Are the British and Irish really ” two different civilisations?”

If you want a break from the Robinsons as I do – although keeping one ear on Nolan’s mawkishness in spite of myself – try this from that Slugger favourite John Waters in the Irish Times, who makes the provocative case for saying that future trends in Ireland “ can be picked up from Radio 4. ” That is, what happens first in Britain happens next In the Republic. Is this a local version of the old saying, when the US sneezes, we in these islands catch a cold? Or is Waters arguing something more? Extracts below the fold. “We are, though profoundly interlinked and in some ways similar, two different civilisations. For understandable historical reasons, we tend to overlook the profound impact our neighbours’ politics has on ours. Unconsciously, we follow trends set “across the water”, not so much in the realm of ideas and isms as in the demeanour of the political animal. We had no equivalent of Thatcher, but nevertheless, from the mid-1980s, Irish politics took on something of her certitude as, of all people, Charles Haughey adopted something of her thinking in addressing the mess that he had contributed to making of the Irish economy. We misnamed it, as I remember, “monetarism”.
The leadership style of the Tiger years, similarly, seems to have gathered its inspiration from Tony Blair: the matey affability of Bertie and Enda seeming to arise from an unconscious desire to emulate Blair’s successful reworking of the JFK brand.

This, of course, is a general election year over there, so the next four months there may have more far-reaching consequences for Irish politics than anything happening on this island in the same space of time.”

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London

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