No battle plan survives the first contact with your enemy – so said some 19th century German military strategist whose name I am too lazy to Google. [That would be Helmuth von Moltke, Chief of the Prussian General Staff – Ed].
No matter how much you plan and prepare, no matter how often you run the simulations things never go as planned. Your enemy is never as dumb or uninspired as you supposed. Errors pile up as the real world and its myriad of vortexes shred your carefully laid strategies.
The idea that Fine Gael and this Government would now be coasting home to victory if only Enda had dumped on Labour and called the election for this month is drivel..
It is a lazy supposition that does not allow for a range of negatives that would have arisen by virtue of Enda cutting and running early. Neither does it account for the fact that this Government has had persistently high unfavourable rating since very soon after it came into office.
Though it is likely Enda and his handlers did give the idea some consideration, why would they risk alienating the Labour Party and, more crucially, Labour No 2 votes, and put a wedge of Fine Gael seats in peril, when Labour seems determined to compliantly help him to hold on many of those dodgy Fine Gael seats at the cost of their own?
The announcement of the Government’s rent certainty package or, as it should more accurately be described: the ‘we are kicking the possibility of dealing seriously with the rent issue until after the election” package, was an example of how the Labour leadership is set to throw away many of its own seats the next General Election.
By trumpeting a policy that goes nowhere near matching the expectations raised by its own Minister and Deputy Leader, Alan “AK47” Kelly and despite almost nine months of talk and preparation, the Labour party is only succeeding in putting itself between the electorate and Fine Gael.
If Labour wants to know where this approach will get them they should put through a call to Nick Clegg or, more importantly, to any of the 49 Liberal Democrat MPs who lost their seats at the last UK election.
The Irish Labour party’s final act in this Government, come polling day, will be to lose a tranche of seats so that Fine Gael can save a load of theirs, much in the same way as many of the 24 extra seats won by the Tories were gained by former Lib Dem voters switching to the Tories in key constituencies.
While the effect in the UK was amplified by its crude first past the post system, in Ireland the drop in Labour vote, coupled with the instinct of the remaining core Labour voters transfer to Fine Gael will see several FG seats retained at the expense of the sitting Labour TD.
It reminds me of Billy Connolly’s story about the Pathé newsreels of Clyde shipbuilders waving and cheering on the dockside as the ship they had finished working on was launched.
They look happy and cheery for the cameras, but the harsh reality when the cameras stopped rolling is that they were waving goodbye to their jobs for the foreseeable future.
When you look through the list of 40 Dáil constituencies you find many where the third, fourth or fifth seat will be decided on the elimination of the sitting Labour TD.
The best chance many of Enda’s sitting running mate TDs, – i.e. FG TDs who took the second FG seat in a constituency after the big name FG front runner – have of holding on is the demise of their sitting Labour TD rival.
The mishandling of the rent certainty issue only makes those Labour TDs more vulnerable and those running mate Fine Gaelers more cheery.
Labour TDs cheering for Alan “AK47” Kelly should think hard about those Clyde ship-workers the next time they see AK47 heading to a microphone.