Conservatism in Ireland

Richard‘s and Gerry’s discussion reminds me of the episode of Questions and Answers involving Brendan Howlin, Eamonn Delaney and Dan McLaughlin – in relation to the Irish Ferries dispute.

Gerry’s answer to Richard:

Like it or loath it, social partnership was a crucial element in forging the Irish model of social and economic governance. The Irish model can be best characterised as “social liberalism” and is characterised by low taxation, deregulation and creating a climate favourable to enterprise. But it also contains elements that necessarily go against the grain, at least to some extent, of economic liberalism or what Richard would define as conservatism. It was considered necessary that a national consensus be generated to aid economic recovery from the fiscal crisis of the state and so business, trade union and government elites begat social partnership. Thus Irish-style corporatism had elements of both economic liberalism and social democracy. The hypocrisy that Richard dislikes is a product, at the rhetorical level, of a concrete mode of governance. What I’m saying is that a full blown conservative government would probably not have been able to build the consensus that created the successful Irish model in the first place.

It played out between Howlin, Roche and McLaughlin. McLaughlin seems to have easily forgotten the role social partnership had in the development of the Celtic Tiger. You can watch the clip here.

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