First Concrete Impressions

Exit polls are the snacks you shouldn’t eat between meals, but if you place any credence in them then Fianna Fáil are about to have the worst day in their party’s history.

The big winners will be… Independents. Independents would have overtaken the Fianna Fáil party to become the third-largest political grouping.

As the counts begin to come in, one very hopeful trend emerging: The fall of dynasties. Names like Haughey, like Flynn, will no longer be appearing in the Dáil. High time.

Major trends: In Dublin, Fianna Fáil voters switching to Labour, outside Dublin they’re switching to Fine Gael.

Left/right, urban/rural axis seems to be slowly taking place of old ‘civil war’ one?

Interesting-but-weird: Transfers from Sinn Féin going to Fine Gael. Again quite contrary to historical loyalty patterns.

Fun: A Christian Solidarity Party candidate (read: far right) very upset that his party logo didn’t appear on the ballot paper, and was replaced with what he describes as a ‘picture of nuts’.

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.

Ireland – Read This And Pass It On

Rightwards CartoonDammit, I am not looking forward to life under Enda. The reason Fianna Fáil went so wrong is that they were far too involved on a personal basis with business, banking and property. Fine Gael are meant to be the cure for that? Hmm.

Over the last ten years or so, the idea prevailed that if you let banks go crazy they’d magic up enough money for everyone. Since this failed so disastrously, you might think we’d consider voting for the sole major party that wasn’t in favour of it. Yet instead we’re going from one lot of laissez-faire capitalists to another. This is like voting for five more years of British rule after the Great Famine.

For the first time in our entire history, Ireland had a real chance of returning a mildly socialist government. Not a Labour overall majority, but at least a government led by the left. Yet even after the parties of the right destroyed the country, we still do not. Incredibly, there’s even a small danger of electing the furthest-right government we’ve ever had – a single-party Fine Gael administration. I almost wish that on the electorate. Go on, do it. Find out for yourselves just how right-wing Fine Gael can be without the moderating influence of Labour.

(God no, don’t. It would be like staring into the unmasked face of the national id.)

Why, even when kicked and spat on, are we incapable of voting for real change? It’s true Labour failed to present themselves as well as they might, and I don’t think Gilmore is their most impressive leader ever. But Christ, look at Kenny. There has to be more to it. Labour started dropping in the polls when voters decided that Kenny was the clear favourite in the race to be Taoiseach. They chose him like punters choose a horse. In other words, a substantial number of people out there vote not for what seems just, or even for what they think is necessary. They vote for who they think is going to win.

It’s insane, it’s stupid, but people do it anyway because it gives them a sense of being on the winning side. Like Man United supporters – only they get to decide our laws. As soon as it became clear that Enda Kenny was most fancied, people started clustering around him. The media unconsciously give him a softer ride (as they did with Brian, and Bertie, and…), suddenly he no longer looks like an uptight, ineffectual bumbler. Well actually he still does, but he’s going to be Emperor now so shut up about his nakedness.

People who vote like that deserve bad government, deserve to have their money stolen by laughing rich people. But they are not all of us. Don’t live in a country where that kind of person decides your fate. If you’re reading this on Friday and you haven’t voted yet, get up from the computer and run. Run to the polling station.

Or just keep on running. Let’s face it, the place is going to shite.

What Debate?

Micheál Martin Cartoon“The big issue here… The big issue…” says Micheál Martin, attempting to talk over someone in the RTÉ debate. I look forward to hearing him say that a lot more. Preferably on street corners.

Really, what is he doing in this studio? His party will be lucky to make it into opposition after this election, never mind government. His opinions are irrelevant, his policies fantasies.

But then the whole debate is a polite fiction. The election results seem to be pretty much a foregone conclusion, the only real thing at stake the precise relative strength of Fine Gael and Labour in the mix. So in effect we’re watching a debate between Gilmore and Kenny, with Martin there as punching bag. That’s a thought actually. If they just wrestled the fucker to the ground and took turns kicking the jam out of him the electorate could go to bed with a smile tonight. Miriam there keeping count of the points. “Nothing below the belt. Oh, go on then.”

But instead it’s just the usual three grown men bickering like siblings. Not only is it pointless, it is actually bad for democracy. I mean, it makes us fantasize about solving problems with violence. That can’t be good.

Mmm. Violence.