We’re not big into “long posts” on this site, but there will always be exceptions.

Thanks to Facebook’s “You have memories to look back on today” feature we were reminded of this blog post we published in 2008, obviously on a different site.

It is titled “butchering government” and we thought we’d do a repost to see how things stack up now.  Remember…this was written when Bertie was still Taoiseach, George W Bush was still President and anyone who suggested a financial crisis was on the way was recommended for a straight jacket.

Short of an all-out Bolshevik revolution, the Irish left needs to unite and organise itself much in the same way as the other lot have done.

Butchering government

(posted Jan 6, 2008)

In the USA an election can drag on for weeks and sometimes months if the result is close – not only did this happen in the Bush/Gore battle in 2000 but right now there is a hotly contested Senate seat in Minnesota which the republicans are loathe to let go.

Then you have the system in the UK where you can win a seat in the House of Commons merely by having more votes than your opponents – that may seem a no-brainer on the face of it but don’t forget that it means you can still be considered a winner even if more than half the voters plumped for someone else.

So I guess on the face of it, we should be proud here in Ireland that our elected representatives are chosen by means of a system which goes by the general name “proportional representation”.

I wonder – should we really be that proud?

At a party towards the end of last year, I got chatting to a guy who told me he was a butcher. That was a first for me, and I was lost for words.

I mean – what do I say to him : “So, you chop meat, do ya? What’s that like?”

In the end we found football as a common theme to get through the conversation.

Later on I got to thinking about his job. Naturally he would have been highly insulted if I suggested that all he did for a living was chop meat. I mean, surely there are other facets to the job as well, like learning hygiene standards, dealing with suppliers, and of course, handling finicky customers.

But then I came to this conclusion – sure, there may very well be more to being a butcher than just chopping meat, but if you CAN’T chop meat, then I don’t really think you can call yourself a butcher. All the other things might be important as well, but grasping the fundamentals must be done before you can get to the other things.

Writing a blog and the odd polemic as I do, my train of thought then sped down the tracks towards this question : “What exactly is a politician’s answer to chopping meat?”

First, I have to discard the word “politics” for I see it as a very unfortunate one. When we say we are discussing “politics” what we are really talking about is “government”. The politics arises from the fact that different people have different opinions on how government should be run, and as we all know, politics is right there in all walks of life – work, love, family, everywhere.

So that last paragraph should alter my question to : “What exactly is a GOVERNMENT’s answer to chopping meat?”

Ever since I have been following Irish blogs, I have seen numerous complaints about the government of this country, and more often than not, they focus on three things – lack of funding for health, lack of funding for education and in the wake of all that, cronyism which borders on if not actually is out and out corruption.

Last year we had a situation whereby our Taoiseach, the head of our government, was waltzing in and out of a tribunal like he was some kind of rock star, trying and failing to account for large sums of money which were flung in his own direction.

This is not to mention various public moneys being squandered on e-voting machines, hairdo’s in Florida, tragically-planned road projects like the Cash Cow Roundabout which has been knocked down and rebuilt more often than Joan Rivers’ face, plus numerous other bits and pieces.

And all the while, people lie on trollies in A&E wards, children have toilets for classrooms, and we can’t afford ten million for one of the few vaccines for cancer.

So all over the blogs, I see what I consider to be justified revulsion at this state of affairs. But then I appreciate that this is a left-wing viewpoint, and to be fair, the right wing are also entitled to their say.

And what do they generally say? That government’s answer to chopping meat is looking after business.

OK, fine. So to summarize, some of us want to take care of business, some of us want to take care of schools and hospitals.

Taking the late Tony Gregory and Finian McGrath as the only left-wing Independents, as well as reluctantly counting Sinn Fein on the left, here is how I see the current spread of ideology in Dail Eireann…

Total seats- 166; Left – 32 Right – 134.

Answer me this – is THAT what you call proportional representation?

If I stop 166 people on the street around the country, will as many as 134 of them tell me they’d choose business over health and education?

I think not.

So what needs to be done?

Short of an all-out Bolshevik revolution, the Irish left needs to unite and organise itself much in the same way as the other lot have done.

I remember one particular moment from RTÉ’s coverage of the 2007 election. On the panel in their studio was the now Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Dermot Ahern. The result from Limerick East had just been announced, and up on the monitor was the victor by a clear margin, Ahern’s fellow party member, Minister for Defence and virtual Governor of Limerick Willie O’Dea.

I thought congratulations were sure to be flowing from Deputy Ahern to Deputy O’Dea, but instead, if you can believe this, he was actually mocked!!!

Why? For having the audacity to garner as many as 38% of the first preference votes for himself, that’s why!!!

See, what he SHOULD have done is strategically go around to a portion of his supporters and tell them that it would be better for the party if they didn’t put him first and instead gave FF a shot at getting all three of their candidates into Leinster House. In the end, only two made it, with two more for Fine Gael and one for Labour.

Still, from where I’m standing, that’s four right-wing seats for Limerick East and just the one for the Left.

As long as that remains the status quo, and the Irish Left doesn’t find a way to beat their ideological opposition at their own game, then all our blogging will continue to be merely for our own benefit.

In other words, we’re standing by and letting the right butcher our government, and it’s about time we gave them the chop. Bring on the local elections, I say!

© JL Pagano 2008

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