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