All aboard!

Being unimpeded by the moratorium and only too happy to leave it hanging lead weight around the necks of every news editor in the country, it’s probably just about time for a roundup of the 3-week game so far. Who we’ve got to choose from, why it matters, and what happens next. Firstly, the candidates (in reverse alphabetical order to balance last time).

DANA ROSEMARY SCALLON

Campaign highlights : Too many to count. From allegations of sex abuse by the estranged half of her family-in-law, to slashed tyres on the front of the independent, to accusations of betraying her country when she took US citizenship. While the last of these got the least press coverage, she still insisted on referring to bailouts in dollars as opposed to euro in the final debate. Predictably, from the start she adopted the “poor wee me” approach in all media outlets until the very end. The only times we saw her deviate from this were in the first TV debate (“I don’t think state law should supersede the sanctity of the confessional” – i.e. Vatican beats Constitution in her view) and the last, when she returned to the smiling, “don’t rate me out” charm that won her a huge bump in the 1997 election debate under the watchful eye of Grampa Gaybo. Somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun, speaks with very little weight of popular opinion, comes back more often than a bad dose of herpes.

Predicted result : Not the dead last she’s earned. The press has talked about whether she’ll get her expenses back (13%). I honestly could see her finishing 6th or even 5th on first preference, but the transfers won’t be coming from anyone and she could go out second. Then again, she’s relatively young. Don’t bet against her running again in 7 years time.

DAVID NORRIS

Campaign highlights : Israeli pen pals, alleged benefit fraud. Both stories conveniently drifted away after enough damage had been done for which  his supporters can thank De Meejah (more on that below). His debating style has been mostly to masturbate furiously over the sound of his own voice. Before the dogfight started his fans (at the time, myself among them) were expecting eloquence, charm, wit and sparkle. What we got was a man who didn’t know when to shut up.

Predicted result : Firm fourth. Right in the middle. The younger demographic as well as the gay vote are likely to give him first prefs, while the moderate liberal Higgins block will have plenty of transfers for him. Davis exiting early could bump him to third, however he’s unlikely to pick up much from Mitchell. The point at which Norris exits the race will determine the outcome. If it’s early, it’s great news for Higgins. If not, party in the Fianna Fail SORRY, SORRY, EXCUSE ME, Gallagher camp.

GAY MITCHELL

Campaign highlights : Looking like Sam from the muppets, shouting angrily about everything, not being Martin McGuinness, upsetting Enda Kenny. His very inclusion on the ballot was a protest vote against Emperor Kenny’s preferred candidate (one Pat Cox), and as such I can’t help but notice he’s not had the full weight of the government’s heavily mandated influence behind him. That being said, I reckon his abrasive demeanour when debating would have cost him dearly anyway. No personal touch, despite the stories of walking to school in the snow, barefoot and up hill (there AND back). Honourable? Experienced? Intelligent? Sure. Popular? HELL no. A short-term solution and not the man to finally bring FG the Aras.

Predicted result : Honestly, many will laugh but i could see himself and Davis battling to avoid the wooden spoon if Dana’s stealth grannies can brave the October weather at the polls. The only possible transfers would have come from Higgins who really doesn’t even have to watch the count for the first couple of hours. I’m calling it sixth, maybe fifth if lucky.

MARTIN MCGUINNESS

Campaign highlights : Shouting about bankers, denying membership of the IRA, exposing corruption in Gallagher’s past. The thing that amazes me is how he ended up lower in the SF pecking order than Adams, given his much smoother debating style…when he’s not questioned directly. As soon as the issues aren’t flying his way (like the tricolour his mob pretend belongs to them), the eyes narrow, the voice raises, and he starts to show a truly aggressive (verging on psychotic) persona just below the surface. Getting this under control might have meant everyone forgetting that his career in politics started as a professional murderer. Are we right to hold it against him forever? That’s a very subjective question, so answer it for yourself. Is he right to pretend it never happened? Not a chance.

Predicted result : This one has me stymied. Third anyway, because like the Fianna Fail of old an awful lot more people will vote for him than are comfortable telling pollsters. He’s likely to pick up transfers from absolutely everyone, but really I don’t think there’s enough of a cost to Gallagher this week for him to progress past the bronze medal. Third, maybe second. Then again if the wind’s blowing the right way the sky’s the limit.

MICHAEL D HIGGINS

Campaign highlights : To be fair, not many until lately. The intangible yet inescapable wealth of experience, knowledge and true understanding of the role has gone in his favour. In this week’s debate he seemed to be more surgical and precise with his words than any other. no attacks on anyone else, not a hint of corruption, no skeletons in the closet and no matter how hard they tried the press just couldn’t find anything to beat hime with. It has come as no surprise that he’s intellectually towering over his opposition, however he has at times come across as too lofty and perhaps not “common man” enough.

Predicted result : Victory. A steady gain in popularity as the public got to know him, likely transfers from Mitchell, Davis, Norris, Mcguinness and possibly even Gallagher (if it goes that far). It could be tight depending on the McGuinness and Gallagher first prefs, but at this point it’s probably a good time to place a bet while there are still odds.

SEAN GALLAGHER

Campaign Highlights : Taking the front through simple talk and affability, then fucking it all up by failing to answer questions about 1. membership of fianna fail, 2. financial irregularities, and 3. collecting irregular amounts of money for Fianna Fail. for me the greatest moment of the entire debate was on Monday night. As he realised his mistake in using the word “envelope’ I swear I saw the ghosts of Haughey, DeValera and Ahern (he’s dead to me, ok?), face palming, shaking their heads and walking away behind him. 40% in the last poll, but definitely no longer the man out in front.

Predicted result : If it goes well, he could still win it. There’s a huge number of people out there who still (bafflingly) vote with the polls. On the other hand, he had the Big Mo and blew it. Transfers likely to come from Dana, Davis and maybe – MAYBE – McGuinness, but really at this point it’s hard to see if he’s got any, lots, or some of the first preference left. Second place to Higgins , maybe third to McGuinness.

MARY DAVIS

Campaign Highlights – Oh yeah, her. Dodgy posters, affiliation with Denis “Rupert” O’Brien, and not a whole pile besides. Low-key campaign, low profile in debates, not much to be said here and it’s going to cost her.

Predicted result – Bottom two, and I’ll go out on a limb here and say dead last. Virtually no chance of recovering costs. Not even enough support to affect the transfer melee.

In summary :

  1. Higgins
  2. Gallagher
  3. McGuinness
  4. Norris
  5. Dana
  6. Mitchell
  7. Davis
Or i’ll eat my hat with say sauce. Now watch as I get it completely wrong.
Why it matters? Why do we care about who wins Mediocrity Island and takes home the prize of 7 years off with pay? Well, as a nameless mountain-climbing friend of mine said during the week, if you’re 32 or younger you’ve never voted in one of these before. The presidency isn’t about real change, it’s about symbolism on a national level. 20 years of DeValera was a pretty good representation of who we were as a nation back then. Robinson encapsulated Ireland’s early 1990s rebirth as a Republic ready to face outwards and sing, instead of just facing East and screaming. Even McAleese had some symbolic value, and told the world just how ready we were for the horseshit in the North to be over. Now we find ourselves faced ultimately with a three-way choice. Will we go for the elder statesman, sponsor of the arts and all things most traditionally Irish? Will we scream for a united Ireland, whether by ballot box or Armalite? Are we more interested in a younger, capitalistic and celebrity candidate? Whatever the choice the nation makes, I know which way i’ll swing. Hopefully over the last few weeks you’ve made up your mind too. Just don’t take it as lightly as most have, there’s more at stake here than you think.
Happy voting tomorrow, folks. If you haven’t got your polling card a licence or passport should do. Polls are open from 7:30 til 11pm, www.checkthregister.ie will tell you where you need to go. And as ever, make this decision yourself. As part of a Democracy, your vote is one of the most precious things you’ve ever owned. Don’t give it away rashly.
Actually, fuck that. Vote Higgins, for fuck’s sake.
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All aboard!

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