Editorial from Irish Political Review, July 2007
The result of the election was that the Government won and goes on essentially as before with a Green tinge. This was almost inevitable for the very good reason that the real opposition to the Government was not standing in the election, i.e. the media led by the Irish Times. The official Opposition made no real impression and were merely tail-ending the real opposition and they were treated with contempt by it no less than it treated the Government.
All elections need a 'big idea'. Pat Rabbitte thought up 'But are you happy?' Being charitable we will say no more about it. We assume he is not keeping any souvenir copies of it on his wall. Fine Gael wanted to create a 'Contract with the people'. Again, the less said the better. Copies of that are also scarce.
The real big idea of the election was that established by the Irish Times—are you going to vote for another Fianna Fail crook as Taoiseach?
This was long-thought-out and well-planned for months—and indeed for years—ahead. All the paper's reporting was pure propaganda based on that theme before, during—and it is ongoing. There was not even a pretence at objectivity. Others followed suit. Vincent Browne now says he is very concerned that the issue of apparently 850,000 people who are officially near poverty level was not an issue. Vincent helped ensure this was not an issue. The latest leaked tit-bit from the Mahon Tribunal was much more important for him at the launch of the Fianna Fail manifesto. The poor will have to wait for Vincent's attention to refocus on them when he has a free moment from feeding, nay gorging himself, on these tit-bits.
The drawback this time with the Big Idea was that it made no sense to the electorate. The country officially was never better off and any sane electorate will not seek a change of government in that situation unless it is given some very compelling reason. The electorate very sensibly ignored the puff of smoke about the Taoiseach's house and his unorthodox financial arrangements during a trying time in his personal life. They took the decent, humane attitude of 'there but for the Grace of God go I'. After all, it was not taxpayer's money that was involved and it was not even the Taoiseach's own money in any real sense. And what had it all to do with running the country?
After that, there was nothing to do but return FF.
The problem is that the real opposition does not have to take responsibility for failing to achieve their ambition this time and they can go on as before. Removing Taoiseachs is not easy—as they have said—and they have bigger fish to fry than winning a mere election. The electorate must be remade.
When the Irish Times organised its first round of the current Bertiegate saga last year, it also suffered a defeat when Ahern's popularity rose as a result of their 'exposure'. The Irish Times concluded: "So, we are to hold our noses" (4 October 2006) when Ahern survived in the Dail. Then, when opinion polls went in his favour, it asked: "What sort of people are we?" (13 Oct. 2006). The people are the problem for the Irish Times.
This is in spite of the fact that Irish society has been more positively reformed and transformed than any other society in Western Europe in recent decades. Insofar as any party or political body has overseen and orchestrated this transformation Fianna Fail has done so. It makes plenty mistakes and is atrocious on some issues but it can be safely said that, all things being relative, the alternatives to the party were, and are, even more atrocious at any stage. In overseeing this transformation Fianna Fail was simply following its history. In its first decade alone it prevented the effects of the Great Depression, prevented fascism and war, and established constitutional independence. One would think that this could be easily gleaned from 'the journal of record', but it would take a lot of searching there to find these elemental facts stated. For the very good reason, of course, that the Irish Times was its deadly enemy at every stage. So there is nothing new under the sun.
The Irish Times was founded as part of the British body politic in Ireland. It did not deign to engage in, or with, the Irish body politic. It fought tooth and nail against every move towards Irish independence in thought, word, or deed. As it put it so well as late as last October, it held its nose when contemplating the Irish body politic. And it still does.
We must appreciate how clearly and blatantly the Irish Times does this nowadays. It is oath-bound, plans the removal of Taoiseachs, defies the law, and grants itself constitutional rights in opposition to existing constitutional rights. In short it has established the equivalent of Crown Immunity in the State. We have therefore a most unusual situation. Some people go on about it all being about the power of the media, and the framework of this idea is the situation that occurred in Britain with occasional near-monopoly ownership of the press and media. That is not the issue in Ireland. The monopoly problem is usually sorted out by the market itself and/or the development of new media etc. Denis O'Brien may topple O'Reilly and someone else may replace him and that's all open and above board.
The problem in Ireland is that the leading newspaper operates outside and beyond the law and feels totally justified in doing so because its mission is not related to the Irish body politic. It serves another in current circumstances as faithfully as it ever did in other circumstances.
We need an Irish solution to this Irish problem.
The greatest casualty of the Election is Pat Rabbitte and this is confirmed by the coalition with the Greens. What an absurd position for Labour to be in! To have been able to be in Government simply for the asking and to throw it away and to do so for purely ideological reasons. This is more than the end of Rabbitte—it is the end of the whole Stickie experiment in Irish politics. And good riddance. The Stickies ruined everything they touched. They helped set the North alight by misjudging both the nationalists and the Unionists. They encouraged the Northern nationalists in the 60s with anti-Partionist rhetoric (while disarming them), thereby provoking the Unionists and leaving the nationalists as sitting ducks.
Their problem was that they were a product of the schemes of a part of the British body politic, specifically, the Communist Party of Great Britain's plans for Ireland. The CPGB lived by ideology and its role for Ireland was to flatter it as a non-member of NATO and thereby encourage it to be a possible support for Moscow in the Cold War. Ireland as such was of no interest whatever to them. It's great achievement would have been to have kept Ireland out of Europe—and only somebody lost completely to the real world could have seen that as being in Ireland's interest. Stickie ideology is blind to reality as Pat Rabbitte has proved conclusively.
Their view of Irish history was based on a lie created by Desmond Greaves to the effect that James Connolly was a Leninist. But Connolly did not know of Lenin and neither did Lenin know of him. Connolly was his own man through and through, as was Lenin, and their positions on WW I were totally different. Greaves concocted a story that they were the same. That is the source of the big lie that lies behind the Stickie view of Irish history. The Stickies allowed others to do their thinking for them and they were satisfied with a hand-me-down version of it. Pathetic.
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