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I’m still not convinced by the IdeasCampaign

I’m looking forward to this morning to seeing the usual suspects on the IdeasCampaign “Independent Advisory Group”. The whole thing strikes me as very Fianna Fail in execution. Next, we’ll be having a Tribunal to get everything implemented. In about 10 years time.

To my mind, there should be no doubt as to the political involvement in all of this, remember – we’re expected to believe that a regular mary public, Aileen O’Toole, has set up a campaign to collect ideas from the general public that, according to the Taoiseach, “will be fast-tracked to the Cabinet sub-committee on Economic Renewal for assessment and implementation”. The Green Party can hardly get their ideas put before Cabinet most of the time, yet Aileen O’Toole gets her ideas “fast tracked”.

So, I’ve seen enough so far to still not be fully convinced about the motives behind this campaign. There was the Terms & Conditions changes, the fact that the ideas aren’t being shared with the key stakeholders (us, the general public), and the fact that an unnamed committee was formed to review the ideas rather than opening them up to the public for comment, enhancement and ultimately, support.

Apparently, there are now more than 1200 ideas that have been submitted to the site, of which the “best” will be put forward directly to cabinet. But where’s the transparency here? Brian Cowen has a serious problem with Declan Ganley using his money to try to influence things just because he’s rich, saying of the political fundraising issue that it would be “undermined by those who only pay lip service to transparency”. So far, I fear that we’re facing a similar hi-jacking of the democratic process and route to cabinet here with the IdeasCampaign. Who’s to say that the ideas put forward don’t come from those behind the campaign, claiming to have the backing of the public, when it’s actually them bypassing the public to get their ideas to cabinet?

This campaign started as a personal idea from Aileen O’Toole that she was doing (with a little support) from Amas. This was to be a public ideas gathering exercise, for the public and of the public. Yet, so far, apart from handing over any good ideas that they may have, the public have been completely excluded. Why?

From something that started off, apparently, as a personal idea, it has now very definitely been recategorised as a PR campaign from a PR company. Even the posts on the blog are being changed to remove the personal aspect to redefine it as a campaign.

Originally posted on Friday morning:

The Ideas Campaign was featured on this morning’s edition of RTÉ Radio 1’s flagship news programme “Morning Ireland”. Aileen O’Toole talked about the campaign and the huge response since last night’s launch.

New Version, updated over the weekend:

The Ideas Campaign was featured on this morning’s edition of RTÉ Radio 1’s flagship news programme “Morning Ireland”. Campaign director Aileen O’Toole talked about the campaign and the huge response since last night’s launch.

Now, you may ask what’s the big deal. Well, to my view, there’s a whole lot more going on in the background here that the public are not finding out about. In marketing terms, after less than 5 days of the “campaign” it’s been repositioned already – from personal to professional. In marketing and PR terms, I would have thought that such a change in tack after such a short period of time would be seen as a spectacular failure. Why the changes?

If the public are to have much faith in what’s going on, then full information needs to be provided.

  • Who’s actually behind the campaign? Who’s funding it?
  • Who really convinced RTE PrimeTime to take the unprecedented step of launching a professional organisations website on their programme? PRIMETIME ffs!
  • If the ideas submitted were sold (according to the original T’s & C’s) then who was going to get the money?
  • Was it to be Aileen O’Toole in her capacity as the original promoter?
  • Or now that it’s a “campaign”, would the money have gone to Amas, or someone else?
  • Will the public get to see all ideas submitted, or just the subset submitted to cabinet?
  • Will we be told who originally submitted the ideas?

Don’t get me wrong here. An IdeasCampaign it to be recommended and supported. In fact, two of them is great. Maybe even three. How about four ideas campaigns? Lots of ideas campaigns out there – it’s a pity only David McWilliams’ site is sharing the ideas submitted. Unfortunately though, for David, no one in Govenment listened to him for the last 5 years, so they’re unlikely to start now. Maybe he could submit them anonymously on the IdeasCampaign.ie website and actually get the government to listen to him.

But as I saw from quoted by Joe Drumgoole yesterday on Twitter, “An idea is so small a part of a business that it’s almost a rounding error”. He went on to add “Value of idea = 0. Value of idea + execution plan = 0.001, Value of idea + evidence of execution = 0.01 etc. etc.”

An “action campaign” anyone?

6 comments On I’m still not convinced by the IdeasCampaign

  • I would be querying the expertise of those reviewing the ideas as well. I can see these review meetings now, “a flying box, power by a motorised engine, nonsense” “sound transmitted without the use of wires. Poppycock”

  • @Ronan – Thanks for the comments Ronan. I’ve been keeping up with the stuff on your site as well. I’ll probably follow up on that in the next while as well.

    @Mark – Thanks for the comments. The lack of wordpress commenting that you’ve highlighted was something that I’d noticed but hadn’t really clicked with me. They do try to make it look more like a “website” than a “blog” so it’s not all that obvious that it’s been turned off.

  • I’m very suspicious of this – I looked at the ‘batches’ of the ideas that have made it past the mysterious man-behind-the-curtain filter and not one single one advocates reforming the public sector or seriously reducing expenditure…

  • @David – Unfortunately David, suspicion of the ideascampaign isn’t permitted. It’s amazing the manner in which they’ve managed to stifle any legitimate questioning of their terms and conditions, and by extension, the motives behind the campaign. I’ve seen some interesting comments on the PropertyPin claiming that the whole thing is a Fianna Fail led campaign.

    If only the campaign would show the transparency the profess to aspire to and answer some of the questions raised by their activities and relationships with the media.

  • The ideas campaign was set up at the height of the public’s anger with the government. Is that a coincidence?

    Is it a coincidence that this is run by a slick, connected PR company?

    We are not short of ideas right now. We are short of action.

    In my opinion the Ideas campaign is designed to deflect people and to diffuse political action. I really don’t think it is a grassroots campaign.

    The best Idea we could have and action we could take right now would be to demand a change of Government.

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