Sunday, 24 May 2009

Election Diary: T- 13: Time Only for Politics

Tony Benn, who I don't mind admitting is a huge source of political inspiration to me, called one of his diary collections "More Time For Politics" which refers to a quote he made on retiring from the House of Commons. Benn himself remains a political dynamo at 84 years of age. I'm starting to believe, though, that there comes a time when there is no more time for politics - when you fill up your days and nights with its practice. And the last few days of a campaign, rightly so, mean time only for politics.

I did manage to get a game of football in this morning, a very rare thing in the last few months of this campaign, and escaped without doing too much damage to my dodgy ankle. I've been avoiding the physio since I hurt it in January in the hope that it'd get better; one of the first things I'll do post-election is get some treatment on it. The football took away some of the stress of the campaign and gave a good start to a day of canvassing in Tallaght.

Met some of the Fianna Fáil team at Kilnamanagh shopping centre at lunchtime; Charlie O'Connor was his usual ebullient self but the heads seemed down. We had two more new campaign team members out today, the numbers are really picking up for us but we need more for the final push in the coming few days. The weather wasn't the worst either, despite a downpour between 12.30 and 1; though I'm not sure we'll have a day when the umbrellas aren't needed anytime soon?

Today's canvass had to stop at 5 pm on the dot so as not to interrupt the rugby. We ended up listening to it on the radio at home because, scandalously, Sky maintain all the rights to the Heineken Cup in Ireland. While I was delighted to see (or hear) an Irish team do so well, it was hardly euphoric. Leinster rugby remains, sadly, class-based and I have never felt a part of the 'scene' despite having a genuine interest in the sport. However, the IRFU are doing some fine work in Tallaght and I hope the Leinster teams of the future might include some of the kids learning tag and tip rugby in our schools and at Tallaght Rugby Club right now.

And it was straight from there to a 'gig' at Templeogue United Football Club to honour 20 years of Dáil service by Pat Rabbitte TD. It also coupled as a celebration of Pat's 60th birthday which was last Monday- and for which he spent the evening on the canvass with us. The speeches from Eamon Gilmore TD, Mayor Marie Corr, local activists Gerry Kelly and Denis Mackin, Pat's wife Derry and Pat himself were full of humour and warmth and Pat himself was in flying form. It was nice to chat to others in the constituency about how their own campaigns are going and a real belief that we can pull off three seats in Tallaght Central.

To do that with three first-time candidates would be incredible but these are incredible times; the notion of a Labour Taoiseach and the party leading a government is coming up more and more, and people are realising that the movement to achieve that will need to be built and supported from the ground up.