OPINION: Voting against rather than for somebody?

February 29th, 2016 12:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

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Quasi-anarchic attitude at election time a response  to being told by parties which way to vote

EXPERTS say that one fifth of the population is against everything all the time. If true, then a solid tranche of people in our Cork South West constituency won’t just vote for anybody; they’ll be voting against somebody!

Sociologists try to explain this quasi-anarchic attitude at election time as a response to being told by parties which way to vote, especially when punters are treated as pinheads. But the sociologists forget that voters will quickly point out that hotshots such as Gilbert and Sullivan were totally wrong in advising people to vote always at the party’s call and never consider thinking for themselves at all. 

Look it, if you think we’re talking nonsense, take a dekko at the mugshots adorning our lampposts. There they are, the candidates!  Baring their teeth in what they presume is an outgoing, friendly smirk and trying to show a sincerity that is free of deceit and hypocrisy, they cannot hide an unnatural, deathly grimace. 

Because PR agencies (also known as voodoo sorcerers) have turned the wannabee deputies into The Living Dead and, worse still, they’ve moulded their facial characteristics into a rictus of sudden terror – a sight so horrible that to ensure our safety we do exactly the opposite of what they ask us to do. 

With their glassy eyes fixed upon a private vision of hell, the politicos resemble those coldblooded, aquatic vertebrates fished from Bantry Bay and which are dimly conscious of the fate that lies ahead: filleting at the hands of the punter, and then stacked in a fridge that no one will open for another five years. 

But, and here’s the strange bit, we persist in voting for the monsters. Indeed, we wouldn’t be averse to a general election every six months – a sort of regular cleaning of the filthy Augean stables at Leinster House, a task that in Greece was carried out by Hercules who diverted two rivers for sanitation purposes.


Water babies

And speaking of water, the December storms and the huge dissatisfaction with the government’s response put flooding on the election agenda. For instance, the objective of Bandon’s Independent candidate, Gillian Powell, is to make sure that guarantees of flooding defences for her town will not be washed away (excuse the pun) by the next lot in power.  However, if Ms Powell is to have any success, all will depend on how well she fired up the punters’ rage and enthusiasm in
 preparation for Friday.

Which, for some obscure reason, reminds us of Louis MacNeice’s poem ‘Bagpipe Music’. Catching the exact mood of what now prevails in this country, he excoriated the politicos with: ‘It’s no go the government grants, it’s no go the elections / Sit on your arse for fifty years and hang your hat on a pension.’ What a pity Ms Powell didn’t hang that example of political wisdom on the lampposts!

(As an aside, one wonders how the distinguished newspaper columnist and humourist, Robert Benchley, would have described the flooding disaster in West Cork. On visiting Venice for the first time, he sent an urgent telegram to his editor saying: ‘Streets flooded. Please advise’). 


Ladies in South West

Interesting too the number of women standing for election. Five in total:  Rachel McCarthy of Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil’s Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, Theresa Heaney of the Catholic Democrats and two independents, Fiona Pettit O’Leary and Gillian Powell.  And there’s a real possibility of Cork South West returning a woman TD for the first time ever – a scenario that prompted this rueful comment in Dinty’s from a chap who was a supporter of Noel Harrington (whose seat one of the ladies could snatch): ‘I wish that Adam had died with all his ribs inside his body’! 

Talk is that Margaret Murphy O’Mahony will take the third seat for Fianna Fáil, although the Doubting Thomases predict that Alan Coleman’s solo run will split the FF vote and, in the process, mangle her chances. While Ms Murphy O’Mahony can be considered a likely contender, Sinn Fein’s Cll Rachel McCarthy is well poised for success, having polled 14.68 per cent in the Bandon-Kinsale local elections. 

The gurus expect Labour TD Michael McCarthy to take a hit and, if that should happen, the question asked is to whom his votes will transfer: Will they go to the Left and help republican Rachel McCarthy over the line? 


Stranger than fiction

Meanwhile, the Indakinny gaffes continue, election or no election. Last week he again had us in stitches with an anecdote about a group of ‘workers’ telling him they were amazed when they got their first pay packet of the year. 

Thanking him profusely and shedding tears of joy on account of the Budget’s marvellous tax measures, they rushed to touch the hem of his saintly gown.  According to Inda, the extra bobs were so unexpected and generous that the toilers believed they had been overpaid. 

Our delighted Taoiseach commented: ‘It was great to see people contacting us, saying “Well, I’m not sure whether it was a mistake or not, but I seem to have got extra money in my wages.”  We want to continue that.’

A heartwarming story and definitely one for the books! Until we learned it was all mockey-ya!  A tall tale! A figment of the man’s fertile imagination! Kenny made it up!  

When hounded by a Sunday newspaper to reveal the identity of the ecstatic workers, he turned coy and eventually explained the men didn’t really exist. His comments had been, well, a kind of ‘turn of phrase’, dontcha know.

A turn of phrase!  Cripes, when did a porky, fib, whopper become a ‘turn of phrase’?  Answer: definitely prior to the Most Rev Dr Cornelius Lucey’s publication of his Cathecism in the year dot, which warned that a porky was ‘always sinful’ (if memory serves us right).


Matilda’s aunt

But, as the spin doctors patiently explained, Kenny was merely expressing himself in a form of complex political language that sometimes had the puzzling effect of making all types of unintended inaccuracies sound truthful.  (Curiously, this in turn seemed to imply that the only porky Kenny ever told was that he always told the truth – and that’s also a sort of ‘turn of phrase’, innit?)

As far as the spin doctors were concerned, stumbling over the truth was no big deal so long as little harm was done and it was for the good of the country. 

The objective was to lift public spirits as the county slid into election mode. 

Except that Matilda’s aunt would not have approved. You see: 

‘Matilda told such Dreadful Lies, 

It made one Gasp and Stretch one’s Eyes;

Her aunt, who, from her earliest Youth,

Had kept a Strict Regard for Truth,

Attempted to Believe Matilda:

The effort very nearly killed her.’


And us too, if we substitute Kenny for Matilda!

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