Monthly Archives: November 2014

The Red Carpet and The Mob

In light of the re-emergence in Ireland of The Risen People – finally driven to rebel not just against the unjust water tax but by relentless austerity, authoritarian rule and rampant corruption among the political class, I think it is appropriate to publish a recently discovered piece written in 1969 by my father, Pearse. It will demonstrate how much of a circle game life can be if underlying problems are not dealt with. I know it would do my father’s heart good to see the Irish people come out to take control of their country. If he was still with us he would be at the barricades.

This is what he wrote –

Bernadette [Devlin] has been giving our beloved establishment a rather thin time. She doesn’t seem to realise fully just how firmly based our institutions really are. After all, our conservatives scored heavily in the last general election. The good old profit motive was fully endorsed by the electorate. The remnants of the Irish race, left here at home prefer to lie down, and be counted-out. We have lost faith in ourselves, and God seems to be on the side of the stronger battalions.

Bernadette is quite wrong to equate our gentle whimsical green Tories with the tough, die hard bull Tories of merry England, such as Sir Gerald Nabarro and his ilk. To be quite fair to our own dear Tories, they would all be socialists only for what happened to them – they were born lucky, and got rich. There’s the difference.

Bernadette’s abrasiveness is wasted on our smooth operators down here. Of course, they may only be pretending to be Tories, because any leftish tendencies, any slight list to port might result in the offender getting a ‘belt of a crozier’ to steady him up. A wise statesman plays it cool because he knows the score. It’s like this:

In the beginning God made a long red carpet, and rolled it out to infinity across the good flat earth, and He said, ‘Let there be kings’. And lo, there were kings. There were fat kings and thin. Tall and short kings. Foolish kings and wise ones. Kings white and black and all shades between. Kings good, and kings evil. Oodles of kings and all equally invested with divine rights, all trooping down the red carpet in endless succession, by the Grace of God.

They came with all their retinues in gorgeous array. Princes and Prelates, Dukes and Earls, Baronets and Knights all duly supporting their divinely accredited monarchs.

All was not exactly rosy on the nice red carpet. Heads rolled in grisly profusion. Crowned heads, heads with coronets, mitred heads, and plain ordinary swelled heads. No king on record lasted long without his head. That was a fact of life, divine rights notwithstanding. The natural order was preserved –  the survival of the fittest and all that. A bit messy, but no hard feelings. ‘The King is dead, long live the King’, and that sort of thing.

At some stage of the game the supply of kings started to dwindle. This was only to be expected. The royal mortality rate was rather high, due to one occupational hazard or another. Only a fool would want to be a king who wasn’t actually born with a crown on his head.

The kings in their heyday were very partial to a well-filled stocking, and they had lots of leisure, with predictable results. They say the Hapsburg chin was discernable in the most unexpected corners, for instance. There was no formal study of genetics in those days of course, but we know that the cutest hen lays out. This is where the hard-line Tories come from.

Wealth and power was a reasonable substitute for a crown especially when the divine right was extended to private property. Anyway there were only a limited number of crowns. The idea was to stay put on the red carpet with all those solid churchmen – to play it safe in saecula saeculorum Amen. Official Tory policy.

Suddenly, much too close to the red carpet, hordes of unruly peasants and workers appeared, churning up the mud and kicking up a row trying to get onto the plush. Couldn’t the damn fools see that there simply wasn’t enough room? By Gad, sir, the cheek of them, all swinish anarchists and socialists, fighting each other and everyone else.

Keep back, fools! Back to your places. Be content. It’s not for long anyway and there’s pie in the sky for sure.

Preach to them, Bish. Tell them they’ve never had it so good. Think of something quick. Tell them God is on our side. Tell them its a sin. Get through to them Bish, for heaven’s sake or we’ll all be dished.

Look at the silly bastards trampling each other in the mud, and blood. Serves them damn well right. Steady boys steady. Press on regardless and show no mercy. We can’t have millions of stupid clods getting mud all over the bloody carpet.

Oh to Hell with it all, there’s too many of them. They’re everywhere. Press the button. Finish the lot. It could never be the same again anyway.

Pearse Stokes

16th December 1969

Irish Water: washing away the mandate fiction

I need to amend the prediction that I have been making since 2011 – that the next General Election would not take place in 2016 (politically dangerous, given the centenary) but in autumn 2015.

Who would I do that?

Because this government has all the signs of one that could implode at any time. It may limp on but it is in terminal decline, just as the Cowan coalition was in 2010.

Not just fractious backbenchers, but fractious coalition ‘partners’. Labour is the new Greens – facing disaster at the polls and with nothing to suggest that the situation can be retrieved. Searchers may comb the shipwreck, but the most they will find is a handful of survivors clinging to life in pockets of foul air.

Fine Gael backbenchers and local authority office holders are talking openly of leaving the party. Fine Gael cabinet ministers, just as previous ministers in the Fianna Fáil-Green coalition like Noel Dempsey and Dermot Ahern did, are issuing holding statements that bear no connection with the reality of the situation. Labour ministers are operating as if they were deciding policy around water charges, without reference to the senior coalition partner.

This is a shipwreck, for sure. The hole below the waterline is too big to be patched. The rusting hulk will not make it to dry-dock. Even if it did, the shipyard workers are in open revolt.

The sensible thing to do three weeks ago would have been to announce that the Irish Water scam would be mothballed for six months while a new plan was drawn up to be presented to the people. That would have bought time, and might have defused the situation. But arrogance is a blindfold.

This government talks of mandates to implement policies arising from the 2011 election. These are largely a fiction. Fine Gael secured 36.1% of the vote, Labour 19.4%, giving a majority of 55% and a larger majority numerically in terms of parliamentary seats, given the vagaries of the PR-multi-seat system.

That’s a mandate, isn’t it?

Not on water charges, it isn’t. Fine Gael’s policy since 2009 was for the corporatisation (and ultimate privatisation as an ideological consequence) of water, predating any appearance on the scene by the EU-ECB-IMF Troika and their austerity programme. Labour’s pre-election position was the opposite. Both parties offered these commitments in their manifestos. The Fine Gael position secured 36.1% support. That is not a mandate to create Irish Water. Combining it with Labour’s 19.4% for the opposite course of action does not, by any stretch of the imagination, make it a mandate from the people to implement a policy of such far-reaching importance.

Any tinkering around with  water charges, or with Social Welfare vouchers, or with tax credits – which we will pay for anyway through other taxes, will not work. It is too late now. This government is hated. There is open revolt on the streets throughout the country. The most recent opinion poll gives a combined support for Fine Gael-Labour of just 29%. In other words, 71% of the electorate will not, on that indication, support these parties next time out. That is rejection of this government by the people. Add in Fianna Fáil, the third of the parties of permanent government since 1922, and the poll figure is still less than 50%.

My advice to the alternative parties and independents, for what it is worth, is to burn the midnight oil now. Put policies in place now. Talk to one another now to see if a common platform can be created – those policies on which there is broad agreement to implement in the interest of the people who have suffered most, that can point a better way to deal with noxious debt, that can shift the burden of taxes onto the rich, that will put public services including housing, health and education onto a sound and equitable footing, that will protect public utilities within the framework of public ownership and without the possibility of privatisation, and so on.

In other words, a different, enlightened, progressive vision of this country to the corrupt, brutal, counter-revolutionary three-party hegemony that we have endured since quasi-independence.

If those parties and independents of a potential alternative government really do care about the people, and see the State as the servant and the administrative implement of the people, then they will be able to put a programme of essential policies together. If they can’t do that then we will know that, once again, party or personal ego is more important than the needs and demands of the people.

Let us have, for the first time in 92 years, an opportunity to vote for a viable government that is not some combination of the same old corrupt counter-revolutionary parties – Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil and Labour.

In the meantime, on the street, let’s keep up the relentless pressure on this rotten, incompetent, dictatorial government and its hangers-on.

The people are winning. Consolidate the last victory and move towards the next. Gather together the voices of dissent. There’s a change coming.

Be unified, be determined.

Bí ullamh! Be ready.

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