Last week, Leo Varadkar did something a little unexpected. He published a tweet seemingly bemoaning Sinn Féin’s new disdain for white middle class men.
I say a little, because, when considering the context, Varadkar’s new found desire to stand up for the white bourgeois is understandable.
Since the start of the year, Ireland has seen a massive surge in the influence of the new right. With the chaos caused by the Covid crisis, as well as the regressive actions of the likes of Roderic O’Gorman, the presence of the Irish right has never been felt as firmly as it has in the last few months.
The dawn of a new decade has seemingly brought with it an appetite to reject the globalised narrative of the 2010s, which has left the former Taoiseach in a rather awkward place considering his previous progressive track record.
This is only compounded by the research done by the Irish Human Rights and Equality commission, which found that a significant proportion of the Irish population are hiding negative views on immigration, especially in regards to Black immigrants.
Importantly, the report also stated that a vast amount of people with a third-level degree hide their views on black migration, with the group estimating that 27% of these people are hiding negative views towards this demographic.
What’s more, the method used in IHREC’s study requires participants to at least partly disclose their real views at some point during the test. Considering the number of educated people this author knows who would never disclose their Rightist views to anyone but a known ally, it seems probable that the actual percentage of the population concealing views against immigration is substantially higher than the report estimates.
All of this information paints a picture of an Ireland that is very quickly pivoting towards the right. With this being considered, it is clear that if the likes of the hitherto progresive Leo Varadkar wish to remain relevant in Irish political life, they need to start pandering to this new trend.
However, this pandering should be seen as just that — pandering. It is nothing more than an attempt to get those who are thinking of leaving the mainstream plantation for the likes of the Irish Freedom Party or National Party to pause, and stick around a bit longer. Neither Fianna Fáil nor Fine Gael have any intention of reversing the trend of globalization in Ireland. Instead, their aim is to co-opt the enemy’s talking points to neutralize the threat to their power.
As Keith Woods said in a recent video essay examining this new phenomenon, Varadkar’s intention is to implement an Americanised style of politics in Ireland. This is to ensure that voters never stray too far off the plantation, and that, no matter who is in power, the needs of global capitalism are met in full.
As such, any attempt by the mainstream to appeal to any nativist principles should be met with extreme caution, if not outright skepticism. Ultimately, Leo Varadkar may start to really pander to the Irish Middle-class at what can only be called a tribal level, but ultimately it is all an act. One must remember it was his government who drafted Ireland 2040, and he is by no means planning to tear that project up anytime soon.