Greens are the fag butt that FF will inhale and discard

The Green Party has been in the news all week. Their sole city councillors in Dublin and Cork have resigned. The party leadership has dismissed the resignations of Bronwen Maher and Chris O’Leary as merely due to “personal and local constituency” reasons.

While it is true that both these councillors were not in favour of the Greens going into government, their resignations will most likely result in the party not winning back these seats.

The Local and European elections are scheduled to be held together on June 4. Fianna Fáil can absorb bad results if they hold their four MEP seats. On the other hand, the Greens may field only two Euro candidates and have little prospect of success - especially as Sen Déirdre de Búrca has opted to run in Dublin where there is a reduction to three seats.

While every party in government has to circle the wagons in times of stress, the Green Party would do well to ponder more deeply on their present dilemma. They have focused almost exclusively on their niche agenda. They seek to be a boutique party within Government.

Over the weekend, party leader John Gormley highlighted their progress in the area of new planning laws, alternative energy, a potential carbon tax, and extra resources for water supplies.

What planet is he on?

Initiatives on light bulbs and cycle lanes are marginal to the crisis concerns of ordinary people. In good or normal economic times their programme might win support. With unemployment surpassing 300,000 and heading for 400,000; our national debt due to leap from €30bn to €70bn in the space of two years and the unprecedented decline of our banks, their policies appear almost irrelevant.

When the Government was formed in 2007 the Greens got a good deal. Two full cabinet positions, a junior ministry and two Senate seats represented more than their entitlement. Their input into the Programme for Government was detailed and visible.

Since then FF’s requirement for the Greens has greatly increased. The defection of Joe Behan in Wicklow to the Independent ranks, the ending of Independent Dep Finian McGrath’s vote deal, the demise of the PDs, and the passing of Seamus Brennan have all resulted in FF depending on the Greens for the Government’s survival.

The grass roots of the Green Party are different. Members are genuine eco campaigners who really care about climate change and the physical environment. I expected the Greens to win nine seats in the last election. Their failure to break through in Galway West and Wicklow and hold on in Cork South Central resulted in only six TDs being elected. I believe they have only one safe seat – that of Eamon Ryan in Dublin South.

The biggest political problem for the Greens is the fickleness of their voters. Trevor Sargent clearly implied their preference, prior to the election, was to be part of a new rainbow government. He deemed his resignation necessary for the volte-face. A ‘green vote’ was perceived as a protest, left of centre option. Now they are propping up a FF administration.

The Greens should profoundly review their situation. They have a unique opportunity to stake out new positions on mainstream issues of public finances, expenditure cuts, taxation, and employment. They should prioritise and articulate their deal breaker bottom lines in health and education. Their pivotal position could force Fianna Fáil to face the electorate before 2012.

The Greens can be part of an alternative future rainbow government as an each-way bet. They are potentially well placed to be in government for a decade if they can hold their Dáil seats. They are a lot more professional in their party administration and PR over the past three years.

To be a credible party of government they must stake out a platform on the big issues. Otherwise they will end up like the PDs. Their best ideas were absorbed by Fianna Fáil. FF inhale and enjoy but ultimately throw the fag butt away.

Advertisement

 

Page generated in 0.0811 seconds.