This was a good week for those like myself who would like to see a Corbyn led Labour Government in the UK and the softest possible Brexit while Michael McGrath’s star is rising…
I’ll start in the UK this week. Last Monday, many in the media reported that Jeremy Corbyn was threatening to sue Ben Bradley, the Conservative MP, over a libellous tweet which included the wholly false claim;
‘Corbyn sold British secrets to communist spies.
While there have been many claims and attacks on Corbyn from the Conservative Party (as well as from within his own ranks) since he became Labour leader, this was very easy to counterattack especially after the Czech government came out and stated this was simply not true.
It resulted in Ben Bradley posting a comprehensive apology to Jeremy Corbyn as well as a “substantial donation” to a homeless charity at the behest of the Labour leader. A major embarrassment for Bradly and the Government. However, politics moves quickly and this story will shortly be forgotten
What won’t be are the two respective speeches next week that Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn will give on their respective aims for Brexit. I’ll cover this separately in an article tomorrow but they could have a real impact on May’s premiership…
Fianna Fail landed some good punches on Fine Gael over potential sales of mortgage books from Permanent TSB to vulture funds. While this mantle was initially carried by Sinn Fein and Pearse Doherty, Fianna Fail shrewdly decided this was an issue to differentiate themselves from Fine Gael over and act like a true opposition by tabling their own motions.
This is an approach we have already seen work for Fianna Fail in the Maurice McCabe/Frances Fitzgerald drama late last year. Sinn Fein will need to come up with a strategy to prevent Fianna Fail simply cherry picking the issues that make good headlines while tacitly working with the government on others that do not offer as much political capital to oppose.
This approach by Fianna Fail seems to have worked well again as a poll published today by the Sunday Business Post put them at 29%, just 3% points behind Fine Gael as opposed to 8% and 11% in two polls published last week.
I have two thoughts on this this though. Firstly, any poll in isolation has limited value, especially when comparing against different polling agencies. If the upwards trend continues over the next couple of weeks then I may start to re-assess my current view that if a Dail election was called tomorrow, Fine Gael’s seat lead over Fianna Fail would substantially increase.
Secondly, Michael McGrath, as Fianna Fail spokesperson for finance, took the lead on this issue and his star continues to rise. He has opened some political distance between himself and Micheal Martin over the 8th Amendment issue and I do think he may consider a leadership challenge if a window of opportunity presents itself. He is currently 13/8 in betting terms and at 41 he may see this as the ideal time for him to take the next step, given the younger profile of new party leaders emerging across Europe…