Saturday, August 18, 2007

None Of The Above


❍The Viking site at Dublin's Wood Quay, destroyed by ignorant politicans

MY late mother was of the view that, when it came to voting in an election, there should be, at the bottom of the ballot paper, a box which you could tick called: None Of The Above.
If None Of The Above was then duly elected, the politicians would have to have another go at producing a candidate people actually wanted.
And those who failed in the first election would be forever barred from standing again.
I mention this brilliant idea because I have come to a conclusion about politicians, and not just those in Ireland, politicians everywhere.
They do only two things:
1) they create problems
2) they fail to solve them.
Of course, problems are the bread and butter of politics. When problems arise, they permit politicians to blather on, to indulge in double-speak and, betimes, triple and quadruple speak.
It permits them to go on television and radio and to give newspaper interviews which, they believe, give the impression they’re doing something when, actually, ordinary people realise they are blathering on, indulging in double-speak and, betimes, triple and quadruple speak.

Unfortunate soldiers may fight wars. But it is politicians who cause them and start them.
Factories close, jobs are lost, homes are repossessed, misery ensues and politicians talk and rabbit on. Sometimes, they even set up committees or working groups or task forces.
But they don’t actually do anything.
Floods devastate an area. And politicians rush to the cameras to tell everyone they will now do what they should have done years ago. And they think we’re grateful.
The spend money, our money, on big projects. But very often, if not always, the projects are designed, not to benefit people, but to help get the very same politicians re-elected.
They use our money to hire ‘advisors’ and ‘consultants’ who, on the surface of it, appear to be giving sound advice on national issues but who, when you look at it more closely, are – yet again – employed solely to increase the popularity of the politicians, to hone their image and get them re-elected.
Culture and politics are alien to each other.
They may attend and opera and nod off, they may even endure the first night of a play (never the second. The cameras aren’t there for the second) if they think it will improve their image.
But, right here in Ireland, it was politicians who ordered the destruction of Wood Quay (pictured above, during its destruction) It was the finest example of a first millennium Viking town in the world. I know, I was there, and I saw the houses and streets that were bulldozed to make way for a hideous office block which serves the dual purpose of burying the site under concrete and blocking the view of Christ Church from the quays.
Currently, they are destroying Tara for a motorway, which may very well be obsolete in less than 50 years.
They could have built a more efficient railway instead.
But developers don’t like railways. Developers don’t build huge DIY stores alongside railways. They don’t open retail parks along railways.
And that’s another thing politicians are not. Honest.
They won’t admit they chose a road instead of a railway from Dublin through County Meath, because it will open up land for development. They lied about it, and they continue to lie about it as the destruction, under a lame duck Green heritage minister, continues apace.
The big crisis in Ireland now is the forthcoming withdrawal, by Aer Lingus, of its services from Shannon to Heathrow.
Most politicians are in hiding.
Some local yokels are making noise.
But the government politicians who have surfaced – they managed to get to fund raisers at Galway Races in huge numbers, but have disappeared at the first sign of trouble – are engaging in the aforementioned double, treble and quadruple speak.
Democracy is a good idea in principle.
There is, likely as not, no better alternative.
But why is it, when it comes to election time, the choice presented to us is between one gobshite and another?
I would love if someday, some brave politician took up my late mother’s idea which might, ultimately, get some smart, honest, cultured people elected.
Sadly, as with culture, bravery and politics are alien to each other too.
Anyone know any half decent benign dictators who are looking for work?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree. I would go further, I would make voting in elections compulsory as it is in Australia; it is civic duty.

If it was compulsory, it would be necessary to have a "None of the above" option.

Brendan Martin said...

If everyone was made to vote in the same way as we are made to pay taxes, then a "None of the above" box would be required. The result would be more representative of the electorate's wishes than is now the case.

Speaking of "None of the above", I am reminded that in the early days of an election campaign, a candidate would stand but withdraew before the ballot. The candidate's name? A N Other.

Good night!

Anonymous said...

I know you're being tongue in cheek with the None of the Above idea but it's not politicians that are the problem, it's us. We get the politicans and the government we deserve, for good or for bad.

It must be for good because we've chosen to return the party that formed the bulk of the last government to have another go at it.

A None of the Above option on the ballot would just be an idiots charter for the usual people who never take time to read a newspaper or study the difference between one party's policies and anothers, they just lump them all into a catch-all pot.

If Tara is your thing then the Green party in single-party government was the only option ever likely to prevent something like Lismullen from happening. Coalition forces even the most principled party to compromise, it's just the reality that exists.

The concession, however hard to swallow for a green minister, in permitting Lismullen's organised destruction may, I hope, be balanced by other measures yet to be revealed in public.

The None of the Above box wouldn't make this a better country. A better informed public would. As a journalist do you ever wonder whether the commerciality of news today has tended to promote coverage of sexy news like the Joe O'Reilly case to the detriment of the boring old public interest news?