Friday, October 24, 2008


The part of the political process I find so fascinating is how public opinion is shaped.

You can buy books on the subject, study it, marketeers and brand managers dream of unlocking its secret and billions is spent by corporations and political parties trying to subtly and not so subtly influence the opinion of citizens.

At the moment there is an important battle being waged between the Government and Opposition in relation to the economic condition the country finds itself in. Fianna Fail's preferred narrative is that the budgetary crisis we find ourselves in is unfortunate but reflects nothing more than being caught in a global shitstorm. Sinn Fein, Labour and Fine Gael insist that the recession has been caused by Fianna Fail, specifically accusing them off reckless spending, unnecessary tax cuts for the wealthy and the "buying" of elections in 2002 and 2007.

By and large these two conflicting interpretations are the only ones that have been debated in the papers and on the airwaves over the past couple of weeks.

So how does one explain the growing alternative interpretation emerging, which simply goes like this.

Agh Bertie wouldn't have ever let this happen.

I first heard this on Monday during a canvas in Edenmore, Raheny from a pensioner and a long term supporter of Fianna Fail. Since then I have heard it from taxi drivers, the mothers on the school run, in the local sandwich shop, yet nothing on the mainstream media.

Bertostalgia, the longing for the good auld days with Ahern in charge is growing and creates an interesting problem for both the Government and the oppositions parties.

The Government can slope there shoulders in a "ah shucks were doing our best" and hope that the electorate has pity rather than anger on them next June. After all Offaly's greatest ever politician is clearly no match for His Bertness.

The opposition has to put up with the reserve scapegoating of a problem of which the entire government helped create and sustain over years.

Its not entire clear what the effect, particularly in Dublin, of Bertostalgia will be, but barring his return as Taoiseach it, this meme looks set to grow and then set as conventional wisdom.

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