Updated: 09/09/17 : 08:41:07
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Leo could make unwanted history

By Eugene McGloin
Political Editor

PHOENIX MAGAZINE poses a question this weekend which, unlike most posed by media, will get an answer with 100% accuracy.

It asks simply if Leo Varadkar's leadership would survive any (upcoming) election loss ''simply because he had only a year or so at the helm.''

The magazines describes a context in which Leo could become ''the shortest living Taoiseach on record.''

Cobweb Clusters

Leaders can indeed have shortlived lives, maybe not as brief as the mayfly but not as lengthy either as the tortoise or bowhead whale.

The first Pope John Paul lasted just 33 days while here at home Albert Reynolds barely got 33 months but each left a lasting positive stain in the sand.

Time itself is no test of talent in politics or otherwise though in the former it offers a good marker on who/what had merit and who/what was, well, mediocre.

Pope John the 23rd stood the Catholic Church on its head and dusted off decades and centuries of cobweb clusters in a reign of just under five years.

Leo Varadkar seems an unlikely one to match the achievements of any of the people named above or to live as long as those with, or without, spines!

Leo's big drawback is that he failed to carry the ordinary party membership in a secret vote on the leadership, even at the zenith of his popularity.

That failure earlier this summer came contrary to the babbling and clamour of the national media, which pushed (and rushed) their Chosen One. 

But the lightness of Their Leo was underlined yesterday afternoon by that speech given by Bertie, who hasn't gone away you know. 

'The Bert' will probably have troubled Michael Martin in Fianna Fáil marginally more than Leo Varadkar in Fine Gael with his (unintended) pot-shots.

Ahern may well the last person in ALL our lifetimes to win power in three successive general elections.

Vote Getter

The extra poser posited by Phoenix is what would happen Leo Varadkar -- expensive new PR guru and all -- if he cannot win the next election.

How would the rank and file membership of Fine Gael buy into that, the new 'vote getter,' if he can't get new votes. 

Somewhere along the line Leo talked about leaving the Top Job behind him by fifty.

Hmm. Just enough time to lead the Fine Gael fight into three general elections and two County Council contests.

What if that Top Job, though, leaves Leo in the lurch, with unwanted history; where to then.

Inside the next 12-14 months Leo could likely lead Fine Gael forward into a general election, a referendum and into a Presidential poll.

Inside the same timeframe he has to start overseeing the selection of candidates for the local elections of May 2019.

Emaciated Councils

Varadkar was a member of the Cabinet which emaciated local democracy.....AND which wrecked Fine Gael at County Council and Seanad level at the same time.

His sole chance of success in two, maybe even three, of the general election contests rests with a storm-surge in support for Sinn Fein.

That surge, if it happens, would be the only restraint likely to hold back Fianna Fáil's Dail numbers in the period from 2018 to, say, 2030. 

Sinn Fein will only stay 'fresh' for part of that decade-plus NOT for all of it.

It's like hearing the words 'shalom' or 'aloha;' Sinn Fein will only know whether it's been a swamp or sweetness after the event is over.

Needs Luck

Fine Gael, if it emerges from the next general election as the single biggest party needs luck on its side.

Fine Gael would still require Fianna Fáil to vote with it or abstain on its budgets, legislative process and referenda. 

A so-called 'Grand Coalition' would be unlikely to occur in the specific period covering centenaries of the Treaty and of the Civil War. Why?

Accepting that coalition against that particular backdrop would mean Fianna Fáil saying, effectively, there never existed a reason for its existence from Day One.