Before I learned practically anything about the new ‘centre-right think tank’ being formed by former Libertas spin doctor (more spin horse dentist in the end, things didn’t go very well in the closing stages of the campaign, but far too much of it is actionable to comment on further), something was troubling me about the name of the venture. Allow me to explain.
Back in my Conservative Future days in 2003, we fought an eventually successful rearguard action to prevent left and liberal groups from smearing Conservative Future with purported alliance with the Italian neo-protofacist group Alleanza Nazionale. We had nothing to do with them at all, of course, but nobody ever lets the truth get in the way of a good story. In the process, we found out what had formed the Alleanza Nazionale, and read some of its more amusing policies; it turned out that their youth wing had been up to shenanigans, but that, really, it was a disparate alliance of competing rightist positions, which doomed it, in the end, to reconstitute itself as the People of Freedom.
Big important point: when asked the question ‘who were the Alleanza Nazionale’, most people say ‘Italian soft fascists’. Not good PR.
Protip: Try to avoid being friendly with any political party wherein the four letters ‘NAZI’ can be found consecutively in their title.
That is not to say that Ireland’s National Alliance is likely to go down that route. Nobody does nationalistic politics quite like the Italians, and, in Ireland, surely the wrapping-itself-in-the-tricolour thing is already done by the laughable youth wing of Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, Fianna Éireann and others. Is the niche not already crowded?
On the other hand, the niche of a centre-right organisation actually doing some thinking is novel in Ireland. It’s a reality I’ve blogged on before that Ireland has no distinctive centre-right econocentric body making waves. If John McGuirk and his crew plan to do that, and provide genuinely radical but not-completely-ridiculous policy proposals, it won’t only be welcomed, but it’ll be part of the solution to the morass in which Ireland finds itself right now. And it’ll be awesome, and I’ll buy a baseball cap with its logo on.
But there is one danger. People out there are angry, and not all their anger is appropriately directed towards solutions. If the new organisation, in its struggle to grow and gain notoriety, attracts the wrong sorts of people, people who see immigration as the root of problems, or those who seek solutions in racism or hatred of the poor and their social welfare, then the whole enterprise will be as useful to Ireland as a chocolate fireguard.