FG advisers meet top Tories to run rule over election tactics

Campaign tracks successful Conservative drive in pursuit of single-party government

A group of Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s most senior advisers held a confidential meeting with senior British Conservative Party figures to study techniques for next year’s general election.

The high-level delegation from Fine Gael travelled to London in July following British prime minister David Cameron's unexpected overall majority victory in the UK general election last May.

The team, including Mark Kennelly, Mr Kenny's chief of staff; Tom Curran, Fine Gael general secretary; and Mark Mortell, a key political adviser to the Taoiseach, spent two days in London.

Like the Tories, Fine Gael is placing its “long term economic plan” at the centre of its re-election campaign. However, sources said Fine Gael is only taking strategic lessons from the Tories and is not following its policy approach.


Social media

Sources said Fine Gael has taken three major lessons from the UK general election: discipline in the message, setting and dominating the agenda, and the importance of social media.

The Conservative digital campaign was led by Craig Elder and Tom Edmonds. Their firm, Edmonds Elder, is now offering consultancy to Fine Gael, although the party has its own full-time digital media team. The Conservatives' social media campaign was seen as one of the key elements of its successful re-election effort.

Fine Gael also continues to take advice from like minded parties across Europe, particularly fellow members in the European People's Party. One of its EPP allies is Spain's Partido Popular, which emerged as the largest party in weekend elections, despite losing seats. Kenny's aides consulted recently with prime minister Mariano Rajoy's advisers.