Fine Gael shows its detachment from voters
Abstractions of Brexit more comfortable for the party than homelessness and gang crime
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. ‘By focusing on abstracts such as Brexit, and appealing to people’s self-interest by pitching tax cuts, Fine Gael has laid out its stall.’ Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins
Fine Gael’s first week of campaigning solidified its sense of detachment from the electorate, which has also been a characteristic of its two successive governments. The party’s opening message, which banked on Brexit management as the party’s main talent, is not a vote-getter. Brexit will not be the burning question on the doors. Neither is the electorate enthusiastic about Fine Gael’s negative campaigning and juvenile attacks on Fianna Fáil, online and off. Now would be a good time for the party’s young establishment to grow up.
The government’s term may have been defined by Brexit, but it’s hard to believe that any other party or coalition in power would not have also tried to get a good deal for Ireland. Most of all, the fundamental awkwardness with centring Brexit in a campaign is that Brexit hasn’t happened yet – but the housing crisis sure has. People don’t necessarily know how Brexit will affect them, but they certainly know the impact of dealing with hospital waiting lists and relatives on trolleys.