Wednesday 24 July 2019

Playing stoic Denis to Iron Lady Lucinda

John Drennan

As Valerie Trierweiler discovered recently there is no tougher position in public life than being the partner or spouse of a high-profile politician.

Paul Bradford is in fairness a somewhat different political creature to Ms Trierweiler, but, the status of Lucinda Creighton as the uncrowned queen of the Reform Alliance means a great deal more attention is now being paid to the man seen to be the new queen's consort and chief consigliore.

It is perhaps ironic that in Leinster House a man has finally become a victim of sexism, even if it is of the reverse variant.

However, in the merry way of Leinster House, Bradford's nick-name is 'Denis' which is an obvious reference to Margaret Thatcher's husband.

Mind you, while there is much conjecture of the "who wears the trousers?" variety when it comes to the relationship between the softly spoken obscure senator and the outspoken Lucinda, it should be noted that Denis Thatcher was far more influential in shaping his wife's thinking than the Tory cabinet.

This is certainly the case with Bradford, whose role in the formation of the Reform Alliance is far more than the one trick pony of being Lucinda's consort.

Bradford's liking for pots of tea and lengthy philosophical chats in the Dail bar has seen the Reform Alliance attracting the nickname of the "Tea Party".

However, the jibe is accidentally apt, for Bradford's strongest political influences are the very diverse figures of Ronald Reagan and Vlacev Havel, the Czech philosopher intellectual who ushered communism out of Czechoslovakia.

On another level the influences are understandable for, while nervous liberals are more likely to raise the spooks and spectres of his pro-life views when attacking the Reform Alliance, Bradford's central ideology is a loathing for communism and illiberal liberals.

His conservatism, ultimately is of the high Tory rather than martinet variety for while the Fine Gael successors to the Fianna Fail bar lobby get somewhat nervous when Bradford starts to talk about "the Havel stuff", he is more closely connected to the rural aristocratic wing of the party than the Garret FitzGerald set.

Though he is an understated figure, Bradford is one of the clearest thinkers in Leinster House who is as likely to make Lucinda's mind up for her as vice-versa.

Indeed, far from being dragged into the maelstrom of the Reform Alliance he is as disillusioned with a political world where "you could be following Micheal Martin in the morning and Enda Kenny in the afternoon and it would make no difference".

When it comes to the capacity of the Reform Alliance to make that difference, though, he will always stand discreetly in the back-ground. The quiet consort will be as influential as his colourful spouse in whatever less travelled road the Reform Alliance decides to take.

Irish Independent

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