Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics
 

Fine Gael’s Social Agenda.

Posted by Jason O on Feb 22, 2011 in Election 2011, Irish Politics |

Given Lucinda Creighton’s recent remarks on Twitter here, I thought I’d repost this post from last week. It seemed relevant.

It’s funny the way an issue bubbles up to the top of the political surface. Over the last two days, polls showing Fine Gael heading for a possible overall majority have suddenly had all sorts of people sitting up and pondering what that means. What’s particularly interesting are the numbers of people raising Fine Gael’s social values. This particular article has been sent to me by a number of different people, for example. Now, let me be clear about something before I continue: Leo Varadkar’s position is perfectly defensible from a moral and political standpoint. It is not, by Irish standards, a radical or extremist view. In addition, Leo should be congratulated for actually being willing to voice an opinion on a controversial subject, and for actually having a coherent set of ideological values by which to steer his political decisions. But what is worrying is the fact that this will be the first time in modern Irish politics that we may elect a government with prominent members who actually have a clear conservative social agenda.

Does this matter? Yes it does. If one considers gay rights, for example, will Leo and others with a conservative social agenda push for the appointment of conservative judges? Will the new Fine Gael government actively oppose moves on same-sex marriage, or refuse to broaden civil partnership rights, or maybe even reverse them? I don’t know the answer to these questions, and that surely means that they are worth asking in a campaign. What I do know is that having a government which has prominent members actively in favour of a conservative social agenda would be a major new departure in Irish politics. Sure, Fianna Fail were not enthused about same-sex marriage, but they weren’t ideologically committed to stopping it either. Could we see a situation where a socially conservative Fine Gael could be faced by a new Fianna Fail that, whilst not being socially liberal, could permit its TDs to vote their own conscience on matters like this? Will this allow Fianna Fail to finally adopt Des O’Malley’s Standing by the Republic values?

We have never had a Fine Gael government not tempered by Labour’s social liberalism before. It’s hyperbole to equate Fine Gael with Sarah Palin or George Bush, but not with, say, John Howard’s government in Australia, which actively opposed gay rights. If that’s what we are about to get, we need to wake up to it. 

11 Comments

Criostoir
Feb 16, 2011 at 10:51 am

Jason, surprised at you resorting to scare tactics like these. God forbid we might have some politicians in the Dail who reflect the views of the majority of the electorate who are pro-life and anti-gay marriage and adoption.


 
Daniel Sullivan
Feb 16, 2011 at 11:02 am

“this will be the first time in modern Irish politics that we may elect a government with prominent members who actually have a clear conservative social agenda.” really now, this is a complete overstretch. Did FF never have prominent members with a clear conservative social agenda? Course we all remember the time that Michael Woods and Dermot Ahern lead the annual Pride marches arm in arm with everyone. FG has done more to advance the cause of progressive social policy by actually ensuring it was part of the political discourse than FF ever did, and it did so despite the fact that it cost the party a portion of its conservative base.

The notion that FG needs to be tempered, or minded, by the presence of Labour in government is ridiculous as it ignores the rather basic fact that there are many within FG would be more liberal than the agreed position of the party at present. If there were moves to move further to the right for example, by as you suggest rowing back on civil partnership then those moves would be resisted by those of us who would be on the liberal wing of the party.


 
Jason O
Feb 16, 2011 at 11:14 am

Cris, I’m not attacking those points of view. I just want to know who holds them, as I don’t and would like to know before I vote.

Dan, fair point. Just for completion, can you give me the names of those FG TDs who are publicly pro-choice and pro-gay marriage so I can amend the piece?


 
Daniel Sullivan
Feb 16, 2011 at 3:23 pm

In all honesty, I don’t have list of current or prospective FG TDs who would be pro-choice, there again I doubt there is a complete list of Labour party TDs who would be publicly and personally on the record as being pro-choice either. I’m not inclined towards the David Quinn view that a vote for Labour is really a vote for abortion but I can see the smear tactic that he was engaged in by suggesting it was. If many of the current prospective Labour TDs were come out in the local press and say I’m pro-choice, vote for me and get abortion on demand, you’d see their election prospects go up in smoke. Sad but true.


 
Criostoir
Feb 16, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Well my point is that social conservatives are presented as a kind of odd 5th column. Social liberals are every bit as hidden. I’d like to know the positions of individuals on lots of things and of parties as well. FF would run a mile before telling you their position on abortion. I’ve had TDs at the door telling me they didn’t vote for civil partnership when really what they mean was it was taken without a vote to allow them to pretend they weren’t involved. The whip system is a disgrace. TDs who would be up in arms if the Church threatened to excommunicate them for their positions don’t seem to have a problem with the notion of automatic expulsion from the parliamentary party.


 
Jason O
Feb 16, 2011 at 11:31 pm

This will surprise you, as I’m obviously a liberal, but I don’t disagree.


 
Eugene
Feb 22, 2011 at 11:32 am

Oh dear, a Blueshirt government. Well Jason I can only assume you’re voting FG on Friday.. maybe I am wrong, anyone can change even from a PD. Thing is when you look at Lucinda Creighton and Leo Varadkar, were these not the very people who attempted to get rid of Enda Kenny not even 6 months ago? Mad what.. will we have a Dail coup within a year. And then an Enabling Act being passing (I jest)..


 
Jason O
Feb 22, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Economically, I could live with FG. But you forget that I’m a social liberal, find the Lucinda/Leo social conservative access to be troubling. A couple of Green ministers in there would do no harm…


 
James_Cronin
Feb 22, 2011 at 5:22 pm

I’m in the same boat as Jason here. I would much prefer a Social + Economic Liberal party (AKA PD’s) in power but I’ll take Fine Gael as the next best thing. And that’s despite the comedy duo of Lucinda and Leo.


 
Fergus
Feb 22, 2011 at 11:53 pm

As much as I dislike Labour’s economic policies they’ll be getting my number 1 on Friday purely based on the fear of a socially conservative majority FG government.

I’m in the same social and economic liberal boat as Jason and James above but we’re in a very small minority in Ireland.


 

[...] commitment as official Fine Gael policy to oppose equality in this matter. There is no agenda, as some have tried to imagine, to reverse civil partnership rights; the Fine Gael manifesto commits the party to completing the [...]


 

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