Fianna Fáil are looking for a Press Officer, and meanwhile, what about that poll in the Irish Times? January 25, 2008Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
Got to smile at the advertisement in the recruitment section of the Irish Times this very day. Fianna Fáil is looking for a Press Officer and Events & Communications Co-Ordinator. It will be intriguing to see who takes up the challenge.
Still, as a job what’s not to like? The new person ‘will be based in Lenister House’…. they will ‘report to the Head of the Press Office… and will act as an official regional contact for the Party. A detailed understanding … of the regional media is important’.
Still, it’s the last line which is revealing if only in terms of indicating where some previous applicants might be coming from.
It suggests that ‘Applicants should have an understanding of Irish Politics’… well, yes. And once that wouldn’t even need to have been said.
Meanwhile a further wry smile crossed my lips while reading the Irish Times proper (they do you know… they’re wry and they’re smiles and they ‘cross’… right to left as it happens. It’s an ideological thing). For if one caught a glance at the front page one would read the headline “Voters divided on whether Taoiseach should resign”, the subhead “Enda Kenny’s satisfaction rating now ahead of Bertie Ahern’s”. And accompanying it a photograph of a rather tense looking Taoiseach with 44% saying Yes, he should go, and 46% saying No, he shouldn’t.
Now, as I scooped it up in a Centra off Merrion Square, the thought that passed through my mind was that there wasn’t an accompanying poll of party strengths and that this would presumably arrive tomorrow so they could string it out across the weekend with a bump in their circulation. But no, later at lunch time, I had the opportunity to read further and saw the much smaller box with the “Inside” heading which noted in text as tiny as a typographer could make it that ‘Fianna Fáil support increases despite uncertainty’… but with the line ‘More bad news for Bertie Ahern’ beside it. What’s the guessing that had the poll indicated a further dip in FF support we’d have seen that featured on the front page.
And if one looks at the poll (margin of error not disclosed) we find that FF is at 34% up 1%, FG is stable at 31%, Labour is down 3% at 12%, the PDs have gone up 1% to 3%, the Green Party is up 1% to 6%, SF is up 1% at 8% and Others are down to 6% from 7%. I can’t help but think that the reality here is that the situation has not changed one iota since the last poll, bar perhaps a softening of the Labour vote which appears to have gone to the Greens and SF (and weirdly perhaps the PDs… those social liberals… who can say what they’ll do next – eh?).
The piece by Stephen Collins argues that ‘the Taoiseachs problems mount up, but his party is virtually unscathed’. It’s a fair enough analysis. The Taoiseach is beginning to lose significant support beyond Fianna Fáil, and in particular in his coalition partners. But even so, I find the whole thing pretty depressing.
My point? Well, look, I’m no partisan for FF or Ahern. But I can’t help feeling that yet again the Irish Times both in presentation and analysis is stirring the pot. That’s alright, as far as it goes, but it would do to focus a bit of serious political thinking on all this. For the moment the coalition is locked in tight. For the moment Fine Gael can huff and puff, but they simply can’t blow the house down. For the moment Fianna Fáil has the prospect of at least 18 months ahead where Ahern can enjoy uninterrupted and unchallenged authority over his party. And all the efforts to bring him down – to my mind – simply divert from much more profound issues that our society face.
Recently I was talking to an acquaintance of mine who I’d never pegged as particularly political. But he was saying that he felt bitterly angry about the way in which the fruits of the boom had been largely squandered by the present government, and where investment had occurred it had been piecemeal and often to the advantage of certain vested interests. That’s the real story about this government, and indeed about any potential successor made up from the largest opposition party. That’s what the left should be attempting to deal with, not a failing leader whose days are numbered. Because, that’s a strain of politics that Fine Gael have made their own, the image over the substance, the idea that in some indefinable fashion another party is ‘corrupted’ when in fact it is the very nature of those two largest parties to speak softly to and for power. Constructing a way forward on the left is going to be difficult but it demands better than that and better than expending energy and time on what the Sunday Business Post rightly regarded as a ‘sideshow’ in Irish politics.
I’d love to see a left of labourist and republican and indeed environmentalist hues arguing for universal health insurance which would roll back the two tier system that has evolved. That would address the structural inequalities that are now embedded in our educational system. That would argue that public and social good must be at the heart of the methods adopted within this society. These aren’t particularly contentious goals. The US is currently holding a discussion on many of these very issues. But as the years pass and more of the new-found wealth is squandered, or as the economy begins to dip and that wealth vanishes, we’ll only have ourselves to blame if five years from now the realisation hits home that it was a complete waste of time. The object of the exercise should be to construct new space for the left to occupy, not to support or prop up one or other of the two largest parties in their political project. It is that simple.