Arise Sir BIFFO

With Bertie Ahern now a dead duck we now see moves to crown his successor, the heir apparent Brian Cowen or BIFFO to his friends.

We have already witnessed two of his major rivals for the leadership of Fianna Fáil fall into place and pledge support to him, Brian Lenihan and Micheal Martin.

The only other threat, if any such threat exists, is Foreign Affairs Minister and Stoop ally Dermot Ahern.

We shall return to the fate of the other Ahern shortly.

I see that Noel Dempsey and Mary Coughlan have refused to rule themselves out of the running. There is also a suggestion that Mary Hanafin may challenge Cowen.

I don't buy any of this and neither of these three have anywhere near enough support to challenge Cowen. This is all about jostling for position and securing their Merc's for a few more years.

If any of these three do decide to run against Cowen the only thing it will tell me is that they know he will cut them from his future cabinet.

Now returning to Dermot Ahern, for a while I would have said that he had a strong chance but that was about 2 years ago. I'm not sure what kind of support he has within the FF Parliamentary Party.

I wouldn't be overly moved by the views of the Cabinet as the election of Charles Haughey proves that you don't need the support of the cabinet in order to be elected Taoiseach.

When he ran against George Colley he was running against a similar candidate to Cowen. Colley was the heir apparent and Jack Lynch even stood down early to facilitate Colley. All of the cabinet bar Michael O'Kennedy supported Colley but he still lost to Charlie.

The problem I see for Ahern is that he isn't a Charles Haughey; he doesn't have the temperamaent for that kind of Machiavellian coup.

I personally don't see Ahern challenging Cowen and as a result of this "loyalty" I can even see a promotion in his future.

Cowen will be the next leader of Fianna Fáil and the only other question relates to the PD's. In 1992 he said "When in doubt, leave them out!" and he doesn't necessarily need the PD's for numbers.

I'm sure that removing Mary Harney from Health would be a very popular decision across the country and even more so in Fianna Fáil. The only problem here is that Cowen needs Mary Harney and the PD's for other reasons.

He needs them because Cowen and others support her disastrous policies on Co-Location; they just want a buffer to blame when it comes to election time.

Cowen is a FF traditionalist; he is a former ally of Albert Reynolds and founder member of the Country and Western division of the party. I'm sure there is a part of him that would prefer to see a Fianna Fáil bum on the Health seat and a Merc for one of the lads.

That aside he will not be the one to send a Fianna Fáil member to "Angola"

UPDATE: Coughlan and Hanafin have come out in support of Cowen

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