VLAD’S new ‘propaganda unit’, whose purpose is to monitor his success at communicating with the proles, may well become another example of an inability to distinguish spin from substance – a political shortcoming that our esteemed Taoiseach possesses in abundance.
To be known as ‘The Strategic Communications Unit’, it has three neatly described functions: to ‘streamline Government communications and place citizens at the centre’; to develop ‘major cross-Government, citizen-centred communications campaigns’ and to ‘improve communications capacity across Government … because communication goes to the core of successful collaborative endeavour’. Wow!
The overall objective is to ‘examine the public’s perception of Government services’ and to undertake a ‘rolling tracker of attitudes to government projects’. To which we say, dear reader, ‘that if you understand the above ráiméis, you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din’.
And the hoopla doesn’t stop there. The project already has gone to tender and is expected to cost €200,000. Gurus from the public relations world will be fastidiously selected to run the thing.
Essentially their job is to ensure in a non-partisan way (of course) that we, the plebs, fully understand what the Government is doing to better our lives. According to the tender, ‘sometimes it can be difficult for the public to assess the appropriate up-to-date government information they require’. This in turn leads to a demand for ‘greater co-ordination and simplification of government announcements’. Essentially, Vlad’s plan is to make politics simple for stupid people!
Needless to say, he will ensure that Fine Gael’s edification of the masses will not be biased in any way. In fact, Vlad is very sensitive to the charge that his government will use the special unit to disseminate party propaganda.
FG blames Sinn Féin for promoting such a hideous accusation even though Vlad never tires of telling them that to use the new agency for party political objectives would be a contravention of the law.
What’s more, whereas day-to-day political issues will come within the remit of the Government Information Service and Varadkar’s press office, it will be the responsibility of the Strategic Communications Unit to ensure that even the feeble-minded can understand the language of Fine Gael’s very best puff-merchants when they unveil a Big Project.
Consequently, we can assume that pithy expressions such as ‘new strategies and endeavours from a whole of government point of view’ – the kind of mumbo-jumbo beloved of Vlad’s PR buckos up to this – will become a thing of the past. Also for the chop, we hope, is the use of mysterious language that is not properly ‘co-ordinated or focused’.
The Government clearly thinks it’s money well spent to fork out loads of spondulicks (salaries of around €130,000 p/a) for apparatchiks with the very best brains. After all, the patriotic aim of the propaganda unit – oops, Strategic Unit – is to trigger interest in grand plans of national importance. (Oh, and bear in mind the fact that a general election is around the corner is neither here nor there!)
CULT OF LEO?
Nonetheless, although Our Vlad is enthused by the idea of encouraging the citizenry to stand in awe of what the Government actually does, the cranky element in Irish society, such as the philosopher in Dinty’s, continues to mutter anarchic nonsense like: ‘Hey, stall the digger there, auld stock; what about all those people Varadkar already employs to get his Blueshirt message across?
‘Doesn’t he have about 60 PR consultants across the various departments working for him? And doesn’t he already have a government press secretary, deputy government press secretary, assistant government press secretary, four press officers, three communications officers, media assistants and an incalculable rake of clerical officers?
Plus the FG party’s personal advisers, programme manager and speechwriters?
‘Like, aren’t those guys supposed to be the experts in dealing with press, media and communications? Why another layer of PR bureaucracy? Jobs for the boys?’
‘And don’t forget, either, that Varadkar’s chums in Independent Newspapers, who always have been supportive of Fine Gael, have been carrying stories that warn of the ‘Cult of Leo’? Is it possible, me aul’ flower, that even the Indo, that bastion of free speech, is getting edgy with all the personality stuff that Varadkar is building around him?’
As usual, our man in Dinty’s
might be on the ball!
THE relationship between Ryanair and the Government took an interesting twist last week when mini-minister for Tourism and Transport, the Rt Hon Shane Ross, paid a courtesy call to an outstanding champion of laissez-faire capitalism: Michael O’Leary, the Ryanair billionaire, philanthropist, and man of the people.
Afterwards, Ross said that Mr O’Leary was very contrite over the rolling cancellation programme but he came out with his hands up and was absolutely determined to compensate people fully and properly. The mini-minister appealed to us not to forget ‘the great service that Mr O’Leary and Ryanair had done Ireland and consumers in the past’.
He was sure that the company’s reputation would be fully restored as soon as possible and he added that recent events were unacceptable.
Carried out with much politeness and gallantry, Ross’s visit to Mr O’Leary was a heart-warming example of the convergence of interest between Fine Gael and Big Business. Indeed, the reluctance to criticise Ryanair for the industrial practices that caused the catastrophe in the first place, and for the cavalier treatment of thousands of customers whose holiday and business plans were destroyed, was remarkable.
Not a word was said about the lack of workers’ rights, zero-hour contracts, punishment for union activities and bogus self-employment contracts – all of which were/are factors in Ryanair’s failure to find pilots to fly its planes.
Nor any mention that internationally Ryanair is perceived as a ravenous predator that governments need to control!
Bríd Smith TD hit the nail on the head when she said that the travel chaos inflicted on Ryanair passengers would have had Fine Gael TDs ‘jumping up and down if it had been caused by a workers’ strike’.
WORST JOKE EVER?
Jokes about Ryanair have been flying around, and here’s one of the worst.
After reaching a comfortable cruising altitude, the captain made an announcement over the intercom:
‘Welcome to this afternoon’s Ryanair flight to Berlin. The weather ahead is good and therefore we should have a smooth and uneventful journey. Now sit back and relax – OH MY GOD!’
Silence followed and after a few minutes, the Captain came back on the intercom and said: ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m so sorry if I scared you earlier but, while I was talking the flight attendant brought me a cup of coffee and spilt it in my lap. You should see the front of my pants!’
Which prompted this almighty roar from a passenger:
‘That’s nothing. You should see the back of mine!’