Sunday, April 01, 2007
INSIDE POLITICS - THE OTHER SPEECH
Enda Kenny's speech to the Fine Gael Ard Fheis last night was in marked contrast to the gameshow extravaganza Bertie Ahern gave us last week. It was, most of my political colleagues agreed, the best speech of the conference cycle and probably the best of the past couple of years. There was a studied effort to make it as different as possible to that of Ahern the previous weekend - and it played to all of Kenny's strengths - the perception that he is honest; his personable nature; his ordinary man perception. Much more on this tomorrow...
Meanwhile, the controversy over Ahern's speech rumbles on this morning. Stephen O'Brien in the Sunday Times has a very interesting main lead implying that Brian Cowen, the FF deputy leader, was kept in the dark about it until very late, and the Sunday Independent also lead on it. Stephen Collins column in The Irish Times (subscription) was also excellent. My colleague Paul O'Brien and I both led on the same story last Monday (click here for Irish Examiner story).
The upshot is somebody is either that somebody is telling porkey pies or that some of the most senior ministers are excluded from the deliberations of the cabal of advisers that surrounds Ahern (suggesting that he now has the equivalent of Tony Blair's sofa Government). So who should we believe? Those who tell us that it was planned all along (and I had two separate briefings on Friday to this effect) or those who say that there was a panicky about-turn by Ahern in the run up to the Ard Fheis?
Fianna Fail has made a habit of this. We should call it the hyperventilating stunt. They did it with decentralisation, with electronic voting, with the rash promises of no-cuts made before the 2002 election.
Given the adverse media coverage this weekend, is this another of the stunts that's going to backfire?