Elections 2014: Thoughts on the campaign.

A few observations on the Irish local and European election campaigns. As an aside, a reader recently asked why I constantly use the prefix “Irish” when talking about elections and events in Ireland. Surely we all know what country we’re living in, he said. I had to point out that a significant section of my readers are elsewhere, particularly in the UK, US and a certain city in Belgium. But as Peter Griffin says, I digest:

1. The posters. It’ll be very interesting to see, given the large number of seats in wards, whether the joint candidate poster campaign by FG works. I hear that a third of all FG posters have to be joint candidate. To be honest, I wonder why parties don’t just demand that all posters are joint candidate ones. The candidates will give out yards, of course, but there’s nothing to say you couldn’t switch the order of candidates on the poster either for each area.

2. Airbrushing of posters is getting out of hand, and is actually becoming detrimental to candidates because it is jarring when you meet them, and you wonder about their vanity or integrity. Same with using obviously old pictures.

3. The vague nonsense on canvass cards has reached a level of “Say Nothingness” which must be unparalleled. With the exception of the Left parties, who are promising better weather, chocolate that makes you lose weight the more of it you eat, and for George Clooney to call off his engagement (if that’s your thing), nearly every FF/FG/Lab leaflet is interchangeable. We’re getting to a stage when a giant picture of the candidate and a name would be more dignified than some of the guff being put out. Community, passionate about, a local man, a new voice, from the area, a fresh voice. Bleggh! My favourite was from John Kennedy, who is running in Stillorgan for FG as “A dynamic new voice”. I was disappointed he wasn’t wearing a mask and cape.

4. I’ve never seen candidates look as tired, despite the fact that many candidates seem to to have started later than usual. Also note that campaign teams seem much smaller than usual which combined with physically larger wards explains a lot. Anecdotally, I’ve heard from a number of different parties (not SF or the Greens, funnily enough) that there is considerable bitterness from candidates about people wanting to be begged for their votes for the convention, then vanishing when needed on the doors. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but the onus on candidates to create a campaign machine from scratch, often with family, friends, and party colleagues from other constituencies, seems to be growing. It’s something the public never realise: that running for election is physically arduous, and that you have to effectively create and fund your own campaign. Non-political people just refuse to believe.

5. Best posters I’ve seen so far: Vincent Jackson’s (Ballyfermot) bright yellow, Mannix Flynn’s (Inner City) shocking pink, and Patrick Costello’s (Pembroke) clever use of multicolour posters.

6. Finally: better no slogan than a trying too hard slogan: “The difference is…I care”. Seriously? Or “For the people”. Yikes.

5 thoughts on “Elections 2014: Thoughts on the campaign.

  1. Pretty common, I think. I love the stickers over their old running mates names!

  2. Is it Labour policy this year that you have to use up old posters? Near me both Emer Costelloe (Euro) and Aine Clancy (DCC) have a mix of new posters and ones from last time round. It’s jarring, as the years have taken their toll (as with us all, of course). It can’t be vanity, since it invites unflattering comparisons – often old and new are on the same street.
    I have to say also that Noel Rock (DCC) has given me a real giggle. His surname gives ample scope for sloganeering, so we have “Rock for Reform”, “Rock for Change” and so on all over the place. Cute, but not exactly convincing from a FG candidate. Credit where it’s due, I’ve met him out on the streets three times in the last week so he’s pounding the streets. Not that that’s going to win me over.

  3. One of the Labour lads in my area, John McGinley, actually had a refreshingly straightforward piece of litrature, that was basically just his Labour page: http://www.labour.ie/johnmcginley/

    Basically, “I’ve done this, I want to do this stuff” with next to no waffle or crazy claims. I’d never give Labour a 1st this year, but I’d be tempted to give him at least a 3rd.

    I only mention him because you’re right: so many other in the big three parties are content to write the most meaningless guff on the stuff they put through the letter boxes.

  4. Something else I’ve noticed.. the two sets of canvassers (FF and FG) who knocked on my door were not young, but were inexperienced. I believe they were family members of the candidate, not party members.

    The second group were quite shocked when I (politely) asked them to raise a local issue with their candidate.. they didn’t expect that apparently.

  5. One candidate in Ballinasloe, whom I know quite well, is using a photo from 30 years ago. This is not an exaggeration.. ok maybe, 20 years ago, when he was a young lad in his 40s.

    The quality of posters has diverged sharply in this campaign: some beautifully designed ones being used by Mannix Flynn and Lorraine Higgins. And then a bunch of independents looking directly into the camera, in their communion suit, with the unoriginal tag line “Fresh new voice”.
    A well established politician in Galway city appears to be using an ugly series of home-made posters designed by a toddler. I suppose the intention was to divert attention from the FF logo.

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