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The TrailFix: What on earth has gone wrong with Fine Gael?

The best and worst bits from today’s #ge16 campaign trail.

EVERY NIGHT DURING the general election, TheJournal.ie brings you the latest from the Election 2016 campaign trail.

17/2/2016 General Election Campaigns Starts Joan Burton with some, eh, powerful yoghurt while canvassing in Blanchardstown today. Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Everybody’s talking about

For months, the Fine Gael spin was that the party would pick up four or five points in the opinion polls once the election was called and voters’ minds focused on who they wanted to govern them. Two weeks into the election and the opposite has happened, Fine Gael has fallen five points in the trusted Red C tracking poll since the election was called on 3 February.

At 26% it is facing into a disastrous election that could involve the loss of well over a dozen seats. Enda Kenny said this morning he always expected a “dog fight” but we doubt whether he expected Fine Gael to have such a dreadful election campaign, so far.

From day one, Fine Gael got off on the wrong foot when Enda Kenny said that people don’t understand “economic jargon”. Then he had to rely on Finance Minister Michael Noonan to explain the intricacies of the party’s economic proposals. Then there was the fiscal space row that undermined Fine Gael’s reputation for fiscal rectitude and being generally good on the numbers.

screenshot.1455733896.7351 Source: www.thejournal.ie

But the message seems off too. The ‘keep the recovery going’ slogan is meaningless to the many people who don’t feel any recovery. A Newstalk/Red C poll this morning shows that 56% of people do not feel it. Yes, they might be hearing about a recovery on the news but, if they’re not feeling it, how can they keep it going?

For all the money spent on polling and focus groups, Fine Gael doesn’t appear to have grasped this at all and, barring a strategy change or a gamechanging event or intervention in the coming days, it looks as if the party is headed for a bad election result. Much worse than many in Fine Gael have been predicting for months.

Slap Down of the Day

This morning, Leo Varadkar said he was “not somebody who usually goes personal”, before launching a stinging attack on Micheál Martin’s record as health minister. Fianna Fáil shot back on Twitter with the last time the Fine Gael minister went out to attack a party leader.

Source: FiannaFailParty/YouTube

FactCheck of the Day

download (1)

As part of our general election coverage, we’re testing the truth of claims made by candidates and parties on the campaign trail. Dan MacGuill has been taking us through the accuracy of some of the statements made in Monday’s TV3 deputy leaders’ debate.

Row of the Day

4/2/2016 General Election Campaigns Starts Richard Bruton Source: Sam Boal

We love this one for its pathetic-ness. Fine Gael’s latest attack on Micheál Martin was to criticise the Fianna Fáil leader for failing to turn up to launch the party’s jobs policy in Dublin today. Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said:

The Fianna Fáil leader failed to turn up to his own party’s press conference on jobs today. This follows his recent interview on Morning Ireland when he never uttered the word jobs.

Come on, lads. Ye can do better than that, surely.

For the record, Martin was in Galway to launch Fianna Fáil’s plans for rural Ireland.

WTF Moment of the Day

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams Periscoped his trip to the barbershop for a hair and beard trim today.

adams beard

It was a good day for

  • In a welcome boost for Labour, the country’s largest trade union, Siptu, encouraged its members to stick with the party in this election. 
  • There was good poll news for the Healy-Raes last night as they embark on an ambitious plan to take two seats in Kerry. Here’s how they’re going to do it.

mhrdhr strategy Source: Michael Healy-Rae Facebook

It was a bad day for

  • Fianna Fáil councillor Pat Casey’s poster blocked traffic lights in Bray.
  • Someone’s impersonating Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy on Reddit and it is very weird. Murphy informs us that it’s not him or anyone in his campaign. 

eoghanmurphy

Tomorrow’s news today: What’s happening on the campaign trail

  • The government: Unusually during an election, the cabinet meets at 8.30am prior to the Taoiseach travelling to Brussels for an EU leaders’ summit on ‘Brexit’.
  • Fine Gael: Michael Noonan and Simon Harris will launch a calculator showing how abolishing USC will benefit every worker in Dublin. 
  • Labour: Alex White, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin and Ivana Back will launch the party’s plans to repeal the Eighth Amendment. Joan Burton is canvassing in Galway.
  • Fianna Fáil: Timmy Dooley will launch the party’s transport policy in Dublin. Micheál Martin will be canvassing in Dublin and Wexford.
  • Sinn Féin: Pearse Doherty will launch the party’s plans for long term economic growth in Dublin.
  • Renua: The party will launch its healthcare policy in the morning at Leinster House.
  • AAA: One half of the AAA-PBP alliance will be calling for an emergency response to the housing crisis for middle and low income workers.

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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