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Bigging up FF… June 1, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

…ah, it must be the Independent. And indeed it is. Here’s Shane Coleman on hand to tell us that – surprise, surprise:

Fianna Fáil, regardless of what you might think of its legacy to the State, plays the political game better. Fine Gael has had some great intellects in its ranks over the years, but Fianna Fáil has always been cuter, smarter and more savvy.

It does that. Funnily enough I saw a very cheerful looking Micheál Martin this week out and about. He didn’t look like a man who was weighed down by the woes of government. Anything but. His leadership, surely, is safe as houses for the moment, he’s merely got to sit out Fine Gael, in the hope that the poll ratings for FF will ascend while those for his great rivals descend.

In that respect Coleman is correct in noting that all the talk in 2011 that FG had moved smoothly into the FF spot was way off the mark. FG’s tenure in government has been no great shakes. A lot of significant errors made (many of them in tandem with the LP), an ineptitude and something of a cloth ear. Still, Coleman has to accept that it’s not quite like it was.

FF has 40 TDs. FG has 50 odd. FF is on a paltry 24% of the vote. Abysmal ratings given its own history. As Coleman notes:

The old absolute supremacy – the days of routinely getting 41pc-plus of the vote – is almost certainly gone. With the field so fragmented, there’ll be no idle talk of overall majorities or even coming close.

But I think the following is correct:

However, just as Fianna Fáil quickly adapted to the new coalition norm (once it did so, it governed for 19 of the following 22 years), it is clear the party is acclimatising better to new politics.
It’s early days yet – it’ll only be 100 days since the General Election on Saturday – but there are already numerous examples. Fianna Fáil was hammered for its stance on water charges in its negotiations with Fine Gael. Rightly so – it was shameless. But when you saw Sinn Féin’s motion last week in the Dáil on the issue, you couldn’t help but admire, in cold, political strategy terms, FF’s prescience.

And while mentioning the mortgage interest rates issue, he also points to something that was really very clever of FF:

And then there was the contrasting approach to Friday’s Seanad nominations. For Fine Gael, it was a case of round up the usual suspects. It was actually classic FF stuff – ex-TDs and close associates of the Taoiseach – but old FF. Micheál Martin knows that won’t wash anymore. There’d be no looking after party stalwarts in this brave new world. Deserving figures from the charity sector and business made up Micheál’s three choices. New politics to Kenny’s same ol’ politics.

Can it last? That’s the question. Well, truth is that’s all it can do. Until there is a decisive break in support one way or another all Martin and his troops need do is – to quote from the penguins in Madagascar, ’Smile and wave boys, smile and wave’.

And here’s a thought. The consensus I’ve heard is that FF is certain to be the one forming coalitions, perhaps even one with FG, next time around. That’s quite some distance from where it was in 2011.

As to FG… despite being in government Coleman is right about this:

A somewhat demoralised Fine Gael is struggling to come to terms with its diminished role as first among equals.


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