All posts by mediabite

In defence of National Newspapers of Ireland

“‘scraping’, summarisation, and aggregation”

Here is usually the last place you’d find a defense of a body like the National Newspapers of Ireland (or anything at all for that matter, given the level of activity of late). That possibility is made all the more unlikely given NNI’s now well publicised legal harassment of Women’s Aid, which lays out a demand for hundreds of Euro in recompense for linking to their newspaper member’s content. Targeting charities for money on the basis of an obscure reading of law is pretty abysmal behaviour, but there’s slightly more to this story than a case of big business bullying.

It is certainly not, as has been described, a challenge to the very sharing of ideas, this is not an attempt to roll back the renaissance. This episode is fundamentally about a newspaper industry frustrated by the new business environment it has been plunged in to since the advent of the internet. A frustration which has caused it to lash out in a slipshod and counterproductive manner.

It goes back to the traditional media’s (particularly in Ireland) collective failure to grasp the transformation brought about by the web, both intellectually and economically. Examples abound, from regurgitative Twitter trolling from the likes of John Waters and David Adams in the Irish Times, which are tellingly promoted over and above the incisive views of their less branded contributors, to the crass and lazy photoshopping of bikini titillation by the Irish Independent, who seem to conceive of the internet as merely a tool to refine objectification of women and celebration of celebrity.

Continue reading In defence of National Newspapers of Ireland

Corporate / proprietor influence in the press

  1. Below is an exchange between the UK Independent’s @donne_mark and @owenjones84 and @medialens, discussing the London Evening Standards famous guest editor and the industry’s response:
  2. mrevgenylebedev
    Proud to have Tony Blair guest-editing the Evening Standard (@standardnews) today. Plenty on the news list for him
  3. donne_mark
    @medialens legitimate to ask why @owenjones84 refused to publicly condemn the Blair fawning/guest editing of the standard? Clue: proprietor
  4. OwenJones84
    @donne_mark @medialens I tweeted out last week calling for people to protest his presence at Arsenal stadium
  5. donne_mark
    @OwenJones84 @medialens but why not the standard? Scrutiny free, obsequious publicity, free to 1.5 million people? Many others did?
  6. donne_mark
    @OwenJones84 I accept that. But intrinsic to what @medialens worry about is corp influence. Why did you choose not to question standard?
  7. donne_mark
    @OwenJones84 @medialens for context, every ref to standard in my blog on media/Blair was removed & piece signed off by adviser to proprietor
  8. OwenJones84
    @donne_mark @medialens Not exactly a massive constraint on my ability to push left-wing views, is it?
  9. donne_mark
    @OwenJones84 @medialens I’m asking a pretty specific question here? Would you have condemned the times if Blair was scrutiny free guest-ed?
  10. donne_mark
    @OwenJones84 @medialens and actually, if you self- censor to appease proprietor/employer, subject to events could be huge constraint no?
  11. donne_mark
    @OwenJones84 @medialens process really worried me,studied media ethics as part of NCTJ & this IS an issue to which it seems none are immune
  12. medialens
    @donne_mark Interesting, thanks. Have you got the original to compare against the published version?
  13. donne_mark
    @medialens well yes, is almost identical, save removal of direct refs to ES. To have signed off by adviser to proprietor was to me stunning
  14. donne_mark
    @medialens i know why @OwenJones84 refused to condemn ES, he texted to explain & I understand. Issue is a culture where he feared reprisal?
  15. donne_mark
    @OwenJones84 @medialens should say have contributed to the independent for few years & have great respect for editorial integrity. I think!
  16. For more on this subject read this comparison of media reaction to @Wikileaks Julian Assange and Iraq’s Tony Blair:

“Ireland is not a country at all”

In today’s Irish Times’ Colm Kenna has an opinion piece titled ‘Public reaction to advisers’ pay indicates need for leadership‘ where, after threatening to say something interesting, he essentially goes on to say that we, the public, are distracted by trivial matters. Therefore it is the government’s responsibility to show ‘leadership’ in addressing those trivial matters in order for the public to have full confidence in them to do ‘what needs to be done to get us out of the mess we are in’.

So, instead of wasting your time reading that, read this instead:

The Great Theft Movement: Ireland as Kleptocracy

Distraction Burglary

Some burglars will try to trick their way into your home. A distraction burglary is where a bogus caller to your home gains entry on a pretext / lie or creates a diversion so that an accomplice can sneak in separately.

Personal Safety Security for the Older Person, An Garda Síochána Crime Prevention Information Sheet

What does it feel like to live in a kleptocracy? How would you know if you lived in one? Here are a few pointers.

  • A kleptocrat, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is ‘a ruler who uses their power to steal their country’s resources’. It is true that no dictionary definition of anything is ever truly definitive. Nonetheless it is worth dwelling on the fact that the definition of a kleptocrat says nothing about what kind of ruler a kleptocrat is. There’s nothing specified about the institutional role afforded to the ruler, or whether the ruler is legitimated by popular authority, or the number of rulers that make up a kleptocracy.

Continued… Cunning Hired Knaves

Another Climate Change ‘debate’

  1. media_bite
    Coleman, has his finger on pulse as usual RT @MarcPColeman: Joe Caulfield of Turn 180 & John Gibbons of @think_or_swim debate #climatechange
  2. media_bite
    On the day we find Higgs boson Coleman hosts a climate ‘debate’ RT @MarcPColeman Joe Caulfield of Turn 180 & John Gibbons of @think_or_swim
  3. think_or_swim
    @media_bite @MarcPColeman Yes and no David. This was a ‘climate change – is it real?’ make-uppy debate, actual issues barely mentioned
  4. media_bite
    @think_or_swim @marcpcoleman Thats what I thought, unbelievable that media are still pumping this formula, a waste of yours & listeners time
  5. MarcPColeman
    @media_bite Your blogsite says “a shot at bias in the media”. How is representing both sides “bias”? Wd you prefer only 1 view?
  6. MarcPColeman
    @media_bite People have said same about representing US Republican view ie that there’s no “need” to air any view other than Democrats (1/2)
  7. MarcPColeman
    @media_bite That view is commonly held in the Irish media which gives almost 100% representation to Dem when analysing US politics (2/2)
  8. media_bite
    @MarcPColeman True, its time we brought back debates about link between smoking and cancer
  9. media_bite
    @MarcPColeman The premise of these debates is that there is actually a scientific debate about validity of theory, when there isnt
  10. media_bite
    @MarcPColeman oh and about US politics, while it is entirely irrelevant to GW, media discussion about US power is deficient in most respects

Like him or loathe him – Assange and Blair

Media Lens recently explored the UK media reaction to news of Julian Assange’s bid for asylum in Ecuador. Their Alert exposed an embarrassing example of groupthink among an already visibly introverted Twitter clique, comprised of an array of liberal journalists from the country’s respected broadsheets.

In their haste to “groan with each fresh turn of the story” (as the Guardian’s readers editor described the prerogative of Assange’s detractors) few journalists bothered to address the substantive issue of the threat of extradition to the US. They instead framed the asylum bid as a ploy to avoid questioning over sexual assault allegations in Sweden.

Rather than a ‘groan’ this ‘fresh turn’ triggered an avalanche of abuse and ridicule directed at Assange, with journalists attempting to out do one another in a show of radical on-message-ism.

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[Source: 1, 2, 3, 4]

The lurid nature of the commentary cited in the Media Lens Alert stands in stark contrast to the professional hesitancy typically displayed in print, and perhaps hints at what lies between those carefully crafted lines. These interactions are more suggestive of private exchanges between colleagues at the proverbial water cooler, dominated by fact free or counter-factual mockery. Bluntly referencing the antagonistic history that has been the relationship between Assange and the British press.

Comment is free…but facts are sacred” proclaims the headline banner on the Guardian’s comment pages, yet in this particular case, they were conspicuous by their absence.

Even George Monbiot, a journalist who is well known for meticulous footnoting, demanded only a cursory review of whatever evidence his Twitter followers put in front of him before passing judgement. A method of investigation potentially hampered by his habit of ‘blocking’ people who disagree with him, MediaBite included.

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[Source: 1, 2, 3, 4]

A perspective which just so happens to comfortably align with that of his editor-in-chief:

“the Guardian’s editor-in-chief, still supports many of the principles of WikiLeaks and would support Assange in any attempt by the US to extradite him over the release of the cables”

But it would be unfair not to mention those instances where journalists attempted to back up the vitriol with those ‘sacred facts’. New Statesmen writer David Allen Green made numerous threats to outline the legal thesis that undermined Assange’s fears of extradition to the US, however they came to nothing. His hastily penned blog published soon after Wikileaks’ Twitter account announced Assange’s arrival at the Ecuadorian embassy constituted his singular offering to the New Statesman’s readers, reflecting closely the tone of his tweets on the subject:

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[Source: Tweet since deleted]

“It appears to me that Assange’s ploy is just another desperate stunt to frustrate and circumvent due process for investigating these allegations.” [David Allen Green, New Statesman, 19/06/12]

In the end it was left to the Guardian’s Nick Cohen to step up to the plate. Cohen, a liberal apostate (think Hitchens without the conviction), who threw his reputation on the bonfire that was Tony Blair’s invasion of Iraq, is highly regarded in the British press and his piece on Assange was well received by colleagues:

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[Source: 1, 2, 3, 4]

However, there were gaping holes in his argument, which relied on a (perhaps purposefully) farcical understanding of US politics and law. His article was all the more strained by the simply ridiculous attempts to denigrate advocates of opposing positions, such as Salon journalist Glenn Greenwald, who Cohen referred to as Glenn Beck’s “mirror image on the American left”. Cohen wrote:

“American democracy is guilty of many crimes and corruptions. But the First Amendment to the US constitution is the finest defence of freedom of speech yet written. The American Civil Liberties Union thinks it would be unconstitutional for a judge to punish Assange.” [Nick Cohen, The Guardian, 24/06/12]

A day later Forbes contributor, Mark Adomanis, described Cohen’s grasp on US law and its relationship with politics and power:

“How is it possible for anyone, let alone a someone who is employed as a professional political commentator, to think that the ACLU’s opinion carries any weight whatsoever? How shockingly naive or uninformed do you have to be to think that Obama, or anyone else of consequence in Washington, gives a half a whit about the ACLU?

Will Julian Assange be tried by the US government? I don’t know, and neither does Nick Cohen. But what I do know, what should be quite obvious, is that the ACLU’s opinion on the constitutionality of such a prosecution is about as relevant to whether or not it will occur as the price of fish food in Seattle, traffic conditions in Vienna, or Cliff Lee’s WHIP.” [Mark Adomanis, Forbes, 25/06/12]

Confronted with this pretty damning assessment, Guardian journalist and former Wikileaker James Ball responded:

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[Source]

Facts are clearly not sacred when it comes to certain issues and certain people.

Two days later, a funny thing happened. We were provided a perfect case study for comparison. The owner of the London Evening Standard, a free sheet masquerading as a serious paper (where ‘upskirt’ photographs of female celebrities sit alongside reports of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan), announced that former British Prime Minister and co-architect of the Iraq war would take the reigns as editor for the day.

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The reaction on the floor of the Evening Standard was much the same:

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Prompting a backlash on Twitter, with users supporting the #BinBlair hashtag:

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But Lebedev’s adviser, Amol Rajan, who is also a journalist with Independent, was more than happy to defend the decision:

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[Source: 1, 2, 3, 4]

Among the journalist Twitter clique that attacked Assange though, gone was the vitriolic one-up-man-ship, gone were the supportive ‘re-tweets’ and nowhere to be seen were the rash blog posts deriding Blair for his alleged crimes. Channel 4 news’ Alex Thompson was one of the few who took to Twitter to point out the bitter irony of Blair becoming editor of the fourth estate:

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George Monbiot also found a moment to criticise Blair’s return:
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[Source: 1, 2]

But Monbiot found no time to chide the Evening Standard or for that matter his own paper, the Guardian, whose editorial entertained a new era of Blair on the back of his editorial debut:

“John Major likened Blair’s long goodbye to Nellie Melba; the coming comeback must show he is more like Sinatra and Elvis” [Editorial, The Guardain, 29/06/12]

Is this the same Monbiot who challenged us to attempt “a peaceful citizen’s arrest of the former British prime minister, Tony Blair, for crimes against peace“?

The context of Blair’s return to the spotlight is equally if not far more controversial than that of Assange. It is only weeks since Blair was questioned by the Leveson Inquiry, a process instigated in part by the Guardian’s investigation of News International’s phone hacking, about his relationship with Rupert Murdoch.

As a major player in the media market the owner of the London Evening Standard also testified at the inquiry. He described how newspaper owners deserve access to politicians.

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A position made more interesting when you put it in the context that his father, Alexander Lebedev, admitted the paper was always intended to be a loss making exercise.

“As far as I’m concerned this [buying the Standard] has nothing to do with making money. There are lots of other ways. This is a good way to waste money” [Luke Harding and Mark Sweney, The Guardian, 14/01/09]

And we now we have Tony Blair brought inside the paper as some sort of PR stunt to support his planned re-entry into politics. A return the Guardian then devotes a soft “like him or loathe him” editorial to. And only a handful of the uninhibited journalists who had their go at Assange days earlier voiced concern at a rival newspaper bringing in a man accused of war crimes as editor for a day.

Dan O’Brien, Economics Editor, Irish Times

Sat 11 Nov 2005:

“Because the UN is as imperfect as it is indispensable, questions abound about its future. Important in determining this will be who succeeds Kofi Annan as secretary general. He or she will have two main challenges: first, to persuade members to implement reforms of its failing institutions; second, to be an effective crisis manager. Bertie Ahern fits the bill because these challenges play to his leadership strengths and expose none of his weaknesses, writes Dan O’Brien

The Household Charge – How They Failed to Shape Our Perspectives

“The media…is by far the most powerful agency in shaping people’s perspectives on social and political issues.” [Vincent Browne, Irish Times, 18/04/12]

Discussing the highly concentrated ownership of Irish media on the eve of Gavin O’Reilly’s departure from Independent News & Media, Vincent Browne makes a statement his former editor Geraldine Kennedy would be proud of. Yet gone are the days when the Irish Times could credibly boast to be ‘leaders’ or ‘shapers’ of public opinion, save for a small subset of influential south Dubliners.

Successive campaign failures over the last few years, including the Lisbon Treaty and more recently the household charge, have shown the limitations of the media’s agency to sway public perspective. On the other hand, the media’s ability to influence or at least reinforce government thinking on certain important policy issues has not been undermined. Successful campaign wishes for austerity budgets since 2008 have been granted, with politicians responding to the media “call to arms” by throwing caution to the wind, “sticking to their guns” and delivering the required “tough medicine” over and over.

This dynamic makes the case of the household charge “fiasco” all the more interesting. Here again the media and government collaborated in a campaign, this time for a new tax. Which, three weeks since its introduction, only 900,000 have registered to pay, from a total of 1.7 million liable. A lacklustre result you might say, but not one that’s completely spin resistant. The Irish Times made the sensible point:

“the campaign [for] modest household charge has been a fiasco. yet about half those liable have paid up”

Although this glass-half-full enthusiasm can’t completely disguise the campaign’s “abject failure“. It’s fair to say the public were decidedly un-shaped.

Continue reading The Household Charge – How They Failed to Shape Our Perspectives

The Household Charge – How They Failed to Shape Our Perspectives

“The media…is by far the most powerful agency in shaping people’s perspectives on social and political issues” [Vincent Browne, Irish Times, 18/04/12]

Discussing the highly concentrated ownership of Irish media on the eve of Gavin O’Reilly’s departure from Independent News & Media, Vincent Browne makes a statement his former editor Geraldine Kennedy would be proud of. Yet gone are the days when the Irish Times could credibly boast to be ‘leaders’ or ‘shapers’ of public opinion, save for a small subset of influential south Dubliners.

Successive campaign failures over the last few years, including the Lisbon Treaty and more recently the household charge, have shown the limitations of the media’s agency to sway public perspective. On the other hand, the media’s ability to influence or at least reinforce government thinking on certain important policy issues has not been undermined. Successful campaign wishes for austerity budgets since 2008 have been granted, with politicians responding to the media “call to arms” by throwing caution to the wind, “sticking to their guns” and delivering the required “tough medicine” over and over.

This dynamic makes the case of the household charge “fiasco” all the more interesting. Here again the media and government collaborated in a campaign, this time for a new tax. Which, three weeks since its introduction, only 900,000 have registered to pay, from a total of 1.7 million liable. A lacklustre result you might say, but not one that’s completely spin resistant. The Irish Times made the sensible point:

“the campaign [for] modest household charge has been a fiasco. yet about half those liable have paid up”.

Although this glass-half-full enthusiasm can’t completely disguise the campaign’s “abject failure”. It’s fair to say the public were decidedly un-shaped.

While this campaign was clearly a joint government-media effort, the responsibility for failure to shape public opinion has since been laid squarely at the door of the Fine Gael-Labour coalition. The Irish Times, the Irish Independent and the Irish Examiner all rounded on the ministers responsible, questioning the “technical weakness” of the policy implementation and decrying a plan “marred by confusion and incompetence” which resulted in “sloppy injustice”. The “inept” handling revealed “systemic incompetence”, leaving “[h]uge swathes of the population simply hav[ing] no idea how to go about paying the charge, even if they wanted to”.

The Irish Examiner’s Mary Regan called it a “fiasco that left close to a million households un-registered for the charge.” Causing an Irish Times editorial writer to worry that “nobody in Government appears very concerned at the way its policy looks like going down in flames.”

Politicians could well be forgiven for thinking they got a raw deal. The media, according to the knowledgeable Browne, is the “most powerful agency in shaping people’s perspectives on social and political issues”. Yet even on this issue, one it fiercely campaigned for, it refuses to acknowledge its share of the blame for this “serious embarrassment”. It is as if it is oblivious to its own agency, except of course where the result is welcome.

A further interesting aspect to the mass household charge avoidance is the various narratives that have been created around it, to justify it and to explain it’s non-payment. Almost all of these narratives side step the context of 4 years of austerity, a number of “courageously masochistic” budgets, mass unemployment and renewed emigration. They have instead attempted to frame the tax as a historical anomaly which needed to be rectified. And it’s failure as a) an inadequate policy implementation or b) a cultural and historical deviance unique to Ireland. The equitability of the tax itself is considered primarily in the context of what scale the charge should be as opposed whether it should be introduced at all, i.e. complete acquiescence to the ECB / IMF plan. At a fundamental level the media and the political establishment are on the same page, dissent in this context is simply strategic.

Politically speaking, the PR narrative of the household charge was carefully developed in line with this consensus. In the beginning it stressed the historical requirement for charge, while perhaps chiding the unfairness of the €100 blanket amount and when the whole thing went belly up it dismissed the widespread avoidance as non-politically motivated, a simple failure to read the instructions properly. There is of course an important reason why this narrative is preferred, there’s a very real fear that this scale of avoidance could turn theoretical fears of austerity beginning to buckle into cold reality.

So reporting reflected this need to slow “traction” of the “message that austerity isn’t working”, because a “failure to collect the tax could send out a message that the fiscal austerity programme is starting to slip“. An unacceptable eventuality when there is only one economic recovery game in town. As the Irish Independent’s James Downey explains: “Our masters are emphatically right about one thing. We have to accept the austerity programme.” Which is the sort of “unbiased clarity” PR man Paul Allen was presumably calling for in his Irish Independent critique of what he sees as the media’s inclination for “emotionally driven reaction” to the crisis.

Meanwhile the media were simultaneously citing the absence of protest as evidence of silent acquiescence to the austerity programme and at the same time the presence of protest as a kind of infantilism, acted out by an ‘irrational electorate‘ against a “petty target“.

Stephen O’Byrnes blamed “[a] kind of victimhood or entitlement culture [that] has gone unchallenged by too many media outlets.”

An Irish Independent editorial writer called it “nothing more than another manifestation of our ongoing culture of civic irresponsibility.”

Breda O’Brien dusted off a copy of Freud and told us: “People feel hopeless and fatalistic and, therefore, refusing to pay something such as the household charge feels positive and good. In reality it is a distraction from far more important issues.”

Presumably the same issues Stephen Collins was referring to when he began campaigning for a Yes vote in the referendum on the European Stability Treaty back in February – “[the household charge will] obscure the real issues”. To put it bluntly, as only the Irish Examiner’s Jim Power can, “It is time people copped on to the realities.” Echoing Justice Minister Alan Shatter’s considered advice to the country a day earlier – “get a life“.

Those who supported the protests were, invariably, little more than “disingenuous” “opportunists” exploiting the issue as a “ticket for their re-election”. Their “left-wing outrage” was standing in the way of an “act of social progress”, with fringe politicians “pursu[ing] power at the expense of responsibility”. According to Matt Cooper opposition figures were just “overjoyed that they have an opportunity for major protest.” This “self-serving hypocrisy”, we were told, “expos[ed] the shallowness and self-destructive nature of Irish politics.” While the Irish Independent warned those drawn in by this “selfish individualism” that “they shouldn’t complain if after lying down with mongrels they wake with fleas.”

The contrast between these dissenting left wing politicians and those who have “develop[ed] the new level of maturity” required for governing couldn’t be more stark. As Brendan Keenan explains: “If anyone can sell the public austerity it’s Michael D”.

The “worrying” thing is, a poll on voting intentions carried out last week indicated a fairly dramatic swing in preferences from the main political parties to independents and minor parties. The Irish Times was especially incensed, it’s editorial headline read, “A pattern of alienation”, before the writer went on to explain the public’s “growing disillusionment” in the patronizing manner you come to enjoy as an Irish Times reader.

The protests themselves were not-nearly-large-enough in scale, failing to impress Dan Hayden and Colin Scott, the Irish Times’ experts on how to get people to pay tax. Yet that’s not to say they didn’t generate some column inches. The Irish Independent was especially excited, with at least one journalist seemingly mistaking Galway for Homs or Benghazi. At the Labour Party’s annual event just over a week ago an “angry mob…stormed Garda barricades”.

John Drennan described how only a “thin blue line” stood between the conference delegates and the protesters. The Gardai were forced to use pepper spray “to hold the crowd back“, with some journalists caught “in the crossfire”. At another protest demonstrators “attempted to attack” Environment Minister Phil Hogan’s car, mercifully the Minister “did not appear to be in any danger.”

These protesters had clearly misunderstood the Irish Independent’s headline advice in late 2011 – This is not a time for timidity“. On the contrary, to be “courageous, radical and imaginative”, as the Irish Times explains, is to “stick resolutely to the path of fiscal consolidation“.

Which brings us to the reasons why people chose not to pay the charge. If it wasn’t the “the Government’s astounding incompetence in the household charge affair“, it was something deeper. A cultural explanation for a uniquely Irish problem, much like our “unique love-affair with property”, which as it turns out isn’t that unique at all.

The Irish Examiner’s Fergus Finley was “absolutely convinced” he had identified the true reason, concluding that “it would be a mistake to assume that the reason people didn’t pay was ideological, philosophical, or political. It was cultural.” While other papers variously flip-flopped between the “technical weakness” explanation – the “methods of payment” were “unnecessarily complicated” – and the historical anomaly explanation – “people…are horrified at the notion of paying a property tax in any guise”. A revelation many of those who paid exorbitant stamp duty charges during the bubble years can no doubt sympathize with.

Other commentators simply cited relevant economic equivalences: “Every other European country has property and service charges. Why should this State be different?” and “The reality is that Ireland is one of the few countries in the developed world where some form of residential tax is not paid.” A compelling logic that it is rarely made with respect to Ireland’s corporate tax rate.

This kind of obfuscation sought only to disguise the reality that the charge is firmly embedded in the austerity programme. Not only is it a requirement of the ‘bailout’ ‘agreement’, it is part of the political and economic orthodoxy that has secured power post-2008. The ‘general unfairness’ of the austerity programme features in a number of columns, however what is placed between is for the most part entirely consistent with government and ECB / IMF policy. These empathic book ends are little more than sugar to help the “tough medicine” go down.

The household charge is fundamentally a condition of ECB / IMF monetary lending, just like the universal social charge, just like the repayment of Anglo’s debts and just like the closing of hospital wards. A widespread refusal to pay the charge represents a problem for the establishment. This is clearly not the impression the government and it’s ECB / IMF partners want to send to ‘the market’. Austerity, according to the ECB, is Plan A to Z, there are no other options.

One of the few places where you can read this kind of honesty is the business pages, a space less tolerant of political spin. The Irish Independent’s Donal O’Donovan cited a financial analyst’s concern that “resistance to the household charge had registered with investors abroad as a possible indicator that the perceived success of austerity here could be reaching its limit.”

The consequences are clear, if it cannot be sold to the public and adequately enforced, the house of cards of which the EU ‘bailout’ is built could come tumbling down.

The foundations are already beginning to shake. Even austerity zealots such as the Irish Times’ Dan O’Brien are beginning to express doubts as to whether the programme will work in the end: “Austerity may fail in southern Europe and Ireland”. Clearly mindful not to follow in the foot steps of his predecessor, Marc ‘The Best is Yet to Come’ Coleman.

The same sentiment has been expressed countless times over the last few years, not just by respected economists such as Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman, but by proponents of the policy themselves.

The IMF’s April World Economic Outlook stated: “Austerity alone cannot treat the economic malaise in the major advanced economies.”

The IMF’s Poul Thomsen said in January 2012 with respect to Greece: “We will have to slow down a little as far as fiscal adjustment is concerned.”

IMF economist Olivier Blanchard said in December, according to Business Insider’s layman translation: “aggressive austerity — apparently only makes the problem worse”.

And in September last year the IMF “called on the US and Europe to abandon fiscal austerity and switch to stimulus measures, warning that the global economy faces a “threatening downward spiral”.”

Perhaps like the Nobel prize winning economists and the “radical” political dissenters, the public is beginning to realize what has been abundantly clear for years now to those “47% of [Credit Union] customers [who] have about €100 left after paying their bills“, that ‘there is no alternative’ doesn’t mean there is no alternative, it means they don’t want us to imagine one. Far from being disillusioned and alienated, it’s possible the public are beginning to see more clearly.