1. As the blues creep closer and closer to that magic number where, with positive transfers, they get into minority government or even overall majority, the campaign dynamic changes. Firstly, what would be better? Imagine the sort of in-fighting that would break out in Fine Gael if they won an overall majority, and then saw their poll numbers plummet after the election, and the Parliamentary Party realised that many of them were dead men walking? Jack Lynch pointed this out after his landslide in 1977. Enda is a smart political tactician, and like Bertie, probably recognises the power of having an outside force (with Bertie it was the PDs) like a group of independents to keep his own PP in check. A minority government would actually suit him better.
2. If Labour become the opposition, this changes everything. Labour’s frontbench in 2016 will be very different from today’s, as many of the heavy hitters choose to retire. And bear in mind that after five years opposing Fine Gael, it will be impossible, surely, for a future FG/Labour coalition. Suddenly, we have a left/right political system. Having said that, and I’ve posted elsewhere on this, Labour need to go through their New Labour moment, because on 20%, Labour isn’t working. In fact, those Gilmore for Taoiseach posters are beginning to become a source of embarrassment. The irony is that Labour’s future is probably better served by them not entering government as very much the second banana to an all conquering (and inflexible) Fine Gael.
3. Fianna Fail’s lack of post Brian Cowen (Who?) bounce must be worrying for them. Like many people, I assume that Fianna Fail’s inherent residual loyalty in the country will save them from the worst, but on recent figures that may not be enough. Of course, I still think there are people who will secretly vote Fianna Fail but deny it, but if the number of TDs is in the low 20s, then the personalities of the TDs becomes the guide to whether Fianna Fail will have a future. If the PP is made up of Barry Andrews and Averil Power types, there’s a chance. But if it’s the yahoo brigade…By the way, if Fianna Fail find themselves behind Labour on the opposition benches, it could well be game over as their centre-right voters go to Fine Gael Unleashed in government, and their working class support to Labour.