Gets rid of flakiness
Stop me if you've heard this before: Trevor Sargent has been a disastrous leader of the Greens since he took charge in 2001, when the party – with a Dublin MEP elected in 1999 and a rising profile – actually looked like it was going places. Instead, though it picked up seats in 2002, its popular vote and representation have stagnated. It gets notably less support in real elections, when electoral minds are concentrated, than it does in opinion polls.
In May it performed worse than expected, scraped most of its TDs back in, then sold what was left of its soul in order to go into Government. If ever a leader ought to have been forced to resign, it's Trevor Sargent.
No, I didn't think you'd heard much of that, not while consuming the mainstream media, where Sargent's extraordinary “integrity” in voluntarily stepping slightly aside brought the likes of David McCullough to new heights of quivering admiration, while also distracting from the lousy deal with Fianna Fail. I was virtually shouted down in an RTE radio studio when I suggested Trevor's grinning acceptance of a desired junior-ministry with all mod cons made a mockery of the holy martyrdom bestowed on him by sections of the press.
Sargent & Co had pleased the punditocracy greatly, by combining a technical keeping-of-word with a basic affirmation that the political game does work exactly as expected, on the basis of cynical horse-trading rather than principle. It's worth noting the pundits had been nervous about this, handwringing over the party's high flake content right up to that Mansion House vote: on that very day Stephen Collins of the Irish Times ventured a guess on News at One that the membership would vote against the deal. Little did he know how many ambitious young things were gathering behind the, em, Green door.