Fine Gael – "No power for us, thanks"

by Brendan Strong

In a strange sleight of hand, Fine Gael have once again tried to emphasise their internal arguments, differences of opinion and overall party weaknesses rather than capitalising on a couple of years of strong growth in popularity and support. Of course, Fine Fail have similar rumblings every so often, but a road upgrade here shows the back benches that they haven’t lost their way and an arts centre there proves that the party in power aren’t just creating a consumerist society – or at least proves it enough to quiet down the back benches. As Fine Fail continues to write out these blank cheques to the electorate, Fine Gael continues to rock the electorate with their “Vote for us, we’re unstable” slogan. This time, the claim by John Deasy is that if FG don’t do well in the election (in a few months time), then Enday Kenny will have to go. Well, duh. I think half the country knows this. Mr Deasy is either playing a long game (losing FG the election for his own personal gain), or towing the party line (following the great tradition (policy?) of washing their dirty laundry in public). I think all signs actually point to the latter. This is another tactic used by FG to prove themselves a weaker party in Irish elections.

I have a couple of theories on why this is:

“The Producers” of Irish politics

Fine Gael’s tactic, in the face of an upcoming election, is reminiscent of the plot line of Mel Brooks’ “The Producers”. In this film, musical based on the film, and film based on the musical based on the film, the central idea is: “under the right circumstances, a producer could actually make more money with a flop than he can with a hit.” Fine Gael have figured out that being in opposition is more profitable than being in power. How? Well, I guess the following factors might add up (although I’d best declare now, I’m no accountant):

1. In true Irish “throw money at it to fix it” style, FG donors will provide more money to the party after each failure in an attempt to improve the party’s situation

2. In terms of “man hours: Paycheck” ratio, being in government takes more out of you; it’s best to keep yourself with some free time to spend with the family

3. FG are actually quite an honest party. Being in power would mean having to write blank cheques, FF-style, to keep the electorate and back benches quiet

4. Speaking of quiet – at the moment, FG are answerable to nobody. Who in the name of Christ wants to go from that position to being answerable to 4 million tax payers, who will go on about “paying your wages”?

“An Beal Bocht” of Irish Politics

It is possible that “The Producers” theory is completely off plate. One good challenge to the theory is that Fine Gael want to get into power; they talk about it enough (“If we were in government…”; “In a Fine Gael-led government…” etc.). So, if this is the case, the question is how do they hope to do it? Well, by playing on the Irish innate sympathy for misery. Fine Gael are playing up the poor mouth in an attempt to garner popularity from being the ‘underdog’ of Irish politics. Despite being one of the parties existing at the foundation of the state, they’d much prefer to be the ‘guys who came from nowhere’. This has been a long term goal, ever since the election of 2002. Now they can canvas the electorate with such beauties as:

“Well, we’re only a small party…”

“My mother died three months before my birth. After my father beat me repeatedly until he died of a heart attack (oh, how I loved him!) I decided I would make something of myself. I started with small sculptures from nail clippings, but decided to move on, to be a better me… and I want the same for this country…”

“Would you look at that dog, shivering in the cold? He’s like us. Given half the chance, we’d be at the door protecting you all. Just at the moment we’ve fleas and a strange smell of carpet cleaner and damp…”

“Lookit, we’re only a couple of boys and lasses trying to make a difference. We’ll do whatever it takes to make it. Our friends are these socialist fellas over there…yeah, the shouty one… no, he doesn’t say much for someone who talks a lot… “

More on this later. Possibly better reasons. In the meantime, if you have a theory on the FG “The Self-Destruct Party”, please share it with me.

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