In politics, the term dog whistling - referring to a high-pitch whistle outside the audible range of humans - means using code words to send a message to a specific group, without offending a larger group who would find the message unacceptable, if they understood it.
Senior Bush strategist Lee Atwater spoke about how he coached Bush to appeal to poor white racists without appearing to be racist himself:
SourceYou start out in 1954 by saying, 'N1gger, n1gger, n1gger.' By 1968 you can't say 'n1gger' -- that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites ... saying, 'We want to cut this,' is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than 'N1gger, n1gger'.
Listening to Ruairi Quinn this morning it was clear that he was deeply reluctant to say what he actually planned in government. It was put to him that the Labour bump in the polls was due to PS workers switching from FF to Labour, he said that PS workers were very strong FF supporters in the past. When it was put to him that they were switching support to Labour now, he repeatedly insisted that there was 'no evidence' of that. Unusual of politicians to minimise their political gains.
This was tied in with a discussion of the Croke Park agreement. Quinn refused to comment on whether he supported it or not, but got in dig after dig about the deal not being implemented. Today Fine Gael have specified a 3-to-1 ratio of cuts to tax increases. Quinn was questioned on this, and again he refused to have an opinion on it, or to suggest an alternative.
It seems clear to me that the Labour Party are dog whistling to their new support base, sending a signal that they will veto reforms in the PS, and hoping that the rest of the population won't notice. The real question is who are they misleading?