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All politics is local… no, really local… June 9, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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…for Pat Rabbitte. Our doughty former Minister writing in the Irish Times believes he can see a common thread running between Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and…er… that dangerous demagogue, Shane Ross. But before we get to that he suggests, perhaps more in hope than certainty that:

… President Trump will not cause Word War III. The system will take over and tone down, if not his hair, then his wider excesses. Maybe the system will refuse planning permission for the wall to keep Mexicans out. Maybe the system will constrain who the hell he bombs the expletive-deleted out of’.

Yeah. Maybe. But one suspects that Rabbitte as one who has been visibly overly-exercised at the thought of SF getting into government in the recent past knows that office, any office, and particularly that of the President of the United State, brings its own curious authority and scope for mischief.

In fairness he does not that ‘this hope, is not admittedly, much of a silver lining’. Anyhow, his broader point is that ‘in today’s world even the establishment is anti-establishment. The billionaire demagogue has effortlessly promoted himself as the anti-establishment candidate.’ And he notes that the Brexiteers are all public school and lead university ‘products’ all the while positioning themselves against the establishment.

There’s something in this, and I think it is a function of elites, that some supposed radicalisms (anti-EU feeling in the UK, and here I’m talking about the right wing variant) are tolerated, even encouraged. Certainly one has that feeling in relation to the Tory party. Trump is slightly different, but what he says isn’t substantially different from what sections of the Republican party have been saying for many years now. He is, granted, the energiser bunny version of same. Hyped up and excessive. But it’s more a question of degree than substance.

And add to this a figure who Rabbitte notes is ‘mild-mannered’, that would be Shane Ross. Now you and I might see Ross as a remarkably familiar figure in an FG led cabinet, hardly someone to scare the horses, but Rabbitte sees him as anti-establishment to his toenails, all the while being of the establishment.

Fair enough but I think to place Ross in the same pantheon as Trump or Johnson is to misunderstand what Ross represents. Ross has never been the front line politician in the Trump or Johnson sense (and Trump has been more clearly activist over the last decade). He was, in the Seanad, more of the seer, the informed observer. That changed somewhat in the last Dáil, perhaps as a consequence of having more competition both left and right, and obviously changed again in relation to being propelled to the heart of government. But Ross, even still, is a remarkably moderate, albeit centre right voice. His comments on IBEC recently, and his more favourable comments on SIPTU, are indicative of same. Sure, all the stuff about insiders, etc, had a cosmetic aspect, but surely Rabbitte didn’t take them as being Ross’s last word?

And unlike Trump, or Johnson, Ross may face more challenging political times now that he has come down from the mountain where he dispensed seemingly neutral, albeit again centre right, economic and social opinions.

It’s one thing to be a seer, another to be a player. He’s now the latter, come what may. But Trump? Johnson? Unlikely.

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