Monday, October 16, 2006

Bertie-Gate and latest opinion polls

I wrote about Bertie-Gate earlier this month before the latest opinion polls which now show major increase in support for Fianna Fail.

The dichotomy contained in the recent public opinion poll results is that people thought Bertie was wrong BUT that he shouldn't resign and also support for Fianna Fail surged and support for opposition declined. Many columnists (including Irish Times editorial) are interpreting this as that the people just don't care about dodgy dealings in politics. I believe this view is close to being an insult to the people.

A logical interpretation on the poll finding that Bertie was wrong but shouldn't resign is that the people feel the Opposition chose too strong an attack on a relatively modest bad practise. Also the leek was not allowed and the Tribunal was the right place to work on this. The people believe Bertie was wrong but I think many believe the level of attack and its method was disproportionate to the deed and it backfired really badly. I think Bertie's relatively modest lifestyle and the circumstances also helped reduce his sins to a venial level. If the same level of intensity of attack was directed at something more serious it might have helped the Opposition. Instead they looked like whingers trying to hurt a man whose private financial divorce settlements were made public in a completely wrong way. The people disliked their intense use of valuable Dáil time on this matter and in my opinion punished the Opposition for it in the opinion polls.


Claire said...

Good post John. I hadn't thought about it that way but I think you may be right.

I had put it down to yet another instance when we allowed a politician to get away with dodgy financial dealings but I think you have a point. The opposition has come off looking far worse through this over the past few weeks.

John of Dublin said...

Thanks Claire. After I did this I noticed something similar which John Waters wrote in the IT - and he openly disagreed with the IT editorial, presumably written by Geraldine Kennedy. It's nice to write a piece and then see a decent journalist thinking alike.

I do feel Bertie was wrong at the time but it was all handled badly and blown out of all proportions to such an extent that it helped him!

Anonymous said...


I'm pretty sure that you have lost it.
The majority of people whose comments I have heard believe that BA took money from business people for his own use. Many seem to see nothing amiss with this. Of those who do see a problem - most seem to see it, like you, as 'minor', 'venial' or generally trivial misdemeanour. [IMHO] if we want a democracy, then we must demand of our leaders that not only do they not behave corruptly (which is in doubt here) but also they must be seen to behave in a way which absolutely cannot be perceived as corrupt (the opposite is not in doubt here - since by his own statements BA has accepted money for no real interest). Thus, for most people, it is apparently ok for BA to be seen to behave in a manner which is, at best, perhaps not as bad as it first seems. Secondly amongst those who do perceive that there is a problem with BA's moral judgement here there is a huge desire to forgive and forget. Why? Is it because BA's morals reflect their own? Is it because people have no morals? Is it because people are comfortable with corruption? My guess: people are terrified of the prospect of two Mayo men running the country.

John of Dublin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
John of Dublin said...

I'm only noticing Anons post now!

I don't really disagree with most of what he said. It's a case of level of wrong. Yes, Bertie was wrong, it wasn't acceptable, we wish he hadn't done it. But the Opposition's handling of it seemed to make Bertie's actions look like the lesser of two evils!

Furthermore. the monies were well intentioned whip-arounds from friends in one case and business folk in the case of the Manchester event. It wasn't huge money given his personal circumstance and it seems independantly verified that he didn't seek or canvas for it. Plus, Bertie brought to the attention of the media the Manchester event himself. Everyone agrees it was all a mistake but it was in a time when worse things were happening and it wouldn't happen in today's Government.

I believe Bertie's divorce issues at the time helped to lessen the intensity of evil in the eyes of the sympathetic public. Bertie has an amazing transfixing personal image as a well intentioned, skilled, compromising negotiator, leader, people person, as well being a normal down-to-earth kind of guy who enjoys the footie and a pint and who had the sadness of separation. Rightly or wrongly it all gives him brownie points in spades! I do think any other leader would have suffered much more in the opinion poles in the same circumstances.