Leo, Actually.

In #rabble14, Blog, Illustration, Politics, Print Editionby Sam NoonanLeave a Comment

Above: This one ended up on our front page. An illustration by Mice that eviscerates our glorious leader. Her best yet?


The Blueshirts anointed a new party leader recently and that man is a master of the spin game. Sam Noonan slips on a pair of waders and takes a poke around the slurry pit of our new Taoiseach’s career so far.

You’ve heard about the government’s new Strategic Communications unit yeah?

“The precise mandate and other arrangements for the operation of the new unit will be worked out over the coming weeks,” so Varadkar told the Dáil back in mid-July as he sprung the setting up of this new spin shop for the regime on us.

Amazing how a marketing department setting out to create Brand Varadkar can be rolled out in no time while public service improvements are kicked endlessly down the road.

This new Strategic Information Unit is brought together to “communicate to the public, taxpayers and citizens what the Government does on its behalf”. Cos fucked if anyone else knows. Marketing guru John Concannon is to head up this massive CSPE endeavour.

You’d already be familiar with him from clusterfucks like the state’s Easter Rising commemorations, where he had the grandiose title of Mr 1916. Before that he masterminded that begorrah horror show The Gathering. We’d forgotten about that dose of poor mouth paddywhackery too.

Concannon clearly knows what he’s at. His 80-second “mood-setting” promo vid for the 1916 commemoration led Diarmaid Ferriter of University College Dublin to comment it was “completely inappropriate” and “embarrassing, unhistorical shit”.

If Kenny could be criticised for being the master of meaningless gibberish that saw party handlers eventually keep him out of the light, then Leo is characterised by a bad habit of opening his mouth and saying what he actually thinks – something that has earned him the plaudit of “gob almighty”.

Touted as an ideologue and prone to right wing barstool utterances he’s going to need a lot of mollycoddling from this new unit to avoid tanking with the public.

Leo says he wants to represent “people who get up early in the morning” and moaned that “unfortunately there are a group of people, very often supporters of the far left, that believe they shouldn’t pay anything and that Apple, bondholders, or billionaires should pay…”

That’s the sound of determined dog whistles to corporate interests and sets the tone for a virulently anti-trade union and worker leadership. Varadkar’s campaign slogan “you don’t get anything for nothing” is a Thatcherism par excellence. It’s a mean-spirited and nasty approach to the vulnerable. If he took his own line seriously, there’d be a massive increase in inheritance tax to look forward too.

His sensationalist welfare fraud campaign in the lead up to the FG leadership vote was a disgraceful use of public money and criminalised the poor.

He mislead the public on the extent of welfare fraud, pulling a figure of 500m out of his arse before it was eventually corrected by Department officials to 41m. The real cheater in all of this was Leo, who used €204,000 of our money to raise his profile before the FG leadership race.

There was no bus ad about bailed out bankers, crooked developers or tax avoiding corporations costing our country billions. He is a regime politician true and true. His whole life is dedicated to perpetuating an ideology which has made Ireland one of the most socially and economically unequal in the European Union according to the OECD.

In his time as Minister for Social Protection he kickstarted the JobPath labour activation scheme, cogged straight out of the Tory handbook on privatising the management of unemployment – it sees firms harassing and profiteering from the jobless and has earned comparisons to the movie I, Daniel Blake from opposition TDs. In September 2008, Varadkar happily fed myths about welfare scroungers and suggested that unemployed foreign nationals on the Live Register be offered six months of benefits to leave the country.

Varadkar is a medical doctor. Amazing then the record his years in health have left us. He took 12 million out of the 35 million budget increase which had been specifically allocated towards hiring new staff within mental health. At a time where Ireland has the fourth highest teen suicide rate in the European Union. One in three young Irish LGBTs have attempted suicide. Yes to equality indeed. Nearly 14,000 Nurses have fled “dejection” since 2014 to the temptations of the private sector and abroad due to public sector wage suppression and the misery of the wards.

When he had a chance to change it, he did nothing. Bad form for a lad who’d said he wanted the position since he was a seven year old wee nipper. He once told consultants desperate to secure 24/7 cardiac care for a hospital he was too busy to meet them. He constantly drops hints in favour of the cancerous ideology of privatization. As Minister for Health he lauded his own cunning in taking out private health insurance and avoiding an age related levy (something he should be challenging…) while calling for private managers to take over the running of poorly performing public hospitals.

Gob Almighty is also an insensitive, dangerous, harmful bigot. When speaking in a radio interview he said allowing rape victims to terminate their pregnancies could lead to “abortion on demand” and compared people travelling for access to gamblers holidaying in Las Vegas.

He might look every bit the modernizing man but ignores even objective judgements from the Human Rights Committee finding the 8th Amendment “cruel, inhumane or degrading”. He was content to use the Citizen’s Assembly to stall reform, but now after its deliberations calling for radical liberalisation, he wants nothing to do with it.

Varadkar sees himself on the same wavelength as Trudeau and Macron. If his record is anything to go by so far the varnish will rub off soon. He promised he would ban public sector strikes in essential areas during his election. That sounds more like someone taking after traditional Blueshirt role models like Mussolini or Franco with a self righteous disdain for democratic rights.

Sure, there is plenty surprising about Varadkar’s rise to power and the international community can be forgiven in celebrating this unlikely rise of the gay son of an Indian immigrant in dreary, wet Catholic auld Ireland. Who could not but think that someone who might’ve experienced difference or prejudice could understand or practice empathy? You’d be wrong.

Within Fine Gael, Varadkar is seen as aloof from traditional party members. He didn’t carry the popular vote for leadership. Yet at one point the inner workings of the regime decided it needed a facelift. How could it maintain moral authority as it wrecked Irish society with a bumbling Enda at the helm? So it reached for a young blood.

Priorities are majorly distorted in Leo-land and he is no stranger to playing the dark arts of spin. Happy to be painted in lycra and flute around the Phoenix Park with Trudeau. Someone who could let on he was at the “rave in the woods” at Electric Picnic or go on the session in Copper Face Jacks. Ya know, one of us and not so bad?

Except Varadkar isn’t one of us. He hasn’t just assimilated into power and privilege. It’s his background. He joined the Blueshirts while attending a posho private school in Palmerstown that costs € 7 €7050 a year today. Does that sound like anyone you know?

On a day that two homeless people died due to an ever-deepening housing crisis, Varadkar took to Twitter to recount where he was the day Diana died. Meanwhile, the people that’ve been living in tents along the Royal Canal between Phibsboro and Drumcondra got served a notice to leave. Despite there being a dearth of safe and suitable accommodation in the city.

You already know what to expect from this new propaganda project. Affable affluence and talk of being different from the old crowd. As Leo’s record shows, he’s really not. Beware the empty gestures of the liberal bourgeoisie. It’s going to take some operation to sprinkle glitter on this shit show.

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