So: eight weeks out, what’s the political landscape looking like?
Fine Gael: the blues are in solid form, with a clear identity, a clear pitch, and a clear electorate. Stability, stability, stability, and keep other people’s hands out of your arse pocket. Won David Cameron an election, that did.
Fianna Fail: in better shape than the media think. If you stop comparing FF to the old days, a party on 17% is doing well in a modern European multiparty democracy. Yeah, there’s a hint of the 1977 manifesto about their pitch, but guess what? There’s votes in that. Don’t forget the FF organisation hasn’t forgotten how to pander on the doorsteps. They’ll do better on the day than people think.
Sinn Fein: If you take the long term view, and they seem to, election 2016 will be another solid step in their Slowly Slowly Catchy Monkey strategy. Put it another way: if Labour had been this patient five years ago, we really would be talking about Gilmore for Taoiseach.
Labour: still not sure what their pitch is or towards whom? Labour feel like the old Irish Home Rule party refusing to believe that things have changed. Pity: they haven’t been that bad in government, but they promised so so much. Don’t forget, this happened to them in 1997, and that was when the country actually had money. Labour thinks so much about getting into government they never seem to imagine there will be a moment when they have to go back to the voters.
Renua/Social Democrats: the sushi parties. An acquired taste that some people are mad about but others wouldn’t touch. Both have a fair pitch, almost a mirror pitch. But will they have enough votes to be more than just what-label-are-they-wearing-today? candidates? Would do well in a list system.
Alphabet Left: will do grand giving it loads, up the revolution and all the rest. And refuse to actually play a role in any decision making after the election. The Madonna’s “Vogue” parties. Go on, think about it.
The Independents: the entertainment. I’ll wager that some of these guys by the next election will be some of the most hated politicians in the country, by their own constituents. Mostly for not being psychic about every single on of their voters’ intimate wishes, running away from unpopular decisions, or bringing down the Dail.