.

And it never will.



Stockholm Calling

Distance makes the heart grow fonder. Apparently.

In all the years since I left Ireland, I have never wanted to be back at home more than now. This election marks a time of real change, but make no mistake; the Irish electorate could still snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and vote for more of the same, just when radical change is necessary.

Witness the non-runner that was (and is) “Democracy Now”- all the best ideas in the country rolled up into one chaotic movement that, somewhat predictably,  never got out of first gear.

Living and working in Sweden as a journalist/writer, I am spared from a lot of the pub talk and media waffle about Ireland and the upcoming election, so the idea of this blog is to reflect from an international perspective on some of the issues, personalities and tactics in use in the General Election of 2011 and to hold the arguments of the parties up to the light.

What is just as important as what is said is how it is said, and I’ll be hoping to point out recurring themes such as “trust” (Inda and the Bogtrotters), “change” (Eamon and Croke Park Combo) and “an older boy made me do it” (John Gormley and what used to be the Green Party), as well as the bias, waffle and humbug coming from the Fourth Estate themselves (that’s journalists, to you and me- the first three are unfinished satellite towns near Athlone).

The Scandinavian way of political life is entirely different from the parish-pump politics that we know and love, so a lot of what happens will be viewed through the prism of a working democracy, rather than the anarchic back-slapping cattle mart (occasionally without the cattle) that is Leinster House.

The last election I covered in Sweden was in the autumn of last year, and it too was seismic in its own way, as the far-right Sweden Democrats finally managed to clean up their Nazi image enough for them to be allowed in to parliament.

I’ve also been involved at a low level on some Irish political stories, two of which should have brought the last government down long before the Greens got their knickers in a twist over a cabinet reshuffle.

I have access to Irish media via online newspapers, Irish radio via iPhone and a gizmo that lets me watch Irish TV over the internet (most of the time). I also have a tremendous list of hacks, wags and general layabouts on Twitter to keep me in tune with the mood of the people, and when I want to telax and take a break from reality, I have the tweets of Paul Gogarty (soon-to-be-ex-Green Party TD) for my enjoyment.

I had intended to put my normal journalistic integrity to one side for the next few weeks, but seeing as there is not a single candidate running that I would consider voting for yet, I don’t have to take that decision until closer to polling day.

What I will say is that living in Scandinavia for over ten years has taught me that you don’t get great public services without paying high taxes, and anyone telling you different (I’m looking at you, Enda Kenny and Leo Varadkar) is either lying or not much good at the sums.

Once again, we go to the polls looking for the best Ireland has to offer, and once again it looks like we’re going to come up very, very short on that front. Like any dedicated foreign correspondent, I’ll update the blog when I can or when anything interesting breaks that is worth commenting on.

Please note that these occasionally partisan and often insulting views are entirely my own and not shared by any of my past, present or future employers- if they were, I would have gotten a proper job writing about the election instead of covering cross-country skiing…

/Our Man in Stockholm, Feb 2 2011.