Election Rule #2: Don’t get backed into a corner

After a quick break (a broken Metatarsal to be exact) it is time to continue with the Election Rules series. This week the lesson is to never get backed into a corner.

Anyone who has ever done a bit of boxing knows that you cannot afford to get trapped in the corner. It’s worse than being on the ropes because there is no escape without walking straight into a heavy punch in order to get out. In politics it is no different.

Politicians don’t like giving straight answers because it often ties them down to a particular course of action. Circumstances can change and what you wanted to do may not be feasible in the future. As a result evading the question seems the best course of action.

That is the bit we all know. However, a lesser known fact is that politicians often create this situation themselves. Rather than saying exactly what they are thinking they hide things. They float ideas. Fly kites.

The best example in recent weeks was the whole debacle about the timing of the next general election.

Everybody was happy that it would occur in 2016. That was until government backbenchers and even some in more senior positions kept talking about an early election. This chatter was ignored for too long. It reached a fever pitch entirely made within the halls of Leinster House.

The Taoiseach finally felt he had to say something and then went all out to dismiss it. He was unequivocal that the election would not happen until the Spring. Did he really need to do that though? If he had spoken earlier and more openly he could have kept his options open.

Recent polls show FG is climbing. That is good news for the Taoiseach but there will be a niggling doubt at the back of his mind. What if this is the moment? What if the mojo is there now? The danger is the mojo gets lost. A bit like sex, the mood goes off us.

A wrong word, a simple mention of putting the bins out and the chance is lost. Enda Kenny has to hope that FG can continue and sustain its climb beyond the end of January. It’s now a long way until Spring and there is a danger that if people are giving credit for the budget now, it will be but a memory in the new year.

I am not saying the government should hold the election now but it is no longer an option. The Taoiseach has been backed into a corner on this one.

There are lots of examples in politics of this rule. Politicians find themselves forced to take a course of action and then can regret it later. It happens on policy, resignations, constituency matters and a multitude of other items.

The key thing is to always keep some options open. Know your route out of any mess but don’t limit yourself to one route alone.

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  • Mary Anna Quigley

    Pray that Ireland is not tarnished with evil blood hounds, who killed for power and control innocent men women children babies. Killed for greed. Wreck NI Civil Rights.
    No truth, no justice, no health services, no education. Just a crowd of useless dirty clown’s Stormont. Great to see Michael Martin Enda Kenny coalition. You have my vote. I have the greatest respect for our Irish people.

  • Robin Keogh

    The problem for Kenny was opposition from within his Labour coalition partners. They insisted on a spring election and now while it might be happy days for FG we also see a rise in SF popularity alongside with FF stuck and Labour in the the bin. Also the left wing AAA/PBP have seen their fortunes rise too. Its gonna be a messy election.

  • Mary Anna Quigley

    Who said that there be United Ireland 2016 – took there tribes UK. Could not trust sociopathic liars , better with the devil you know. Than bad blood.

  • mac tire

    Kenny may privately think he probably should have just went ahead in November but I don’t think he dwells too long on it now. FG are doing quite well in all the polls that have been released recently.

    Of course there is plenty of scope for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory before the election but I think FG will do reasonably well in it – enough to be top dog anyway.

    As for the others, apart from Labour, I would not like to hazard a guess at what might happen. It could well turn out to be a seminal election.

  • mickfealty

    Mary Anna,

    I don’t see how this is on the topic. Golden rule here is to play the ball, ie address the topic in hand.