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.