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Torches of Libertas… March 28, 2008

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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I had to smile today when I opened the Irish Times letter page to discover that the indefatigable John McGuirk, Communications Director of Libertas, was taking Gay Mitchell to task.

Now one of the things I love about politics is that it can throw up some unlikely alliances of convenience. And here is a perfect example. I’m not much of a fan of Fine Gael, although there are a number of politicians I admire in it. Still, I can’t help feeling a certain degree of sympathy for Mitchell when I read the following…

Madam, – Gay Mitchell (March 27th) wants to know how Libertas is funded. We have repeatedly said that we are in communication with the Standards in Public Office Commission, and are totally compliant with the relevant legislation.

If Mr Mitchell, or his party, wants to go down the road of talking about political funding, we will happily oblige him. Perhaps we could start with a lengthy discussion of his own party’s funding in the mid-1990s, when he was a government minister?

Mr Mitchell should stick to the facts of this treaty, and avoid the politics. He was never very good at the latter anyway. – Yours, etc,
JOHN McGUIRK,
Communications Director,
Libertas,
Baggot Street,
Dublin 2.

It’s not so much the factual, or otherwise, content of the letter as the little lash at the end. Now, I’d never present myself as an expert on such matters, but one thing I do know is that courtesy goes a long way whereas sarcasm, at least in these contexts, doesn’t.

And while there are those who think Libertas is getting an unfair time of it, I think it is reasonable to enquire about an organisation, any organisation, that can mount a fairly comprehensive billboard campaign in a political campaign. That this organisation in particular is an exotic blend on the political right (at least in the Irish context) is of natural interest to those like ourselves who like to study such things.

On politics.ie it’s all getting a bit raw, which is perhaps an object lesson in why it is probably best for people to avoid trying to be both players in a campaign process and assisting spectators of that process.

In a way I can’t help but think this is a bit like a project that has run well out of control. Perhaps some of those involved saw this as a good opportunity to burnish their credentials as campaigners and consultants – not unlike Frank Luntz or Saatchi and Saatchi for example. Participation in a campaign like this, where there is a good chance (particularly following Nice) that it might go sour for the ‘establishment’ could only look good, allowing for a share in the credit. Even if the result was close but the No side lost, well, it would still be seen as a credible and professional effort.

Perhaps the motivations are completely different. But the current spate of events seem to speak of a much less assured handling of the whole affair than might have been expected.

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Comments»

1. EWI - March 29, 2008

It’s not so much the factual, or otherwise, content of the letter as the little lash at the end. Now, I’d never present myself as an expert on such matters, but one thing I do know is that courtesy goes a long way whereas sarcasm, at least in these contexts, doesn’t.

You’d think after the abject and humiliating failure of the “Freedom Institute”[1] from much of the same causes (as well as the FI’ers ejection from the pages of neo-Magill) that someone like McGuirk might possibly get a clue.

Or, possibly, another line of work.

[1] did the Atlas Foundation, Tech Central Station, Market House International or any others that contributed monies ever get any of it returned?

2. EWI - March 29, 2008

(Market House International

Sorry, Peter, I meant the “Stockholm Network”)

3. Dec - March 29, 2008

McGuirk comment is plain silly and just cheapens branding by libertas.

McGuirk seems to have been involved in a number of high profile failures and I have a feeling he, and others in Libertas, are making the fatal PR mistake of judging the success of the product they are promoting by the amount of column inches its occupying and not what the text within says.

4. WorldbyStorm - March 29, 2008

I think you’re both right. What I find interesting is the previously rather thin track record of many of these people in lobbying against the EU.

EWI, did those people contribute money to the FI? Jesus wept.

5. John Green - March 29, 2008

Heh. Nice title WBS.

6. soubresauts - March 29, 2008

Heh. Nice title WBS.

Yes, that title reminded me of something: In 1929 the PR guru Edward Bernays (nephew of Sigmund Freud) persuaded women’s suffrage activists to march in New York’s Easter Parade while smoking Lucky Strikes and carrying placards depicting cigarettes as “Torches of Liberty”. Suddenly smoking became respectable for women and sales of Lucky Strikes tripled. Is that what you were thinking of, WbS?

Bernays went on to promote, among other things, water fluoridation…

7. WorldbyStorm - March 29, 2008

I was so tempted to put the whole line in John :) … but I thought that might just be a mystification…

8. WorldbyStorm - March 29, 2008

Nah, soubresauts although it’s good. It’s a chorus/title from The Three Johns about… well, the obvious:

Torches of Liberty
Flashed a thousand miles from me
Snapping, flashing eyes you see
What the hell.

Don’t put your faith in him above
In Beirut, or Liverpool Berlin or Tehran
If you’re not asking for the
Whole wide world what are you asking for?
Some of what you’ve got.
A mob is just some people
Fed up with their lot
And when people feel the thumb press down
They turn into a mob.

Torches of Liberty
Flashed a thousand miles from me
Snapping, flashing eyes you see
What the hell.

Don’t put your faith in him above
I’m sleepwalking, just sleepwalking
Sleeping on the job
Come and ride out on this nightmare
Going to ride, gonna ride, gonna ride, ride, ride.
Come and let down your hair.

And the drains flood the streets
All round it’s lake Michegan style

Come on, All you thinking men
Come on, All you thinking women too
In this crazy world of ours there must be something you can do

Torches of Liberty
Flashed a thousand miles from me
Snapping, flashing eyes you see
What the hell

9. EWI - March 29, 2008

EWI, did those people contribute money to the FI?

I do recall that TCS passed on a five-figure sum to the boys to fund a survey by Lansdowne. The topic? A classic bait-and-switch – on whether the public wanted “more information” on medicines in order to have “more choice” (e.g. deregulation). We don’t know if a particular Big Pharma paid TCS originally – for all we know, it was a penis pills vendor that the FI were shilling for ;)

Our heroes, however, proved completely inept and the supposed survey fell flat on its face, getting nearly nowhere in the media (not until after generating some hilarious FI “press releases”, though). No money appears to have flowed after that, at least not in order to fund any more astroturfing exercises.

Atlas (a ‘think-tank’ seeder, the creation of yet another hard right-wing sugar daddy) seem to have been providing at the very least organisational support to the FI, as Waghorne publicly thanked them on the blog on at least one occasion. Their requirements for funding are, however, a proven record of *ahem* competence, and it’s unknown whether they ever met this particular criteria.

There’s more here:
http://freestater.blogspot.com/2005/07/shakenbake-think-tank.html
http://freestater.blogspot.com/2005/07/dick-steadily-rising.html

10. EWI - March 29, 2008

Market House International, incidentally, is the PR firm behind the so-called “Stockholm Network”, which cultivates self-described ‘think-tanks’ like our very own FI and ORI (both of whom appear to be coalescing into Libertas). This is in much the same manner as Tech Central Station operates in the US (a grand respository of milk solution pushers, nuclear advocates and global warming denialists).

A certain Peter Nolan – who was an employee of Market House – was involved with the FI from nearly the start. SBP readers may remember him as the author of a hit piece on Al Gore from a year or so back that was (inexplicably) allowed to run.

11. WorldbyStorm - March 29, 2008

Hmmm… EWI, as one experienced in such matters do you think the Cedar Lounge Institute has a ring to it? Kerrrchiiiingggg!!!

12. EWI - March 29, 2008

Hmmm… EWI, as one experienced in such matters do you think the Cedar Lounge Institute has a ring to it? Kerrrchiiiingggg!!!

Well, speaking as somewhat of an expert in these things, I would suggest that you play to your strengths and communicate your Web2.0-ness. As such, I would suggest the Cedar Lounge Institute for Transformative Solutions – CLITS, for short. What do you think?

(btw, my invoice for consultative services rendered is in the post)

13. soubresauts - March 29, 2008

… I would suggest the Cedar Lounge Institute for Transformative Solutions – CLITS, for short. What do you think?

(btw, my invoice for consultative services rendered is in the post)

Edward Bernays would be proud of you.

14. WorldbyStorm - March 30, 2008

Consider it paid EWI. Although, I can’t think what it is, but somehow that acronym…

15. D.J.P. O'Kane - March 30, 2008

I knew a Father ‘Clint Power’ once. Do you think she might be having a go at him?

16. EWI - March 31, 2008

I knew a Father ‘Clint Power’ once. Do you think she might be having a go at him?

Who’s “she”?

17. EWI - March 31, 2008

And while playing the man is under dispensation, I really can’t believe that even a (now) Fine Gaeler would list on his Bebo page:

Happiest When
England win the Cricket.
http://www.bebo.com/Profile.jsp?MemberId=18256105

It really isn’t a surprise however, that Johnny’s endorsing WALNUTS! for the US Presidency.

18. ejh - March 31, 2008

Surrey, Man U….whoever’s got the most money seem to be his favourites.


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