Sunday, October 24, 2010

Crossing the Floor

In most modern parliaments there are examples of members crossing the floor to join a rival party on some point of principle. In Ireland, due to strict party discipline, this is a rare occurance. In fact apart from the political wanderings of Conor Cruise O'Brien and Michael O'Leary bailing from Labour to Fine Gael, I can't think of any other changes that didn't involve whole parties splitting, forming or merging.

So it was with some shock that I read some of Chris Andrews' tweets from last night
  • FG are not getting the traction in the polls because people see little difference between FF and FG. A merger makes sense to me
  • If people were serious it shouldn't take long. I believe there is as much difference within FF as there is between FF and FG
  • It's all pretty much speculation because it's unlikely to happen. Maybe after next election is would be considered.It's a big leap
Here is an elected FF politician finally admitting something that we have all known for a long time - that there is no fundamental difference between the two centre-right, Civil War parties. Sure, the personnel in FG might be a bit more straight edged and FF a bit more rough around the edges, but from a policy and ethos point of view they're not that far apart. Of course Chris, as a Dublin South East TD, is facing a tough battle to retain his seat whenever the next election comes around. As I posted over a year ago DSE is going to be tough for the government parties. Based on the most recent poll with FF on 18% nationally, they must be somewhere near 10% and transfer toxic in DSE. At the moment I'm going to stick with my prediction of 2Lab, 1FG and 1FF but that is now extremely shaky - could be a second FG.

If Chris does cross the floor it will make for an interesting FG selection convention. With Lucinda Creighton as a sitting deputy, Eoghan Murphy pushing hard with seemingly endless resources behind him and the specter of Michael McDowell's return to electoral politics looming over them, this four way battle would put the Labour DSE in-fighting of earlier in the year in the ha'penny place. I'm sure Phoenix magazine would have a field day.

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