Is it reasonable to assume that there has been no major effort within Fine Gael or Labour to actually plan how they are going to run the country if they win the next general election? I don’t mean policies, I accept that they have a heap of policy documents. What I mean is, do they have a plan to manage, in any way, the huge expectations of the first elected non-FF government since November 1982?
Have they given any thought as to how to manage the huge expectations of every group and parish in the country for whom they have promised reverses in cutbacks and new policies? Enda Kenny, for example, has promised a radical new approach to politics: What will we get? A referendum on the Seanad (which I personally doubt will happen) and some tinkering with parliamentary procedure. Radical? Or consider it another way: 18 months in, will the govt’s satisfaction rating have plummeted from a mixture of FG business as usual (FGers still don’t grasp that the public do not regard them personally being ministers as change in itself. Half of them seem to have been around longer than the cabinet) and the hyperbole of the campaign just not being able to be lived up to.
Can they do anything about it? Possibly. Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America (the concept of which FG completely failed to grasp in the last election) offers an interesting idea, in that it asked voted to literally pinit to their fridges and tick off specific pledges as they enacted them, many of which theydid. The problem for FG is that they just can’t control themselves: Rather than pledge, say, “A guaranteed maximum 2 hour wait in A&E before treatment, or €50 compensation”, something measurable by the public, theyjust have to over-egg it with something like “The best health service in the world” which is not only hard to believe, but impossible for a punter to measure.
For their own good, FG need to start thinking about how they are going to run this thing.