The full violence of Storm Ciara swept into Ireland overnight bringing with it heavy rain, high winds and the full force of leftist populism. The Irish electorate wake up this morning to a changed landscape. The early tallies back up last night’s RTE exit poll. Sinn Fein and the left have made huge gains across the country.
One of the most conservative constituencies in the country – Galway East – has the Sinn Fein candidate running at 15-20%% of first preference votes. A candidate added late in the day, with little or no local name recognition and yet it didn’t matter much. This surge caught everyone by surprise not least Sinn Fein. Early tallies indicate that they will have 80,000 surplus votes after the first counts are completed. About 10 seats left on the table. A huge swathe of the country wanted populist change and in this election Sinn Fein seem to be the big, big beneficiaries of it.
I have spent the morning listening to a mixture of Newstalk and RTE election coverage and if the political commentators have one common struggle it’s a difficulty explaining what exactly happened yesterday and more pertinently why.
The answers may not have their origins in Ireland. If we look to the political landscapes of the UK and the US we will note the massive political turbulence in both countries for over 5 years. The common denominator is a lurch towards a more populist style of politics both Left and Right. For too long in modern democracies the ruling elites have ignored the plight of the working man and woman. The strugglers in society. Eoghan Harris famously coined the phrase the ‘ Coping Class’ many years ago. Well the coping class have finally run out of Xanex in 2020. The people who pay for everything are tired footing the bill of the ruling elites.
The ruling elites are not restricted to a couple of political parties. In fact, increasingly political parties like Fine Gael and Fianna Fail are merely the vessels through which the ruling classes exercise their power and achieve their goals. Who then are these classes of people. In days gone by we might have referred to them as the landed gentry. Today they are made up of the following:
Supersized multinational companies
Mainstream media and entertainment
Capitalist and Banking elites
Scientific and technological elites
The administrative state and vested interests therein
and finally and it most definitely is finally
Theoretically the political classes are the ruling class. Lamentably for the elites this is the road junction they are forced to interface with the common man and woman. What the past 20 years of globalism teach us here in Ireland and to even more vast swathes of the world population is that this notion, that political parties are the seat of ultimate power is a complete and utter nonsense. Populism in all it’s forms is a rallying cry declaring this aloud. It is a demand for elected officials to take back control, simply put – to do what they are being elected to do. Whether this is the rise and fall of Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, to Brexit and onto Donald Trump in the US. The popularity and success of all three lies in that plea from the masses. In all the above cases the ruling elites were stridently opposed to their popularity and ideas. The support base was and is very much grass-root based.
If you don’t believe the political classes are under the type of control I am talking about, in an Irish context, think about this for a moment. SF, FF and FG are now tied as the 3 largest parties in the country. Not one of them is proposing to adjust the corporation tax rate of 12.5%. One hard left Party and two centre right parties. The reason is valid one. Fear. Fear of multinationals exiting the Irish economy.
Ireland is a globalists wet dream. A country with a small population where 200,000 private sector jobs can buy off an electorate. In return these companies can launder 100’s of billions of dollars virtually tax-free and crime free. With no push back. This election in 2020 is the first occasion where there has been a loud, sizeable push back to the 25 year status quo. The establishment don’t know how to react to the sudden jolt.
The older generations amongst us, must own this Faustian bargain, that we have made for a generation and more. Admit we not only accept but enable it. And make no mistake there is a very good defensive argument to make. The aftermath of this general election should be a very simple discussion. An honest, national conversation of where we want to go as a country and how we propose to get there. If there isn’t one – at least one major political party will cease to exist inside of 10 years.
The real opportunity cost of the last 20 years in Ireland is that we have utterly failed to create a vibrant, domestic entrepreneurial class with a global outlook. There has been well over 20 years of a tech boom in Ireland and it has failed to produce one domestic multi-national of note. The Collison brothers and Stripe is the single bright spot. Unfortunately that type of genius recognised in their teens that Ireland wasn’t the place to develop it.
Ireland today is in a very precarious position. There is a widespread virus infecting some of the oldest democracies on earth and it goes by this name of populism or anti-globalism. The political fights of the very near future are not Left vs Right but Left populism vs Right populism. Sinn Fein were the beneficiaries in #GE2020 of this populist vote. The fortunate point for FG and FF is that Sinn Fein is not a populist party in any meaningful way as of yet. FG and FF themselves are anything but populist. The decision all three need to make is to determine if they are willing to run towards populism or run away from it. And be crystal clear about it to the electorate.
Curiously the concentration of 95% of the worlds wealth in the pockets of a handful of individuals wasn’t the straw that broke the camels back in the minds of right wing populists. Or at least it is not the issue keeping the fire lit. It is actually the concentration of 95% of the English speaking worlds information in the hands of the few that is accelerating the explosions. Ask yourself how much of the information you consume are you now getting from traditional MSM sources. If you’re a man, aren’t you listening to Joe Rogan more often than Joe Duffy?
I know I am, along with some other unlikely sources of news due to the fact that global media and technology companies are working hand in glove to skewer what we see and consume. It is this idea of controlling what we think by controlling what we see that is so annoying to me.
While the problem seems much less prevalent in Ireland we only need to go back 3 days to see how the Irish media treated Sinn Fein in the last days of the general election campaign. All hands on deck to suppress the surge. On a broader scale, RTE and all the main radio and newspapers sources their international headlines from CNN, the Washington Post or the New York Times. Three entities that are all engaged in hugely biased and misleading campaigns of mis-information. And I don’t just mean Donald Trump, the way they all treat the significant populist on the left, Bernie Sanders is scandalous. The elites want no hand, act or part of populism. Left or Right. It threatens them.
So today as we sit down and reflect on the results of GE2020 in Ireland remember your enemy really isn’t a political party of the opposite persuasion. I mean most of them are just ordinary people like you and me. The enemy are the controlling elites and their vested interests in Ireland. I like to call them ‘ The People that Really Run Things’. Hopefully this election result will start shining a light on who they are and how they are affecting all of our lives.