posted on May 08, 2007 03:00
In October of 2006, Cecilia Stego Chilo the Swedish Minister for Trade who oversaw funding for Sweden's state broadcaster STV, stepped down after admitting that she had failed to pay her television licence for 16 years and that she had been paying her nanny cash in hand. Did you get that? Will I repeat it for you?
Now, in the Sunday Independent on 6/5/2007, a poll commissioned by the newspaper found that 37% of the electorate still want Bertie Ahern to lead the next government, 5% more than his nearest rival Enda Kenny, even after it was revealed that Bertie had received € 50,000.00 in undeclared donations from businessmen in the early 1990s. In fact, after he initially admitted to receiving these payments his popularity in the polls actually increased, and he certainly didn't resign over the disclosure.
In other words, the Swedish idea of ethics and standards in public life is very different than our own which is the long way of saying that when you compare us to the rest of Europe, Irish politics is a laughing stock whereas, when it comes to Irish comedy, nobody is laughing. A Minister for Finance who didn’t have a bank account himself? That’s better than any routine by Des Bishop.
This is why I cannot take the newly formed Irish Rock the Vote organisation seriously or the latest lame attempt to satirise Irish political life, that suprisingly unfunny and toothless show "The State of Us” fronted by the actor Risteard Cooper and written by Gerry Stembridge, a fine writer himself who doesn't appear to have the same fire in the belly as Dermot Morgan had. I once met Morgan, by the way, and I asked him how come his political impressions were so spot on and his reply was simple, “because I hate the f*ckers”. To be fair though, sharp satire is not alway an effective means of dealing with politicians. It pained Morgan greatly that the more vicious he made his parodies of Squire Hockey, the more people seemed to like CJH. Equally, Will Ferrell's brilliant turn as George W. Bush is credited with improving his public image; not something I imagine Ferrell had in mind.
Rock The Vote is not, as you would imagine a call to arms by a new generation of politicised young Irish people in the tradition Bob Geldof who want to see the end of a style of politics that has seen not just one but two TDs end up in jail in the last decade as a result of the work of the Tribunals, nope, its actually an organisation out to answer such questions as, “Where do I go to vote?”, “How do I cast my vote? “, “What happens then?”, “How is my vote counted?”, “What if a candidate isn’t happy with the result?”, “Where can I find out about the results?”. What !!! If this is the new generation of electorate, the question isn’t how can the present government stay in power, it is how can they not? Jesus, if CJH had been up against this bunch of numpties he could have been made dictator for life.
I won’t bore you with tales of my college days but just let me say this. When I was in university, RTE wasn’t running expensive adverts made with public funds begging you to wear a condom. In fact, student unions were breaking the law in their attempts to provide young people with contraception because it was illegal to sell them without a prescription, and the chances of getting one on a prescription were almost impossible anyway unless you were married. And that sea change in Irish public life wasn't effected by a generation of people who thought that voting was what you did when you were watching 'You're a Star"
Look, I am not telling you who to vote for, that’s up to you, what I am saying is that we aren’t going to get higher standards in public office unless we expect and demand them and, when we don’t get them, we should demand the removal of those in office who do not meet those standards. Perhaps we should rock the voters before we rock the vote.More ...