A canvasser’s handy guide to soft-soaping the electorate

There is nothing worse than getting a knock on the door when Gail Platt is having a tiff with her latest lover on the cobbles of Coronation Street.

Fine Gael understands that. The party knows how much we love our soaps, and equally hate to be interrupted when Manchester United are one-up against Liverpool.

So much so, that it has sent out a diktat to those canvassing on behalf of the party: “Don’t pick times when people are most likely not to be at home, or receptive — during televised sports events, blockbuster episodes of TV soap opera.”

The advice is just one of many instructions contained in a canvass guide — pocket-sized so it’s easy to carry around and slyly pull out on a difficult doorstep — which has been published by the party.

And being a canvasser is, if you read the booklet, a very serious task.

For the thousands of dedicated party members who will be missing out on their favourite TV soaps to pound the pavements and knock on doors in the coming weeks, a strict set of rules applies.

Having a biro on you is essential and you must be dressed smartly.

Towing the party line on the opposition is paramount, and Fine Gael has outlined what stance canvassers should take, in handy bullet-point format.

  • Fianna Fáil is the “same old Fianna Fáil”, with high taxes and high spending.
  • Sinn Féin “would kill jobs”.
  • The Independents represent a vote for the unknown and is “a hodgepodge of constantly changing groupings, which can’t agree on a policy programme”, the canvass guide states.
  • Renua’s flat tax would reduce the tax take by a “staggering” €3.5bn, while the Social Democrats has a Nordic tax model which canvassers have been told to say would require paying more taxes but “the increase would bear most heavily on the bottom half of the income distribution”.

In contrast, the loyal Fine Gael supporters are to be reminded that their party is proposing a “clear plan to keep the recovery going”.

At the party’s ard fheis over the weekend, details of the party’s finances were also given, with the accounts being published in the ard fheis clár.

And although no election date has yet been called, with Taoiseach Enda Kenny describing the matter of a date as “immaterial”, Fine Gael has certainly been spending like it is gearing up for a fight.

In 2013 the party spent just €132,240 on campaign and election costs. However, in 2014 this increased to over €1.2m. Perhaps some of that went on printing the glossy pocket-sized canvass bibles which were also on hand to all who wanted them, at the CityWest Hotel at the weekend.

While reading the pamphlet will provide canvassers with a guide to all the questions they may have to face from angry voters, they are also cautioned to be wary of enemy spies in their midst.

“Beware of supporters of other parties who may try to hold you on a doorstep,” the document warns. Obviously opposition supporters aren’t into Corrie or Eastenders.

More on this topic

Water charges 'will be collected'; Joan Burton expected to step down as Labour leaderWater charges 'will be collected'; Joan Burton expected to step down as Labour leader

Independent Alliance say FG will have to agree to 'radical proposals' for a govt by ThursdayIndependent Alliance say FG will have to agree to 'radical proposals' for a govt by Thursday

Talks with Independent Alliance could delay govt formation; SF says FF have 'lost credibility'Talks with Independent Alliance could delay govt formation; SF says FF have 'lost credibility'

Leo Varadkar's govt formation comments 'misleading and self-serving', says Michael McGrathLeo Varadkar's govt formation comments 'misleading and self-serving', says Michael McGrath


Lifestyle

Charlize Theron is unrecognisable as Fox News star Megyn Kelly in ‘Bombshell’, a film that looks at the sexual harassment scandal at the network. She talks to Laura Harding about Me Too and the complexity of the film.Charlize Theron on Bombshell: ‘For the first time we are realising women can be part of the problem'

More From The Irish Examiner