It's been a political week dominated by changes (or the lack of them) at the top in government parties in both Britain and Ireland. But the differing manner in which both leaders have handled the issue has been stark. In Dublin, Mary Harney managed to defy the old political saying that "All political careers end in failure" by resigning as leader of the PDs while currently tainaiste. As Harney exited with her dignity in tact (despite the haimes she seems to have made of the health service), across the water Tony Blair seems unwilling to recognise that his boat has long since sailed. Unlike Harney, Blair was unable to recognise when his time was up. Instead George W. Bush's favourite servant continues to desperately cling to power in a party that no longer cares for him and seems willing only to tolerate him in the short term for fear that to oust him now would be a wasted and pointless effort. After all lame ducks simply never rise again.
Blair has nobody to blame but himself. Whether its politics or football, I've always believed that "when you say that you're going, you're gone". The moment Blair admitted that he would not fight a fourth election, he was a goner and the Brownite vultures circling were unlikely ever to allow him to walk off triumphantly into the sunset. Bertie Ahern may face a similar problem in the upcoming years as he approachs his 60th birthday, the date which he has said he will retire at.
Right now however, Bertie is probably much more worried about who will be joining him as his number two. Michael McDowell is the front runner but he's not exactly the most popular of figures outside his party and the statutory rape scandal earlier this year may well have damaged his credentials. If Liz O'Donnell decides to run, she may well run McDowell close. While McDowell is apparently popular with his party, the PDs want to be in government and I get the feeling that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil would be keener to do business with O'Donnell than McDowell. Personally, the PDs are the southern party I have the least respect for and I must say that personally I hope the new leader won't have too many TDs to lead come the next election. How ironic would it be if Mr. Ego finally got the leadership job he craved only to find himself evicted from the Dáil by the Irish people at the next election!