Monday 8 June 2009

Irish tale brings new characters

The Irish election results prove once again that... it's the economy stupid. The economic downslide in Ireland culminated in a face slap for the governing Fianna Fail party and its alliance partner the Greens, but is likely also signal a turnaround on Ireland's attitude to the EU.
The island that has been transformed with the help of EU funding to help create a new era of Irish life, suddenly turned against it with the Lisbon vote, but once the severe financial crisis set in a reassessment of the helpful EU was not far removed. Memories of how poor Ireland was before it joined the European community in the 1970s are only a generation away.
Since Ireland is still dotted with massive signs showing EU project funding for Irish developments, it is not surprising with the Irish economy in uproar the European election results suggest that the Irish people have changed their mind and once more want to embrace the EU's blue flag as a valued friend. The final answer will be delivered after the recount of the votes for anti-Lisbon campaigner Declan Ganley, who is expected not to win a seat.
Are there lessons for the UK mainstream parties from the Irish result? Get your head outside the Westminster bubble and you might notice that the economy and jobs are what people care about more than anything, and there is an anger that these important issues are being ignored in favour of endless insider chatter about MPs' expenses and an endlessly shuffling pack of ministers.
When it comes down to it, the talk on the journey to work or down the pub is about security, how people are worried about losing their jobs, their homes, their savings. Would this explain a swing to UKIP and the BNP? It might.

PS: Peter Kellner has just published this very interesting analysis of the BNP vote - should be essential reading. Stop talking about this being an anti-expenses vote and start talking to these voters about issues such as housing and employment.

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