Why the PDs are not right wing

Gerry O’Quigley correctly notes that, despite much his and his party’s billing in the press, the Republic’s Justice Minister Michael McDowell is not actually right wing. Indeed, they are difficult to classify in left right terms. McDowell’s prefered label is liberal – harking back, perhaps, to something like the late eighteenth century’s radicals.

  • They were described as a liberal party in this weeks Economist, much to my amusement.

    There was a short piece on Bertie and SF forming (or not forming) a government after the next election. Not very informative though.

  • aquifer

    Are the PDs just distinguishing themselves from the post revolutionary gang that FF became. The corrupt zoning of irish building land, the appeasement of a bloated and dependent public sector at the expense of young emigrants, their sponsoring of the sectarian separatist wing of the IRA, their indulgence of a reactionary and inadequate church.

    The PDs can be liberal in terms of believing in private property over communal expropriation, equality over cronyism?

    Michael McDowell is a dangerous radical, a free market republican for these times.

    A revolutionary leader for people with history behind them and a mortgage to pay.

    He’ll be back in, but who with?

  • Brian Boru

    The PD’s are liberals from an economic point of view i.e. free markets, low taxes, privatisation, small government, and also from the point of view of so-called moral issues and the separation of church and state. In other words they can broadly be called classical liberals but as demonstrated by Mary Harney introducing the minimun-wage, ones with somewhat more of a social-conscience than their predecessors in the 19th century.

    I was going to vote for them but the recent Irish Ferries controversy is making be reconsider whether the race to the bottom is really good for this country. I await with interest to hear the PD’s and the Government’s position on the EU Services Directive, which would allow Eastern European companies setting up in Ireland to pay their workers Eastern European pay-rates under the so-called “country of origin principle”. I am also very annoyed that the Government blocked the EU Ferries Directive last year which could have stopped Irish Ferries and other carriers from replacing all their Western staff with slave-labour from poor countries.

  • harry flashman

    The term “Liberal” is, next to “fascist”, the most wrongly attributed word in the political lexicon. It has become synonymous with “left-wing” which is completely mistaken when one examines the political beliefs held by many on the left today.

    Liberal, in it’s proper sense means a desire for freedom of choice and less state control, fairly obvious when you think about it. Yet many on the left today feel that it means the exact opposite; more state control, of education, of health, of commerce, of media. So that when liberals like the PD’s try to break free from the dead hand of the state they are called “right wing” or “conservative”. It is the statist political parties such as FF or Britain’s Labour Party, or even the present day Tories who are conservative and unwilling to embrace more freedom.

    The Thatcher government was a liberalising government, certainly economically and as a result of its economic policies many people felt freer in their individual lives too. They were free to buy their own homes, not to be clients of the local housing boards, they were free to work in their chosen careers without having to join a union, they were free to spend as much money abroad as they liked and not have to be limited to a certain amount of currency when going on holiday, they were free to buy shares in their own companies, they were free to choose what school their children went to and what type of health care their relatives received. Of course this horrified the pointy heads in the collectivist and statist universities and media but for the ordinary guy in the street these freedoms were immensely popular that’s why despite the howls of outrage from the bien pensants she kept getting elected.

    You can claim that economic freedom isn’t everything and I agree but without basic economic freedom an individual can never achieve other freedoms. And when you start to introduce economic freedom then social and political freedom will follow, just watch the coming implosion of the Chinese Communist party in the next decade, they have signed their own death warrant and not a minute too soon.

    The liberals of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were Thatcherites to a man. They were the capitalist middle classes of England, who were fed up with the old landed Tories who dominated politics and society. The freedoms they sought on behalf of the people were at first economic, free trade as opposed to tariffs, and they were centred around the great capitalist centres of commerce, Manchester, Birmingham, and the City of London they sought freedom from the heirarchy they did not, like today’s Left, demand ever more layers of beurocracy and government. The universities and newspapers they founded were radical and open to new ideas, not the hide bound institutions that parrot the same left wing mantras that exist today.

    The PD’s are liberals, it is the Left today which is anti-freedom and where you will find the most intolerant and closed minded people in politics today. Try suggesting to anyone in the left today that maybe – just maybe – the whole global warming thing might be founded on dodgy science or that maybe – just maybe – it is a good thing to open up the middle east to ideas of democracy. You will not get a nice reasoned debate where the pros and cons will be weighed up to come to a conclusion. No instead you will get a foam flecked harangue of outraged horror, you will certainly be viciously insulted and you may even expect threats of violence, your opponent will shout you down and go as red faced as any colonel Blimp, don’t ever let such people tell you they are the liberals.

  • Betty Boo

    Brian,

    you are obviously not familiar with the principle of being so right that you come out left.
    (It works the same way vis versa.)

  • Harry Flashman, freedom under Thatcher was the freedom to sleep in a shop doorway, freedom for a business man to go bankrupt and freedom for the old to die of hypothermia.
    The Manchester school believed the free market would eliminate poverty. The Thatcherites(the Chicago school) had/have no such belief.
    The present description ‘Neo-Con’ avoids a lot of confusion.And the neo-cons are driven by greed.They are in Iraq for the OIL.
    People of the world are free to vote provided they vote for a pro-American government.Is that democracy?It is like choosing the colour or should I write color of a Henry Ford car.
    By the way have you been anywhere close to the Middle East?If you had you might have noticed their culture and thinking is a little different from the West and that the West has quite a history of imposing itself on that region.

  • Oilbhéar Chromaill

    Perhaps this is not the correct thread for this particular posting but given that there’s been no thread – surprise surprise – about McDowell’s humiliation in a Belfast court last week, then here goes.

    After all how many ‘liberal’ ministers for justice would be proud to associate themselves in any way with former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet, the US puppet who ordered the slaughter of thousands of real liberals in the soccer statium in Santiago.

    That’s what McDowell did last week when he used the Pinochet defence to evade accountability for his reprehensible remarks about Daily Ireland, which he tried to silence before it was even published with claims that it would be to Sinn Féin what nazi propoganda sheets were to Hitler and Co.

    The remarks were rightly condemned at the time by the NUJ as dangerous and offensive and that stance should be supported by all, whether in journalism or without.

    On Friday, however after telling Daily Ireland’s publishers he would ‘see them in court’, the liberal minister sent his barrister to the High Court in Belfast to claim he was acting on behalf of a sovereign state and therefore he couldn’t be held personally accountable. That’s exactly the same argument used by Pinochet to evade responsibility for his murders and other human rights abuses.

    Further evidence of McDowell’s and his fellow PDs right wing credentials are in their vigorous anti-immigrant policies which, like the nazis, used a legal instrument to deny equal citizenship to all the country’s citizens. In the case of Germany, they used the Nuremberg laws to deny equal citizenship to German citizens who happened to be Jewish. In Ireland, McDowell’s citizenship referendum denied equal citizenship to the children born in Ireland to immigrant parents. Shame on Ireland’s voters that they supported such a racist and fascist proposal.

    His response to every crime is to grandstand and call for increased powers to the Gardai without on the other hand insisting on more effective use of the extensive powers they have.

    Mary Harney’s health policies have been likened to ‘nazism’ by a British academic who claims the manner in which the health system in Ireland is being gradually privatised means that the poor, the unemployed, immigrants and other unfortunates simply won’t be able to afford healthcare.

    So are the PDs right wing? You may as well ask whether Hitler was a despot!

  • Henry94

    manfarang

    freedom under Thatcher was the freedom to sleep in a shop doorway, freedom for a business man to go bankrupt and freedom for the old to die of hypothermia.

    As opposed to the Social model?

    http://tinyurl.com/9demb

  • BogExile

    I find it amusing when Shinners and their fellow travellers villify Michael McxDowell. I thought you guys played the long game?

    The only realistic hope you have of an agreed Ireland (let alone a united one) is through the enlightened republicanism of McDowell who recognises that constitutional Ireland has a common enemy, the zero-sum mentality of Sinn Fein and the assorted rag tag of neo-fascist fellow travellers.

    McDowell knows that Unionism needs to be reconciled with Nationalism and the only way to do this is to isolate and totally reject the triumphalist republican ideology in the North. This is pretty easy in economic terms as has been seen by the barking ideas advanced by Sinn Fein. It is far more difficult to retake the ground on national unification.

    However, by understanding the very real fears of unionists being eclipsed in a hostile state having been projected there by militant northern republicanism, he is slowly redefining the debate. I know that I have nothing to fear from (and much reason to respect) mainstream Nationalism, it simply needs to emerge from the shadows created by Sinn Fein and project a strong alternative thesis for a modern Ireland. This is being articulated by McDowell. As a unionist, I would be more than prepared to listen. When I listen to Sinn Fein (with some rare exceptions) all I hear is an offensive, cynical, infantile, rhetorical mantra which is designed to undermine my identity and culture and in no way recognises my legitimacy. If that’s the road to Irish Unity then I’m a bananna.

  • Mick Fealty

    OC,

    The site crashed on me just as I was blogging that story on Friday. I wanted to blog it again when I got home, but the new software wouldn’t let me in.

    Oh for the luxury of a salary, (and some regular technical backup)!

  • Ringo

    OC

    vigorous anti-immigrant policies

    That is a myth that doesn’t stand up to any level of scrutiny.

    Your disection of the rationale behind the referendum is self-righteous 1st year college standard. Nestle, McDonald’s, Unilever, Hitler and the PD’s.

    The Mary Harney Nazi Health service paragraph is utterly laughable. An academic of your choosing says something critical about someone you despise for a different reason and you pass this off as reason?

    There are plenty valid reasons to have a go at the PD’s. Keep it real.

  • Oilbhéar Chromaill

    OC

    vigorous anti-immigrant policies

    That is a myth that doesn’t stand up to any level of scrutiny. 

    Your disection of the rationale behind the referendum is self-righteous 1st year college standard.  Nestle, McDonald’s, Unilever, Hitler and the PD’s.

    The Mary Harney Nazi Health service paragraph is utterly laughable.  An academic of your choosing says something critical about someone you despise for a different reason and you pass this off as reason?

    There are plenty valid reasons to have a go at the PD’s.  Keep it real.

    Keep it real, Ringo.

    Your post is nothing but a personal attack, with no substantial argument merely assertions against the arguments I’ve made.

    Come back when you have a REAL response.

    I don’t expect First Year Secondary School reasoning from you – your normal preschool utterings will suffice. Apologies to all preschool attendees….

  • Holt

    Peoples views on the PD’s vary according to their view on shooting the poor!

  • Brian Boru

    “Mary Harney’s health policies have been likened to ‘nazism’ by a British academic who claims the manner in which the health system in Ireland is being gradually privatised means that the poor, the unemployed, immigrants and other unfortunates simply won’t be able to afford healthcare.”

    Then it must have been a very extreme leftwing analyst if he really believes Harney is a “Nazi”. I don’t see Harney sending people to gas-chambers!

    For those without private-health insurance, there is always the free public-health service to fall back on. The profit motive encourages faster treatment as the hospitals get money for treating you. 52% of the public cannot be wrong.

  • Confused

    Brian Boru- I have no problem with the PD’s but can you explain what you mean by 52% of the public cannot be wrong?

    What if 2% change their mind? If it’s 50/50 is nobody wrong?

  • Brian Boru

    I mean that the 52% who get health-insurance in the South cannot be wrong.

  • Man. Godwin’s Law. Is it not possible to discuss the nature of left right (or whatever) politics in the abstract, without dragging poor old Godwin into it?

  • Ringo

    Your post is nothing but a personal attack, with no substantial argument merely assertions against the arguments I’ve made.

    Come back when you have a REAL response.

    Personal? What was personal about it? Your post was infantile in its analysis. I said nothing about you.

    Peppering your posts with ‘fascism, nazi’s and Hitler’ is a one way ticket to having your opinions treated with contempt.

    For you info, I did start formulating a more ‘real’ response, but after going through such things as your deliberate warping of the referendum, Mary Harney’s liberalising of residency for the families of Philipino nurses, the practice employed by the dept of Justice rather that the theory behind those affected retrospectively by the referendum and the fact that the absence of barriers to migrants from the new EU 10 is unparalleled anywhere else in the EU. I gave up then because there was a lot more that was frankly, complete arse, in your post and decided to cut it back to the reply above.

    It is crystal clear to anyone who is prepared to pay attention, that the free market economics that the PD’s espouse go hand in hand with free movement of labour – and consequently immigration. If you knew what you were talking about you’d know that Harney is the most outspoken government politician regarding the need for immigration. But don’t let the facts intrude on your poorly formed stereotypes.

    And you have the gall to suggest that we should be ashamed for ratifying a constitutional change that your hardwired brain couldn’t see merit in. Who do you think you are?

  • Henry94
    There is no single European Social model and the French socialists are in opposition.

  • Aye, and Bertie’s a socialist…

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Manfarang: The label “neo-Con” is so overused and mis-used as to be meaningless. It has its roots in the conservative Democrats — usu. Jewish, usu. pro-Israel — who “fell in” with Regean back in the eighties. Anything else is of a much more recent vintage and suspect.

    Likewise, could poor old Godwin be given some rest? There are a plethora of more useful and more accurate analogies that could be made, leaving Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and that whole bloody-handed crew to rot in whatever circle of hell (or equivalent afterlife… or not) that we’d care to relegate them to.

    More McDowell and Harney, you might cite Margaret Sanger (well, it would require some knowledge of the social history of the United States…) as a more accurate analog, rather than the Austrian paper-hanger.

  • Oilbhéar Chromaill

    The citizenship proposal was racist and no amount of spin from you, Ringo, will make it less so. Mary Harney talks about getting Filipino nurses to man her ramshackle, two tier health service but her lieutenant goes about making sure that Irish children, born to immigrant parents, are denied citizenship.

    I don’t think it’s worthwhile getting into a name-calling exercise with you and getting down to your level of abuse, Ringo, but your perspective on this question is warped.

  • Young Fogey

    As a social and economic liberal, I would find the PD’s liberal credentials easier to believe if they showed the slightest capacity to stand up for victims of state abuse. Unfortunately, McDowell’s defence of violence and thuggery from sections of the Garda, no matter how extreme, rather gives lie to that claim.

    Liberalism has always been a broad church with some Liberals believing in as small a state as possible (“as much state as needed and as little state as possible” as the German FDP puts it) while others have seen a more active role for the state as being necessary to ensure liberty, especially for the most vulnerable. The PDs overwhelmingly come from the former tradition, the LibDems generally, although not entirely from the latter (bigger parties tend to be broader churches). That divide is reflected in many European countries with two separate Liberal parties (e.g. Denmark, Holland, Italy).

    As I said, my worry about the PDs isn’t their economic liberalism – a decent and honourable liberal tradition – but their defence of abuses of state power when they happen to be in charge, which is the antithesis of everything liberalism stands for. Instead, their agenda more and more seems to be low taxes, hang ’em, send ’em back and it’s all the fault of the poor because they didn’t inherit a department store. In other words conservatism in drag.

    Harry Flashman’s point is well made, but like many others it seems to be that of a conservatism trying to claim the mantle of liberalism for themselves, rather than one of an economic liberal. Is there something about the word “conservative” that makes people shy from it – instead pretending to be liberals, or even more ludicrously, libertarians when plainly they’re not.

    (Oh, and I hope we never import the American meaning of the word liberal – it’s misleading and we have perfectly good and honourable terms like socialist and social democrat for those on this side of the Atlantic.)

  • Ringo

    The citizenship proposal was racist and no amount of spin from you, Ringo, will make it less so.

    Nonsense. Only the terminally naive and the axe-grinders hang on to that one.

  • Brian Boru

    “The citizenship proposal was racist and no amount of spin from you, Ringo, will make it less so. Mary Harney talks about getting Filipino nurses to man her ramshackle, two tier health service but her lieutenant goes about making sure that Irish children, born to immigrant parents, are denied citizenship.”

    Oilbhéar Chromaill, no it wasn’t racist. The current Irish Ferries dispute shows a reason for the referendum. Immigrants are taking Irish jobs by working for cheap. We should boycott Irish Ferries for their treachery against their bosses’ nation. William Martin Murphy has returned.

    Also, immigrants would probably be less likely to vote for a United Ireland. So if you support a United Ireland, then you cannot simultaneously support mass-migration, unless you live in the delusion that immigrants will be as likely to vote for a UI as Irish people.

  • Paddy Matthews

    Also, immigrants would probably be less likely to vote for a United Ireland. So if you support a United Ireland, then you cannot simultaneously support mass-migration, unless you live in the delusion that immigrants will be as likely to vote for a UI as Irish people.

    Brian Boru,

    Perhaps if you stopped your half-baked ranting about immigrants, they might be willing to listen to your arguments in favour of a United Ireland.

    My guess is that most immigrants are not going to have any strong feelings either way about a United Ireland. Most of them probably wouldn’t vote in a referendum on the subject, preferring to leave the decision up to those with an interest in the matter.

    What possesses you to think the average Pole or Lithuanian or Nigerian is going to have a burning desire to keep the Union Jack flying north of Omeath?