Sinn Fein could be ‘Kingmakers’?

That’s the prediction from Michael McDowell to his party’s annual conference, the penultimate one before the Republic’s general election next year. It seems to be part of strategy of painting a strong choice between left and right:

First there is the issue of Sinn Fein. If they get between 8% and 10% of the vote and translate that into seats they will win between 11 and 16 seats in the next Dail. And the paper (before delegates) spells out what that will mean if those seats constitute the effective balance of power. Second, there is the question of the Rainbow.

No one believes that a Fine Gael-Labour-Green Rainbow could win a majority and have more seats than Fianna Fail, the Progressive Democrats, the non-left independents and Sinn Fein unless it were to be supported and kept in office by Joe Higgins, Seamus Healy, Catherine Murphy, Tony Gregory and perhaps one or two others.

And the rub: “That my friends is a slump coalition”.

Ask yourself one simple question on transport infrastructure. Would a Rainbow including the Greens build and complete a national network of motorways now under construction? Yes or no? What would they do on one-off rural housing?

The one thing that we can be sure of is that Labour would win every battle on policy. Why? Because (Labour leader) Pat Rabbitte has told us so. He has repeatedly stated that the Labour Party would be the driving force in a Rainbow government and that, by the way, explains exactly why he wants to depend on the Greens, the Socialists and the left independents.

Interestingly, the rank and file of the party have voted to back the leadership’s refusal to enter a pre-election pact with Fianna Fail.