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Anton Savage: Leo's now Taoiseach material ... but people don't elect Taoisigh


Katie Price

Katie Price

Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar


Katie Price

It's difficult to see the outpouring of support for Leo Varadkar as anything other than positive.

The general take is that he's brave and most seem to believe it will probably not have any impact on his leadership potential, on the grounds that most of Ireland is now a much more liberal and welcoming place and wouldn't have a problem with a gay Taoiseach.

The only problem is 'most of Ireland' doesn't elect a Taoiseach. Parliamentary parties elect Taoisigh. It's another of those wonderful systemic wrinkles that we often overlook.

We can all gather together and say 'Ireland is ok with a gay Taoiseach'. But Ireland isn't going to make the call.

In fact, we can even say 'Fine Gael is ok with a gay Taoiseach' but that's kind of irrelevant too - the FG parliamentary party will not make a choice based on their personal beliefs and desires, they'll decide based on what they think is sellable to the nation.

And that's not easy to judge. Polls are notoriously sketchy when it comes to issues of prejudice (or embarrassment about one's views).

That sketchiness takes many names; the Bradley factor (referring to unexpressed racism in American voters) or Shy Tory Factor (referring to Neil Kinnock's failure to beat an apparently hated Conservative party).

The theory is that people know certain views are socially unacceptable and therefore hide them from pollsters, but express them in the ballot box.

So, Ireland getting a gay Taoiseach won't just require a liberal nation and a liberal government party.

It will need a Government party with sufficient faith to not second guess the people.

The wonderful thing for a nation that's only 20 years into decriminalised homosexuality is that all those factors might just be in place.

You're free...to speak stupidly

The Mayor of Paris is considering suing Fox News over the network's suggestions that parts of the city were 'no-go' areas for non-Muslims.

This was one of a series of statements made on Fox about Islam in Europe.

Statements so stratospherically moronic and offensive that even the hard-necked Fox decided to apologise (most notable being the suggestion you could only go to Birmingham if you were Muslim).

The episode highlights why the regulation of news broadcasts is a good thing - the US first amendment enshrines free speech to such an extent that it allows influential and theoretically credible news agencies to blather cretinous prejudice and pretend it's journalism.

This time they got it so extraordinarily wrong that the planet laughed them into a retraction.

But they say a lot which fails to cause such a stir and yet may be equally ill-informed and damaging, and they're far from alone among American cable news networks.

Americans wear their first amendment as such a badge of pride that they sometimes miss the rest of us having free speech while weeding out irresponsible broadcast stupidity.


Jordan doesn't do discretion

Katie Price's ex Alex Reid has spoken of his disappointment that the model shared details of their sex life as part of her appearance on Big Brother.

It makes you wonder who he thought he was marrying. Price (left) has a track record of many things, but discretion isn't one.