‘Populist politics in all but name’

 

Sir, – Colm Keena laments the rise of populism in Ireland, which he defines as a style of politics that involves “blaming all society’s ills on a ‘corrupt political elite”’, citing social media posts that were targeted particularly at Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil as examples (“Populist politics in all but name is alive and well in Ireland”, Opinion & Analysis, June 1st).

According to your columnist, we are meant to believe that some distasteful comment threads directed at those parties pose a more toxic threat to Irish society than the track record of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael themselves.

Colm Keena seems to forget that politicians from those parties spent generations winning votes by promising to stand up for “the plain people” against Dublin-based elites (only to vote for policies that were hopelessly inadequate to address the country’s regional imbalances), and their pitting of the interests of middle-class homeowners against renters, Travellers and asylum seekers, and people with private health insurance against those without, which have led to a housing and healthcare system that left us highly vulnerable to Covid-19, despite our advantages of a low population density and a relatively early lockdown.

Of course, there is a crucial difference between “acceptable populism” engaged by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, and ”unacceptable populism” that politicians on the left are accused of engaging in – the latter actually threatens the interests of people who are invested in an unsustainable and unjust status quo, while the former serves to protect it by raising fears about Travellers, asylum seekers and the working class.

The fact that only the latter gets condemned by Colm Keena says more about him and the Fine Gael politicians who gleefully shared his article than what he has to say about the subject of “populism” in general. – Yours, etc,

MATTHEW MAXWELL,

Blanchardstown,

Dublin 15.

Sir, – I welcome the article by Colm Keena about the anonymous abuse meted out to politicians on social media platforms.

Such behaviour is nothing short of an attack on democracy itself.

From what I’m told, women politicians attract even more virulent abuse than men.

Given the appalling examples of abuse of male politicians highlighted by your columnist, one can only imagine the depths to which some of these “keyboard warriors” sink where women are concerned.

I am convinced that certain political parties secretly organise such campaigns of vilification.

Other “keyboard warriors”’ presumably are independent operators.

I would welcome an in-depth examination of this demeaning practice by an investigative journalist both to expose the individuals and parties involved and, ideally, to lead to some of those people being brought to justice.

Democracy and honest debate would be the winners if these two things occurred. – Yours, etc,

ROBERT

DOWDS,

Clondalkin,

Dublin 22.