Fianna Fáil’s rise from the ashes? June 29, 2016Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
There’s an entertainingly breathless piece in the SBP this last weekend which examines the ‘fall and rise of Fianna Fáil’ in the manner of those books on US elections. You’ll know the type, all filled with little anecdotes of people entering rooms to speak with other people about actually quite mundane matters in achingly self-aware ways, and where linear narratives are constructed about events that often are unconnected or dislocated from one another.
The basic thesis is that Micheál Martin saved FF by focusing on the essentials, on…er…rebuilding. This may seem so banal an observation that it is hardly worth making. But for all that there’s some entertainment to be had.
To rebuild, Martin believed his colleagues had to recognise one thing: ‘the Irish people hated Fianna Fáil’.
There’s a pat on the back for a certain polling company:
Opinion polls and not the doorsteps dictate the political narrative of the day.
Hmmm, might be one’s response to that. Anyhow, continuing:
Martin was acutely aware the polls sapped morale. One senior strategist was more blunt. ‘We’d meet some Monday mornings and I’d say: ‘those fucking polls are lying.’ But we knew, we definitely thought the Red C was the truest one. It was very disconcerting and very disheartening at times.
Well I never.
In early 2015, FF’s internal constituency polls showed FG had not arrested its slide from the local elections. In fact, its vote was worsening. In the north and set of the curry FG voters who had switched from FF in 2011 were coming back to the party.
Though let’s not get too much ahead of ourselves. FF added at Election 2016 precisely 6.9% onto its 2011 vote share and 23 seats. So yes, voters did come back. But in dribs and drabs (though it will be fascinating to see how matters proceed from here).
This is more interesting:
FG and the LP began warning of the choice facing voters: stability versus chaos. It surprised Sean Dorgan who’d presented research to the parliamentary party showing that most people did not worry that a change in government would stall the recovery.
“People wanted recovery and stability but they didn’t agree that changing the government equated to chaos. So for us that seemed strange.”
I wondered at the time about that as well.
Still, here’s another example of what seems to me to be an over-emphasis on media coverage. Discussing how at the January Ard Fheis Martin said:
This is an arrogant and out of touch government. They want a coronation, not an election. Well, thesis a republic and we don’t do coronations.
It’s a good line. But is it quite as good as the SBP report suggests
At the ard fheis the delegates loved it and perhaps more importantly the media talked about it.
Or this good?
“If we hadn’t have set that ground from very beginning I don’t think we should have got 44 seats,” Martin said later. “The perception from the electorate was we were just an add-on to FG and we were there just to make up the numbers for Enda to be crowned Taoiseach.”
I’m unconvinced the line had that much reach. Or that it changed perceptions of FF as a makeweight in a potential FG/FF coalition.
Here’s another useful nugget of information.
FF ran a low-key campaign that cost around €560,000, much less than the government parties spent.
Perhaps that is making a virtue of necessity.
Anyhow, we’ll all be glad to know that – surprise, FF did get that 44 seats, but wisely has avoided the blandishments of coalition with the ould enemy. And apparently they’re privately ‘jubilant’ on forcing climb downs on that ould enemy on water charges and bin charges. And are even content with holding the balance of power.
Or so they say.
Yet I can’t help but feel it is all a bit over-egged. 2011 was a dismal year for FF. Yet even at that point they still retained almost 20% of the popular vote and a good 20 odd TDs. They weren’t really going anywhere, at least not once the LP decided to hop into coalition with FG.
But that, as we know all too well, is another story entirely…