The Irish Independent Poll this morning makes sobering reading for the Government parties. The Blueshirts are only one point ahead of the Soldiers of Destiny and Michael Martin is the most popular leader of all. It seems that after the thumping we've been given for the last five years by out betters, we are reluctant to thank them for saving us.
You might expect therefore that this poll is the single most important problem/opportunity facing the politicos at this time. However, I suggest otherwise. An election cannot be far off and that means a shit-load of money to litter the country with posters, hire the hanger's-on to canvass and pay all of the expenses associated with pressing the flesh of people they won't need to acknowledge for five years afterwards. And don't forget the high cost of those American mentoring companies who will teach our gobshites how to avoid land mines in interviews.
Getting elected is a costly business and the bigger parties in particular will need a huge war-chest to win. That is what I mean by, "Timing is Everything," because now is the time for them to get out there and tap the seam of gold that is, "Cash-for-Promises." Seasoned lobbyists will know that the pre-election hysteria time frame is the most fertile of times to discreetly pass the cheques. Promises of planning permission will be thrown about like confetti at a wedding, seats on State Boards will have new names pencilled in for the future and and winks will be exchanged regarding State procurement policies in the event of re-election. You can probably think of many more yourself.
In this country we have a lame law that forces the parties to declare any individual amount given above €5,000. This of course means that if you wanted to buy €20,000's worth of influence and decisions in your favor, you would have to write four cheques of €4,999.99 each and hand over the fourpence in cash, (I suppose). In case it is ever checked to discover whether all of the cheques came from the same source, trusted members of that source can simply have the money transferred to their individual accounts and then pass it on to the relevant party personally. It's a no-brainer. It is a kind of insider trading really.
All the nonsense about 'hard decisions,' (they had to make), was uttered when they had five years stretching out in front of them and none of the decisions affected them personally. Now though, the extremely hard decisions are suddenly starkly facing them. Will they get re-elected or even elected? If so, what portfolio will they get? Will they back their own leader? Can they knife a colleague and get a leg up somehow? Could leaking sensitive information help their chances? All of these things are hard decisions for a politician and there is a strong element of gambling with each one. If something backfires, could I still survive? And where will I get the money to run a successful campaign without touching my own large savings?
Believe me, this is a time of nervous panic for the high and mighty of Leinster House. They must all be scampering about now like headless chickens amenable to any approach that helps their chances of the big political lotto win that is five years on the perch up there. The brains at large ruthless corporations will know this naturally because they have an instinct for timing.
An acquaintance told me a story once about about a company's discussions with one of the breed. The man had it in his power to do them a very large favour at a stroke of his pen, but he wasn't interested. So the company bought a brand new BMW, parked it in their yard and phoned the politician to tell him about it. They positioned the car as an awkward unwanted prize the company had won and according to the story, their CEO was frantically looking for someone discreet to just drive it away and remove the problem for them. The politician was asked if he knew of anyone that might fit that bill.
The car was gone that evening and in due course, the favor was done, yielding handsome profits. As inducements go though, a BMW was small potatoes. But for example, were a serious contender to come along with very deep pockets and a shopping list, wouldn't a privatized Irish Water be a real plum for them? For a plum that size you could get enough to give every voter €1,000 or its equivalent. Granted, most of our politicians would not do so in normal times but these are not normal times for them. This is war. You and I might think of that as treachery but for them, it is survival. In fact, it is for them, just another hard decision but this one could be nicely timed, (don't you think?).