Election Gimmicks in week one
Echoing the Little Red Book of the Great Helmsman, this week saw the launch of the “Little Green Book”, the PD's plan for “driving a clean economy”, delivered by Michael McDowell from the back of biofuel truck in Merrion Square.
Around the corner in Stephens Green, we saw the Labour Party furthering their aims at creating a personality cult around their leader, Pat Rabbitte. Making the most of the comment by Minister Brian Cowen that “we intend to roast you slowly on this Barbie”, quoting Australian PM Paul Keating's jibe to his opposition, Pat was the chef at a symbolic barbeque on the footpath. The Labour Party claimed that, since the last week was the worst week in a Fianna Fail election campaign for decades, it was they who were “on the spit”. It was decided to have a mock barbecue to symbolically roast Fianna Fail's broken promises. Pat lit the symbolic flame, helped by Ruari Quinn, who we are reminded is “fresh from his recent appearance as a guest chef on the television programme, the Restaurant”.
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, as befits a man of his athleticism, spent the week on a whirlwind tour of the country, after he had publicly signed his Contract for a Better Ireland. He demanded to be taken seriously as a politician. He was later spotted sitting in a field of tall grass, behind a school desk, subtly pointing out the fact that there was no school there, as had been promised by the incumbent government.
Those rebellious iconoclasts the Green Party danced to a different beat, as usual. Unlike the other party leaders, Trevor Sargent does not need to travel with an entourage. He arrived to canvass in Wicklow alone, on the DART, carrying a fold up bicycle (no Enda-style SUV for The Sarge). A cycle around Sandycove demonstrated the Green manner, which shows reservation and an unwillingness to bother people. Perhaps Sargent should rethink his strategy. It is unlikely that the residents of south Dublin would fail to recognise the leaders of the other parties, as some of them did with with the Green.
Despite all the manifesto launches and canvassing, the biggest story of the week is still Berties house. Bertiegate has been updated to the less flowing Wallpapergate, in reference to Celia's expensive remodeling. The candidates are being remarkably quiet on this matter, no doubt shy after being bitten by the public over their hounding of Bertie a few months ago. But Pat Rabbitte could not resist an incredulous statement - "It's the first time I've heard of stamp duty due on houses that are rented."