Thursday 17 January 2019

Anton Savage: Greek U-turn has given Labour and FG the perfect 'We told you so' moment

A security guard removes a banner placed earlier by protesters from a balcony of the Finance Ministry in Athens, Greece, July 1, 2015
A security guard removes a banner placed earlier by protesters from a balcony of the Finance Ministry in Athens, Greece, July 1, 2015
Kanye West

The Government must be singing the praises of Greece. Every single Cabinet minister must be handwriting cards to his or her Greek equivalent thanking them for what they have done for Fine Gael and Labour electoral prospects.

For a long time it looked like the only political armament FG and Labour would have in the next election would be the banking inquiry.

That's turning into a damp squib, however. For instead of revealing that Fianna Fail were a terrible bunch who railroaded us into penury, it has actually revealed that the whole mess was multi-factorial, multi-causal and a whole series of other complicated things (many beginning with 'multi') serving only to bore the electorate.

Even if the pre-election grenade had banged and not whimpered, it would still have had little effect given that Fianna Fail is still not much of a political force, and the real political threat comes from the left.

That's where the Greeks have come in so beautifully. Up to recently, the government would have had to fight an election based on Fine Gael and Labour saying: "Look lads, I know it stung, but think of the last five years as a colonoscopy - sure it was difficult and uncomfortable, but it warded off much worse problems."

Sinn Fein and many of the Independents would have roared: "Are ye kidding? There was no need for all of this stuff. No need for property taxes, or water charges or USC or increased income taxes or pension levies. We could have told our bondholders to stick it and we would have recovered just fine." That's a compelling argument. And a very hard one to counter.

Until now.

Now the government can point at Greece and say "Oh yeah?" They can remind voters of Greek ATMs sputtering to a halt. They can tell tales of Greek banks shuddering to a stop. They can show photos of Greek pensioners crying outside the closed doors of financial institutions and then they can say again and again and again - "There but for the grace of God go we."

As if that wasn't enough to help with the upcoming election, they might yet be able to point to the humiliating climbdown which the Greek prime minister may have to perform - accepting the exact terms of a bailout he had previously rejected.

The unfortunate thing for the Greeks is that Ireland is not alone in gaining through having a whipping boy. Damn near every country in Europe has electors who have suffered.

Every country in Europe has had to make sacrifices. Every country in Europe has looked with suspicion at its neighbours. And every country in Europe has felt the fear of contagion back when we were all joined at the economic hip.

Now contagion is not so much of a fear. And one country is seen to have failed to pull its weight. Every European government is therefore incentivised (just like the Irish) to show their electorate how the suffering was worthwhile, while hammering home that the Greek way could not have worked.

All in all, it would suggest that, politically, this is not a good time to be Greek.


If how you look on the internet is no one's business then stop posting pictures


Loey Lane

Loey Lane has hit back at people who say fat women in bikinis are implicitly promoting obesity, by saying that large women are not asking for feedback.

Who the hell is Loey Lane, you ask.

Well, she's a 22-year-old 'vlogger' - that's a made-up term for someone who puts videos on YouTube in the (usually forlorn) hope they can make a living out of it. She is also a larger woman. Who has posted several pictures and videos of herself wearing not a lot. Hence her angry response to some of the comments she received.

All of this would be happily ignorable if it weren't for Loey so beautifully exemplifying the bizarre relationship many people now have with social media. She seems to believe Instagram and Twitter and YouTube are public spaces, like beaches or parks. They aren't.

If someone comes up to you on a beach and says "Excuse me, you are quite rotund and I think your clothing choice will normalise obesity and encourage others to become similarly rotund" then you have every right to be aggrieved (and possibly to beat the person to death with their own shoes.)

But if you post pictures of yourself to social media sites you are requesting comment.

You're not even doing it implicitly - there's a little box with 'Comments' at the top of it. You are explicitly saying: 'Hey, here's a picture of me in my pants, whaddaya think of that?'

Now, Loey may be absolutely right that the responses she has received are rude and hurtful.

She may be correct that it is no one else's business what someone wears to the beach. But the blurring of the lines in her head between the real world and public social media represents a bizarre new norm. It's like standing on a street corner holding a suggestion box, then being annoyed when people make suggestions.

Hail? I'll take  the train, thanks


If you're a nervous flier, don't Google DL 159. That's the flight number of a Delta 747 that hit a hailstorm over China. A hailstorm so bad that passengers said they were thrown up against the overhead lockers and watched every loose item fly around the cabin.

That doesn't sound too awful, right? Just very bad turbulence? Well, the hail was so bad that the nose of the aircraft was worn away. It landed looking like a giant ant-eater - still pointy, but with a huge hole at the end of its snout.

True, it's only the skin that covers the radar, and isn't a critical component, but flying for most of us takes a suspension of disbelief and doubt. And realising that hailstones can wear chunks of an aircraft away brings that disbelief and doubt roaring back pretty damn quick ...

Kim sex tape flag  shows lack of class

Kanye West

It can be taken as read that Kim Kardashian is all that is wrong with modern pop-culture, wrapped in a Dior dress. And her husband is a Grade-A wally who shouldn't be allowed to speak in public. But that doesn't make them evil or malign.

And it certainly doesn't justify what was done at this weekend's Glastonbury festival, where a concert-goer took a screengrab from Kim's leaked sex-tape and made it into a giant flag which he waved at the festival where her husband was headlining.

You have to be a pretty scummy human being to decide your resentment of someone gives you licence to attempt their public humiliation. That person, not Kim or Kanye, is where to look for evil.

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