Long Night of the Soul for the Greens
Deaglán de Bréadún
Not easy to find time for th’oul blog when you’re busy covering a rapidly-changing story for the paper. I’m currently languishing between the first and second count results for Ireland East, so it seemed a good time to “post”.
The big question is: where do we go from here? The electorate has registered its displeasure with the Government. It’s more than the usual mid-term rabbit-punch. There is serious discontent out there.
The Greens seem to be in a state of shock over their poor performance. They have been getting generally good media treatment which didn’t reflect the real public attitude. If a general election were held in the morning, would any of the Greens hold their seats? Offhand, I can’t think of any I would put money on, except perhaps Trevor Sargent.
It’s not that long since the Greens had the image of a naive bunch of quasi-hippies. They didn’t even have a party leader, as I recall. The Greens made the transition from a semi-religious movement to a party of power over a very short period.
They were unlucky in that, when they finally decided to abandon their political virginity, the damned economy collapsed. Fianna Fáil have been around for 83 years – they’re used to the ups and downs of politics, more or less.
But for the Greens it must be a searing experience to look at the latest eleciton results. My guess is that the leadership will want to stay in government; the membership will have mixed feelings.
Was it Harold Wilson who said, “Never resign”? The dissidents who quit so publicly in recent times should, from their own viewpoint, have stayed in the party where their influence would now be greatly increased.
In the short term, will anything change? There is no sign as yet of Fianna Fáil backbenchers wilting in the face of electoral disfavour. It must be like being on board ship during a major storm. You just cling to the rigging until the wind dies down.
The Greens are like a guy who is getting badly beaten up in a bar but dare not go outside because there’s someone with a gun waiting to shoot him.
Meanwhile, a stockbroker of my acquaintance told me the other day that the big worry in financial circles was that the Government would fall before the legislation setting up Nama (National Asset Management Agency – the so-called “bad bank”) was put through. After that, he said, it didn’t matter so much.
Taoiseach must be an awful position to hold at the moment. A previous incumbent told me once, “You have no friends in that job.”