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Is this true? June 5, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Stephen Collins likes Leo Varadkar. He writes at length about his qualities. But there’s this:

Most importantly Varadkar has managed the almost impossible feat of being a politician who comes across to the public, especially younger voters, as if he is not a politician at all. In this anti-politician phase of western democracy that is a crucial asset.

Really? I don’t know if I’m well placed to judge that, but what do others think?

Then there’s his supposed coolness under fire…

One of the strongest arguments in Varadkar’s favour is that he has displayed an ability to perform under pressure. During a recent Dáil outing as the stand-in for the taoiseach and also at the final Fine Gael hustings he showed the kind of coolness and debating skill that will be required in the next election.

But to me there’s a contradiction..

One of the things Fine Gael TDs and members found so frustrating about the last general election campaign was that despite the party’s impressive record on the economy the Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, ran away with the debate by espousing the hard-to-define concept of “fairness”.

Fairness is a slippery concept, never more so than when Stephen Collins is using it. But I wonder is Varadkar well placed to articulate it given that he has already nailed his colours to the mast of the Independent’s ‘coping class’ albeit in very slightly different language – and wasn’t that telling how he discussed those who get up early, but only in the context of paid work. Sure, he rowed back later, but it was a revealing insight into his worldview and – for a medical doctor particularly so. Carers, those who work in the home, whatever, all dismissed in favour of those who have paid jobs.

What’s fascinating is how much of a gamble all this is. Even Collins has to admit that:

The big question, though, is whether he has the temperament and the stamina to step into the taoiseach’s role. Bertie Ahern used to argue that a TD needed to serve at least one Dáil term and more likely two before they could be considered for even a junior ministry. That is why he left the obviously talented Brian Lenihan kicking his heels on the backbenches for almost a decade.


By contrast Varadkar will have gone all the way from county councillor to taoiseach in the same time frame. It is some achievement but it means he has not been tested in a number of senior ministerial positions in the way almost all of his predecessors were. It is only when he is actually in the job that it will become clear whether or not he has the qualities required to do it.

When I think about that, the fact that this is indeed an untested politician, one who has had limited experience in frontline roles in government. It’s not that he’s had none, but a large economic or other department? Not quite. Not quite.

And it intrigues me how much his pitch is political – it is to the representatives rather than to anything more. One would wonder is he good on the machine but how will he fare as he attempts to put that machine into action?

We are all about to find out.


1. ivorthorne - June 5, 2017

I can’t see any evidence that suggests Leo has created the impression that “he is not a politician at all.” He’s come across as calculating, mischievious and ambitious.


2. Aengus Millen - June 5, 2017

This whole question of Leo’s appeal to the youth is one that needs to be interrogated much more forcefully. I’m a young person and still find him odious and way too right wing although I may not be typical (although I have cousins of a similar age who agree). The other point is that there seems to be a contradiction. The media seems to believe that Leo is some sort of master debater who can maintain grace under fire. While similarly noting that his standoffishness with FF and similar confrontations with the independent alliance nearly derailed this government in its early days. I expect that after a couple months in the job his reputation will start to take a beating. Lastly I would say that the media underestimates young people if they believe that having a right-wing party be led by a young person will suddenly make young people ignore there interests and vote for that party. We hear of people voting for a party despite its leader or not voting for a party because of its leader the obvious example being Sinn Fein but you rarely if ever here of people ignoring a parties beliefs and manifesto and merely voting for the man.


3. An Sionnach Fionn - June 5, 2017

Varadkar is a wet dream for much of the libertarian-style press. Economically an extreme free marketeer (by Irish standards), socially a moderate liberal, with a good amount of Free Staterism thrown in. Who needs that media-demanded party of the true right, now?

Lets hope he turns out to be another busted flush Theresa May not an embedded Thatcher.

Liked by 1 person

ivorthorne - June 5, 2017

Aengus, that would have been my impression from interactions with friends and colleagues who mostly fall into the 25-40 age bracket.

ASF makes a good point regarding his appeal to the media commentators. He’s socially liberal enough to make him palatable to their social views but anti-union, anti-welfare, anti-public service and anti-SF enough to make him appeal to their economic preferences. He speaks well, wears the right clothes and sticks to the orthodoxy.

Liked by 1 person

4. Aonrud ⚘ - June 5, 2017

Regarding young people’s view of him, I expect more will have seen this Waterford Whispers article than will have read Stephen Collins on the subject.

Leo Varadkar Becomes Ireland’s First Openly Classist Leader


5. fergal - June 5, 2017

Collins sides with power. It doesn’t matter who is in power….at all. So, if it’s the Castleknock multi-millionaire conservative, fine. Collins will quite literally make up a story. A story that embellishes the object of his desire- in this case the new Taoiseach in waiting.
The real story is that ordinary members of fine gael rejected Varadkar’s mor obvious right wing views overwhelmingly.
Macron has a lot to answer for and he isn’t in the job a wet week.


6to5against - June 5, 2017

Indeed. When Collins waxes lyrical about Varadkar’s appeal and great debating skills, we have to remember that not even a majority of FG members preferred him to Conveny

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - June 5, 2017

That’s something to think about 6to5against. There’s a real smell of all this being insider politics. The elected reps are working on the assumption that Varadkar is a winning leader for them but I wonder how seriously that assumption has been tested. And the membership vote must, at the very least, raise question marks.


Pasionario - June 5, 2017

I was surprised no-one made more of that. It’s also remarkable that FG can get still get away with giving such a token vote to their members.

My hunch is that Varadkar is probably a bit too far to the right and abrasive to work well with Micheal “Fairness” Martin and the leftish Indos whereas Coveney — whom you could describe as a One-Nation Tory — would have been more emollient.

That might mean FF will benefit at the next election.

Liked by 1 person

6. dublinstreams - June 5, 2017

Stephens Collins is referring to the results of focus group the Irish Times did before the 2016 election, where they said the young people invovled thought him to be a sort anti/non-politician. Pat Leahy, Stephen Collins’ replacement in many ways mentioned this on the IT podcast a number of times.


WorldbyStorm - June 5, 2017

Cheers, useful to know, though… quite apart from Collins not bothering to reference that for those of us who don’t make it to the IT podcast I wonder how robust a focus group as a means of determining wider attitudes to a politician.


7. roddy - June 5, 2017

The SDLP make the mistake of replacing “old fogie” candidates with “young fogie” candidates in a failed attempt to connect with young voters.My local 60 year old SF MLA usually thrashes them electorally about 7 to 1 as his CV resembles that of Dan Breen in his tan war days!


8. RosencrantzisDead - June 5, 2017

I think Collin’s corpus can be summed up as follows:

Liked by 1 person

9. Mick 2 - June 6, 2017

“Is this true?”

Eh… it’s a Stephen Collins article.


10. The Broken Elbow - June 6, 2017

If collins likes him, you know all there is to never vote for him……


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