Changing The Rules of the Game

Yesterday Enda Kenny, leader of the Irish Government, delivered what will go down as one of the best speeches of his generation, completly changing the nature of the relationship between the Republic of Ireland and the Vatican. Today’s Irish Times political poll also shows that he is the most popular political leader in the country and his current ranking is the highest it has ever been since he became leader of Fine Gael nine years ago.

Yet 18 months ago, a snapshot of media coverage would have told a different story. He was heavily criticised about his poor media performances and the popular belief amongst journalists was that he couldn’t connect with the general public.

After an era of soundbite politics, it looks like things are changing. Kenny and his handlers are aware of his weaknesses and play to his strengths. Front bench Ministers are much more prominent in this Government and there is more of a team approach, rather than building a leader cult as was the case of Bertie Ahern.

A move away from soundbite politics ultimately could deliver better political discourse. A study in the United States showed that the soundbite had shrunk from 43 seconds in 1968 to just nine seconds today. People are so focused on messaging today that they ram home the same point repeatedly at times, as a recent interview with Ed Miliband ilustrates.

It’s not to say that Kenny hasn’t made slip-ups, but by not letting himself be held to ransom by journalists, he has blossomed. It highlights the fact that there is such a thing as oversaturation of media coverage and that by restricting appearances to political matters of key importance, Kenny can be more impactful despite his perceived weaknesses.

One Response to “Changing The Rules of the Game”  

  1. 1 DB

    Heard a few snippets of Kenny’s speech on the radio this morning. Despite mixed views on Enda, I’m glad to see that he is taking a tough line with the Vatican – something that Cowen nor Bertie could ever do.

    The public prefer substance over style. Enda has conviction and this resonates well with people of Ireland.

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Piaras Kelly
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