The Hibernia Forum has produced an interesting study about the implications for Ireland of Brexit. It is well worth reading, and will no doubt soon be available through the Hibernia Forum web site which is, of course, among our links.
The United Methodist Church is an important institution in the United States. Millions of Americans attend its services every Sunday. It is a familiar presence in many communities across America. Consequently its decision to rescind its support for abortion is an important event. It signals a significant defeat for the liberal consensus. And yet this vote was not mentioned by the BBC or for that matter RTE, despite being obviously relevant to the current debate about abortion in Northern Ireland.
I doubt if a conscious decision was taken in either of the two state broadcasters to ignore the development in question. But the fact that they both failed to report it does show that those who gather and select the news in London and Dublin are living in the same intellectual bubble. And that’s not healthy whatever one thinks about abortion.
When, I wrote some weeks ago that Patrick Pearse was an Irish Jingo, I thought I was rather pushing it. I thought, frankly, that I was going a bit far, and that I might be accused of stirring the pot.( And so, of course, I was! )
But in fact I wrote more truly than I thought. In the great heyday of patriotism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Jingoism was not restricted to the inhabitants of the great imperialist nations such as Britain, Germany, and France. Serbia is of course a case in point. We should perhaps not forget that it was the patriotism of one of Europe’s smallest nations which provided the match which ignited the explosion of 1914.
Judged against this background, neither Pearse nor anybody else, for example the Dublin born Edward Carson, can be blamed for being patriotic. Nevertheless I was surprised to discover T.M. ( Tim. ) Healey ( 1855-1931 ) who went on to be the first Governor General of Ireland under the new dispensation, announcing in the House of Commons, that:-
“If I were an Englishman, I would be proud of the position England occupied before the world [ Hear! Hear! ]; I would be a Jingo in British politics, as he was a Jingo in Irish politics. An English Nationalist was commonly called a Jingo, and in the same sense an Irish nationalist was one; I do not make much distinction between them.” House of Commons, 13th Feb. 1896 [ I have converted the indirect speech of the record back to direct speech.]
Healy, of course, came from a very different strand of Irish nationalism than Pearse. However the lines quoted do challenge the comfortable assumption that liberalism and Irish nationalism fit easily together. Indeed they could even be taken to suggest that the marriage of liberalism and Irish nationalism is at the best one of convenience, and at the worst a public relations device.
Would this be fair? Not entirely perhaps. But just as Herbert Robertson, in the passage quoted in an earlier post, pointed that Ireland is more politically and geographically diverse than is often appreciated, so Healy’s remark draws attention to the fact that we should look beneath the blandness of Ireland’s official liberal nationalism if we are to understand ourselves. As I wrote in my piece about Pearse and the Rising the love of Ireland can take many forms not all of which are articulated in our official narrative.
1] Pity the poor Austrians for their choice. On the one hand a popularist from the ugly right, and on the other a dull character who looks as if he has just come out of meeting with Clement Attlee.
2] But that said, a good result. The Rightist extremist was defeated, but did well enough to give the out of touch liberal establishment a good fright.
3] Let us hope that the over paid Eurocrats, and those who do their bidding, get the message that uncontrolled immigration threatens the stability not only of Europe, but the future of their project.
4] Mr. Hofer’s use of a symbol previously used by the National Socialists was, of course, deplorable.
5] Please everyone also note, that immigration into countries with highly developed welfare states has very little in common with, for example, that which created the United States in the nineteenth century.
Those who want to acquaint themselves this episode, which surprisingly has driven a huge increase in the number of views on this web site, should take a look at the Hibernia Forum site which is, of course, among our links.
As is so often the case the importance of this clash goes far beyond the details. The real point here is that the Presidents reaction to Professor Lucey’s criticisms of him show how very tolerant the left can be. No one likes being attacked in public. But those in public life must expect it. It should come as no surprise.
President Higgins has demeaned himself, not because he replied to Professor Lucey, but because of the angry and dismissive tone he adopted towards a distinguished citizen of this state.
“One is not capable of forming a personal judgement with regard to the whole of Ireland, but only with regard to within a radius of 40 miles, say, of one’s house that one knows pretty well…In this House hon. Members on the other side allude to the west of Ireland when they speak of Ireland…I depreciate very much treating the west of Ireland as if it were the whole of Ireland.”
Herbert Robertson ( 1849-1916) , Unionist M.P. for Hackney speaking in the House of Commons on 30th March 1898
Later in the debate on a land bill the Nationalist M.P. William ( Willie) Redmond ( 1861- 1917 ) said this of Robertson;-
“He [ Robertson ] lives for a considerable portion of the year in his property in Ireland [ on the Wexford/ Carlow border ], and takes great interest in the welfare of the people who surround him. In that respect I am sorry to say he is somewhat exceptional, because a large number of landlords, who really gave the necessity for legislation such as this, do not follow his example, nor by any means [ show] the same local interest which I have no doubt he takes.”
House of Commons, 30th March 1898
“As a young Marxist in college during the 1950’s heyday of the anti-communist crusade led by Senator Joseph McCarthey, I had more freedom to express my views in class, without fear of retaliation, than conservative students have on many campuses today.”
Tom Sowell writing on the Townhall web site
Donald Trump may have won the nomination. But he has already lost the election. The advantage that the Democratic Party enjoys in the American electoral system, coupled with Trump’s beyond catastrophic polling numbers among women and minorities, together mean that Hilary Clinton will be the next President of the United States.
Trump’s defeat will make one thing clear. The right cannot win without thought. Successful election campaigns must do more than to express fears. Negative campaigning sometimes has its place, as long as it does not slip into encouraging prejudice. But a party that wants to form the society that it addresses has to do much more than this. For example Clement Attlee’s post war British Labour government was grounded in the work of the Fabian Society, and reflected the experiences of the British working class in the pre-war depression. Moreover it benefited from the confidence about government activity that seemed to have been justified by victory in the war. The trope “If we can win the war, we can win the peace,” had considerable traction in the summer of 1945. Conservative ideas too can have a powerful appeal, but only when they are wisely articulated, and are embodied in sensible policies that enable people to understand the general theme which is being developed….
In October 1974 I was canvassing for a Conservative candidate on the Isle of Wight. During the campaign Ted Heath quietly announced the policy of allowing the tenants of the council houses to buy the houses in which they lived, but he then let the issue drop and hardly referred to it again. However I began to mention the idea on the doorstep, and met with a delighted response, and it immediately became clear to me that this policy could win us the election. I was so excited about the importance of what I had discovered that I made my way to Conservative Central Office, then in Smith Square.
I knew no one there, so having made my way past the stern commissioner on the door, I could do no more than unburden myself to the women behind the counter in the bookshop. She listened to what I had to say, and told me that the previous weekend she too had been canvassing and had seen an exactly similar response to the proposal that I had noted, and that as a result she had distributed a memo in Central Office about the popularity of promoting home ownership in this way. Naïve and powerless as I was, I decided that no more could be done and went home.
Heath continued to ignore the policy that he himself had announced, and went on to lose the election. But, of course, the story did not end there. In the eighties the sale of council houses turned to be the political nuclear weapon which, as deployed by Mrs. Thatcher, destroyed the left in Britain for a generation. How did it do this? Of course there were selfish motives involved. People wanted to get hold of their own houses. But it went deeper than this. The policy made sense of everything else that the Conservatives were saying about property-owning democracy, and the importance of initiative. I shall always remember the sense of intellectual excitement I saw on the faces of some of those I canvassed. Property, and by extension economic freedom, was for them ceasing to be just words employed by the rich Tories, but was becoming a living reality to be enjoyed by everybody. The left was powerless to respond because for them ownership was something to be tolerated rather than something deep in human nature.
Such policies do not fall from heaven. They have to be forged. Just as the Manhattan project that created the real atomic bomb succeeded by merging theoretical physics and engineering, so Mrs Thatcher’s political nuclear weapon was a fusion of conservative ideas about the value of property, with the practical insight that the stock of badly administered council houses provided a way of a popular way making these ideas relevant to people’s lives.
Theoretical wisdom, knowledge about what people wanted, have to be yoked together to produce a winning synthesis. But this harnessing is not easy. It requires disciplined thought, serious application, and imagination. ( Heath had the application. He lacked the imagination.)
But how is this relevant to Trump? It is relevant because disciplined thought and serious application are two qualities that are quite foreign to him. Donald Trump is no Hitler. He lacks murderous hatred. But like Hitler he also lacks any moral centre or coherent vision. For example he has announced that the United States should both stay neutral in the Palestinian conflict, and at the same time has expressed support for the extension of Israeli settlements on the West Bank. These statements are impossible to reconcile. No one can form any view about what he would do were he to be elected. Like Hitler, Trump asks his followers to step beyond the confines of rationality.
And the coming election is going to expose this. As I write, the Democrats will be recruiting an army of researchers who will reveal in agonising detail just how unsuited Trump is to be President of the United States. His defeat will be humiliating. But it will not have been worthless if it teaches the lesson ( one which in truth should never have been forgotten) that the right cannot win if it acts as the stupid party.
Mrs Clinton’s administration will be dull, conventional, unfailingly politically correct and hopelessly bureaucratic. It will be quite incapable of doing anything to assuage the anger expressed by the followers of either Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders. Consequently it will provide real opportunities for conservatives to develop new themes derived from the federal nature of American political order. Washington cannot deliver. But perhaps the states can. Here then is an opportunity for the right. What about a federal activity audit, to examine which activities currently undertaken by the federal government could be better undertaken by more accountable local institutions. Unlike Donald Trump, great conservatives know that in order to win they have to develop coherent themes expressed in workable policies addressing real needs. There are Council House “situations” all over America waiting for the Republican party to exploit them. Properly handled they could obliterate the liberals for a generation
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“There’s a big part of this country [ the U.S.] that is plainly really angry and ready to elect somebody manifestly unsuited to the office [ of President ] in order to express their anger.”
Noah Millman, in “The American Conservative” – see our U.S. links