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FF: A semi-detached opposition? And what of the FF/LP lash-up? June 9, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I’d forgotten, until reading Stephen Collins at the weekend, that the current FG/FF deal is for three Budgets. So that’s Budget 2017 (later this year), Budget 2018 (next year) and Budget 2019 (the year after, late 2018). Happily, or not, the Local Elections are in 2019. So would FF go before them, assuming we even got to that point. And that’s a bit assumption.

Collins actually raises some thought provoking questions:

There is a wide range of commitments in the deal between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil and in the programme for government that could command a majority in the Dáil if they are properly presented.
What appears to be lacking is a formal mechanism by which day-to-day business can be negotiated between the main parties to establish which Government measures can command a majority in the House and which will not.

I wonder though if FF would acquiesce to any such mechanism. It might seem to pull them too closely into working this Dáil with FG. Better, surely, for them to remain at a more detached distance so that they can evade the blame. Though as noted already, they must be less than gruntled at the fact they’re on the outside looking in, whatever they do.

By the way, Collins is bigging up the notion of a potential FF and LP rapprochement ( and this very day Howlin denied any agreement with FF to ‘ensure the government is defeated on certain Fail motions’):

On Wednesday Fianna Fáil backed the Labour motion on workers’ rights and on Thursday Labour returned the compliment by voting for Pat “the Cope” Gallagher, the Fianna Fáil nominee for leas ceann comhairle.
Fianna Fáil TDs explained its support for the Labour motion on the basis that it reflected its own emphasis during the general election on fairness, but it was hard to avoid the conclusion that it might be the first sign of a longer-term strategic alliance.

And Collins suggests:

Micheál Martin can entertain realistic hopes of making Fianna Fáil the biggest party after the next election, but to get into government, even in a minority situation, he will need to put some sort of coalition in place.

You can guess where this is going…

If the Labour Party can make any kind of recovery then the prospect of a coalition with Fianna Fáil, even if it has to be underpinned by some sort of arrangement with Fine Gael on the opposition benches, could be a runner.
Labour leader Brendan Howlin has already tried to put as much distance as he can between his party and Fine Gael to Kenny’s obvious irritation in Dáil exchanges.


What the party needs to avoid, though, is repeating the mistakes of the past.
That involves a recognition that those mistakes arose as much from its period in opposition between 2007 and 2011 as they did from the subsequent stint in office.
What Labour has done throughout its history is to fulminate in opposition and then proceed to implement in government many of the things it previously denounced. A more considered approach in opposition, giving far fewer hostages to fortune, would make the switch to governing more credible.

Ah. Credibility. Eh? But is there space for any such approach from the LP? Some of us would tend to doubt it. Collins by contrast is optimistic:

One thing in Labour’s favour is that it has the moderate social democratic space to itself in this Dáil. The Social Democrats might have been some competition but so far they have preferred to throw in their lot with Sinn Féin and the Trotskyist hard-left on a variety of issues.
The manner in which it set the agenda this week showed that Labour is capable of becoming a viable force again in the future.



1. irishelectionliterature - June 9, 2016

You’ve touched on it before but was the whole FG/FF arrangement properly thought out?
There are agreed policy positions, various sweetners like committee chairs, Seanad Nominations (and who knows what else) but as to how the day to day stuff works out…… I think it will be whatever suits FF at the time. Currently they are trying to prove that they are in opposition but also in a position to influence policy, even though they signed up for three budgets , FF will cut and run when it suits them.
As for Labour, they want to distance themselves from FG…. mind you cosying up with FF is foolish. As for that big gap for Labour to fit into that Collins mentions…. load of nonsense.


WorldbyStorm - June 9, 2016

Completely agree. The SDs are there, perhaps I4C in a way, SF, of course.

really true re the FG/FF arrangement. Crazy stuff in retrospect.


irishelectionliterature - June 9, 2016

Were somehow the 8th repealed in the lifetime of this government. …it would be one less reason to attract voters to Labour, although they would probably latch on to objections to the Catholic patronage of education (despite them being in charge of the department of education for five years! )


WorldbyStorm - June 9, 2016

Very true, depends on the nature of repeal, too. If it is fatal foetal abnormality alone on foot how does that work.


2. 1798Mike - June 9, 2016

The incoherence and political ambiguity in the Labour residue’s response to its decimation is not surprising. To tack sharply to the ‘left’, given the policies it espoused in government, would have no credibility. The magnificent seven really do not know what to do. First, the suggestion was floated of a ‘soft left’ alliance encompassing the Greens & the SDs, now the suggestion is floated of some loose arrangement with FF. Everywhere they turn, left, right & centre, they find the political territory is occupied. All that remains is to look for moments – such as that Dail motion – to remind us that Labour still exists, if barely.

Liked by 2 people

WorldbyStorm - June 9, 2016

That’s a really persuasive analysis. They literally have nowhere to go – having expended their political capital with FG, spent years lambasting FF, sneered at everyone else, lost all reason in relation to SF, utterly isolated. As interesting is how the GP wasn’t all that interested in getting involved with them. Well why would they? The GP has perhaps learned a few lessons from their own experiences.

Liked by 1 person

gendjinn - June 9, 2016

They do have some inertia and depending on their funds/asset situation they could keep chugging along until there’s an opening.

Other commenters have noted how the relative timing of GE & LG are crucial to Labour’s future. Given that you can pretty much guarantee the GE will be scheduled to shaft whomever FF wants to shaft. Perhaps that’s motivating Labour.


Alibaba - June 9, 2016

Labour were looking to be in danger of losing their attachment to the body that they were founded by, the same one whose unions fund them. The Dail motion on workers’ rights is licking up to ICTU after years of having ignored it.


CMK - June 9, 2016

Labour are, laughably, trying to rebrand themselves as the party for workers. Local ex-TD, now Senator, Ged Nash is bombarding local media with press releases on how he is now going to fight for workers blah, blah, blah. Anyone who voted for FEMPI or JobBridge has forever relinquished any claim to be any kind of defender of workers rights.

On a related note I’m finding it increasingly nauseating to see SIPTU use the Clerys workers to burnish the Labour Party. If the latter gave a toss they could have brought some serious political pressure to bear to assist the workers when they needed it. Emergency legislation or something. It’ll be interesting to see how many buy Labour’s rebranding. A lot happened out in the real world while Labour were ‘saving the country’ in the Dáil.


WorldbyStorm - June 10, 2016

+1 re Jobbridge, FEMPI and that crew. Seeing them try to flip their language is both hilarious (though not in a good way) and appalling.


irishelectionliterature - June 10, 2016

It’s what Labour have always done when out of Government …. behave as if they were never there in the first place. This time though it’s different…. and a far harder road back than ever before.
Glad it’s not just me that finds it sickening to see the regular exhibitioning of the Clerys workers by Labour as if they were some kind of freak show.


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