Opinion: Voters will punish the party deemed to have caused a surprise election
Like farming, politics also has its seasons. So autumn brings us the political conferences where the party loyalists gather and mingle to consider policy and political plots.
If you like your politics - and I do - they have a certain compelling side. Fianna Fáil were at it this past weekend, back at their old haunt in the RDS. Next month will see the Fine Gael faithful make the trip to Cavan, on November 9 and 10, while Sinn Féin will also hold court back at the RDS on the following weekend.
Up to very recent times these events used to command a lot more media attention. There was usually an hour-long, mind-numbing leaders' speech, full of multitudinous aspirations, most of which were happily never again heard of.
But we live in busier and quicker times. So, often these events do not get much airplay beyond the political bubble. That is probably as it should be. But all of that being said, they can throw up matters of longer-term interest. At lunchtime on Saturday, the London-based politics professor, Dr Tim Bale, addressed the Fianna Fáil faithful and had some very interesting things to say.
Prof Bale charted the slow struggle of the British Conservative Party to re-build following the fall of Maggie Thatcher in 1990. Since Fianna Fáil's electoral meltdown in February 2011, he has been advising them to good effect and they had him back this weekend to give an update.
Naturally, he referred to Brexit, reinforcing many of the grim things we already know. "The bad news is that there is no good news."
But he focused on what happened in the UK during the so-called "snap election" of June 8. This proved a calamity for Prime Minister Theresa May as voters utterly rejected her claims that she was calling this election, two years after the last one, to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations.
British voters saw her election gambit "entirely as a self-interested move" by the Conservative Party - and they accordingly punished her. The message was simple for Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil: efforts to "catch each other on the hop" by causing an early election would very probably backfire on the party deemed responsible for causing such an election.