The Spoiled Vote Movement
This is the month in which Americans are to be asked to choose between a nut and a peanut. And in Donegal the populace will have yet another choice between various shades of corruption, incompetence and opportunism. Will Charlie pull it off? Or will Blaney queer the pitch? Will it be a gold for Coughlan in '84? Will Piggot pip Carson at the post?
They used to cut open birds and examine their entrails to discern portents of the future for the elite. These days they just poke around in the entrails of by-elections to see what's in store for Charlie, Garret and Frank. And the track record of the pundits is such that they might as well still be cutting up the chickens. They're missing the main point.
That point is the rise and rise of that group to which my own allegiance is pledged, the SVM. The Spoiled Vote Movement is a loose anarchic group with no formal membership. Our common bond is the derision which we exhibit towards the existing political processes and those who engage in them. We are not registered as a party, of course, yet we have been making substantial and unheralded advances in recent times.
In the Local Elections in June of last year, for instance, I estimate that we took as much as I per cent of first preferences. A respectable enough outing for a group that did no canvassing, had no access to free TV time and, most important of all, had no candidates. In the vote for the European Parliament, on the same day, our poll was even higher. Estimates of our support must remain sketchy, as the highly paid entrail examiners never bother to assess our performance. Needless to say (say it anyway), we don't take such elections seriously enough to bother gathering detailed statistics ourselves.Cynics will carp, of course, and protest that some SVM support is quite unintentional and derives from public ignorance of the political process. We would point at many of the gobdaws in the Dail and attribute their election to that same ignorance.
Suffice it to say that one voter in every hundred is plumping for us and to hell with the second preferences. And does this mean that we are forever condemned to the political periphery? No, sir! We have the option of Coalition. Our natural allies constitute the Abstentionist Party. We in the SVM insist on going to the polling booths to inscribe on our ballot papers insulting references to the political hustlers. The Abstentionist Party, being less doctrinaire and simply staying home, had been going from strength to strength. In the Euro poll they got 37 per cent in the Republic and a massive 43 per cent in the North. They did particularly well in last year's Cork by-election, drawing a huge 45 per cent of the electorate.
Already, the AP receives more support than any other political tendency in the country. At the next General Election our Coalition hopes to edge over 50 per cent. We will then insist that since we represent majority feeling in the country no other party will have a right to form a government. (We will, of course, insist on running, or sitting, our full term.). You gotta admit: no posters, no bandwagons, no TV time, no bribes, no promises, no threats, and yet we have as much support as the hustlers can get with all their paraphernalia Credit where credit is due.
Of course, this kind of thing is subversive. When one mocks the Dail one aims to reduce popular respect for that institution and its debates and decisions. One really shouldn't. It is a fine institution where the finest minds in Irish politics apply themselves to the problems of the day. For example: (Leans over to shelf, picks out Dail Report, flicks through, picks page at random.)
Mr. D 'Arcy: Is the Minister happy with that situation? Mr. MacSharry: They are happy and we are happy. Mr. D: Who is happy? Mr. Mac: We are. Mr. D: The ACC are happy. Is the I Minister happy? Mr. Mac: Yes.
Mr. D 'Arcy: Is the Minister happy
with that situation?
Mr. MacSharry: They are happy
and we are happy.
Mr. D: Who is happy?
Mr. Mac: We are.
Mr. D: The ACC are happy. Is the I
Mr. Mac: Yes.
And isn't that nice to know! And
wouldn't it be a pity to . . .
Mr. D: Why is the Minister happy?
Mr. D: Why is the Minister happy?
There's one in every crowd.
There's a columnist in this town who has recently found cause to fulminate against trade unionists. (In truth, there are many such people, but I've managed to get the goods on this one.)
This little chappy has built himself a reputation for godliness, charity and moral propriety. A lovely man. Contraception is an abomination and a woman's right to choose on the issue of abortion is to be vigorously opposed. It's not that he wants to oppress anybody, mind, it's just that the man has principles. (Incidentally, for a 4-day week, this guy gets about £80 more than the petrol strikers he attacked with such ferocity).
Herewith, a warning: If you keep it up, Sunshine, I will have no option but to use this space to describe in graphic detail your carry-on at a certain press lunch in the Berkeley Court, including what your hand was doing under the table. The woman in question has signed an affidavit