As #GE16 gets underway we will be taking a look behind the scenes to keep you informed of the latest gossip from the front lines. If you have views or news from your constituency then email firstname.lastname@example.org and keep us posted/
The campaigns all get underway properly today. Fine Gael strategists were rather pleased with their start to things yesterday but felt the handling of the question on the Economy by Enda let things down. They will be trying to rephrase the point he made today. The message is to be simple, the economy is in good shape so don’t risk it, getting into deep levels of figures is to be avoided as it will muddy the message. All is not totally rosy in the garden though with a growing number of voices fearful that FG may have missed its peak opportunity for an election by delaying to please Labour. Latest polls suggest it just might be true.
Down at the Labour campaign it is suggested that the mood has lightened now that they are off and ready for action. Whether this is true or just bravado is hard to tell. Labour have taken a firm decision that if they have to be divergent from Fine Gael then they will and the initial debate on free medical care already suggests this. Soundings are though that not all is well in the camp with Alan Kelly making himself just about as popular in the parliamentary party as a gatecrasher at a wedding. Pressure is mounting for Burton to show she is the boss during the campaign.
Fianna Fail is set to be the target of most of the government parties’ campaign. The belief is that a Sinn Fein starved of media attention will suffer more. The government reckons that its best selling point is a simple clean message of remember where FF left us and look at us now. FF internally is very happy to take the flak, however they are divided as to what they should do about it. It gets them lots of media attention but the party remains split between those who believe they can work with Sinn Fein and those who think they can work with FG.
In Louth Sinn Fein is quietly confident that Gerry Adams will assert his dominance electorally once again. This comes just as rumours surface that he might not be quite as popular as they think in the constituency. According to SF sources that’s simply wishful thinking in the hope of a few votes from their opponents. With Sinn Fein set for big gains around the country they head into #ge16 with lots of energy. Their big test however being transfers for those last seats. Longford Westmeath will be a case in point. Sinn Fein Independents and Labour are all in the running for the last seat but transfers will be all important. Speaking of which the SF campaign on the ground seems to be off to a rocky start with some dithering and division within the constituency. We will be keeping an eye on this one.
Clare looks like it may become a key battle ground for #GE16 with Independents looking confident it would seem that FF and FG both harbour hopes of taking a second seat. With the two traditional parties shaping up to each other nationally its looking an interesting battle. FG will expect to take two but if they only manage one and FF take a second then it may be seen as a changing wind. Both parties are expecting a big effort on the ground to turn it around as polls indicate that every seat will count this time out.
Meanwhile across all the parties there was the usual arguing about posters and the effort getting them up and who had theirs up too early. As one wily old campaigner put it to us though ‘Look it’s on, deal with it and get on with it’.