I received some ire on Twitter recently when I suggested that the Meath East byelection does not actually matter. Most of the flack was from party activists in the constutuency, who are no doubt working physically very hard to get their candidate elected. I’m not disparaging that work at all. I used to do it myself, and it is long and gruelling work. All I’m saying is that the result will not matter because I can tell you now what it will be, and certainly how it will look to a rational observer of normal democratic politics.
Meath East will elect a moderately conservative centrist who broadly supports the EU/IMF/ECB status quo. That’s the result. If a radical anti-bailout socialist were elected, that would have some significance, but that’s not going to happen. The gap in differences between the two conservative candidates are no wider than differences they might hold with members of their own respective parties.
Yes, the professional party political hacks on the ground, and those who want to aspire to that position, can see a huge difference as to whether it is a diesel train, or an electric one, or a steam driven old classic. The rest of us just see a train.