herald

Friday 24 October 2014

There's a new poster boy on the block

Broadcaster turned political candidate George Lee speaks with Gerard Farrell and Martin Slattery in the Castle Inn as he canvasses in Rathfarnham.

I hope George Lee comes to my door. At this stage, I'd like any politician to knock three times.

Just to see them in the flesh. To make sure they actually exist and that they aren't mythical creatures.

But really I'm hoping that it's RTE's former economics editor that swings by. I've followed George Lee's career for years. Attending press briefings after a Budget was delivered, the rest of us lesser hacks would rib him about having to hold another debrief after the Ministers; to explain the economic jargon for us.

And as a resident of the Dublin South constituency, I now have the power to give George the nod or not, in our upcoming by-election. So I'd like the chance to meet George, so that I could ask him how he'd fix our economy. Hear his plan. And ask what he made of Bull Island's parody of him, menacingly staring down the lens of a camera.

Posters of George appeared on the lamp posts in South Dublin for the first time just yesterday morning. I was beginning to think that Fine Gael was so confident that their trump card will romp home, they had eschewed traditional vote-getting strategies.

Or that the same flaw that had emerged in the Green Party's environmentally friendly batch of election posters, had hit Lee. (The Greens opted for eco-friendly election posters, but the wood used turned out to be below-standard and the posters disintegrated during the recent inclement weather.)

But overnight, the posters appeared. Everywhere. Bright yellow background. Nice shot of George. Presumably one of the ones he had taken before he had his mind made up that he was going to run.

But what's with the clouds in the background, George? Brighter days ahead?

To be fair, at least the party logo is front and centre, unlike his Fianna Fail colleagues. It appears the recession has hit the Fianna Fail logo and they can't stretch to a bigger version.

Fianna Fail says that the logo is not getting smaller, but in fact the pictures of the candidates are getting bigger. One cheeky blogger said the explanation reminded him of Fr Ted explaining the difference between "small" and "far away" to Dougal.

TV3's Vincent Browne believes it's a pity to see an incisive commentator like George Lee seeking to join the ranks of political wafflers. But the Limerick Leader reported that, after hearing him give a powerful speech on the economy at the AGM of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association last November, a farmer declared, "Jaysus, you should be in the Dail!".

High-profile journalists or celebrity candidates parachuted into a constituency are nothing new. Back in 1994, broadcaster Orla Guerin failed in her bid to get the Euro seat from Labour's Bernie Malone, such was the backlash against how Bernie was perceived to have been shafted. Avril Doyle narrowly retained her seat as RTE's Mairead McGuinness crossed the line, the last time out.

But this by-election looks like a shoo-in for George. Paddy Power is giving odds of 1/25 of him bagging that fifth seat. There's a TV3 show in there: "I'm a celebrity, get me a seat . . ."

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