State of the Parties.

So, where are the parties today?

Fine Gael: FG continue to win on points (and polls) by having a clear narrative to tell: We’re fixing the economy, and it’s working. During the EU Presidency, Noonan and Creighton were the clear winners, with a simple “we got some money back” message, and Coveney performing strongly in an area very important to a key FG constituency. Where FG continue to fail, and come across as sleazy, is on political reform. Every “reform” is carefully neutered to ensure that power remains where it has always been. They want to reduce the candidate age for the presidency, but blocked anything that would make it easier for non-parties to nominate candidates. It’s a very Arthur Daley approach to politics, effectively tampering with the political mileage clock. Enda might as well be wearing a sheepskin jacket.

Fianna Fail: FF are, without question, recovering, having ceded Most Hated Party status to Labour, which is some achievement, and a testament to the gnat-like attention span of the Irish. Aside from the pandering, which seems to be hardwired into FF when it comes to things like cutbacks, Martin cleverly managed to turn a problem (Lack of consensus on abortion) into a strength with the free vote. The only problem on that is the precedent it establishes on, say, gay marriage, which may come to haunt him. But it’s wrong to say that the free vote damaged Martin. Only amongst Fine Gael hacks, so that doesn’t matter.

Labour: Oh. Sweet. Jesus. Eamonn Gilmore resembles a man plummeting to Earth strapped to an anvil, who’s getting angry with people for not appreciating the magnificent workmanship that went into fashioning the anvil. I hesitate to use the word “freefall”, as that’s usually associated, at least, with the use of a fall arresting parachute at some stage. This is more like what Michael McDowell used to call “an experiment in steam powered flight”, in that it’s fascinating to watch but seemingly doomed to catastrophe. The constant shedding of elected representatives must surely raise the issue of a Continuity Labour Party now, if only on a temporary basis to oust Democratic Left Eamonn Gilmore as the price for reunification. After all, supposing on all those councillors and Nessa Childers ran under a coordinated Real Labour tag next year? Or what if there’s a by-election caused by a European Commissioner appointment? Would a Real Labour candidate (with canvassers supplied by all 26 expelled reps) outpoll official Labour? Would Eamonn Gilmore survive that?

Sinn Fein: Interesting call by Sinn Fein on Seanad abolition. Have the shinners decided that opposition to abolition is not really a populist issue, and only motivates establishment types?

The Left: As ever, the Liquorice Allsorts of Irish Politics continue to raise a question. If the CIA wanted to set up a fake political party to look like a genuine opposition without ever changing anything, this would be it. Biggest crisis in capitalism since the 1920s, and the Irish Left are actually going backwards. Extraordinary.

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