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That great debate… January 24, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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I watched the ‘great’ debate between Martin and Varadkar today. If you missed it you too can watch it here. I thought it pretty anodyne. This, unfortunately, is the choice for Taoiseach, short of another snap election due to a government not being formed. I didn’t think either of them was much cop. Varadkar is curiously unformed, Martin oddly querulous. These are – obviously, quite separate to their political positions which I imagine few of us feel any great sympathy with.

Both were, however fluent. They’re grand, they’re alright, they’ll do the job, but… so what. At every point it seemed to me they tended to block each other off – in no small part because they’d both been in a political arrangement for the past four years. A good example was when they started dissing each others candidates and Ministers for various transgressions. Neither party was spotless so there was a sense that neither could really use the issue in the way that they so patently wanted to.

The offer a grand coalition, or admission of the need for one in possible circumstances was… well, what could Varadkar say?

Kenny wasn’t wrong on the ‘hypocrisy’ to SF stuff – and nether man seemed on strong ground in relation to just why they were locked out of government in the South when so much effort had been made to bring them into government in the North (and by the way, why is an Ard Comhairle so curious as a decision making body in the context of a party?). As to the ‘imposing a narrative’ on the conflict, difficult to run too far with that one. And Martin was flat out wrong about them ‘collapsing the administration in the North’. Varadkar was notably more emollient. Entertainingly Martin implied FG would engage with SF in government building.

I don’t know if this focus on SF is to the advantage of the two parties in these debates. They seem to me to oddly accentuate their diminished stature. On they go about SF is this, that and so on. And Martin sounds as if he doesn’t actually get what the GFA/BA is – Varadkar had to point out that a ‘border poll’ is actually in the agreement, whereas Martin seemed to see they very idea as outrageous.

Weirdly Varadkar comes across as vastly more open to a united Ireland than the leader of FF. Some turnaround that. And yet again the contradictions are remarkable. SF good enough for the GFA but not good enough for the Republic, even though Martin reifies the GFA to the point of arguing that rather than a UI that’s what he wants.

Martin seemed a bit older than I’d expected – he is after all 59. Varadkar seemed a fraction younger than I’d expected (I’ve met him just once IRL a good decade and more ago). These are parties that between them can’t get 50 per cent of the electorates support in the latest poll. Perhaps that will change. That said I don’t think that many voters, mainstream voters that is, will be terribly concerned about either individual.

Even Varadkar’s admission about drugs didn’t seem to me to have much weight behind it. He answered it about as well as one could and for all the exaggerated talk amongst the media about a cringe inducing silence it seemed to me that he was about as fast off the mark as one could expect.

They’re fine, they’re grand, they’re alright, they’ll do the job.

But an ideological vision? You’ll have to go quite some way to find much of that there. No great social democratic vision from Martin. Even Varadkar seemed oddly disengaged from any particular line – bar the implicit right of centre approach both men functionally espouse. They’re not even technocrats. They’re just politicians. And perhaps that too explains why both hover around the mid to high 20s in the polls and have done so for so long.

In that sense they’re terrible, abysmal, woeful and you can bet they’ll do the job.

Comments»

1. EWI - January 24, 2020

Probably both coached by the same PR people along the road here, too.

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2. NFB - January 24, 2020

Got Leo’s lealfet in the other day, and was comparing his face to one sent 15 years ago an IEL. Myself and GF both agreed that ever though the hair is a bit thinner, he looks much the same or younger. Doesn’t hurt his appeal!

Martin just reminds me of Mr Burns more and more.

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Daniel Rayner O'Connor - January 24, 2020

EXcellent!

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3. Pasionario - January 26, 2020

Martin alleged “social-democratic vision” is belied by the proposal to relaunch the special savings scheme for first-time buyers, which will just stoke up house prices again. And then there’s a capital gains tax cut. McCreevyite auction politics at its worst.

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