Two households, both alike in ignominy,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new politics mutiny,
Where civil war politics makes civilian hands unclean.
So the mask of New Politics has slipped. Right Wing Neoliberal, Simon Coveney, has announced his plans to reduce the costs of construction for developers to encourage more building. Ireland now has the Sixth Fastest Growing Property Market in the World and our Minister, who admits to facing a Housing Crisis, wants to increase profits for Developers rather than actually build homes.
He’s hailed by the compliant media for making €200m available to County Councils to “finish” properties. The €200m is reported as a plan to tackle the Crisis. It is not. It is a donation to the courts poor box, in lieu of taking real steps to address the issue. Profit over People as Simon sighs “Here’s €200m, now leave me alone. Johnny Ronan has given me the use of his new Helicopter for the weekend.”
We shouldn’t be surprised. The phoney war between Micheal Montague and Kenny Capulet is currently being played out across the globe. In the UK Brexit campaign, Tory Elitist Cameron battles Tory Elitist Boris, for the right to lead the Right Wing Tory Elite. In the US, the only candidate of difference is Bernie Sanders. But difference scares the status quo. Thankfully, in the US, the vast number of Bernie supporters have already succeeded (in his failure) to alter the agenda of the actual nominees.
In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the houses Montague and Capulet battled for supremacy. Their people bled and the war took the lives of the Star Crossed Lovers. Only after tragedy had befallen the Patriarchs of each family did they see the error of their ways.
Today, in fair Dublin, our very own Montague and Capulet phoney war continues. The new Dail points to the suspension of water charges and the granting of more powers to the Central Bank as proof of the New Politics. Rather, it is like a few Gold Fillings in a mouth of broken teeth and bleeding gums.
It’s often remarked how a dictator would admire the conformity and obedience of the western media. While the comment is a little trite, it is nonetheless more relevant than ever. Eight years of Austerity has frayed and fractured societies across the western world; but the media still report on the old world. They like to think, despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, that our political elite are competent and capable. Why?
Well, for one thing, it would show how they’ve been asleep at the wheel for the last ten years. Going along with the competent and capable story-line as all around them went to sh!t. So we are left with a lame duck minority government of Forums and Conventions, given a pass so as not to expose the entire house of cards.
They’ve even adopted a joint political and media strategy for dealing with anyone who points out the emperor has no clothes. Just label dissenters Populists, snigger at them for not seeing the “big picture” and then slap each other on the back for having the right stuff. Chumocracy 101.
In Ireland, our tiny political class have preached Reform, but practised Retention. Our Chumocracy has turned the Dail Chamber into an Echo Chamber. A room where Kenny Capulet and Micheal Montague pursue the same agenda, but decry each other for the benefit of media soundbites and spin.
The blueprint of a minority Fine Gael government, “supported” by Fianna Fail, contained the understanding that at every turn, they combine to neutralise the Left and any genuine opposition. Any difficult decisions are to be hidden in Forums or under Job Bridges. If only this Government could build houses as quickly as it wants to assemble Forums!
Meanwhile our sisters, daughters and mothers wait, denied dignity and autonomy. You didn’t think a UN report, condemning Ireland’s abortion laws, was going to actually get our minority government to do something, did you? Don’t be daft, they pick and choose which reports concern them, like how they’re very concerned that we’ll be fined for suspending Water Charges. Never mind human rights, pay your water bills pixie heads! Profit over People!
As an optimist (honestly), I believe in a bright future. But not until we open the discussion up to real and tangible changes on how we treat one another and what we want for one another. Only last week 25% of people in Switzerland voted for a Universal Basic Income, in what was the first of these type of votes held.
Think about that, 25% of people accepted the need for a Basic Standard of Living for EVERYONE. Yes, 75% of people rejected it, and yes, that is an overwhelming rejection. But is it really? Given the culture of fear around economic migrants, 25% of people still chose to put People above Profits. It appears that I have reason for my optimism.
But back to the Echo Chamber of Fianna Gael. When this week Kenny Capulet was asked by Louise O’Reilly TD if he was aware of the closure of beaches in North County Dublin, he laughed and told her to pay her (suspended) water charges. He’s so witty and so wise. I mean, how else can we expect Irish Water to pay for Adverts of Clean Beaches and New Pipes. Marketing doesn’t come cheap.
Micheal Montague and Kenny Capulet play at politics. The Tragedy is in the dumbing down of democracy. The tragedy is that they are acting in front of a compliant media and a docile electorate in a work of Profit before People in every scene.
Tony Groves July 2016