WHEN about to back down from a very real threat you made, you must prepare the ground.
There are a number of quick and easy steps to allow you do this.
Firstly, kick dirt in your opponent's face. The political equivalent of this is to slag off whoever is across the aisle from you, by calling them the shower who ruined the country, the shower who broke election promises, or the shower who love the Provos.
So, when Labour senators John Whelan, Denis Landy and James Heffernan (pictured left to right) decided to row in behind the Government on the social welfare bill after threatening to vote against it, they took the first step with glee.
Fianna Fail's Darragh O'Brien had already teased them about "marching people to the top of the hill" but taking no action.
The three had barely cleared their throats and stood up in the Upper House yesterday before they were insisting they would be taking no lessons from the double F-ers, or the Shinners. "It would be a poor outlook if we had to turn to either Fianna Fail of Sinn Fein to set our moral compass," said Mr Whelan.
Second step – don't reveal your hand, or what exactly you're going to do, until the last minute. This allows you a quick escape and less time to be taunted by the opposition. One way of doing this is to say your party must apologise for broken election pledges, and that you're very angry about it.
Then, for the finale, reveal your exact intentions, before sitting down. "I intend on supporting the bill and that's all I have to say about that," was how Mr Heffernan deftly executed the last move.
On the opposition side, Independent Senator David Norris told the Labour trio they now had a "fat chance" of making it to the Dail.