Explaining the Sinn Fein Surge
While Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and particularly Labour lick their collective wounds, the time will soon come for them to peer into the long dark tea-time of the soul and ask themselves ‘how did we not see it coming?’
Have they not been paying attention to our neighbours on either side with their ‘Make America Great Again’ and ‘Get Brexit Done’. While we might find this sort of populist rhetoric abhorrent, its simplicity and nationwide appeal resonated with voters.
Sinn Fein’s messaging was simple: Housing, Health, Change – 3 words they repeated 24/7. While we can all pick holes with the numbers, the majority of voters do not comb through manifestos with calculators and reason. Political marketing is emotional and the [then] bigger parties failed to tap into that emotion. If that woman prevented from voting in Kerry because she was dressed as celery had been on the ballot with a SF logo beside her name, she’d have exceeded the quota on the first count such was the surge. Having said that, SF must not have seen it coming either or they’d have doubled their candidates. Unless you believe that it was on purpose in their long game of another term in opposition in preparation for the real landslide next time. I don’t think they’re that strategic, their messaging worked, they got lucky and can scarcely believe it themselves.
Local Issues didn’t capture National imagination
Furthermore, most FF/FG canvassing was on local issues. The promise of the 3rd secondary school for our ever-growing town was big on the agenda. If the issues are being fragmented down to local levels, well the overall message gets lost. Your policies and plans may well be better but of no value, if your manifesto is diluted across every constituency.
The House always wins
This brings us on to the elephant in the room, the civil service actually runs or mismanages the country no matter who is in power. Issues such as which town gets a new school or loses an A&E should not be the remit of the local nor national government but the public sector should be held accountable for their failure to provide adequate services to us, the general public.
The DoE should be able to add 12 years to the CSO/birth figures, plus or minus some factors/migration trends and plan accordingly. Don’t get me started about the HSE and their failure to deliver. As a parent of a child with ASD, the majority of “services” he has received have been private and/or from the voluntary groups of parents who join together to provide for our children. In the 12 years since diagnosis, I’ve heard from our autism liaison person in the HSE about 5 times, and once was told to ‘google it’. In fact, every carer in the country spends a lot of time on google finding interventions and practices to improve quality of life, which are often met with resistance by the “professionals” in education and health. Why is the onus on me, with my business and design qualifications, to suggest weighted pens or touch-typing classes or to take time off work to travel for assessments and interventions that are not provided by the State on-site in schools? Why are other people getting paid while I do their job?
Anyway, it’s all a bit of a mess and we don’t know what shape the 33rd Daíl will take but when human beings are being scraped up and discarded in a clean up of our capital city, then it really is time for a change. Let’s all hope it is for the better.