Friday, February 27, 2009

Another Day, another poll

The latest opinion poll, published in the Irish Indo today, confirms the trends of the most recent Sunday Business Post and Irish Times polls. Collapse in FF, huge rise in Labour, FG holding their own.

Sinn Féin are also steady, but frankly I would prefer to describe it as becalmed. We should be at least in double figures at this time.

We aren't for two reasons and they feed into each other.

1. There is a very perception that we are economic illiterates.

We get this reputation from;

a) Some odd policies that as recently as 2003 said things like this "Private property has been and remains an instrument of oppression of people the world over". I mean WTF!! I don't remember joining some commie party :)

b) We didn't "respect" the consensus on the benefits of low tax that was a tautology for a decade until a few weeks ago. In true Irish herd mentality, social partnership take a bow, our ideas were therefore deviant, not worthy of respect and so demonised.

c) Our spokespersons, party members and supporters were sucked into the myth that we had crazy economic policies (which by the 2004 Euro elections we certainly didn't) and so underperformed or apologised for them.

d) Elements of the media who dislike us spotted it as our Achilles heel and so kept repeating it until it became "true".

2. We aren't considered a coalition partner. The focus is on Labour and FG, FG and Labour as the alternative government and they are so far ahead in the opinion polls that SF support is seen as irrelevant. This perception feeds back into the difficulty of making ourselves heard and at a time when our economic message is extremely valid yet we can't get a shout in.

There's 15 weeks to the Local and European Elections. I think its not improbable that FF will be wiped out in the Europeans, returning with only one seat. There is a very real challenge on our part to ensure that we don't also become a casualty of the electorate voting only on general election lines in the European and Local elections.

Over the next few weeks we will be launching some new economic policy positions that should both surprise some and irritate others. Good. That coupled with a focused ground campaign should get us back in the national conversation we need to be involved in.

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