Posted by: whatkindofweekhasitbeen | January 27, 2011

27th January, 2010

This week if outrage could somehow be turned into money, there’d be no financial crisis.

Peter Mannion MP, the Tory shadow minister in glorious comedy The Thick Of It, once claimed that the problem with the public is that “they’re fucking horrible”. Words to that effect were no doubt reverberating round the heads of Ireland’s politicians this week.  It’s probably no surprise after what’ve been febrile and bemusing weeks, but the Irish public were out for blood this week.  Between discussion of the Finance Bill, the change of Fianna Fáil leader and that unmistakable new-election smell filling the nostrils the atmosphere got well and truly nasty, with current affairs programmes early in the week making YouTube comment flame wars look pretty tame.

RTÉ’s The Frontline had an audience full of people with hysterical and often contradictory comments  (“I want an end to cronyism, but I’ll be voting for my local candidate”, said one), while comments on the internet (which Mannion compared to “opening a door to a room where everyone tells you you’re shit”) made Joan Burton’s long national nightmare international, as at one stage reaction to her Howard Dean-esque trip to the zoo on Vincent Browne trended top ten in the world on Twitter.

Granted, a lot of them deserve it, but you’d wonder why anyone would want to thole the heartache of going into politics. Fine Gael and Labour politicians in particular must wonder what is they have to do to get public approval, as while last week vox populi were up in arms at the dragging of feet over calling a general election, this week Fine Gael and Labour got it in the neck for bringing forward the vote on the reason for that foot-dragging, the all-important Finance Bill. Their assurance they weren’t voting for the bill didn’t pass muster. A couple of years ago when Bertie Ahern couldn’t account for his various accounts, the opposition actually lost support for putting pressure on him, yet undertaking what they thought was magnanimous and statesmanlike cooperation causes consternation too. And speaking of Bertie Ahern, since over 40% supported Fianna Fáil in 2007 and only 14% do now, that means that roughly three out of every ten of that baying audience mob were once so relaxed at Bertie’s mismanagement of the country that had he shat on their head, they’d have praised his metabolism. It’s hard to effectively serve the people when the people don’t have the faintest idea what is they want served to them.

In any case the Finance Bill passed with the help of Ireland’s Steptoe & Son, Jackie Healy-Rae and Michael Lowry, though in this case they actually did the state some service, having secured concessions for self-employed people and a super tax on banking bonuses.  And as the chances of Lowry or Healy-Rae’s son being launched shoulder high at the end of February have received a shot in the arm, so too have Micheal Martin’s. His election as the eighth leader of Fianna Fáil, and is already dispensing apologies and generally attempting to spring clean the messy, messy party he’s inherited. Oddly enough, it may just work, though his big challenge is making sure his approach isn’t just the earnest coat of paint covering a rust-ridden organisation.  And that’ll be much harder than bringing them up from 14% in the polls.

Across the water and over Sky, two of satellite sports’ long-standing public faces have had their own ancient inner-workings exposed this week in dramatic, ire-inducing fashion. Andy Gray and Richard Keys’ far from edifying reaction to a female linesman at a Premiership match last week has Gray tucking his P-45 in his trousers along with his microphone, and smashed Keys’ career like so many of Jamie Redknapp’s ex-girlfriends. Keys claims “dark forces” were the cause behind his resignation. I’ll say, thinking a woman is inherently incapable of knowing the offside rule is far from enlightened.

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