Get Up and Vote

P45 CartoonWe should be having a revolution here. Instead, if polls are to be believed, we may be electing a government even further to the right, even more willing to elevate rich over poor, than the one we are throwing away.

Don’t believe the polls, it’s too easy for such prophecies to become self-fulfilling. There is everything to play for right to the end. Which is why I’m up at 3:00 writing this so you can read it before you leave in the morning. It isn’t too late to send a message to all the political parties, to their wealthy friends, to the other countries of the EU. We are in a hole that was not made by the ordinary people of Ireland, and certainly not by those who are going to suffer the most because of it. The message is that we will not put up with this shit.

Don’t vote for Fine Gael to punish Fianna Fáil. There are much better punishments. Vote for people who don’t mince words about repudiating the awful “bailout” arrangement. That’s there to save the Euro, not us. Remember we have a hostage.

This means voting for out-there parties like the United Left Alliance – or even Sinn Féin. Few things would give the establishment more pause than a substantial rise in the SF vote. It also means voting for Labour, even if I am disappointed on the stand they’ve taken. Or lack thereof. Essentially we need Labour in government if there is to be any hope of the next few years not turning into an orgy of punishment for the poor.

Please, get out there now and warn those who act like they own us. Remind them where power really comes from.

Meanwhile, back in Galway West

My own constituency is going to go to the wire. While there are some laudable independents running, I don’t personally think any of them have a chance – except the ones who are independent more in name than in outlook. These are Noel Grealish, the ‘last PD’, and Labour’s lost candidate Catherine Connolly. It seems very likely that the final seat will be between these two, and I hardly need to tell you which is the vastly preferable outcome.

Indeed I like Catherine Connolly better than Labour’s official candidate, Derek Nolan. I’ll be putting her ahead in my order, and I hope a lot of others do too. I believe Galway West can elect them both.

And there may be an extra trick that more daring voters can play, if Kernan Andrews in the Galway Advertiser is correct:

Senator Healy Eames needs to outpoll Deputy Grealish and stay ahead of him to ensure she takes the seat. If she does, she will knock Grealish out and this will free up the last two seats for the Galway Left – which means victories for Labour’s Derek Nolan and Independent Catherine Connolly.

So that’s my only FG vote – Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames. Remember that name. She may help us simultaneously finish off the last PD and elect, for the first time in the history of Galway West, a second TD on the left.

Which… would be nice.

Cosmography Politics

Is Climate Change, Bitches

After the breakneck pace of events yesterday, I think a change of topic is in order. Though not without noting in passing how Lenihan attempted to shift blame for the bankers’ bonuses onto Fine Gael and Labour this morning. Suddenly, taxing them is an idea he was all in favour of – but alas his hands are tied by the pesky opposition. There’s no shame in this game.

Microcos Climate CartoonGoing back to Sunday’s tirade against the Greens though: I think it’s probably necessary these days, with the rise of “climate scepticism”, to clarify that I am not on the anti-environmental fringe. I don’t know if I’d call myself an environmentalist. I try to avoid labels that end in “ist”, especially in “mentalist”. But I have friends who are Green Party members – well, until Sunday I had – and I agree with a lot of what they think.

There are extremes of environmentalism I find abhorrent; the “Humans are the worst animal ever and the planet would be better if we all died” lobby. There is a bizarre narcissism to that. How can we be worse than Nature? We’re not supernatural beings. What we are, what we do, is an expression of Nature. We do ugly things, as does Nature. The one difference: We know that they’re ugly.

But I think it is wise to try to upset the dynamics of the planet as little as we can. We should care about biological diversity and stability, we should care about the long-term effects of our activities. This seems the moral, responsible thing to do.

And so there is a movement to shirk off that responsibility. They call themselves sceptics, in much the same way that people who want to promote religion over science use the disingenuous label “intelligent design”. More normally, sceptics are people who point out how widely-held personal beliefs are not compatible with scientific knowledge. These people point out how widely-held scientific knowledge is not compatible with their personal beliefs.

The belief in this case seems to be a sort of libertarianism. To these people, climate change is a hoax perpetrated against them by lefty government, an attempt to force a collectivized tyranny onto freedom-loving individuals. The freedom they seem to particularly love is the one to use up oil like nobody’s business.

Last night the UK’s Horizon did an interesting documentary on the fact that professional science is losing the battle against amateur bollocks. The programme had its faults – it kinda forgot to mention that there might be rational grounds to reject GM crops, for one – but it made the point well that we now live in a world full of people who, when faced with the conclusions reached by thousands of dedicated professionals doing decades of gruelling, intricate research, will say “Yes but here’s what I think”.

So here’s what I think: I won’t disagree that there can be a certain irritating piety to “environmental awareness”. I won’t say that political solutions to these problems are never wrong. But the science on the issue is overwhelming. There is little debate about this in the relevant fields today because that debate has been had already. It was pretty much settled more than twenty years ago. The evidence points to human-driven climate change.

If there is any weak link in the argument, it’s where we extend it into the future and predict disaster. There are a lot of unknowns in the future. However, disaster still seems more likely than not.

So: Most people with actual expertise on the subject think it likely that if we keep behaving as we do it will profoundly change our climate, probably making it far less hospitable to humans, to other animals, and to food production.

We should do something about this perhaps.

It’s not comfortable knowledge. We could rest a lot easier if we were ignorant of the idea that the things we do on an everyday basis could be slowly but inexorably leading to extinctions and floods. Nobody wants that. I understand why some are driven to rebel, to deny that this could be true, even invent great conspiracies of people who have an interest in it being true.

But who has such an interest? If there really is such a thing as a “climate change industry”, it is microscopic when placed next to the other one – industry industry. Faking climate change would be in the interest of a few. Pretending climate change isn’t happening, that would be in the interests of a huge number of people – of very wealthy people.

I know which way I’m betting.


Too Cynical Even for Fianna Fáil?

So why the hell don’t the opposition just get this horrorshow government over with? Why are they dancing around trying to get the Finance Bill passed before the election?

Well it’s not to please the EU, even if they all say it is. It’s not even to calm the markets, entirely. It’s mainly so that the election doesn’t turn into the most vicious, unpredictable free-for-all in the history of the State.

It’s a fantastic political situation. The thing is, everybody hates the Finance Bill. Even the government (if one can still call it that) who wrote it hate the Finance Bill. Certainly the people are going to hate it. It isn’t the sum total of the EU/IMF bailout cuts of course, but it’s enough a part of it to stand for the whole. It will be hugely unpopular politically. So why don’t Labour and Fine Gael kill it dead by bringing down the Taoiseach?

Because of this: If the election is not fought after the Finance Bill, then it will be fought over the Finance Bill. And that will be a gift beyond price to the parties who are willing to campaign on getting the EU/IMF agreement torn up: Sinn Féin, the United Left Alliance, the almost uncountable array of non-party protest candidates that will spring up. If enough of the vote goes to them there will be no possibility of Labour and Fine Gael forming an administration – not at least without some very unwanted help.

So watch, as in the next few days and weeks all the major parties go to enormous lengths to express how much they abhor the bill, while at the same time trying desperately to get it passed. Labour and Fine Gael will want to add softening, voter-friendly amendments. This too will be fun, because they will on the one hand be trying to show they can cooperate (to undermine the desperate FF refrain that they won’t be able to govern together), on the other desperately competing to be the party that hates the bailout most. They will attempt to do this without looking foolish, and they will fail. It’s going to be hilarious.

And to make it worse, if they succeed in reaching a compromise this may present Fianna Fáil with a last minute opportunity to reverse their fortunes. It’s conceivable that a version of the bill could be passed without FF votes – enabling them to present themselves to the electorate as the one party who were against it!

Too cynical, even for Fianna Fáil?


~ ~ ~ EDIT ~ ~ ~

Microcos Plebiscite CartoonSo I was wrong? Not at all. You see, the main political parties read this column and – forewarned of the dire alternative – got their shit together.

It’s a perfectly valid theory.

So Fine Gael and Labour presented Fianna Fáil with an ultimatum. Where they really ready to go to the country without the Finance Bill being safely finished? Well, they were ready to act like they were.

And I’m sad really. Because if we had the election first then it would effectively be a plebiscite on the Finance Bill, and thus the EU/IMF bailout deal. You may fairly say that is not what an election is for, but when all the major parties favour one course of action and want to present us with a fait accompli, then I feel rebellion coming on. Politicians should not be ganging up against the public.

But not to despair. There’s still plenty time for operation Stuff The Finance Bill Down The Nation’s Neck to go horribly, hilariously wrong.


Sex With Satan

Well that was the Green Party. I wonder what they’ll do, now that politics is over.

I want to give them credit for bringing this government down. That can go in the ledger opposite keeping them in power for years, even when they were clearly being the worst administration we have ever known. And of course, going into government with them in the first place, when bells were clanging and red lights flashing all around Bertie Ahern.

You could have pulled the plug at any time, but you had to wait until they bankrupted the country first. All in the fond hope that Fianna Fáil were going to let you pass a package of measures that were against corporate interests. And against corporate donations. To Fianna Fáil. Really, Greens?

That can only be called culpable naïvety.

You were the party elected by the young idealistic voter. You forced them to watch while you made love to Satan. Not only have you played a supporting role in the ransacking of the public funds, you have destroyed environmentalism as a cause. In fact I feel like taking a piss in a river right now, to celebrate your demise.

Good riddance.

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