The unashameable in pursuit of the unelectable… or is it the other way around? June 30, 2010Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Irish Politics, The Left.
What a load of nonsense presented to us yesterday evening in the Dáil, from the gathered ranks of FF TDs around Mattie McGrath and Christy O’Sullivan to the bizarre sight of opponents and supporters of stag hunting breaking across the two camps. Given that the measures introduced last night and to be introduced next week are really quite minimal, but are also an improvement on the status quo, the amount of shadow boxing was somewhat unreal. And while I try to keep my class war tendencies to a minimum the sight of certain groups being constrained is cause for some small pleasure.
But reading Sarah Carey’s odd article in the IT that lambastes the Green Party for doing something that the Green Party actually said it would do by arguing that ‘it is more to do with [John Gormley's even deeper compulsion to justify his party's presence in government]‘ and trotting out the notion that due to her agricultural upbringing she was taught the ‘Hobbesian reality that life is nasty, brutish and short [for beasts]‘ erm… not sure that’s such a great argument to be making. Surely there are good reasons to minimise brutality, particularly avoidable brutality, whatever about longevity.
And I say that as someone who due to extended family also had a rural background, in Meath of all places, probably in my first two decades spent a fair chunk of weekends and summers on farmland, and had even been hare coursing on the odd occasion (amazingly dull and pointless I found it, but then I’m not much of a person for spectator events).
So to dismiss genuine feeling about this matter as sanctimonious doesn’t quite cut it for me.
Still, to see Tommy Broughan lose the Labour whip for his temerity in abstaining is also quite a sight. Kudos to Arthur Morgan too for a nicely played strategic approach to yesterday. And while people will know how dubious I am about Independents voting with the government without a quid pro quo this was one occasion where I had no reservations about two of the votes cast. Credit where credit is due. To see something done about regulation of puppy farms and stag hunts, however modest that may be in the scale of things, is not a bad days work. But, hey, that’s just me.
Or to put it another way, this was not the issue to bring the government down on. And indeed it clearly wasn’t, given the disposition of forces.
And what was the issue precisely? Stephen Collins noted…
Lowry said people in rural Ireland were frustrated and angry at what he described as an attack on rural country pursuits and farming.
The Greens were baffled by the vehemence of the reaction to the two pieces of legislation and insist that there is no threat to other rural pursuits such as fishing, shooting and fox hunting.
The absurd machinations in Fianna Fáil indicate a panic which is really quite pointless. They’re completely screwed either way, it’s not like their stock is going to fall much lower, and for an issue which has about as much purchase in urban areas as Jackie Healy-Rae himself this truly speaks of a situation where they’ve lost all sense of what they are and where they should be.
Stephen Collins gets it just about totally wrong when he argues that all this demonstrates ‘unease at influence of Greens’. I doubt they give a rashers about the Green Party. I suspect it is, and even he ultimately concedes this, that they know they’re in deep deep trouble and any excuse will do. There’s something a bit unseemly about this. Because it sure as hell isn’t the implementation of a rather watery Green party inspired programme that’s done the government in. Anything but.
Sure, he’s not far wrong when he says:
Similar sentiments were expressed by Independents Michael Lowry and Jackie Healy-Rae; for them to vote against the Government is ominous. It is the first time the two TDs who have backed the Coalition all the way since 2007 have jumped ship.
While their defection was compensated for in the Dáil last night by the decision of Finian McGrath and Maureen O’Sullivan to vote for the stag hunting ban, the long-term consequences for the Coalition could be serious.
Lowry and Healy-Rae are shrewd constituency politicians and their decision to leave the comfort zone of backing the Government in the Dáil indicates that they are preparing the ground for the next election.
But come on, when in the last year or two has it been anything other than this situation? This government has always been living on borrowed time and that’s hardly more evident today than it was yesterday. Indeed realistically I’d be doubtful that either Lowry (who let us not forget has his own troubles) or Healy-Rae who I’d also agree is one of the shrewdest political operators on this island for all of his presentational issues (or perhaps because of) want an election tomorrow. Or this side of 2011. And it might also be fair to point out that Healy-Rae wasn’t too fussed about this the other side of last weekend, apparently indicating that he would vote with the government. That he was spooked into this perhaps also indicates just how this was whipped up by various interests.
And as for Collins follow-up observation…
The problem for them is that trust between the two parties has taken a hammering and with huge decisions to be made in the autumn about the budget it will become increasingly difficult to hold the Coalition together.
Get out of here. The idea that this will seriously impact upon the coalition, and in particular its economic approach which has been largely seamless hitherto is also nonsense. The heavy lifting has already been accomplished in terms of lashing the GP to the mast with FF. That was what made some of the departures in the past year from the Oireachtas so risible, there were plenty of opportunities to walk earlier and with much more credibility. That something will be the economic straw that breaks the camel’s back? Unlikely, in the extreme.
But add to that that there’s something enormously tasteless about how, finally, this exercises them when no end of issues that directly affect living breathing humans are waved through with a rhetoric of steely determination, austerity and self-ascribed ‘courage’.
As Vincent Browne might say… give me a break.