Last week I’d stopped short of describing Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour as economic illiterates, but I’m beginning to think even that would have been overly generous now.
The front end of the multi-media happening that is the election campaign is currently dominated by rows over 2, 3 and 5-way debates (depending on who is invited and who turns up). Having watched the first (and given that, as a genre it doesn’t tend to get any better), it looks like they are simply going to be more set-piece rehearsals of pre-prepared responses. So the three larger parties are largely skirmishing across terrain that has been mapped out by the media (who then provide the mother and apple pie for the designated ‘winner’).
Basically, it’s Strictly Come Prancing for politicos.
If you strip away the media comment and debate, there isn’t really any content emerging in what the parties are saying. The election debates themselves still seem completely at odds with the wider reality that the Central Bank are waving around another 50 billion promisory note for the banks, while Alan Dukes (ex-Fine Gael leader, now chair of Anglo-Irish Bank) would like another 50 billion thrown onto the tab. Chatter on the late night politics shows last night had Gavin Titley suggesting that the head of the IMF is now just assuming the state will default (while I can’t source a link for this – since the first two 50 billion stories are true, this is kind of obvious now).
When you take the lid right off, there appears to be a political establishment that either still don’t grasp the reality here, or don’t want to know about it. And there will probably be an electorate who will feel even more disenfranchised when this becomes clear. It doesn’t look like this story will overshadow the election, but it will darken the next Dáil.