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Monday, 5 October 2009

Big week for the Greens

This is going to be a huge week for the Greens in Ireland. On Saturday we hold a special convention to vote on two significant issues which depending on how the vote goes may mean we walk from coalition government with Fianna Fail leading to a general election - and possible electoral meltdown for ourselves - based on the kicking we got in the locals in June. The first issue is party support for a new Programme for Government (PfG) which is being negotiated and finalised as we speak. The FFers also got a kicking in the June polls and are extremely weak, so the Greens rightly are pushing them hard on getting more radical green proposals into the PfG.

The second is NAMA (National Asset Management Agency) proposed legislation - a 'toxic' piece of legislation to deal with the toxic loans in the Irish banking system. This complex piece of legislation seems to come down to basically Irish taxpayers - via the state - compensating those bankers and developers who engaged in risky and speculative financial dealings during the boom time of the Tiger economy, by bailing out the banks and buying up around 75 billion euro of toxic debt for sum of around 54 billion euros. Its a lot more complex than this, and its caused outrange within Irish society and the Green party. However, the argument we're told is that we need NAMA to get the economy going again, to start credit flowing from the banks etc.

A group within the Party, called Greens against NAMA, is calling for the party to reject it. A member of this group today emailed me the following interesting clip which makes the case against NAMA and connects it to the issue of peak oil - . In that video Party leader John Gormley does make the point that NAMA is simply kick-starting an unsustainable economy, but we're not going to change it overnight etc.

The danger, of the many that now confront the party, is that a rejection of NAMA will fuel a groundswell to reject the PfG and participation in government and lose the change of a generation perhaps for the Greens to be in power and get some radical policies implemented. If NAMA is the price for our staying in power for another 2 years, will members reluctantly support it? or should they support it? I have to say I'm conflicted on this one - NAMA doesn't look like a good deal (but what are the alternatives? - here I have to admit I'm partial to nationalising all the banks myself) - but the pragamatist in me does want the party to stay in power - but not at any cost....Dilemmas, dilemmas. On this one, politics looks less like the art of the possible than squaring the impossible...

I'll be down in Dublin on Saturday for the convention - and also speaking at the TASC conference that morning - I'll be making my mind up which way to vote on both these issues then....

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