Wednesday 24 January 2018

Brendan O'Connor: In an age of authenticity, why choose spin, Leo?

The Taoiseach actually has some substance, so why is he risking getting a reputation as a spin merchant, asks Brendan O'Connor

'The problem with spin is that it is out of fashion. If Leo’s spin people are so smart, they should know that authenticity is all the rage now.' Illustration by Tom Halliday
'The problem with spin is that it is out of fashion. If Leo’s spin people are so smart, they should know that authenticity is all the rage now.' Illustration by Tom Halliday
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

Ironically, the spin unit that is supposed to buff up the Taoiseach is already damaging him. He and his people are actually finding they have to spin the story of the spin unit now. The Taoiseach was nearly caught during the week saying that he had personally appointed John Concannon to the job of head of the spin unit, but he quickly corrected himself to saying that he had merely asked if Mr Concannon would be available to be appointed to the job.

The problem with spin is that it is out of fashion. If Leo's spin people are so smart, they should know that authenticity is all the rage now. That's what gains trust for a brand or a person. And funnily enough, authenticity is something Leo is seen as having. This was the man, after all, who always moaned along with the rest of us about the health service, when he was health minister. He was the one who was seen to be more of a commentator on the state of the country than an actual politician. While it was seen as somewhat of a drawback for a politician in one way, it did give him a reputation as a straight talker. In interviews as Taoiseach so far, he has come across as the straightest Taoiseach we've had in years. Bertie spoke his own variation on English, and Enda Kenny ducked and dived with stories of men with pints and various encounters that may or may not have happened. Leo has this virtue of seeming to actually answer the question he is asked, or, at the very least, he says if he is not prepared to answer the question. Despite what we know about his ruthlessness and his skill at politicking, Leo comes across as almost earnest in interviews.

Even when he makes a fool of himself, like at Downing Street, or with the socks, there is almost a charming unguardedness about it. He even keeps in direct contact with us with weekly video messages from wherever he is.

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