- Gavan Reilly - https://gavreilly.com -

Towing The Line

It’s a fact that’s rarely disputed in Ireland – and rightly so, given how futile most arguments would be – that political parties in Ireland are rarely the consultative, ideological entities they ideally ought to be. The Big Two, as you might have ascertained from some of my other writing, are pretty much the same thing (I will have a lengthy post soon on my arguments for how that particular problem should be dealt with). Sinn Féin might as well only have one policy for all the contributions they seem to make to public debate, Labour do their best but really ought to look beyond their blueshirted Dáil neighbours, and everyone else… well, since the PDs went their own seperate ways, they really isn’t an “everyone else” to speak of. Bring back Joe Higgins and we’ll talk.

That leaves the Lovely Girls – those oh so lovely girls of the Lovely Greens. Aren’t they lovely? Who needs an economic rescue when we can ban regular light bulbs? (Oh wait, we can’t.) Who wants to hear us talk about security in Northern Ireland when we can casually sidestep bigger issues like third-level fees, or the fact that all of our high-profile people are bailing from the party?

There’s something distinctly Irish, then, about the fact that Paul Gogarty has decided to up sticks [1] as the Greens’ education spokesman. The decision, according to RTÉ, comes on the back of the Greens’ Árd Fheis party conference at the weekend, where the members voted to set up a group devising the party’s educational policies.

Hmm. When you’re the junior partner in coalition, do you think it’s particularly right for one of your most prominent members to throw a hissy fit and quit his job, merely because in the light of near unanimous government disapproval, the plebbians bothered him with such menial requests as asking to have a hand in policymaking? How very Irish indeed. Not quitting as Chair of the Education Committee, not quitting as a TD – just basically deciding that unless you can be the one who gets to decide on the Big Ideas, you don’t want to be the vehicle trying to get them in power. Which would Paul Gogarty rather do, implement the Green Party’s policies on education – or anything else, for that matter – or implement Paul Gogarty’s policies?

How very Irish indeed. I remember when I read Stephen Collins’ account of the formation of the Progressive Democrats in Breaking The Mould over Christmas, and how genuinely surprised I was to see that the new members of the party got such giddy thrills from actually being involved in policymaking! For Christ sake, why shouldn’t the members be involved in deciding what their association believes in? What’s the point in being part of a political party unless you have a chance to sway its opinions?

As anyone who was familiar with last week’s UCD Students’ Union elections will now no doubt be aware, there are apparently only two parts to politics: having a name people know, and pressing the flesh. It, apparently, has precious little to do with what you actually think about things. What the point, thus, of politics really is, I don’t know.

It’s the tribalism of party politics that has stopped Ireland from ever having true ideology in its politics. Apparently more than 50% of the population would now be in favour of a grand coalition. Maybe it’s about time – teaching the politicians of Ireland that they have far more in common with their “opponents” than that which seperates them mightn’t be a bad idea. If one of our Government parties – not even the big one, for crying out loud! – could breed leaders who didn’t get pissed off when Joe Soap wants his opinion counted too, then it might be start.

Toby Ziegler [2], as he often would, probably said it best:

Kill them all. Yeah. […] I mean everyone. You’re all bothering me. I want to be left alone. Clearly, the only way that’s gonna happen is to be alone. So I’m sorry, but I’m gonna have to let you all go. [pause] Except the Yankees and the Knicks… and the Yankees and the Knicks are gonna need someone to play, so keep the Red Sox and the Lakers… and the Laker girls, and The Palm, and we’ll need to keep the people who work at The Palm. That’s it though. The Yankees, the Red Sox, the Knicks, the Lakers, the Laker girls, and anyone who works at The Palm. Sports, Laker girls, and a well-prepared steak. That’s all I need… Sometimes, I like to mix it up with Italian… and Chinese. All right, you can all stay, but don’t bug me. You’re on probation. Don’t forget. I was this close to banishing you.

PS – I do mean towing the line, and not toeing it. Tow in the AA Roadwatch sense, you see.