Balance young Jedi…

FF to announce Stamp Duty guffology in their manifesto later today.

The popping sound you hear is a spin doctor trying to work out how to distract the media from spotting the overlap between stamp duty in the normal sense and stamp duty in the sense in which a certain £30k was stamp duty.

I was thinking of giving this spin review a rest as there is a risk of my posts becoming unbalanced (or perhaps moreso) – after all the news doesn’t carry as much ill wind for the Opposition as they can just point across the street at the incumbents and say “It’s all their fault”. Also I can’t keep up with the range of issues that might bite the incubments in the backside at the moment, from the Nurses to the unfolding car crash that is the handling of the Tara find to the sniffles from the GRA conference today. The track record of Zapp Brannigan, the ethical flip-flopping and seeming evasiveness of the Taoiseach, and an apparent mind/body swap accident in PD Headquarters which resulted in Mary Harney’s face appearing on a press release from “The Leader” (currently Mr. McDowell) fills me with little hope that things will get any better in the headlines over the coming days.

The balanced thing to say is that many of the issues, from the Nurses to the Gardai to the outbreak of an MRSA-related rash in neo-natal wards in some hospitals will all face the current Opposition if they wind up being the alternative government. The Tara/Skryne Valley issue can’t be swept back under the sods of Meath – it will need to be dealt with. Hospital infections too won’t go away on their own (apparently you need ointment or summat).

What will go away is the seeming ethical vacuum that exists that allows decisions to be taken that disenfranchise voters by reason of geography (and it is not just students, despite what certain letter writers in today’s Irish Times seem to think) and that allows pursuit of spin and polish to override the responsibilities of office. In SpiderMan, Peter Parker’s uncle tells him that “with great power comes great responsiblity”. Since yesterday’s “Cell-Phone” incident the Minister for Justice has been pushing the line that someone needs to take personal accountability.

In a few hours the High Court will rule on whether the electoral boundaries that we will be voting in this time around are even Constitutional. This was a trainwreck that was seen coming in September last year but was ignored or long fingered until the last possible moment by the relevant Minister. I say ignored or long fingered as the alternative – a CONCIOUS DECISION not to have a review of electoral constituencies would suggest a conspiracy to unbalance our system of STV-PR.

Martin Cullen took some personal accountability. I never thought I’d say this but he has gone up in my estimation. The evasiveness of Bertie, the ‘kick arse and chew gum’ arrogance of McDowell and the antics of our resident Zapp Brannigan crisis manager in Environment suggest an otherwise general and widespread inability or unwillingness from other Ministers to walk the walk and likewise take some personal accountability.

So as citizens we need to take some personal accountability. Ultimately we get the government we deserve, based on who we vote for and whether we vote at all. If you want to return the Zapp Brannigans of Irish Politics to power for another 5 years then either vote for them or stay home and hide behind the couch. In either event you will get what you deserve in terms of political leadership. On the other hand, if you want to give the alternative a chance then vote… staying at home hiding behind the couch is not an option!

Don’t be taken in by the Campaign spin. Look at the issues objectively. More importantly in my view look at the quality of leadership… ask yourself if the leadership culture espoused is one that is likely to “drive out fear” so that people can suggest and promote change and improvement.

And well done Martin Cullen. I won’t vote for you, but I might shake your hand (as long as you retain the hindsight and humility that let you see what an arse was made of electronic voting).

OK then… so I’ve pointed out that many of the problem headlines are not the sole challenge of the incumbents. I’ve given Martin C his ‘attaboy’ for balance in coverage and I’ve raised the question of what type of leadership we want…

… right, so that is a bit more opinion and balance on the Blog.