Tuesday 20 February 2018

Fine Gael is

The opposition party could fatally damage its election chances by ignoring its own voters, warns Marc Coleman

Marc Coleman

Marc Coleman

THIS weekend, Fine Gael stands at a crossroads. Although still a credit to Enda Kenny, its 7 per cent lead over Fianna Fail is half of what it was at the peak of the crisis, and with a recovery possible, Fine Gael can't afford to take anything for granted. But if its idea of reversing public-sector pay cuts is anything to go by, that's exactly what it is about to do.

A senior and very respected Fine Gaeler told me recently that his colleagues blithely assume the Government is so discredited that power will fall into their laps at the next election. Their traditional voters can, so they think, be taken for granted. "Sure they have nowhere to go," he told me. Besides, Fine Gael didn't want to alienate public-sector transfers. And it certainly didn't want to alienate its future coalition partner, he went on.

The expected Labour wins in the Dublin mayoral and Dublin South by-elections might, however, expose the folly of this approach which clearly alienates Fine Gael's tax-paying voters. Even if it doesn't, it sends a clear message that Fine Gael policy is ultimately determined by party politics and not the national interest. Come back George Lee, all is forgiven.

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