Well if it’s stating the bleeding obvious to say ‘not good’, it’s worth going into some detail as to why it turned out so badly for them at a time when they are riding so high in the polls.
The short, trite answer is everything and nothing. The candidate was the one favoured by the parliamentary against the ringer Pat Cox, favoured by Enda Kenny. Cox is hardly the warmest of characters but his experience as President of the European Parliament might well have given Higgins more of a run for his money than the intelligent but rather dour Gay Mitchell.
Therein lies the rub.
A Labour/FG stand off might wll have let an independent third party through the middle and handed the office to a non government party man. Whether by cock up or contrivance it was clear from the start Mitchell was not a contender for the leadership.
His most notable function in the race seems to have been to keep Maryin McGuinness pinned down (wheYn the media showed any sign of weakening). It’s hard to recall a serious pitch for the Presidency from a man who has barely been seen on the national stage since 2004.
If Martin McGuinness helped stymy Sean Gallagher’s chances but Mitchell’s attacks earlier on contributed to the Derrymans inability to talk about the things he wanted to talk about.
Ugly work, with little in the way of direct return for the party. But it’s likely to be another couple of years beforeany of these parties face a serious democratic challenge.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty