New Dail will be all about who can tag whom with legislative responsibility…

Brilliant from Jason O’Mahony, on the awkward situation Fine Gael now find themselves in. If you still struggle with understanding the difference between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail (and despite all guff being written recently there definitely is one: it’s just not ideological), read this:

Someone once said to me that the problem with Fine Gael is that they’re that lethal mixture of being both arrogant and stupid. You can survive by being arrogant but clever, or by being dim but likeable, but FG manage to be neither. They seem to be the party who is always surprised to lose elections because nobody, from their tailor to their housekeeper to their stablehand ever admits to voting Fianna Fáil.

However, Jason has a cunning plan…

The key to FG’s survival is not to neuter FF’s power but to enhance it, and do so publicly. Enda should announce a weekly legislative cooperation meeting where he will publicly work with FF on which legislation goes through the house, and what it looks like.

His team should be pulling out every Fianna Fáil policy document and private members bill from the last five years and pushing what can be used, publicly identifying them as Fianna Fail’s good ideas.

He should be consulting Fianna Fáil publicly on state appointments and very publicly appointing Fianna Fáil nominees. In short, the objective of Fine Gael should be to destroy the notion that Fianna Fáil are the opposition standing up to the government, and making sure that it is clear to all that Fianna Fáil are part of the governing majority and share in its decisions.

Can they do it?

They’ll be helped by the fact that Sinn Fein will certainly want to push that line too. But it will involve FG showing humility, with the government basically refusing to give FF any ammunition to bring down the government. That’s the real challenge, because humble is not something FG does well.

Personally, I doubt FF will walk such a willing walk to the scaffold. They have prepared the ground well enough to take the credit for any near ground U-turn on signal issues like the abolition of Irish Water. Incumbency too is not always the best place to plan for a disruptive policy.

Meanwhile, if yesterday’s Arbour Hill speech by Micheal Martin is anything to go by, the real object of FF’s approach to negotiations is to broaden the effect Jason is looking for, by emphasising the fact that “no one in Dáil Éireann will be able to dominate decisions”.

Micheal’s own cunning plan is to focus squarely on the recidivist members of Opposition Anonymous and either embarrass them into making affirmative legislative decisions on their own issues or embarrass voters out of returning them to the national assembly next time out.

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  • Jag

    If you look at the banana skins that nearly caused the last government to fall, for example, the resignation (firing?) of the Garda Commissioner, the farce of Irish Water, James Reilly’s links with developers and his apparent porkbarrelling of a primary health care center into his constituency, the abysmal response to the horsemeat scandal (still, not a single prosecution), the nomination by Enda Kenny of a crony to a State board and manufacturing a preliminary appointment to give the candidate the veneer of qualification, the mess of the inquiry into IBRC, and several others, ask yourself the question,

    What would FF, on the Opposition benches, do in response to similar banana skins (and inevitably, there will be)?

    Would FF really support FG in smoothing over the cracks and risk the wrath of the electorate, or would FF pull the plug “on principle” (doncha know) and trigger a new election? Would FF demand the scalp of embattled ministers (of course they would) and what would FG’s response be?

    A weekly legislative meeting might help formulate policy in advance, but what about the banana skins.

  • Jag

    Slightly off topic, it has been intriguing to watch the betting companies changing their odds over the past month about (a) the prospects of a second election and (b) the composition of the next government

    On the 2nd election, they have been consistently predicting there won’t be one, but the odds have yo-yoed between the odds of there being a 2nd election, being three times of there not, to around 32 times this morning (indicating there almost definitely won’t be a second election)

    FG/FF was initially the favorite for new govt. Then FG minority was the favorite and became the firm favorite. Today FG minority is at 9/1 suggesting no chance. Instead, FG with other parties (ex FF) is the firm favorite today.

    What all of this tells me is that no-one, not even the people whose incomes depend on getting it right have a bulls notion of what will happen.

    I still think a FG/FF coalition is the only realistic option today and PP will give me 20/1 on that prospect. And failing that, I think a second election will be called (and PP will give me odds of 4/1 there).

  • the rich get richer

    It will be interesting to see who will go into coalition with FF/FG in the future .

    They are only interested in coalition when the other “partner” is there for mudguard duty.

  • the rich get richer

    Maybe the reason FF will not go into coalition with FG is that they know that they cannot trust themselves to do the right thing !

    They haven’t had enough of the “Cure” yet and just do not feel themselves trustworthy enough. Whats more; They’re Right.

  • Gingray

    And week in week out at Taoiseachs questions Martin will get to ask questions, and then be reminded if he complains about FG that he has the power to bring them down but instead keeps them in power.

    FF are not in a great position tbh, lucky their only threat is SF, with Labour and the Left too fractured to make a coherent opponent.