Recently, the Mercian political scene has been shaken up by the sudden relegation of the original majority party, the National Liberal Party of Shane Cahill, being relegated to the Opposition benches after a tentative coalition between the People’s Democratic Party, the Social Democratic Party, and the independent MP Baron Uberquie took power. In light of this sudden political shift in the country, we sat down with interim NLP leader Shane Cahill, who earlier announced his intention to resign, to discuss the future of his party.
DAILY MICRONATIONAL: The National Liberal Party faced something of a drubbing at this election, and, in despite of the NLP retaining the most seats out of all parties in government, Count Frisch was unfortunate enough to lose his own seat in parliament, as well as usher in an unstable coalition of the People’s Democratic Party, Baron Uberquie, and Kit McCarthy’s new Social Democratic Party. Immediately in the light of this veritable defeat for your party, you announced not long after the results came in that you had resigned your post as First Minister and leader of the NLP – a recent editorial by themicronational attempted to speculate as to why you made this sudden announcement, but I’m sure the micronational community at large has the same question on their lips as I do now – why did you really decide to quit?
Ó Cathail: There are a number of factors behind my decision. Firstly, without a doubt I must take responsibility for losing two of our seats and thus our majority in my capacity as party leader. The result which the Mercian people presented to us was not a mandate for a majority government by any party, but a collaboration of different parties. The second reason I have decided to step aside is that I have been Mercia’s head of government for over a year now. In micronational terms, that is quite a long time. I had intended to serve a portion of this term before handing over to a new First Minister due to upcoming commitments, however the opportunity presented itself much sooner than anticipated. The last reason is perhaps the most significant. I am very proud of our record in government, we implemented a solid, stable programme, the highlight of which was our successful independence from the Wurtige Empire. However, some in our party failed to recognise a key aspect of being in government – that it is a team effort. Too many times I was alone on the government benches for FMQs. Too many times I had to whip as many votes as I could muster for bills to pass despite our majority. Some of our MPs, and indeed ministers, had horrific parliamentary attendance. The recent election highlighted the scale of this to me, with shocking attendance at the pre-election party congress, and leaving me to write the manifesto myself entirely. It is unfortunate that despite my expulsion of inactive members and other measures to promote attendance, it took this defeat for the party to realise the scale of the problem.
DM: Unfortunate to be sure; I realize this is likely a very formative time for the party given your need for restructure in the light of your apparent defeat at election – that being said, are you able to comment on your plans for ensuring the NLP bounces back from this in the future?
BC: We as a party must show unity, this is something we have been discussing in detail since the results were announced. You mention defeat, to which I would remind the readers that we lost the election not by losing the support of middle ground voters, but because NLP members had the lowest turnout rate of any group at this election, something which saddens me and underlines the problems our party faces. The plan for the party going forward is firstly not to let down those who did vote for us, by working to implement our manifesto from the opposition benches. My tenure as First Minister was not one of partisan division and arrogance due to our majority, but collaboration in parliament with the then-opposition, something no one can deny. I assisted the opposition in passing bills which we could agree on, while some of our bills were in turn supported by them. The incoming government must continue this positive and effective policy and help us pass bills which our party puts forward. The other key step going forward is to hold an open and energetic contest to find my replacement as NLP leader. This is something which will begin over the next few days, and hopefully we will have candidates for the leadership contest very soon. In the meantime, I will stay on as acting leader, and will assist the incoming government with the transition process.
DM: Given the fact a key problem with the National Liberal Party during its tenure in government, particularly in the latter period of its term, was exceedingly inactive to the point where you mention you were alone during sessions of FMQs, how do you envision the NLP resolving this issue going forward into Opposition and, hopefully for your party, beyond that into the term that follows?
BC: I took the first steps to this by preventing inactive MPs for running again for our party, I believe there were three outgoing MPs in total with disgraceful attendance who either did not run or who I did not allow run, at least on our ticket. I think being in Opposition will give our party a chance to reform our internal structure and refine our way of doing things, so that inactivity won’t be able to build up again. The discussion that’s been going on in the party over the past few days has been really good to see, it shows that we are already on the mend. We are at last having fruitful discussion on our party’s future direction, something which must be further encouraged. When the Parliament returns to session, we will ensure that our members are a proactive and effective opposition, holding the government to account while co-operating wear we have common ground. Inactive MPs will be sanctioned accordingly, something which I think is completely fair. Finally, we must be ready at all times to re-enter government before the next election, such is the nature of this fragile coalition which could collapse with a single vote. While the government certainly has experience members among its ranks, the junior party in the coalition has never been in Mercian politics before, and has no record at all from which we can determine where exactly it stands on certain matters. The NLP will emerge from this term a stronger party, ready to return to government.
DM: Finally, now that you’ve now announced your intention to drop out of the leadership of the National Liberal Party once the NLP manages to find a new leader to take over from you, do you intend to continue to take part in Mercian politics or take a far more backseat approach to things? You still, according to the returning officer, retain a seat in Parliament, I was just curious as to whether you would be able to comment on how active a position you’ll take in Mercian government going forward.
BC: There are many factors which influenced my decision, as I’ve said already it was my intention to bow out over the course of this term as it was. As your readers may know, I serve as one of Leylandiistan & Gurvata’s two heads of state, something which demands a lot of time and attention. Stepping aside from Mercian politics will allow me to devote more time to this role which is very special to me, given it is the country I helped establish. As acting leader of the NLP I will hold the government to account on my party’s behalf until a new leader is found. I will also strongly advocate the policies in our manifesto by presenting bills to implement our policies. If the government wish to follow my example, they will help us pass those bills. After that, I will decide whether or not to resign from my seat. I have represented the people of Kernolland for over a year, and it will indeed be a tough decision to no longer represent the people who have entrusted me with great responsibility three times. When the academic year recommences in September, I will have much work ahead of me in addition to helping govern Leylandiistan & Gurvata, thus at that stage I will no doubt be unable to continue to be an active part of the Mercian political scene. I will have to wait and see whether or not I will need to step back from the Mercian political scene earlier than that. I would like to reflect on my two terms as First Minister by saying it has been an honour to be elected as Mercia’s first democratically elected head of government, and then to be re-elected again. I am particularly proud to have led the successful campaign to free Mercia from the diabolical dormant disaster that is the Wurtige Empire. After a year in charge, the time has come to hand over to a new First Minister, but with hard work in this term our party will return to power under a new, capable leader.
Baron Ó Cathail is the former First Minister of Mercia and current interim leader of the National Liberal Party.