The news this morning reported that the bill for Taoiseach’s make up since the General Election in May 2002 is more than €70,000 – or over €550 per week. This was an astonishing piece of information!
How can Bertie Ahern cost the taxpayer €550 per week in make up? If it takes that much public money to make him presentable, what does he look like underneath? Why should a grey-haired, overweight, middle-aged male need make up?
The pair of radio presenters on Q102, a local station, were making light of it until one of them said, ‘Hold on. This is our money. This is what we are paying our taxes for’. It was a sobering thought. When we can’t get organised enough to get people off of trolleys in hospital casualty departments, the Taoiseach is spending a weekly wage on make up. Why can’t he buy his own make up, anyway?
Perhaps this is normal. Perhaps politicians all look different from the public face we see. Perhaps Bertie’s cosmetics bill is quite modest compared to that of Tony Blair or Gerhard Schroder.
If it is normal, it’s a measure of how far our leaders have gone from the realities of ordinary life. How would they cope on an ordinary income? What Bertie spends on making himself look nice is what an ordinary industrial worker earns to support a family. This is a man who, in one interview, called himself a ‘socialist’.
The departure from the reality of life from ordinary people seems to be just one aspect of an increasing arrogance of politicians who dismiss all opposition and impose their ideas on everyone else. The British Labour Government, elected with the weakest mandate of any Government since 1832, nevertheless have introduced plans for satellite tagging of motorists, despite not mentioning it in their election manifesto just a month ago.
“All is vanity”, it says in Ecclesiastes. In the case of our current crop of leaders, it might not be ‘all’, but, judging by Bertie’s bills, it’s certainly quite a lot.