Over the weekend, I set myself the target of writing a single paragraph to describe the values of each party. Not the policies, but the end-objective values that lead to a policy. I’ve had difficulty explaining this concept to Irish political activists, who are obsessed with the minutae of policy differences. What I mean is this: There’s a reason, for example, why FG would be very unlikely to propose nationalising the nation’s farms, because FG holds as a value a belief in the right to property.
To give you an idea, I started by writing a paragraph for the US Republican and Democratic parties, two parties with clear values, to clarify in my own mind my task.
Sinn Fein: Pro-business tax, pro-tax on high earners, pro-social spending, anti-European, relaxed about law enforcement. Uncomfortable with current relationship with UK.
The Communists: Pro-business tax, pro-tax on high earners, pro-social spending, anti-European, relaxed about law enforcement, immigration controls.
What’s interesting, and hardly surprising, is the fact that FG and FF are almost identical in values. Both (despite protests) have pretty much the same vision of Ireland, an Ireland not that radically different from the one we live in. Having said that, those visions are pretty much the visions of the majority of the Irish. It’s the great ugly truth and the heart of Irish society: Despite all the flaws, the child abuse, the corruption and incompetence, most Irish people want things to stay the way they are if the alternative involves them making a sacrifice.