“Blue on Blue”. In military terms that is friendly fire on the battlefield. Fine Gael are developing an expertise at this. Sort of Blue Shirt on Blue Shirt. Hence the political grenade that Enda Kenny left the shiny new Taoiseach by ramming through the appointment of Marie Whelan to the Court of Appeal in a thoroughly inappropriate manner. Why nobody around the Cabinet table, except for a rather weak objection by Shane Ross, saw the folly of this is beyond me. It also reflects very badly on the new judge that she didn’t step out of the room when the matter was being discussed. Blue on Blue. The result – damage to Leo before he is even a wet week in the job. Combine that with the ham-fisted manner in which he dealt with a disgruntled Mary Mitchell O’Connor and he looks weak and indecisive. His troops may have reassured themselves that ultimately he faced down Micheal Martin, but they are ignoring one simple fact. Fine Gael are supposed to be different from Fianna Fail. They like to think they stand on higher moral ground. Instead this just invites the comment that “they’re all the same”. People don’t examine the minutiae of all of this. They simply know it is wrong. Oh, and for good measure, they hear that Leo sought the support of Michael Lowry. I wonder what the 65% of the Fine Gael membership that voted for Simon Coveney are thinking ? Leo needs to tread carefully.
Before I finish on our new Taoiseach, I have to say I’m disappointed by the Cabinet reshuffle. He had an opportunity to introduce some fresh faces and he missed it. Too many debts for loyalty. As for this rule of eliminating the new intake for promotion – what a bad idea. If you have ability it deserves to be recognised. A political party always needs new people and they are entitled to expect that talent will be appreciated.
In a wider political context, things are becoming really interesting. Theresa May is looking like a “wounded antelope”, to quote an unnamed Tory Minister. The talks with the DUP grind on and it is hard to anticipate where this is all going. For my money, I think Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is positioning himself to have a tilt at the leadership. He understands the City of London and how business works. Something that seems to have eluded Theresa May. He was a Remainer but he believes in the sovereignty of Parliament. For all of us, interesting times.