Hung Parliament : LDs Should Learn from the PDs

For Guinness-related reasons too vaguely remembered to go into, Guido is actually a member of a political party* – the Irish Progressive Democrats. They are, it is fair to say, the political ringmasters for the Celtic Tiger despite being a minority party. The party has had the utmost influence over Irish economic policy since their founding twenty years ago, pursuing a liberalising agenda of reducing taxes and red tape. A decade ago when Mary Harney was elected the new Progressive Democrats leader she set out her agenda as:

“To lead a crusade of self-reliance which will inspire and energise our people to solve the many problems facing us. Part of this Crusade means less state interference in many aspects of the economy. It means less confiscation by the state of what people earn; it means less bureaucratic red tape that is infuriating small business people, in particular. And it also means less anti-competitive and over-priced state monopolies, which are stifling enterprise. Part of this crusade also means people not always looking to the state to do things for them, but getting on with the job themselves.”

Does that sound a bit like Ming’s re-launch speech? After twenty years of policies informed by that outlook, Ireland has a high-growth, low tax, enterprise culture. The Irish are now richer per capita than the British with unemployment at 2%, an incredible turnaround – something the LibDem anti-modernisers should reflect upon. The liberal PDs may have kept their more conservative Fianna Fáil coalition partners in power, but they largely got their dynamic programme implemented.

With boundary changes and the Tories rejoining the reality based community, the most likely outcome at the next general election is that the country will have rejected New Labour and all their statist ways, so will the LibDems choose to keep the old regime under new management in power, or will they seek to further a Liberal-Conservative Irish-style agenda? It’s a straight choice…

*Incidentally and for the record, my gut political instincts, particularly when drunk, are anarcho-capitalist.




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