Cowen's woes threaten to derail party fightback
FIANNA Fail's masterplan to fight back before the next General Election has been cast into doubt by the pressure placed on Taoiseach Brian Cowen.
The party's research indicates that Fine Gael and the Labour Party "have not closed the deal".
Fianna Fail strategists have drawn up an 18-month campaign based around getting back to the basics of TDs going out to "drop and knock" -- drop leaflets and knock on doors.
But Mr Cowen's troubles over his recent radio interview threaten to plunge the party into an election fray far sooner.
The controversy has put question marks over the campaign drive -- a key plank of the party's prospective fightback from low standings in the opinion polls.
Internal party research claims a large chunk of the voters lost since the last General Election can be won back as they are unconvinced by the opposition.
Despite politicians being dragged through the mud, Fianna Fail's conclusion from its focus groups with voters is that the public want to have more contact from their TDs.
Just 15pc of voters received a leaflet from Fianna Fail on last year's Budget, despite plenty of demand for information on it -- aside from cutbacks and tax hikes.
From its own research, Fianna Fail reckons that of the floating voters to desert them since the 2007 General Election:
- About 30pc have gone to Fine Gael.
- Only 20pc have gone to the Labour Party.
- Around 15pc to all other parties and Independents.
- The remaining 35pc still don't know.
The party believes this large coterie of 35pc is not convinced by the opposition parties and this is the starting point for targeting floating voters.
Fianna Fail headquarters has drawn up templates for seven specific leaflets, detailing what the Government is doing in the areas of jobs, cancer strategy, crime, education, assistance with mortgage arrears, agriculture and jobs support.
These leaflets, branded 'Action Updates', will then be personalised by individual TDs with their own photograph and message.
Fianna Fail TDs and senators were informed of the plan at an organisation session, chaired by Transport Minister Noel Dempsey, at their now celebrated meeting at the Ardilaun Hotel in Galway.
The parliamentary party was told the selection conventions for General Election candidates would be held by late spring or early summer of next year.