Article by Enda Craig
When a political party arrives at a final policy position it is mostly after a huge amount of research. The party's strategists factor into their final composition as much difficulty as possible for the opposition. Sizing up the enemy to get the upper hand, they gear policies to this or that target group, offer this or that incentive and possibly use unsuspecting pressure groups to further their own goals. Understanding the market is one thing but pressurizing your foes is as important.
However, the hatched schemes and the offer of goodies usually present some important decisions to be taken. If a policy, agreed on as strategy, presents an advantage to the party and to boot it generates difficulties for the opposition, it may also make things difficult for supporters. The result is a moral dilemma. On the one hand it pressurises the opposite parties into offering more but on the other hand it alienates supporters by not fulfilling the promised policies.
Consider the following situation
1. Let's say all along the party doesn't want to be in government, that it is not ready to take power and that it would be best served by being the main opposition. The party pretends that it wants to go into government, but by making it impossible to do so electorally, the party knows that this will never happen.
2. This opens the door to the possibility of a huge 'hoodwink' as it can promise the world, knowing that it will never have to deliver on the promises. The policies will be popular. They will take support away from opposite parties and will put pressure on them to outdo the promises.
3. The desire to gain advantage and crucify the opposition now takes over and becomes the priority. This is achieved by making monumental popular promises and cloaking them in flimsy and flaky economic costings. The details gets lost in the headline announcements and few people question them.
4. The party can now put together an 'a la carte' menu of big time promises. This will boost ratings among present supporters and attract substantial new voters. By extension it will achieve the high popular ground. Most people only look at the headlines and care less about the detailed economic or political ramifications.
5. Opposition parties stand open mouthed at the brazen content of these promises. They quickly find their opposite number is gaining popularity from the public at large. In a panic they decide to react realising that their arguments pointing out the deficiencies are gaining them nothing.
6. Rather than continue on the truthful road they now begin to promise the same and maybe more as the enemy. They know it is totally disingenuous, untruthful and possibly undeliverable. It is the same as the opposition but the spiraling race for power knows no bounds or morality. All that matters now is the bottom line - success at the ballot box
7. But will there be a day of reckoning built into this situation, especially for the side who would slaver at the thought of attaining power?
8. Fianna Fail's policy promises are now eagerly awaited by the unsuspecting multitudes. Their Achilles heel now lies exposed. Their spinners and magicians are already hard at work putting a gloss on a possible u-turn. The finished product is anyone's guess.
9. Meanwhile the initial promoters of this shameful strategy are on the moral high-ground, sticking to principles. They are now tooled up and lie in ambush for Michael and his merry bunch. The time of reckoning is at hand. The Pantomime plays on and the abuse of the people continues.