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Yeah, that’ll happen… the Sunday Business Post recommends a path for Fine Gael and the Green Party. July 28, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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I was struck by one of our commentors suggesting that, on foot of a response from a Green Party member that morale in the GP camp must be higher than those outside it expect. I think that that’s a very important observation. Because truth is the perception from outside and the view from within (at least in my experience limited as it is) is quite divergent. It’s not that these are considered the best of times, but rather, as evidenced by the recent vote on Lisbon, a sense that there is no alternative.

I’ve already raised problematic aspects about that viewpoint which I won’t reiterate here, but that it exists this far into what surely has to be the most difficult period for any government and governing party in at least a decade and a half, and perhaps longer again, is testament to… something.

And I could add, that despite wobbles over Dermot Ahern and his seeming one man crusade, and I use the word crusade quite deliberately, relations with Fianna Fáil appear, for the most part, to be good and beyond the expectation of those of us who knew of old the intrinsic GP detestation of that party back in the day…er… a bit before two years ago.

I’d love to ascribe this to a form of Stockholm Syndrome whereby the travails of the past year has thrust the two unwilling parties together into an embrace that is the result of fear of the alternative. But truth is that it long predates that, indeed marvellous it was to see how happy they were together under the blessed Bertie.

So all told the idea that the GP is about to collapse under the weight of its own misery at the situation is very very far of the mark. It’s all stiffened sinews and resolute jawlines and taking it on the face, whatever fate, the economy and a far from grateful electorate throws at them.

Which makes the suggestion in the Sunday Business Post “Backroom” column that Enda Kenny should extend the hand of friendship so unlikely as to be near bizarre.

If Kenny was to think outside the box, the options open up. He should start with the desired outcome – a new rainbow of Fine Gael, Labour and the Greens after a general election, with a decent majority and a popular mandate to govern.

He would have an opportunity to fix the economy and go into an election in five years with an economy turned around and on the way up again.

Go on…

So how does he get from here to there? Here’s how Backroom would do it. In mid-August, Kenny delivers a major speech.

He lays it out in simple terms. The people want Fianna Fáil out of government. The people are willing to take the pain from a new government that has no responsibility for the current mess.

That can only come about if there is a general election, which, in turn, can only happen if the Greens cross the floor and vote the government out. Kenny says that he understands the Greens’ dilemma. He appreciates their concern that if they do the right thing, their party will be obliterated and their policy agenda abandoned and forgotten.

Okay…

So far, so good. Then it gets interesting. Enda says that there is much good in the Green agenda. They are decent and competent people in the Green Party. Instead of lose lose, Fine Gael believes in win win.

He offers the Greens a political partnership. If the Greens leave government, Fine Gael will enter into immediate and time-limited dialogue with a view to agreeing a policy programme on Green priorities before the election. Fine Gael will give the Greens an undertaking that the agreed policies will form part of any programme for government to be implemented by a Fine Gaelled government.

Fine Gael will forma pact with the Greens going into the general election. Fine Gael will commit itself to including the Greens in a Fine Gael-led government, even if the numbers do not make it essential. That participation will include government ministers in proportion to the results of the election.

Right so. There is one small problem. Whatever about the sentiment within the GP, the sentiment outside it and amongst significant sections of our political groupings is one of loathing for them. I’m not sure this has sunk through to the GP, in fact I’m almost sure it hasn’t. The left and further left sees them as turncoats (whatever the actual rhetoric they used on a range of issues the perception, and in some cases the actions of those in the GP, appeared to point in quite a different direction). Fine Gael dismisses them almost out of hand, content in the belief that following the next election they will be eviscerated.

I’m not so sure myself. I could see them holding onto a couple of seats. Not many, but certainly sufficient to be in, if the figures are tighter than the current polls suggest, for calculations of government formation. And what an irony if Fianna Fáil were able to cobble together a coalition in 2011, or a year later, with the GP playing in its diminished form an echo of the PDs today.

But even were the Green Party eager to make this deal with Fine Gael, and assuming that Fine Gael could deliver, what of the impact on their other potential coalition partner, the Labour Party. There surely would be some raised eyebrows over what would appear to be a greater courting of the GP than themselves. That, on economic terms, the GP would arguably be a better fit for FG is neither here nor there. In reality it is only with Gilmore and co. in harness that Kenny can dream of being Taoiseach.

And sure, reading the concluding paragraphs I can see a certain logic to the suggestion…

An offer along these lines would throw the cat among the pigeons. It would represent a strong leadership initiative by Kenny. It would blindside Labour, who have rejected the idea of a pre-election pact. It also lets them know that they are not the only bride in town! It puts the Green ministers in an impossible position.

There would now be a road map which many of their members/voters might find appealing. It would certainly ensure a lively and potentially fractious debate at the Greens’ conference on the revised programme for government. If they reject it (as they are likely to) and stay in government, even with an improved programme, they will be definitively tying their fortunes to Fianna Fáil, and it’s open season on the Greens again.

When has it not, some of them might reasonably ask? But that sort of tricksy politics is great in theory. I wonder whether an electorate already battered and bloody from the economy has any great appetite for this sort of politicking. I suspect that the writers enthusiasm may be misplaced…

A political initiative along these lines would demonstrate that, just sometimes, the opposition can create a moment of history.

What has Enda got to lose?

Well, apart from alienating a coalition partner that seems less than thrilled at the prospect of sharing power with him, although they’ll do it…

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Comments»

1. coc - July 28, 2009

The whole article reeked of a sort of wishful thinking desperately hoping for a change in Government (well who isn’t, these days). The problem is, of course, that for that to happen the Greens have to walk. The sceanario as outlined in implausible for the reasons outlined, but there is a twist where Enda gives the relevant promises to Gormley, resulting in a cooling in relationship between Labour & FG (which should suit labour post-Mullingar Accord). Post election, Enda then turns around to Gormley and tells him to go and f*** himself. Call it revenge for Sargent’s jibes about talking to SF in 2007. That would put the Greens well on the road to oblivion, which in the long term would suit Eamon Gilmore down to the ground.

If Enda does make Gormley an offer and Gilmore starts acting all huffy, how will we know it’s not all a plot to destroy the Greens? More to the point, how is Gormley to know? But then again, why would he care? Even if the Greens do manage to save a seat or two at the next election (this year, next year or whenever) it is very unlikely that Gormley’s will be one of them.

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2. WorldbyStorm - July 28, 2009

Very true, and note that they don’t mention SF…

I think you may be right about the shakeout of GP seats.

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