Noel Whelan: Fine Gael leadership campaign will be an emotional family affair

Party campaigns are personality contests rather than competitions about policy

Fine Gael’s Frances Fitzgerald, Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar: party leadership contests are personality contests rather than competitions about policy. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Fine Gael’s Frances Fitzgerald, Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar: party leadership contests are personality contests rather than competitions about policy. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Party leadership contests tend to be more Kane and Abel than First Among Equals. In seeking to while away the next week before the contest to succeed Enda Kenny begins officially, Fine Gael TDs, Senators and MEPs could do worse than read the early novels of Jeffrey Archer.

Kane and Abel was Archer’s second novel, the plot of which echoed the biblical story with the similar name. The protagonists are not actually brothers in Archer’s version but they were two men who became arch enemies and then spent most of their lives trying to destroy each other. First Among Equals was Archer’s third novel and followed the career of four newly elected Westminster MPs as they each vyed to become prime minister.

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