The circus audience desertion
Capping the worst 5 days work from a Taoiseach in Irish history, Brian Cowen has gone from being a reaffirmed leader of FF and sitting on his preference for an extended election campaign to losing 7 ministers (8 if you count the non-replacement of Micheal Martin) and the leadership of Fianna Fail, along with the certainty of an early election, and presiding over a Cabinet of just 7 ministers and a one-party minority government.
A few quick impressions from the Green news conference. First, it sounded like they were trying to play nice with Fine Gael, but that might just be the circumstances. Second, Brian Lenihan now has what looks like a big conflict of interest. He made it clear in his leadership launch this morning that he wants a long election campaign. But its timing now depends on the passing of the finance bill, whose details he controls — and he is back in “There is no alternative” mode (a la the guarantee, IMF etc) saying that it has to be done his way. Hopefully the apolitical permanent staff at the department will be providing dispassionate advice on this. Finally, there is at least one risk from the still unresolved nature of the next week in politics: that Brian Cowen does a final kick of the hind legs at anyone near him and calls an election immediately.