Bruce Arnold: Lacklustre Kenny is Fianna Fail's biggest election asset
The two main opposition parties are 'the government-in-waiting'. Opinion polls would suggest, numerically, that in the event of an election in the near future they would be able to offer the country an alternative to Fianna Fail and the Greens and that the electorate would vote for that outcome.
It was fear of this that caused Brian Cowen to do the much-condemned and recent subsidiary deal with the Greens, turning on their head previous commitments on the economy. The poll reinforced public respect for Fine Gael and Labour, giving Eamon Gilmore in particular a boost in his popularity.
Gilmore gives a robust account in the Dail chamber and is certainly a better opposition performer than Enda Kenny, who is rightly claimed by Fianna Fail as currently their biggest electoral asset. In performance terms this is right. In party terms Kenny may be credited with having revitalised Fine Gael, giving it consistently exceptional opinion poll ratings and putting the wind up the largest party whose leader, Brian Cowen, is perpetually accident-prone in his judgement, inspiring less than confidence on all main issues. Kenny also has a huge asset in Richard Bruton, a convincing Cassandra who tells us what is wrong, how the economy and public life should be handled, but whose views are not acted upon.