At times this New Politics stuff is laughable. It has hardly produced a new dynamic. Here’s a pearl of wisdom from Fine Gael Junior Minister Andrew Doyle following the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis. “ What is it exactly that Fianna Fail stands for ? What is its vision for the country ? What is its core policies ? Does it even have one ?” Do you think the Junior Minister ever looks in the mirror in the morning and asks himself – What is Fine Gael’s vision for the country ? More importantly, do you think ordinary voters have any idea what the Blue Shirts core vision is, and if they do, how it differs from Fianna Fail ?
What this sort of guff indicates is that both the main parties realise that they can’t rock the boat. The entertaining aspect to all of this is the Confidence and Supply arrangement. So far the game seems to be that Fine Gael is trying to help the squeezed middle and Fianna Fail is a more soft caring version. The truth of the matter is that there is not an awful lot to separate them, and as a result we have a state of inertia at the centre of Irish politics.
However, the Blue Shirts are in government and with their taxpayer funded Strategic Communications Unit they are going to make the best of it. This could get very dirty. In my view one of Fianna Fail’s weaknesses is its leader. Micheal Martin sat around the cabinet table when so many disastrous decisions were made. He has done his level best to distance himself from it but if I were the Taoiseach, at the appropriate moment I would go for the jugular. After all, with Enda and Michael Noonan gone from the front bench, he can argue there is a new team in town, and, of course, they are cool and prone to wear colourful socks. This may sound facetious but there is a serious point here and it has been at the centre of politics for decades. Fine Gael and Fianna Fail are like a pair of outdated tribes without clear differences between them and in recent years their collective share of the vote has continued to decline. At least in the old days you could arise and follow Charlie or beat the progressive drum with Garret FitzGerald. Now, even Gerry Adams is confused. He thinks an average bottle of wine costs €30. Maybe there could be a future for a Fine Gael/Sinn Fein coalition. After all, they want to unite Ireland, and divide Spain, so anything is possible.