Saturday, July 11, 2009

The woes of the first time candidate

A FIRST time candidate in any election has a lot of growing up to do. You have to be a quick learner and have some street smarts. However one thing is that people can’t blame you for wrong decisions in the past. This is to your main advantage.

What’s it’s like for a first time candidate

Machiavelli says: “One must be a fox in order to recognise traps, and a lion to frighten off wolves.” The first time candidate will see enemies both within and outside his/her chosen party. However Insider would say to the first time candidate that bouts of paranoia are quite normal and not a sign that you are going insane. There are people out to trap you and take advantage of your na├»vety every step along the way…that’s Irish politics. You have to deal with the media who can give you great coverage one week and ignore you for the next month.

You have your photo on thousands of leaflets, then you begin to talk about your political self as a kind of new identity. You may even begin to talk about your self in the third person. At this stage it is time to get a grip before your friends tell you to “cop on”. The truth is that most candidates’ election leaflets will go into the green bin or the fire two minutes after you drop them in the door. Is it a waste of time? Certainly not say well-seasoned canvassers. “You have to get your face out there” and “You have to become known” is their battle cry.

Every one has advice for the first time candidate and most have problems for them to solve. In stressful times such candidates feel they are on the verge of entering a religious preaching order. You know if you do get that seat you will have to sacrifice time with family, friends, and your beloved hobbies to pursue political ambitions and serve constituents.

Your friends and relatives think you have lost it. ‘”Why would anyone put themselves through such an ordeal?’ they ask. Some friends will then keep a distance in case they would catch a dangerous bug if they got too close to you. But all is not lost, there are some brave friends and relations who will take pity on you and give you the support you need. Insider would remind candidates however that inwardly they will still think you are a bit mad.

“Why are you running?” a woman asks you at a door. You give the usual answers like you’d like to see better traffic management, better social housing or you want to see all potholes filled in. She has a look on her face, which says, “I have heard all this before”. You try convincing her you mean what you say and thank her for her time. No vote there you are thinking, I’ll have better luck next door.

Seasoned canvassers, from other political parties, will wish you well. They are sincere, they are eying your number twos as they expect you will be knocked out in the first round.

Politics is not the road to sanctity. You were warned.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

There should be more women in Politics 1

I would not call myself an out and out feminist but I do feel that there should be more women in politics. As we represent 50% of the population it is not too much to ask for a modern society that we should have 50% representation in politics.
So what is the problem?
Well, I can only talk about my own experience as a Labour Party candidate in the Local Elections here in Galway. Men have the advantage that for the most part they are involved in sport. Granted not always on the pitch but even from the side line they can get to know hundreds of fans from the local clubs. At election this is very important. Because name recognition out weighs hard work on the ground. Being part of a GAA, Soccer or Rugby club is important in getting your name out there.
One woman candidate I know was involved in a lot of community activities, parents and residents associations yet her name was not "out there" so she did not poll well.
Politics in Ireland is not about understanding the needs of the electorate it is about getting them to vote for you. There is a difference and there is not brownie points for finding that out on Polling Day.
First of all you have to have money. Don't believe the anyone who says that money does not matter, they are either naive or the belong to the opposition. Mind you your main opposition will come from running mates from your chosen political party. Women have become equal bread winners in the 21st century family but despite this they do not have the same access to ready money men have. When it comes to divorce or separation they are left with the children, the mortgage and the dog while the man drowns his sorrows in the pub or in the arms of a "young one".
Despite what modernists say women are tied down with family matters. Politics is the last thing on their mind when they have an hour to spare at the end of the day. Soaking in a hot bath often being the priority. Men on the other hand will escape out the door to watch their favorite team dressed in the latest kit.
He will certainly back the pub owner when he puts his name the hat for the local elections or he will make hundreds of casual friends should he take the risk himself.
On a whole women have less casual friends than men. You never see women going up to a women she had never met before and start to talk to her about the Premier League. It just does not happen. This is where men have the advantage over women when it comes to politics. They have a universal language which is sport. This is important when it comes to getting votes. Votes and how to get them is a numbers game. You won't get elected unless you are up there in the high numbers.

About Me

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GALWAY, Ireland
Born in Gaway City,spent 10years living in Roundstone, Connamara. Passionate about politics, singing and oil painting. Not a great cook but could learn