04 February 2011

Independents day

In the past complications with my doorbell have prevented the worthy stalwarts of DHL, UPS and other such acronymed services from completing their primary mission, unable to deliver packages entrusted to their care to my doorstep because of their inability to find said doorstep and being unschooled in the ways of the intercom. Since the official commencement of electioneering on Tuesday I have noticed that the Men in Brown are not the only folks unable to find my doorbell, it would seem that those men and women who seek to represent me in the 31st Dáil Éireann, or their agents thereof, are also unable to use an intercom.

How else could you explain the sudden appearance of a post box stuffed to the gills with election literature when none of the happy faces that appear on the papers within have presented themselves on my doorstep to solicit my endorsement in person?

How very remiss of them.

This was not the case for our good friend Mr LoveRhino, who was disturbed early this afternoon at his home by the sudden appearance of one Bertie Ahern Esq canvassing on behalf of Cyprian Brady. Mr Rhino was too startled by this apparition to do anything more than mumble a quick, "Right so", and close the door with a note of incredulity and self-doubt. This was quite understandable all things considered, one would expect to find an ex-Taoiseach and architect of all our current woes in one's kitchen cupboard perhaps, but certainly not out on the street going door-to-door on behalf of his colleague; does he hate the man that much that he feels the need to personally remind every voter in the constituency of their fraternal ties?

Here in Dublin South East, physically the smallest constituency in the country, we haven't been graced by door-stepping Taoisigh since the halcyon days of Garret Fitzgerald, and the heady excitement of lamp-post climbing Greens now seem a distant memory indeed. Ruairi Quinn and Lucinda Creighton are a shoe-in, John Gormley is guaranteed to be handed his p45 and Chris Andrews was seen last week updating his LinkedIn profile, just in case. Sinn Féin are also unlikely to see any significant improvement on their pretty dismal 2007 performance. Thus given the latest opinion polls and the big question mark over where John Gormley's votes will go this time round, and despite both Fine Gael and Labour running two candidates, there is a very strong possibility that at least one Independent candidate will be elected, and boy are there a lot to choose from.

First out of the box with a Nialler9-designed website and a catchy video was twenty-three year old Dylan Haskins, looking positively cherubic in his confirmation suit on posters the length and breadth of ritzy-sixy, many of which sadly were quickly defaced* with the answer "What does, puberty?" to his campaign slogan "It Starts Here". Young Master Haskins has attracted prominent endorsements from David McWilliams and Diarmaid Ferriter, and his understanding of social media saw him trending on Twitter almost immediately in the aftermath of his campaign launch. While the right-wing economics of his backers concerns me, his policies are well thought out with a strong emphasis on transparency and real democracy in Government, and equality in society. However given how difficult it was for me to accept a Dr Who that was younger than me, I find it hard to put my faith in a candidate so young. This is not an issue of age discrimination, anybody of any age can have great ideas, I just believe that a political representative should have more real world experience before becoming enmeshed in the grubby world of politics where it is all to easy to loose touch with reality. Brian Cowen and Mary Coughlan were both first elected at roughly the same age as Haskins would be, and we see how well that all turned out. Besides, I'm more of a Team Jacob guy myself**.

Also receiving the endorsements of a few prominent economists is economist Paul Sommerville. Sommerville can often be found gracing the set of Vincent Browne, along with chums Prof Brian Lucey and Ireland's greatest Russian neo-liberal Constantin Gurdgiev. Sommerville has a 15-point plan to put the country right, much of which is difficult to disagree with (abolish NAMA, scrap the HSE, draft a new Constitution, renegotiate the IMF bailout), but I have strong reservations about what he would replace all of these insituations with. He also seems to really dislike the Greens, or any suggestion that the environment be put before business. Oh dear.

People Before Profit co-founder Rory Ahern ran here in 2007, but has since resigned from the party and his place on the United Left Alliance ticket*** has been filled by Annette Mooney. I watched her colleague Richard Boyd-Barrett on Vincent Browne the other night and found that I agreed with a lot of what he was saying, which surprised me because I am no fan of the Socialist Workers. Their alliance with Joe Higgins is interesting given the historically fractious nature of the far-left, but the new branding probably won't be enough to see any of their candidates elected beyond Higgins and Seamus Healy in Tipperary South (both of whom have already served as TDs and will be elected on their own merits, not because of any new branding) and possibly Boyd-Barrett himself in a very crowded Dun Laoghaire race. It certainly won't be enough to help Mooney, but I wish her well.

Rounding out the declared Independents thus far is everyone's favourite grumpy curmudgeon, playwright, poet and bane of the Catholic Church, Mannix Flynn. Elected to Dublin City Council during the 2009 local elections, Flynn seems thus far to be running on a platform of "I'm Mannix Flynn", and should stand a reasonable chance if he continues to do just that.

While the safe money would be on Fine Gael and Labour carving up the constituency between them, with Andrews having an outside chance of holding on given the lack of a FF running mate to split the vote, I would welcome the election of any of these four Independents even if I would not support them directly myself.

The best thing that could happen to the 31st Dáil would be the election of a sizable number of true Independents, not the "I can't believe they're not Fianna Fail", "I got caught taking bribes but the gobshites still reelected me, again" or the "put my daughter on a quango and a casino in my back garden and you've got my vote, Taoiseach" type, but real Independents unbeholden to any party, nor running on a single-issue campaign. This would see a need for real debate and negotiation in the Dáil, a bypassing of the Party Whip system, and the creation of a parliament where deputies actually had to do some real work for a change instead of troop in once every few weeks to cast a vote, and then disappear back to their constituencies to take credit for getting the roads fixed.

Current odds from Paddy Power for declared candidates are as follows:

Ruairi Quinn (Lab) - 1/33
Lucinda Creighton (FG) - 1/20
Kevin Humphreys (Lab) - 3/10
Eoghan Murphy (FG) - 8/13
Chris Andrews (FF) - evens
Paul Sommerville (Ind) - 3/1
Mannix Flynn (Ind) - 9/2
John Gormley (Green) - 11/2
Dylan Haskins (Ind) - 12/1
Annette Mooney (PBP) - 18/1
Ruadhan MacAodhain (SF) - 40/1

Oh, and if you are tired of all the election posters already then check out Upstart.ie, a guerilla art project that is printing up submissions from artists, photographers and others and sneaking them onto street-lamps, poles and other real estate nestled amongst the political pollution. The first pieces have started to appear on the streets of Dublin, I caught a few like the one above this afternoon on Dawson Street. Catch them while you can before the wind exercises its right of reply and scatters them all to the heavens above.

* I may have made this bit up. But there are still three weeks to election day, plenty of time yet for this to happen.

** Unkie Dave does not admit to understanding what this means.

*** Although not technically an Independent, the United Left Alliance (or its constituent members the SWP/PBP, Socialist Party and South Tipperary Workers and Unemployed Action Group), still hasn't managed to gain a large enough following to be included in its own right in opinion polls, so I, like the good folks at RedC and MRBI, will lump them in here with the other Lone Rangers.

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At 11:53 pm, Blogger ukulele said...

with regard to Mannixs' campaign to to refer to it as the "I'm Mannix Flynn" campaign would be to do it a gross injustice. he has a stong manifesto and a solid trck record please refer to the following links:







At 2:25 am, Blogger Unkie Dave said...

Thanks for the update and links Garret. When I wrote this Mannix had yet to launch his campaign (or have his moment on the balcony), and his website was certainly not as fleshed out as it is now, it was very early days indeed then.

Of all the independents running in Dublin SC, Mannix has the strongest track record, and the strongest understanding (I believe) of local issues and how they relate to national challanges.

He has also successfully cornered the grumpy curmudgeon demographic, of which I am a card-carrying member.

I can't help but think that the Dail would be a very interesting place with the likes of Mannix in it.


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