After this crisis, the familiar ones will still be there

Screenshot (52)As you will see from the opening paragraph below I wrote this column, which appeared on Broadsheet.ie on June 8th, assuming that the three parties would have produced some form of Programme for Government (PfG) – even if it was not one to which all the negotiators (i.e. not all the Green party ones) felt they could sign up..

As we see today (Friday 12th) yet another deadline has slipped in a process that full of missed deadlines and makes Bismarck’s sausage factory look like a place of beauty and efficiency. We also see today via a Michael Gove Tweet that the UK does not want a sensible transition extension and so the Tories are determined to have a hard UK Brexit crash out at year’s end.

Tempting though it is to present you today with yet another analysis piece about the government formation process, I will resist.

My reasons are twofold:

  1. There is a 50/50 chance the process will still be ongoing this time next week
  2. We are in such a state of flux with events moving faster than ever, there is every chance that the facts underpinning any analysis could change while I write it up.

OK, reason one is a bit flippant. I would be extremely surprised if an agreed document, though not necessarily one agreed by everyone, has not emerged by week’s end.

The second reason remains rock solid.

The one thing I can say with any certainty today is that there are so many moving parts and shifting gears that no one outcome, or series of outcomes, is certain.

Continue reading “After this crisis, the familiar ones will still be there”

Brexit Votes and #VoteGate

This column appeared on Broadsheet on Oct 21, 2019. This was in the days following the Dáil #VoteGate saga and in this piece I suggested that the Dáil temporarily abandon electronic voting for the rest of this session – up the next general election – and hold all votes by way of divisions as a first step in reassuring voters that votes are conducted fairly and that the people who are supposed to be in the Chamber and voting, truly are. 

InkedCthUsGYWgAE40t5_LI.jpgDuring the Tory leadership election the YouGov polling organisation did a survey of Conservative party members to ascertain the importance of Brexit to them.

It Specifically asked how many of them would continue to back Brexit even if it meant the last of Scotland and/or the last of Northern Ireland. Remember these are paid up members of the British Conservative and Unionist Party, the clue should be in the name.

The results were surprising, though not disheartening when viewed from Dublin or Edinburgh. Almost 60% said that they would happily see Northern Ireland or Scotland leaving the union if that was the price of Brexit. They marginally preferred seeing Scotland go (63%) over Northern Ireland (59%). Cold comfort for the DUP after a weekend that saw it unable to persuade one single Tory MP to stick by it.

Since Johnson has come to office it seems that he has viewed this polling result less as an indication of the current state of mind within the Tory party and more as a goal for which to aim. Though – like the few things Johnson has succeeded in doing since becoming Prime Minister – it is better that he thinks he is saving the Union, as he usually manages to deliver the opposite of that which he set out to do.

Continue reading “Brexit Votes and #VoteGate”