Torches of Libertas… March 28, 2008Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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,
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.