| 11.9°C Dublin

FG message was simple -- and they all stuck to it

IT was a warning from one of the party's most formidable forces that brought Fine Gael to electoral glory.

"No matter what you do, don't go off message," Phil Hogan warned candidates several weeks ago as Fine Gael did its pre- campaign stretches.

The Herald understands that 'Big Phil' may have added a few more choice words as to what the consequences would be for anybody caught making up their own script.

And so it was the five-point plan began to resonate with the vast majority of the electorate.

In the past Fine Gael tried the 'Time for Change' message but people weren't ready for change.

They tried 'Sign the Contract' but people pointed their pencils in a different direction. And after all that, it was the most simple of messages that won out.

Admittedly Fianna Fail were the architects of their own doom but with 24pc of their vote up for grabs Fine Gael saw that the war was with Labour and Sinn Fein rather than incumbents.

Six months ago it appeared that Labour could be the ones to capture the public imagination but there was one big difference between the two parties.

While Labour was busy pumping up an increasingly angry Eamon Gilmore, Fine Gael were keeping Enda Kenny measured and pumping up their own policy documents. Turn anger into action. A simple line that the public seemed to buy into. They like Gilmore's anger so they took a slice of that but Fine Gael had the most credible plan for action.


As a result the 'Gilmore for Taoiseach' posters looked outdated by week two of the campaign, while Enda began to look more statesman like.

Yes the meetings with EU Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were essentially photo ops, but it's nice to know that they would open their doors to Kenny.

Remember it was just last June when the nine members of the Fine Gael frontbench walked out on Mr Kenny.

But love him or hate him, Mr Kenny is an election winner.

Bizarrely the heave played a big role in the election win as it resulted in the return of Michael Noonan to the finance portfolio.

Quick-witted Noonan played a blinder, overtaking Joan Burton as the people's champion in a time of economic crisis.

Kenny also shook up his backroom team with a few adjustments to the press office and the hiring of PR guru Mark Mortell.

Kenny's spokesman Ciaran Conlon went 'upstairs' to work on election strategy and former Army spokesman Fergal Purcell took over the day-to-day dealings with the media.

As a team they all got on message and rarely strayed from it.

And after being underestimated by his own TDs, the media and, in some ways, the public Mr Kenny will be Taoiseach.

He now has his big chance to silence his critics once and for all. Let's hope he takes it.