Politics itself

We need a new politics

There is an old quote about how one should never see laws or sausages being made. Whatever about sausages, all the laws in a Republic should be made in public where everyone can see. All the stages of making the laws.

As you can imagine, this approach could have a lot of implications for things like political lobbying and for political parties. Party funding, candidate selections, party power. The parliamentary whip. Lots of implications that political parties - as entities that want to survive - would hate. Lots of implications that party leaders would hate.

Parties might well have a strong future, but not as they are now. Now, in Ireland at least, they're rackets. And I mean that in the sense of racketeering. Rackets. Today at least, in Ireland at least, they do not exist to help the country. They exist to help themselves.

Politics in a democracy should be for the people, of the people, for the people. Right now, it isn't.

Party Funding

The political parties in Ireland all claim that they need to have lots of money. I don't buy it.

But at the moment they get lots of money from the state and lots of money from contributions. And as some of the - ehem - sources of contributions dried up, the parties leaned on the taxpayer. So most of their money now comes out of the taxpayer's pocket. So if you're a small party or an individual like me, you're fighting against your own money. Hmmm...hardly democratic.

So, if a political party wants money then in my view it should be able to have members. And each member - individual people only...no companies - pays a subscription fee. The same for every member. And the party has to publish two numbers; the fee and the number of members. Then SIPO should check that the membership list is kosher and that there's no other money and we're done. If there's a plutocrat's party that's fine. But they have to announce that they have 10 members each putting in a million euro. Then best of luck to them in the election.

In terms of candidate selection, there'd have to be some additional rules. Perhaps each constituency party gets funding from the central party in proportion to - say - the size of the electorate in that constituency and that each constituency party organization gets to select its constituency candidate with no interference from head office. So party leadership can lead, but they can't enforce. And if there are party dissidents they'd be perfectly well able to set up their own party and not lose out on all that taxpayer money that head-office controls. Head office wouldn't be able to threaten TDs or candidates to follow a policy they don't agree with. The party could be aligned because it's aligned, but not aligned because a few people control the money.

You can see where I'm going with this. If we have a representative democracy then the representatives are supposed to represent the people's interests, not the party's interests.

One other measure, where we wouldn't have to change the entire party funding scheme, is simply to make political parties fully transparent and subject to FOI (they're specifically exempt at the moment).

Simple rule. If you want public money then all party documents are public. All party processes are public. All party rules, meetings, ev-er-y thing, are public. And I mean everything. Or, don't take the taxpayer money.

Constituencies or lists? And local or national politicians?

Many people have looked at the Irish multi-seat constituency system and pointed out its various flaws. One alternate system proposed is the list, which is common in Europe. Lists are probably more proportional than the Irish multi-seat STV system. But I don't like lists for a number of reasons; they give the parties too much power and they mean there's no connection between a parliamentarian and any particular place. But on the other hand, we really don't want national politicians spending their time (as they do now) looking after potholes or social welfare applications.

So I'd keep the multi-seat constituencies despite their tendency to be nationally less proportional and harder for smaller parties to succeed in. But I'd also bring in either law or Standing Order of the Houses of the Oireachteas that no TD or Senator could engage in any purely local matter. If there's an issue then you need to propose legislation to resolve it and to resolve it nationally. That's your job. If you want to be a local councillor, be a councillor. Health and roads seem to be the most frequent examples. So, if you want to keep the hospital open in - say - Roscommon then you have to propose a national "coverage plan" for hospitals and not merely run for the Dail on the basis of keeping a specific hospital open. No.

If Roscommon hospital should stay open then maybe there should also be a hospital in - say - Mallow on the same basis. I don't know the answer to that. But the people in Mallow shouldn't be disadvantaged just because a political party wants to be in govt and needs a single issue vote from a single constituency. No.


All done in the open, on the record. ALL OF IT....with exceptions only where individual privacy is relevant. Not corporate or commercial information - just personal individual privacy.

And while Ireland has a lobbying register now, it's far from enough. It just says that "Company A met Special Advisor B". It doesn't say who said what. It needs to say who said what. If you want to talk to government or to the legislature, you do it on the record.

The Senate

I voted to keep the Senate because it was going to be reformed. Ha! Sucker!

Still, there should be a second house. A smaller second house. One filled with people that we'd all recognize as eminent. How would we fill it? I don't know off-hand which of the various ideas are the best, but the current system stinks. The University votes and the county councillor votes and the Taoiseach's nominee's currently make the Senate a creche for budding TDs or a retirement home for failed TDs. No.

The Senate should be a council of the wise. Not necessarily old and wise, but at least wise.


I agree 100% that there should be more women in politics.

I don't agree with genderquotas. They're sexism put into law. And, for instance, while a 100% women's party might actually be a good idea in Ireland, it would be penalized by genderquota laws. Not ok.

And if you think that's because I want to "protect the patriarchy" or any nonsense like that, you're wrong.

Votes for Children

There's a discussion on whether or not to give the vote to 16 year olds. I wouldn't, personally. I think 18 is young enough.

But I would do something different. I would give every resident citizen of the country a vote. Babies. Toddlers. They're all affected by the Dail so they should all have a vote.

While the mechanics would have to be worked out in detail, the basic idea would be that their votes would be exercised by their parents (or other legal guardian).

Children are impacted by environmental policy, by housing policy, by roads policies, by education policies. But they don't have any kind of say in any of it. The democratic system doesn't just ignore them, it locks them out completely. That's not ok.

A completely alternate democracy

One final thought....which is a lot more radical than anything above. I'm all for democracy, but I do wonder if elections are the best way of getting it. Most political candidates and politicians seem to me to be narcissistic sociopaths and they spend a ton of money trying to convince you they're great. If you've read this far you might be wondering the same about me. That's a good thought. Keep that thought in mind.

So how about if you could NOT get elected to the Dail or Senate? That getting in there could only happen to you by accident? Might be a different Dail and Senate, no?

Have a read. We can't get there from here, but maybe you'll like the idea.