John Rainsford

Fine Gael profiling, the follow-up

This article was posted on Tuesday, 25th October 2011

I posted on Friday about my suspicions that Fine Gael tried profiling the electors, when sending out their Presidential Election material. If you didn't read it, you can read the blog post here, and you'll understand what I mean, going forward.

I got an email Friday evening from someone who very kindly let me know what pamphlets were received in his household and by whom, which made it highly improbable that the pamphlets were targeted via profiling.

Alternative theory

However, he also pointed out that the pamphlets were distributed in order (check out the serial numbers above the name and address of each elector) green, yellow and blue. My emailer postulated that it was done to ensure that there was a number of different Gay Mitchell pamphlets entering each household.

At first I thought this was a risky approach to take- aside from the possibility that someone (like me) assumes something more sinister is happening (like profiling), what if one person in a household received a version that didn't agree with them, surely this would have a negative impact on their perception of Mr. Mitchell?

I was stuck on this line of thinking until David Norris's election material popped through our letterbox this morning and, aside from cynically appraising his boast of 'a track record of always doing the right thing', I realised that it didn't matter who's name was on the pamphlet, it would be read anyway.

I think that this was the strategy of Fine Gael; to ensure several different 'versions' of the pamphlet entered each household, each with the aim of appealing to different members of a household.

Not that much of a stretch

You could say it was a bit of a stretch to say Fine Gael were trying to target specific stereotypes within a household. But, what I learned over the weekend was that they actually did produce two different election posters- one for the city and one for the 'rural' countryside. Targeting specific stereotypes within a household isn't that much of a stretch from there.

Fine Gael's methods of targeted messages is not good, not in our society, not in our small communities. Personally I don't want to be treated differently to anyone else. I may not live in one of the larger cities, but that doesn't mean that Rural Gay is going to appeal more to me than City Gay, and I hate the thought that someone decided that it would. Just give me the same information that everyone else is given and let me make up my own mind.

I don't think Mr. Mitchell is a realistic runner in the race and I'd love to know if his dodgy election practices had a part to play. I'm sure though, if that was quantifiable, it would be kept like a state secret.

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