Opinion John Downing

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Fight alone or as a team: That is Joan's big question

Joan Burton was the first to pounce. She suggested the Socialist TD had referred to gardaí as dogs and said Coppinger's party colleague, Joe Higgins, had never resorted to such offensive language in all their years of verbal sparring. Photo: Arthur Carron
Joan Burton was the first to pounce. She suggested the Socialist TD had referred to gardaí as dogs and said Coppinger's party colleague, Joe Higgins, had never resorted to such offensive language in all their years of verbal sparring. Photo: Arthur Carron
John Downing

John Downing

We are at that point in the political cycle. The junior Coalition party is confronted by the key question: Are you battling the next election alone or with a common programme?

That is among the questions facing Labour leader Joan Burton as she heads for her party's conference in Killarney in two days' time. After being love-bombed by key Fine Gael people at their national conference in Castlebar last weekend, the question becomes more prescient.

There will also be predictable noises from those within Labour who instinctively dislike coalition and mistrust the larger Coalition party. Some of them, notwithstanding the history of Labour coalitions with Fine Gael, actually strongly dislike Fine Gael. It is also complicated by the Realpolitik that there is no clear answer. There are benefits and drawbacks whichever choice is made.

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