Sunday 25 September 2016

For the politics junkies, this is the darkest day

Published 28/02/2016 | 02:30

Illustration by Jim Cogan
Illustration by Jim Cogan

It was probably the moment when I saw a reference to Simon Harris as "the white Obama" that I realised these people are very far gone - too far gone, I fear.

  • Go To

Colleagues, apparently, have been calling him that for some time, with some suggestions that Obama is in fact the black Simon Harris.

Compassion, I suppose, is the appropriate response, and doubly so this morning when the whole of the political class is waking up with the terrible realisation that they have no election to go to - that there's no manifesto launch this morning, no "battle bus" to ride, no leaders' body language to be analysed, nothing left to "call", and that it could be anything up to five years until they get another shot of pure, uncut, proportional representation.

Normal people feel like this at the end of a World Cup, and understandably so - it is easy to become addicted to the rhythms of a great football tournament, and it is natural to mourn its passing.

When we are presented with visions of excellence, or at least the pursuit of excellence, nearly every day for a month, we know it will not be easy to return to civilian life.

But when we are presented with things like, say, the Sinn Fein proposals in their manifesto on the issue of housing, most of us are able to walk away, secure in the knowledge that we will never need to know or to care about such a thing.

Yet there was George Lee on the RTE News in the final week of the campaign, with all his charts, fiercely engaged in the struggle to explain that Sinn Fein has committed €5bn for Social Housing. And there was also something about 35,000 affordable homes through 'Part V' - whatever that is.

I had kinda lost interest after the €5bn commitment, because given the limited amount of time that is left to me on this earth, I would prefer to engage with things that actually exist, or that might have some possibility of existing, rather than with something that members of the republican movement made up, just to fill a bit of space in an entirely worthless document.

You may say I'm a gritty realist, but I have sympathy too for George, and his kind, when I see them wandering in this world of make believe - go home, I say, go home and think no more of such foolishness, for the heart fed on these fantasies grows brutal from the fare.

And I should add that Sinn Fein's notions on housing are a purely random selection on my part, that all parties have been feeding the body politic with all manner of junk, and still there is this constant craving - as you read this, I can assure you that some unfortunate addict would give everything he owns, he would give of his life, his heart, his home, just to have the last three weeks back again.

He has no idea how he will get through the rest of the day without an opinion poll telling him more or less what every other opinion poll told him, he knows he should get a life in which "the white Obama" is not one of the more charismatic figures - but again, he is too far gone.

How they all must envy their British counterparts, embarking on this Brexit orgy, the start of which was best described in The Economist by Bagehot, who wrote: "Today the commentariat, and almost no one else, has been waiting excitedly for Boris Johnson to show his colours..."

Indeed, the giddiness of the reporters in the presence of Boris was child-like, all the more so because it was a Sunday, which meant they could escape the traditional adult responsibilities and spend all day outside Boris's house, playing.

So "charismatic" is Boris, they say he doesn't need handlers, but handlers are people too, and our thoughts are also with them on this day - like the ones who tried to save the Taoiseach from the excellent interviewing of Neil Prendeville of RedFM, by "waving their hands and telling me to stop".

What a time all the "advisers" have had, their antennae constantly twitching in case someone says something interesting - indeed it is one of the oddities of the political demi-monde that such resources are spent on ensuring that nothing of any interest is said, and that this in itself is so interesting to the junkies.

So determined are they to underestimate poor Paddy, they will send Enda out to the sounds of Fleetwood Mac's 'Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow', which was used by Bill Clinton in 1992 and more recently by David Cameron - you get the sense that they are almost proud of stealing a 25-year-old idea, that the pure lame-brained cynicism of it gives them a buzz.

They even loved the moratorium.

They loved saying it anyway - "the moratorium" - in their serious voices, and they were able to endure the few hours of political silence knowing that the most massive consignment of baloney was coming.

So we must pity them this morning, grieving for the glory that was The Spin Room. Knowing that the only cure is another election. And that they can't possibly wait five years for that - they'll be working on it right now.

Sunday Independent

Read More