Does anyone still take them seriously?

By Gene Kerrigan

  'Frankly, I'm getting tired of being lied to.'

'Frankly, I'm getting tired of being lied to.'

Let's try what they call a "thought experiment". That's something that used to be called "blue sky thinking". Before that the cool people called it "thinking outside the box". Back in my day, we called it "thinking"

Let's see if the two largest right-wing parties have any credibility left; if the media is being played like an accordion; and if we really need a government at all.

For this thought experiment, let's imagine we had a general election and Richard Boyd Barrett ended up at the head of a party with 50 TDs.

And, as he's still sorting out who sits where, in comes Ruth Coppinger, and behind her there are 40 more TDs from her party.

So, in this thought experiment, about 90 TDs are elected for two left-wing parties, thereby giving them a solid majority in the Dail.

What would happen next?

Anyone with more than two ounces of brain tissue would expect the immediate formation of the first left wing government in the history of the State.

But, suppose Richard said, "Ah, no".

And Ruth said, "Nah, that's not on".

And suppose that with no further explanation they began weeks of "round table discussions" with Independents and odds and sods galore, even as the numbers of homeless steadily increased and the doubts about the economy multiplied.

And suppose everyone in the country knew that this refusal to form a stable government had its basis in an unnecessary civil war fought 93 years earlier.

And that it was complicated by a struggle for party advantage, not to mention ego.

And suppose we all knew that policy differences are minimal.

This is what has been going on for the past 37 days, and will continue for maybe another 37, as the people who fought the election on the issue of "stability" try to find a way of besting one another.

And they must find a way in which they control the government, and simultaneously prevent the development of any other opposition.

But what if it wasn't two right wing parties? What would happen that would be different if it was Boyd Barrett and Coppinger playing juvenile games?

You know well what would happen.

Every time either of them, or anyone connected with them, came within range of a camera or a microphone, or sat down or stood up or walked through a doorway, a bellow of journalists would descend on them.

We can be certain that Richard and Ruth and all the other lefties would be hounded day and night by professionally indignant journalists.

The papers would be full of analysis that explained that the electorate had made a dreadful mistake. The voters had elected irresponsible left-wing chancers who didn't give a damn about the people.

So, from this thought experiment we can conclude that our media are pretty tolerant of right-wing playacting. Only in the past few days have some outlets become slightly irked at being played for suckers.

Even now, journalists who have to keep on good terms with their political sources insist that this is just the nitty-gritty of putting a government together.

It's not.

Experienced journalists have found themselves being told that Enda's people having a chat with Mattie McGrath is "very constructive".

And that a sit-down between Leo Varadkar and Michael Healy-Flatcap amounts to "government formation".

Enda ran out of people to talk to and had to have the two Green TDs in for a second time, during which even they found the farce too much to take, and walked out.

And the Taoiseach, in this day and age, with the vast apparatus available to him, from army couriers to highly paid advisors, tried but was unable to contact the leader of Fianna Fail.

And vice versa.

Enda rang Mee-hawl, who didn't hear the phone ringing, didn't notice the texts. Ah, sure, you know how it is - lunchtime, a few scoops with the lads, a bit of banter, and you don't notice the phone buzzing away in your pocket. We've all been there.

Imagine Boyd Barrett or Coppinger trying to get away with that bullshit.

While the clowns have been cavorting, serious doubts have been forced on us as to whether we need a government. And whether there is any point to having elections - and this in a period in which Enda and Mee-hawl and the rest of them have been commemorating the people who gave us an independent(-ish) state.

We're told the children's hospital is being delayed again. There can't be a more serious health project, but the Government has stood idly by as one delay followed another, at a leisurely pace.

Education has been eased away from academics, to become part of the supply chain for business, so the Minister for Education has little to do except occasionally worsen the pupil-teacher ratio at primary level.

The Minister for Transport has no role in the current Luas dispute, because it's a private company. Why exactly do we have a Minister for Transport, if such a central part of the transport system is off limits to him?

Oh, yes, I forgot - he's there to gradually crop State involvement in bus and rail and anything else that moves.

Alan Kelly, Power Ranger, tells us now that in his experience as minister for housing, the Government can't do anything about the homeless, because of the property clause in the Constitution.

Hospitals, education, transport, housing - it's out of the Government's hands because of the Constitution or the EU or "the market".

Do we need a government, at all, then? Or an election?

Now they selectively leak an alleged "legal opinion" that allegedly says we can't get rid of Irish Water because of an alleged "EU rule".

I wonder why this alleged EU rule didn't apply to Paris, when they took the privatised water supply back into municipal control? And why it won't apply to Rouen, Saint Malo, Brest, Nice, Bordeaux, Rennes and Montpellier as they do the same?

Or to Berlin when they took back control of the water supply in 2013?

Frankly, I'm getting tired of being lied to.

Meanwhile, to add farce to farce, with great pomp the media tells us that Michael Noonan has been brought in to knock some sense into the "negotiations" for "government formation".

Really? Is that the Michael Noonan who made a balls of the Fine Gael campaign, with his 12 billion fiscal space that turned out to be eight billion?

There's no "money to play with", says the man who spent the past few months telling us how he'd fixed the economy. Does anyone anywhere take seriously anything that person says anymore?

Which brings us back to our thought experiment.

It would be a big jump, blowing off the right-wing parties and giving the left a majority. But, consider this.

The farce on Thursday - about missed calls and who called who - that's not an aberration. That kind of childish stuff has been going on since the election. And during the election. And before the election - same clowns, same politics of bluff and pander.

On top of the deregulation that caused the crash; the market worship and the cowardice when the ECB made faces at them. Next time this happens - and it will - do we want Enda and Mee-hawl and Michael of the miscounted billions dealing with the bankers and the EU hard nuts who instruct them to pay bankers' debts?

The playacting that's been going on suggests we need to do a lot more "thought experiments" about the nature of Irish politics.

Original article:   Sunday Independent Published 3/4/2016