Sunday 23 November 2014

Lucinda Creighton's teasing over new party is becoming rather tiresome

Published 19/08/2014 | 17:04

Lucinda Creighton
Lucinda Creighton

Lucinda Creighton has become a terrible tease. Yet again, the former Fine Gael junior minister is dropping hints about turning her Reform Alliance into a fully fledged political party.

If she does take the plunge, it could certainly be a real game-changer – but unfortunately this ‘dance of the seven veils’ has been dragging on so long that most of the audience are about to leave.

At the MacGill Summer School in Donegal last week, Creighton trotted out some depressingly stale material.

She slammed her old party for betraying its election promises and declared that the time is right for a new political movement.

When asked point-blank if she is ready to step up to the plate herself, however, Lucinda gave the same answer she has been giving for the last twelve months: “Maybe.”

Creighton’s typically non-committal speech suggested that she wants to keep us guessing for at least a bit longer. At one point she admitted that “the window is closing” because we are due to have a general election by April 2016 at the very latest.

Just to add to the mixed signals, she also mentioned a Slovenian party that formed six weeks before an election and polled 40pc of the vote.

One thing we know for sure is that the RA recently held talks with Phillip Blond, a British political strategist and former adviser to David Cameron. He is the author of Red Tory, a blueprint for a ‘compassionate conservative’ party that might just take off in Ireland.

On the other hand, Senator Paul Bradford (Lucinda’s husband) has described the discussions as “a political stew” – and Irish voters will not be tempted by such an old-fashioned dish.

Anyone who doubts the hunger for something new should look at the local election results. On May 23, nearly 30pc of the electorate opted for candidates outside the four main Dail parties.

If the RA could capture even half of that support, it might hold the balance of power in 2016 – forcing Enda Kenny to beg for Lucinda’s support so that he can stay in the Taoiseach’s office.

On a personal level, Creighton must relish that prospect. A few weeks ago she called the Taoiseach “ungentlemanly and scurrilous” for his dismissive attitude towards her in a Dail debate. In a recent interview, she sniffed: “I’ve never really had a serious conversation with Enda about anything.”

The big problem for Lucinda is that she cannot get revenge on her old leader without also hurting herself. Forming a new party would burn her bridges to Fine Gael forever and destroy her ambition to be Ireland’s first woman Taoiseach.

cynical

This is why the smart money suggests that she will carry on teasing until Kenny retires and she can return to her spiritual home.

Creighton won a lot of respect last year for her principled opposition to the Government’s abortion bill. Now she is in danger of squandering that goodwill – because all this hot air about a new party is starting to look like a cynical ploy to keep her name in the headlines.

Last January, the RA held a so-called ‘monster meeting’ in the RDS that looked suspiciously like just another talking shop. In June, it published a policy document that contained some interesting proposals for changing Leinster House but said precious little about Irish society.

It talks constantly about the need to start “a national conversation” – but to quote Elvis Presley, what we need now is a little less conversation and a little more action.

Lucinda Creighton has the power to transform Irish politics. If she carries on singing the same old song, however, she will just end up sounding like a broken record.

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