Smart comment from World By Storm drawing on analysis in the latest edition of the Phoenix…
However in considering election timing FF will prioritise setting up a sustainable narrative over pure numbers. Micheal Martin has been careful to draw a line between his party’s boomtime past and its more recent crafting of what looks, smells and often tastes like a centre left agenda.
Numbers do matter, of course. But how any mid sized party leads a fragmented Parliament is a serious poser, particularly since Sinn Fein has replaced Labour as the largest potential partner against FG (although I disagree with the Phoenix’s conclusion: it’s a non starter under Martin or Adams).
The current set up allows FF to continue to squeeze the independent vote (now most of them are inside a tent of some description, be it government, party or quasi party) and SF, whose poll ratings are now in line with their low end gain line result than the significantly higher rates indicated beforehand.
Whether that’s just a return to cold reality or a cooling off, Fianna Fáil, with its continued pretension to representing the broad middle ground of Irish politics again, must fight a broad (and highly exacting) battle to make even the modest shifts needed to regain pole position again.
They won’t go to the county on poll numbers alone, because it would risk re-embedding the Haughey era impression of putting ‘party before country’ (a line he prefers to push onto SF).
Mr Martin has more of a conciliatory ‘Jack Lynch’ profile in mind. It remains to be seen whether that includes ambitions for Northern Ireland. Some obliquity in that regard might be helpful: not least to give “the Republican Party” of its long form title actual meaning.
Because the truth is that the offering that you make to the public matter a great deal more than we have, in our own cynical, post modern way come to think.
And Fianna Fáil’s offering is, as yet, far from complete.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty