Tony Groves

I’ve got Man Flu; proper light sensitivity, aches and pains Man Flu. It’s the type of lethal virus that would slay lesser mortals; but not your brave Monday afternoon crank.

I will, perhaps deliriously, snot and splutter my way through this tirade for you, my loyal readers. If I don’t finish this piece remember me fondly.

Many people don’t believe in Man Flu. In fact, several think it’s a male construct designed to deflect from that other rumoured male trait of Mondayitis. As if men, like me, would do something like that.

I assure you that Man Flu is very real, and that the best way to treat it is to moan about it until it relents. It is said that the Witch Doctors and various healers in ancient cultures gained their prominence by complaining about the Man Flu of their people, and driving out the evil spirits.

It is in incoherent state that my mind drifts to tomorrow; Budget Day. Paschal Donohoe will fulfill his life’s ambition by commending his budget to the house and Leo will walk even taller than his 6ft 3” frame allows.

We will all be better off and we will all be worse of. A little bit of everything budget that was supposed to be a €300 million give away is to be a €1 billion a la carte, sure whatever your having yourself, breakfast buffet budget.

As concerning as these budgetary sleights of hand are – not to mention the Celtic Tiger similarities – I’m too fuzzy headed to breakdown numbers at the moment. No, I’m looking at the way this budget is to be delivered.

There’s a media trick, popularised by Fox News, that allows for the placation of people by getting people very riled up. You offer up to the viewers a “fair and balanced” debate, sprinkle in passionate contributors WHILE carefully controling the parameters of the debate.

Think having a panel debate show on Irish TV hosted by 2 people, who work for the same media company, share similar political views and calling it a unique take on events of the day…

This is New Politics and never has that been more clear than this week in the run up to the Budget. The Oppostion, in this case the unofficial Coalition Partner, Fianna Fáil, didn’t even bother putting forward an alternative budget.

Nope, no alternative vision for Ireland from the supposed alternative party of government. Instead, Fianna Fail published a 22 page brochure, 4 were its priorities, 11 were their thoughts on the fiscal environment and 7 (yes 7) were just a reprint of the Confidence and Supply arrangement that they have with Fine Gael.

Think about it, folks. A lively debate hosted by 2 parties with similar views is been pitched as New Politics.

Things don’t get much better on the Left. We had Sinn Féin produce an Alternative Budget. It was derided as Populist and a threat to (the old chestnut of the well paid) attracting talent.
Labour (who speaks of Labour now?) produced an Alternative Budget, borrowing largely from the Sinn Féin proposal and numbers.

Luckily for them, as the acceptable face of the Left, theirs wasn’t greeted with the same scorn as the Shinners, merely ignored.

The Social Democrats went so far as to produce a range of alternatives across the spectrum of economic and social needs. Sadly, as they are but a pebble in the shoe that is kicking our democracy in the arse, they were also widely ignored.

Nope, the only game in town is the Fine Gael/ Fianna Fáil one. The game is no more than a children’s nursery rhyme; the Grand Old Duke of York. There is sure to be marching to the top of the hill; perhaps even up to the precipice.

But don’t be fooled by this brinkmanship, our leaders will be marching back down the hill as quickly as you can say “budgetary concessions”.

A few months back Paschal Donohoe and Leo Varadkar advocated for tax breaks for developers at a industry meeting. Then, when the public got annoyed at the Fianna Fáil suggestion of the very same thing, both men ruled it out and accused Barry Cowen of building a new Galway Tent. New Politics.

To give Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael credit, they’ve done a remarkable job of maintaining the pretense of oppostional democracy. They have also, largely supported by our media, marginalised the voices of real political opposition.

That does not absolve the smaller parties of blame. They’ve had months to get their sh1t together. They’ve failed to make any inroads and have, if polls are to be believed, lost ground.

But we are where we are. Stuck in a TV Studio where 2 men, of similar political views, engage in a lively debate about the topics that don’t matter. They are working assidously to compel us into believing that this is democracy in action; rather than democratic inaction.

As phoney wars go, this Fianna Fáil vs. Fine Gael one is as blatant a fallacy as Man Flu.

Pray for me.

Tony Groves is a full-time financial consultant and part-time commentator. With over 18 years experience in the financial industry and a keen interest in politics, history and “being ornery”, he has published one book and writes regularly aTrickstersworld

17 thoughts on “Man Flu

  1. mkg985

    Arguably the best article you’ve ever written. In so far as it makes more sense than your normal nonsense.
    Now, suck it up…

  2. AndrewSB49

    “” … having a panel debate show on Irish TV hosted by 2 people, who work for the same media company, share similar political views and calling it a unique take on events of the day… “”

    It’s a unique form of thinking that they’d think we’d think they’d give us a unique take on events ….. or maybe not!

  3. ahjayzis

    It is insane that the two largest parties would in any other country be the same single bloody party.

      1. ahjayzis

        You have to look at the electorate and realise we’re just a ridiculously conservative, risk-averse country, obsessed with localism and parochial issues.

        The lack of imagination is staggering. If both main parties can’t fix a health service over about 30 years through boom and bust it’s either sh!t by choice or we’re paying revolving blank slates to work up a pension and nothing else.

        What has to happen to the country to shake up the system / bring in some new blood?

        1. Jake38

          “. .or we’re paying revolving blank slates to work up a pension….”

          Spot on. You’ve just described the union-run HSE to a tee.

        2. LennyZero

          An electorate who voted to allow same sex marriage is far from ridiculously conservative or risk-averse.

          The complete lack of a viable alternative is the reason FF/FG remain in power.

          1. ahjayzis

            Same sex marriage wasn’t changing anything for anyone bar the people who could now get married.

            Socially Ireland is progressively less and less conservative though, you’re right, but on financial, fiscal and kind of structure of society / the state issues it’s pretty unusually right-wing, I’d have thought.

        3. Cian

          We are a bit boring alright, a bit centrist.

          And we get the parties that we desire… FF/FG/Lab/SF all 4 shades of centre.

          And then a few loony parties…PBP wants Ireland to renege on half its debt! LOL

  4. Clampers Outside!

    Who are the voices of the “real opposition” , and how have they been marginalised, besides their exclusion from the budget discussion programme mentioned…. ta,
    Now, go have a hot toddy, and where a hoody in bed. You’ll be grand by mornin’ after sweatin’ it out… manflu… pffft! :)

    1. ahjayzis

      Any of the parties offering an alternative budget.

      Otherwise you have ‘debate’ between a guy from Party A and the guy from the party which has guaranteed its support to Party A.

      It’s the equivalent of having Brendan Howlin and Michael Noonan duke it out over one of their coalition budgets. Fianna Fail are in coalition and simultaneously qualifying as the official opposition, it’s basically one party rule.

  5. Pádraig Ó Raghaill

    I will reiterate the same placard used for the Labour [alt]Budget – a useless nod to the squeezed middle while offering up no new directions. It will lack forecast budgetary usage and play the same tired tune that there is only so much space left in the fiscal space, while their fat and lazy departments chew through the greater cake.

    We are an over-governed country of inefficient departments playing lip service to the great unwashed while they count down to the fat pension and a big tick on their resume useful for reeking havoc on private sector positions.

    There is still no one to vote for and not even a torch in the tunnel.

    1. ahjayzis

      I think Stephen Donnelly jumping ship from the SocDems to become a Fianna Failure shredded the last jot of hope I had in Irish politics changing. Depressing as fupp.

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