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Populism? August 9, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Stephen Collins has a right old dig at points various in his piece here in the IT at the weekend. In the course of complaining about Trump and his campaign he eases Independents and Others closer to home into his sights. And offers us this:


The rise of Trump in the US and the proliferation of Independent TDs of all hues here are symptoms of the low regard in which traditional politicians are held.

The problem was starkly illustrated in the focus group research carried out for The Irish Times before the February general election which showed people held Independent candidates in far higher esteem than they did party politicians.

Okay, but that seems to ignore why that might be. For example, a Labour Party that promised one thing and delivered another in government (or assisted in the delivery of that other) might, some would think, be at least in some part responsible for the lack of esteem of party politicians. Likewise with Fianna Fáil after the massive economic and social dislocations of the late 2000s an early 10s. And how about Fine Gael who have hardly offered in government the finest example of solid and competent government?

He cannot brush all that aside, so he suggests that:

Yes, we had an appalling economic crash almost a decade ago for a variety of reasons, including bad political leadership, but the recovery was brought about by courageous political decision-making, first by the Fianna Fáil-Green Party government and then by Fine Gael and Labour. Both governments were punished rather than rewarded for doing the right thing. By contrast the Bertie Ahern-led governments were re-elected for making the irresponsible decisions that contributed to the crash.

Except that the ‘right thing’ was by no means unquestionable. There were easier, less obnoxious and damaging approaches even within the orthodoxy, in regard to recovery. Furthermore, the length of time from the crash to now, the patchy nature of the recovery, the already mentioned issues as regards competence and credibility, the problems as regards a system, an orthodoxy, that delivered us to the crash with hardly a world of complaint or dissent from those in charge, or tasked with opposition  – including Labour and Fine Gale makes the idea that somehow ‘rewards’ were the order of the day seem quite at odds with reality.

To try to tie all this in with the US is a significant task, and one has to wonder is he up to it. Moreover, he ignores the way in which some of the independent cohort have paraded their sense of ‘responsibility’. But that would cut across his own approach of treating them as an undifferentiated mass.

As to the US, here’s a thought:

One irony, as pointed out by American commentator Jonathan Rauch in the current issue of Atlantic Monthly, is that the sweeping reforms designed to make politics more transparent and accountable have helped to undermine faith.

He pointed to reforms in the US which have ended the party-dominated nominating processes, put strict controls on party fundraising, ended congressional seniority and closed-door negotiations, and set limits to constituency spending.

This may be correct. And yet, and yet. How does that explain the – by this standard – rigorous orthodoxy of Republican and Democratic nominees hitherto?


1. sonofstan - August 9, 2016

Does he ask why ‘populism’ here in Ireland tends to the left, whereas in other English speaking countries it goes right? or would that mean admitting he’s not talking about the same thing at all really?


6to5against - August 9, 2016

I think he would be inclined to include Bernie Sanders, Corbyn, AAA/PBP as well as Trump and the brexit leaders in the populist category. To him, they are all the same.


2. deiseach - August 9, 2016

Ah, ‘courageous political decision-making’. The decisions that were taken would have been, as far as the likes of Stephen Collins and his ilk were concerned, the only decisions that could have been made. Anyone who suggested that austerity austerity austerity was not the way were ridiculed. Given all that, how exactly were they courageous?


6to5against - August 9, 2016

One particularly irritating aspect of crash and the response to it was how politicians following the policies espoused by all major news organisations, the IMF, EU and the ECB as well as most domestic lobbying groups such as IBEC and ISME, would be praised for their courage.

Liked by 2 people

WorldbyStorm - August 9, 2016



Dr.Nightdub - August 9, 2016

For years, they said “There is no alternative.” So how could they make a “courageous” choice between one option? Sounds like he wants to have it both ways.

Liked by 2 people

3. Ivorthorne - August 9, 2016

The “right thing” eh?

Even assuming that we have “recovered”, looking back at the many Scrooge-like cuts that affected sick, disabled and other vulnerable groups, we now know that these were not neccessary. We would have “recovered” without these cuts, and yet, Stephen seems to think that these actions were somehow right?

Look, I’m not economist or even a bloody accountant so maybe I’m just an ejit who doesn’t understand why we needed to cut so many services that helped vulnerable people, but I’m still going to ask great men like jolly ol’ Stephen why it is that, if we had brave governments who needed to cut services to people like kids with special needs, they seemed to lack enough courage to introduce things like a wealth tax?

Stephen might argue that a wealth tax would not have delivered a substantial amount and would have upset mobile millionaires (I’d disagree), but I’d probably contend that a brave government would not have feared this, especially since some of the “brave” cuts they made delivered sweet feck all in the way of savings but upset and damaged the health and wellbeing of the vulnerable.

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