No such thing as bad publicity?

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Fine Gael seems to have, once again, proved its detractors wrong by demonstrating the truth of Brendan Behan’s belief that “there is no such thing as bad publicity”.

Despite endorsing the current leadership only days after the majority of their front bench declared a lack of confidence in Enda Kenny, Fine Gael improved its position in the latest RED C survey for the Sunday Business Post, reclaiming its position as the most popular party in the country.

On the face of it, this is hard to understand, particularly comparing FG to a corporate entity: Senior key figures in an organisation publically declare their lack of confidence in the manner in which the organisation is being managed / led and demand change at the top. No such change occurs, yet public perception of, and support for, the organisation increases.

It is understandable that Enda Kenny’s support would rise, having seen off an attempt to topple him. He has clearly demonstrated several leadership attributes in doing so. But what has motivated further support for a party that has clearly demonstrated its divisions and the (at best) uncertainties of its senior members in the abilities of the person they would offer as Taoiseach?

Was it simply that the media spotlight shone on the party and its frontbench, providing an opportunity for members of an alternative cabinet to shine? Was it purely a matter of greater brand recognition, given the saturation media coverage during the attempted heave?

“There is no such thing as bad publicity” is often quoted without identifying the source. As it happens, those words are only part of the quotation. The full quotation from Behan is “There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary”. As close as this was to being Enda Kenny’s political obituary, it came closer still to burying Fine Gael’s chances of leading the next Government. Maybe the Borstal Boy was right. Time will tell.

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