I notice that Labour abstained on the Criminal Justice Bill last night, despite the clear opposition to it of their Justice Spokesperson Joe Costello. Wonder why that was? Couldn't have had anything to do with the fact that Fine Gael voted for the bill, could it?

Bad and all as Fianna Fáil are, they do have one clear advantage for any potential coalition partner with the slightest ideological bent (and in Labour's case it really is the "slightest"): not having one themselves, FF are easily subject to the Tail-Wagging-Dog syndrome. Fine Gael may not be anyone's idea of a principled party but they do have a couple clear policies, at least. Pro-privatisation, for one. Anti-neutrality, for another. Ironic, isn't it, that on the only issues they can really be nailed down, their position differs strongly from Labour's?

Labour voters who think that these differences will all somehow work themselves out, and not to their own detriment, would be well advised to keep an eye on incidents like last night's abstention on the Criminal Justice Bill. I can virtually guarantee you there will be more of these between now and the general election - not to mention if FG and Labour do win enough seats to go into coalition together.

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