11 thoughts about being an Irish candidate.

1. Candidates, please: think about the day AFTER you win, when people expect you to actually do stuff you were shouting about BEFORE polling day. Or in other words, WWEGND (What would Eamonn Gilmore not do?).

2. With the above in mind, think about your promises. Stop blurting out things in the hope that any old yoke might win you a few votes.

3. Attacking something you used to do yourself, or believed yourself when in government is never as clever as you think. It actually makes people wonder about your integrity.

4. The other guy sometimes has the better idea, and voters are more likely to respect you if you occasionally admit it.

5. Actually believing in “my party, right or wrong” makes you a sociopath, and is the political equivalent of “It puts the lotion in the basket”.

6. A speech shouldn’t be a chore, or a collection of phrases you’ve heard other people use or think they expect you to use. It’s an opportunity to nudge the political tiller just slightly. Same with a leaflet.

7. No one outside politics ever believes the sheer physical and exhausting nature of being an Irish candidate. They never saw Jed Bartlet canvassing in the rain on a Tuesday night.

8. Short of asking voters to vote for the other guy, you can never be too self deprecating.

9. As a first time candidate, you’ll be surprised that you will respect voters who openly say why they’re not voting for you. It’s the rude ones that’ll set you off. Although it will cost you votes, just once during the campaign you’ll tell a rude voter to f**k off, and you’ll feel your dignity restored for the rest of the campaign.

10. Resist the urge to go mad spending unplanned money in the last two weeks. Always query your use of time/money with the question: “Is this a better use of time/money than actually meeting voters on doorsteps?”. It’s very easy to become obsessed with writing the perfect leaflet or Facebook entry. Irish elections are still, for the most part, won on the doors.

11. If you’re a candidate, politics is like a play you’re acting in. It’s the most important thing in your life. If you’re an ordinary voter, it’s like arriving five minutes before the play ends, and being asked to review it.

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