Next time, we go in for the kill
Published 25/05/2014 | 02:30
PEOPLE were predicting Independents' Day, but it seems what we actually got was Punishment Day. Both Government parties got a severe punishment beating courtesy of Sinn Fein and independents. And while Fianna Fail continues to defy those who thought it was going to wiped from the face of the earth, people still feel it needs some bit of a kicking for its time in government.
Working individually but as a whole, we administered a wake-up call – and we will probably get the result we deserve from it.
That result will not be the chaos that the political classes like to predict when they characterise us as a nihilistic electorate lashing out in all directions and rejecting mainstream politics. In fact, what these elections are likely to do is to give us a stable Government for the next two years and a better deal from that Government.
We kicked Labour so hard that it has nothing to gain from walking from Government now and everything to lose. If it walks, it will be into a wilderness. Labour's only chance now is to stay in there and fight to salvage something in the next two years.
And that salvaging is good news for us. Because it involves Labour going to Fine Gael and saying: "Do you want us or Sinn Fein to be the voice of the Left?" Labour needs to point out firmly to Fine Gael now that if Fine Gael wants to look after itself and get the two in a row, it needs to look after Labour. And that means looking after us.
Fine Gael needs to allow Labour to protect some of its core values now. It needs to let Labour win back anti- austerity votes. And moreover, it needs to allow Labour to take some credit.
After this wake-up call, we should see a chastened Government, wary of the threat of the electorate and the threat of Sinn Fein. On Punishment Day, Sinn Fein and the independents were the only ones not punished. Because there was nothing to punish them for, yet.
Sinn Fein is a fantasy political party, which has not yet had the reality of being in Government to turn the electorate against it. Sinn Fein basically portrays itself as not really being made up of politicians at all. Nor have independents had the reality of responsibility.
The Government needs to start looking good against these attractive fantasies, and fast. And that's got to be good for the people of Ireland.
If the Government is really serious about wooing us back and keeping this marriage together, it even needs to look at water charges again. Who knows if it will be prepared to do that? But we reminded it that if it doesn't, we have a few suitors waiting in the wings who will. So far we're only flirting, but it needs to wake up and treat us right or we'll go the whole way the next time.