Friday, February 05, 2016

Gordon Brewster and the General Election

Click on any image for a larger version

One of the first things that struck me going through the collection of Gordon Brewster's cartoons in the National Libarary of Ireland was how perceptive and relevant so many of them are right down to today.

Maybe it's just that human nature and the striving after power don't change over time or maybe the whole thing goes in cycles, and, if that's the case, here we go again.

The cartoons date from the period 1922-1932, but I'd just like to set those that dealt with general elections in that period in the context of the forthcoming general election and see how well they fit.

Starting with the first one above. The majority government party will rely on its seamanship to pilot the ship of state through the election. (We have kept the economy afloat and turned it round and need to continue on our present course.)

The present government is aiming to come back in its current composition. There are many forces to be pacified to ensure a combined majority not least its current baby partner.

And the current watchword is stability, or to put it more pedantically, ordered government.

But you can't just sit around and hope to win. You have to drum up the support and make lots and lots of noise. Out with the Tannoy on the canvass; talk down your opponents on radio and television. And so on.

But how to plan strategically for a desired outcome when candidates are presenting in the widest range of parties in a long time and the uncertaintly is aggravated by an increasing number of independents.

The main parties are vying with one another in giving away smarties, or, putting it more crudely, promising the world and his wife in exchange for votes. Or, putting this simple fraud in more contemporary neutrally mind boggling terms - inflating the fiscal space.

The poor voter is trying to make sense of conflicting and elusive promises while the aspiring politicians try to keep one step ahead of the posse.

Some cloak their empty promises in elaborate artistic and glossy presentations (eg Cumann na nGaedheal's successor's Long Term Economic Plan [PDF 2MB])

While others just go for a crude brute force attack on the voter, plastering any and every surface that will accept a lick of paste or a thumbtack with simple repetive one liners.

And what is the poor voter to think? Who will honour their promises on the day of reckoning after the election is over?

And what can a deceived electorate do when promises are broken? There will be no aunt sally till the next election and by that time all will be forgotten or forgiven.

And, just in case you thought this was an Irish problem, Brewster reminds us that the same cycle plays out across the water.

Thanks to the National Library of Ireland for permission to reproduce the cartoons.

No cartoons were harmed in the making of this post.
All of the above cartoons were related directly to
various general elections in the period 1922-32.

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