I Blame The Parent

London collage.
Like this except on fire

According to one pundit – I won’t name him, he likes that too much – the real cause of the riots in England is absentee fathers. I don’t know why fathers always seem to go away when the Tories get elected, but it is a theory.

In the light of it, maybe we have been understanding the situation there completely incorrectly. All these young men, children really, smashing windows and cars. They are protesting, but not in the way we understand it – not even in the way they understand it themselves. They’re not kicking against the government or their economic situation or social exclusion, but something more fundamental.

Nor was the situation precipitated by reductions in police numbers, resources, and morale. That would be far too simplistic. No – at least, not in the obvious way.

We must look instead at the psychology of the individual, as one of those detective types said. What do the kids want? Well father figures of course. The discipline and guidance that children yearn for. Men of authority, whom they can look up to.

Who are the only really convincing figures of authority in their communities, the only ones who don’t need guns or knives to look hard, the only ones who set them straight when they do wrong? The father figures who in recent years and months have had less and less time for them, who don’t come around so often anymore, who seem preoccupied recently.

The looting is not really about greed. It’s kleptomania for the poor, a cry for attention. From the police. And I think it’s working.

Our First FF Canvassers

Knocking on the window. I go outside.

“We came to the wrong door.”
“You came to the wrong house. I don’t give a flying fuck about you guys. You’re welcome to leave.”

I guess I should have been better prepared. The problem is, any time I rehearsed it mentally it ended with shouting and a tirade of filthy abuse. So I guess “I don’t give a flying fuck Doorbell Cartoonabout you guys” showed remarkable self-restraint, even if it was virtually nonsense.

What I want to say is “How can you show your faces? How can you actually stand here and campaign for that party?” But that would have only started them making excuses, and I wouldn’t have been able to hold it in then. They’re gone ten minutes now, but I’m still aching to shout or break something.

And that’s just one Fianna Fáil candidate. There’s another two of the bastards still to come.

Sod You, Dick Roche

Roche CartoonDick Roche, the junior minister who claimed €50k in mileage in two years, has reacted to the defacing of his posters by overlaying it with a sticker saying “This Poster Was DEFACED By People Who Oppose Democracy”.

No Mini-ster. Come here, let me explain something to you in the eccentric capitalization you understand.

That Poster Was Defaced By People Who Oppose YOU.

That poster was defaced by people who are outraged at what you and your party have done to their democracy. By people who are going to rid their democracy of you and of the likes of you.

That poster was defaced by voters.

Laugh About It, Shout About It

Some election campaign. It seems like the only issue being debated is when, where and how issues are going to be debated. A five-way, then a three-way? I’m not sure they’re up to it, frankly. Look, enough. Let’s just not have a leaders’ debate, OK? They’re only TV, they don’t tell us anything useful. For Christ’s sake, it’s not like in the US where you might never have seen the candidates on one platform before. We have a parliamentary system, they argue practically every bloody day of the week and no one watches. This is going to be fantastically different?

Besides, it creates the false idea that we have a selection of available Taoisigh. Nothing much short of assassination could prevent Enda Kenny winning now. (And that was not a suggestion.) The only other person in with a shout is Labour’s Eamon Gilmore, so if we’re to have a meaningful leaders’ debate then really it should be between those two alone. This would make it far more watchable too – in that if Fianna Fáil’s leader was on it, I wouldn’t be able to watch. I’d be throwing bricks at the screen, which is distracting and bad for reception.

Debate CartoonWhat would Micheál Martin have to add to the debate anyway? That Labour and Fine Gael are actually two different political parties. With different policies. They’re running against each other in an election, and believe different things. That is all anyone in Fianna Fáil has to say, the sum total of their election platform. I guess they can’t very well run on their record. Micheál Martin’s role in the debate could be performed perfectly adequately by a caption at the bottom of the screen.

What he fails to understand is that a Fine Gael/Labour government that collapses due to ideological differences is still infinitely preferable to a Fianna Fáil one that lasts. For a start, it would mean they weren’t in power just for what they could shovel off the table.

Taoiseach Announces Decision to Not Make Decision

It was a very Irish event.

I got a text warning of Cowen’s press conference while driving, so by the time I could read it there was only ten minutes left. It sounds like almost sitcom contrivance, but both the stereo in the car and the sound card on my computer are out of action. My phone of course only gets radio when you haven’t lost the headphones. I had to find a pub with TV in the next small country town, fast.

The first two I tried were crowded with people watching sports on satellite channels. I didn’t fancy my chances of getting them to switch over to our glorious leader. The third though was empty. No customers, no TV – I wasn’t sure if there was even anyone minding the place. A big funeral was going on at the undertakers’ right next door, maybe they were all at that. But miracle of miracles, there was a little old radio on – a transistor radio, I almost want to call it. And the Taoiseach himself was speaking, though in such vague terms that I wasn’t able to tell at first whether I’d missed anything important.

Then out came the little old radio owner, a lady I could barely see over the bar. She asked me what I wanted and I told her I’d like a coffee. She couldn’t make out what I was saying so she started to turn the radio down. It took a while to explain that I’d actually come in to listen to it. Then she didn’t have any coffee. “Or anyone to make it,” whatever she meant by that. I asked for a Coke instead, so she took down a Pepsi and went looking for a bottle opener. As she hunted back and forth the FM reception faded in and out.

Two old lads came in from the funeral, eager to hear the speech too. They asked me if he was going or not. “Damned if I can tell,” was my reply. It was not until the announcer summed things up after that I finally got the gist. He’s putting a “Back Me or Sack Me¹” motion to the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party on Tuesday. So the Taoiseach actually called a press conference to announce that there was no news and that he had not made a decision – a first that, surely. Instead it would be up to his TDs.

Could we not just vote instead? It would save an awful lot of time and trouble to skip to the inevitable conclusion. Ah, but that would mean Fianna Fáil leaving power before they’d finished sharing the country out among themselves. And what is politics for after all if not looting?

What amuses me is trying to picture FF’s internal machinations. Clearly just about every one of them wants Cowen to go in the hope that it will save their seat. (It almost certainly won’t, but it’s the only hope they’ve got.) However, there isn’t one among them who wants to lead the party into what is virtually certain to be its greatest ever electoral defeat. So they all want someone else to do the ousting. You can see them, can’t you? Furiously playing a game of Pass The Poison Chalice. This leads to political acrobatics of the first order, as prominent party members deny in public that they want the Taoiseach’s job, while hinting to their colleagues that they might be willing to take on the Taoiseach’s job, while secretly not actually wanting the Taoiseach’s job.

What strange times, when politicians are forced into inadvertent honesty. It would be hilarious, if it wasn’t so depressing. To cheer you up then, here is some footage of cats in space.

  1. “…Or Crack Me”, as someone on Twitter creatively added.