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Fianna Fáil are looking for a Press Officer, and meanwhile, what about that poll in the Irish Times? January 25, 2008

Posted 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.


1. CL - January 25, 2008

The imposition of neo-liberal economics has created severe societal dysfunction.
‘Things are in the saddle and ride mankind’-Emerson.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. ‘We are not at the mercy of circumstance’-Grace Lee Boggs.



2. soubresauts - January 25, 2008

…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.

Wouldn’t disagree with that. At the same time, I wonder, WbS, where do you see the Green Party fitting in, if at all?

I mean, it was less than a year ago that they were talking like this. Does that also point to “the real story about this government”?

Is “if you can’t beat them, join them” inevitably the case? Am I right in thinking that left-wing people are not very critical of the Greens for getting into bed with Fianna Fáil?


3. WorldbyStorm - January 25, 2008

They have to fit in, but they’re currently off the table doing their thing. We’ll see how things develop. That’s my tuppence worth.


4. Ian - January 26, 2008

You’re damn right WbyS, the left needs to forget Bertie as the main issue. We need Universal Healthcare, a pardadigm that sees public sector pensions as the ideal, not the problem and a way to dismantle the two-tier system in or second level education system.


5. WorldbyStorm - January 26, 2008

Sorry, I’d forgotten pensions. Perhaps because I don’t have one… But that’s what we’re facing. When we have a left which won’t take on private education…etc… bah…


6. Idris - January 26, 2008

The only ‘left’ politician I’ve heard recently talk about inequality as the real issue, and Bertie’s semi-detached relationship with financial probity, was Caomhín O’Caolaign.

The RTE radio presenter seemed to react in much the same was as if the SF TD had suddenly reached into his briefcase and produced a live Coelacanth.

I’m afraid I can’t see much hope for progress on the real issues. The neo-gentry aren’t going to give up their utopia, even if it’s a dystopia for the rest (e.g. CF sufferers). And they hold most if not all of the cards.

What’s the CLR take on the new Moyross plan, by the way?


7. WorldbyStorm - January 26, 2008

That’s a great image Idris… a coelacanth on the table of the studio, carried by C O’C… But I agree. Things are in a bad way partially because of the boom, partially because the boom looks like it’s fading fast.

Good question re Moyross. As a supporter of much that Gregory did in the inner city in Dublin I think regeneration programmes can work. I’m heartened by the fact we’re seeing the state actually lifting itself to do something. I’m also heartened by the involvement of the community but I can see troubles ahead one way or another. Not so much in the programme itself but in the necessity to develop an employment infrastructure that can ensure that work is there for people. And that refers straight back to the recession…


8. Tomaltach - January 28, 2008

Piecemeal investment and vested interests … That’s what the left should be attempting to deal with. In the same paragraph you mention FG a couple of times. Perhaps it wasn’t your intention but you seemed to be locating FG squarely on the left. I’m not so sure they are. For sure under Fitzgerald we had a more social FG. But before and after, that is scarecely the case. Where they have aired fairer solutions it has been more of a badly done effort to ape FF’s populism than a clear coherent left wing analysis. Then there were absurd populist gestures such as the compensation fiascos in the 2002 election. Not a single left wing vertebra was evident. Don’t get me wrong, I think the thrust of the post makes a fair point. But I wouldn’t really consider FG as being on the left. Probably many of its senior members wanted to present it as a part of the centre. But that’s a pretty crowded area and to be successful there means taking on the masters of catch-all, whatever you’re having yourself.


9. WorldbyStorm - January 28, 2008

Sorry, was that addressed to me Tomaltach? I don’t under any circumstances believe FG is of the left… quite the opposite really, despite social liberals within it…


10. Tomaltach - January 29, 2008

WBS, to be honest I was pretty sure you wouldn’t. Just the way that paragraph ran. 🙂


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