Thursday, November 15, 2007


Eamon Gilmore's biggest problem is the one that Enda Kenny had when he became leader of Fine Gael.

Outside the beltway; outside his own constituency, outside Caltra and East Galway where he grew up (and is fiercely proud of - up Galway!) Gilmore is still an unknown quantity to the public out there.

His speech at the conference this weekend will be vitally important for him. He follows a very high-profile high-personality leader. He has been (unfairly) described as a clone or mini-me of Rabbitte. He has not yet established a national profile; or a 'brand' for himself - if I can use such a crude marketing expression.

And of course it has all been affected by the death of his mother this week, which has delayed his own arrival at the conference until Saturday.

Gilmore has done very well in parliament since becoming leader. He is non showy during the two key sessions of the week - Leaders Questions on Tuesday and Wednesday - and tends to ask Bertie Ahern pointed, sometimes blunt, questions, not giving the Taoiseach that much opportunity to pick the most convenient question to answer.

The main quote attributed to him on the Labour Party website sounds lovely when you say it out... but beyond its vague resonance of Martin Luther Kind does it really mean anything?

"Not only me, but others too; not only here, but elsewhere too; not only today, but tomorrow too."

Unfortunately for Labour, it's always been about tomorrow.

One thing to note about its conference (and I suspect the influence of super-blogger Shauneen Armstrong here) is that it has embraced technology like no other. Ustream, YouTube, flicker, twitter, online Q and A - you name it, it's there. It's going to be more exciting on the screen than it's going to be in real life down in White's Hotel! For more details of all the online stuff, see here.

And just to get in the spirit of things, my own blog will be chugging along on Saturday, and giving instantaneous (ie discount it immediately!) reaction to Gilmore's speech as it happens!

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