Fianna Fáil are steaming ahead on route to irrelevance
What do Micheál Martin and Jeremy Corbyn have in common? They both look set fair to establish internal party membership popularity at the expense of the real needs of voters.
The man who looks almost certain to become the new leader of the British Labour party seems set to march them back to the politics of the 1950s and 1960s. Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil leader Mr Martin's post-election government formation strategy looks equally bold. At a stroke he's categorically excluding coalition with both Fine Gael and Sinn Féin. As a consequence, he's left himself no wriggle room and is charting a course for FF to remain in opposition in the 32nd Dáil. Irrelevance will be the price of such a strategy, scuppering the prospects of an electoral recovery.
In my living memory of politics (from the 1970s Cosgrave/Corish coalition, followed by Jack Lynch in 1977), I can't recall FF ever being in opposition for two consecutive Dáil terms. The party's main core value through the eras of Charlie Haughey, Albert Reynolds and Bertie Ahern was to be in power, irrespective of the ideology of its coalition partner. As a result, if you're an FF supporter and any of the following - a farmer active in the IFA, teacher involved in INTO campaigns, business owner/investor seeking local largesse from central government for your area, organiser in a trade union or lobbyist with a tax wheeze plan - you automatically had a friendly ear in the corridors of power.