Here is what I think spin doctors advising govt (badly) are trying to do:
- Use budget tax hikes to create pressure amongst public for changeing croke park deal
- Use death of savita and suffering of Praveen - which is utterly unrelated to x-case circumstances - to give labour a "deal" on abortion.
- Use suffering of magdalene women and justified outrage at this to tie down church while govt legalises abortion.
- Use promissory note deal as positive backdrop to legalising abortion by "drowning" legalisation out in "good news"
If that is the case here is why I don't think it is working:
Spin doctors are relying on media to get across their main messages.
But since Fr. Kevin Reynolds affair and fake tweet level of mistrust and scepticism - particulary with RTE - is very very high. Falls in some newspaper circulation figures - while partly reflecting economy - also show a public revulsion at how Savita's death and Praveen's suffering was exploited to push a line on abortion. Whether that line turns out to be justified now is no longer relevant: The fact that that line was pushed cynically and hysterically before we knew the facts is a damning indictment of a system's capacity to manipulate suffering to achieve political ends.
It cannot be ruled that the timing of the magdalene report - which should have been published and acted on a decade ago - was held back to pin down the church.
Nor can it be ruled out that the promissory note deal was timed not to get the best deal for IReland but to both (a) avoid the embrassment of a payment this march so soon after the recent budget (b) give gov't a fillip while it sneaks abortion legislation in the back door.
Opinion polls on party support are not perfect. But unlike polls on social issues - which are wildly unreliable - they are broadly accurate.
The falls in core support for FG and Labour and the remarkable rise - in relative terms - of FF show the narrativfe and spin of spin doctors is backfiring.
They simply aren't smart enough to understand that the Irish people are smarter and wiser than they are and can see right through this agenda.
Final point: Shatter has done grave damage to FG in his handling of the Gardai. It isn't that what he said was wrong. In fact on this I think he's right. But his capacity to alienate FG's grassroots is legend.
At a lesser level Frances Fitzgerald's politically correct wooeing of Labour/quangos on childcare is also driving traditional FG voters away.
In a nutshell, the governmetn needs better advisors.
And it needs them now.