While everyone yesterday was transfixed by the news coverage coming out of Ireland the accelerating political crisis there, a gentler and more collegial event was taking place on the Isle of Man. There, the British-Irish Inter-parliamentary Council was having one of its regular meetings. No doubt there was much commentary on events a few miles to the west across the Irish Sea. No doubt that the British decision to provide some goodwill bilateral aid to a “friend in need” (George Osborne in the Commons yesterday). However what made the news in today’s Irish Times was some comments from an Icelandic politician, Mr Hjorvar, a member of the Icelandic Parliamentary Council.
Mr. Hjorvar said: “There are opportunities in crisis to reset your values, to rearrange how you organise things in your society, to do things better.” He went on outline how Iceland is following through on the popular demand for a total re-imagining of Icelandic society. The Icelandic parliament is putting the finishing touches to a new Icelandic Constitution. The tax regime is being returned to its factory default following the catastrophic outcome from the recent adoption of the discredited ‘free money’ approach advocated by the gung-ho liberal soft regulation economists. There is a recognition that a departure from traditional social values and a commitment to societal solidarity established the kind of permissive ethos that allowed the irresponsible free-wheeling consumerist culture to flourish.
Hopefully, the Irish parliamentarians who were present at the meeting will have been taking notes.