Friday 23 February 2018

Election game will be won in the centre and Coveney has been handed the ball

Leo Varadkar's policies move to the right, so may not go down well with the public and leave his leadership rival with it all to play for

'Coveney made a bid for the centre ground.' Photo: Reuters
'Coveney made a bid for the centre ground.' Photo: Reuters

Eoin O'Malley

There's a phenomenon in sport: that when you streak into a lead, the size of that lead can play on your mind. It's usually aggressive play that establishes the leader of the pack - but once established, there's often a switch in mindset.

Now the team, or the player, starts to think about protecting their lead. They change how they play. They might even see their lead falter - and that can cause them to panic, sometimes ultimately losing the match itself.

There was no sign last week that Leo Varadkar's sizeable lead was making him question his own instincts. His campaign on welfare fraud is thought to have gone down well within Fine Gael. His announcements all week showed him going for the soul of Fine Gael. Given that he could have instead played it safe, it probably means we're seeing the real Leo Varadkar.

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