From top: Deputy leader of the Labour party and Environment Minister Alan Kelly; yesterday’s Sunday Times
Sunday Times journalist Sarah McInerney yesterday reported that members of the Labour party have accused the party’s deputy leader Alan Kelly of “leaking false data on constituency polls to damage potential leadership rivals”, such as Alex White, Seán Sherlock and Michael McCarthy.
The allegation followed reports from the previous Saturday which claimed internal analysis carried out by senior party strategists showed Labour could lose 20 seats in the next election.
Mr Kelly is director of elections for the Labour party.
Ms McInerney reported:
“According to Labour sources, Brendan Howlin, the public expenditure minister, was one of the first to raise the issue at the [parliamentary] meeting, saying there was a “boil that needs lancing” in the party.”
Following this, Mr Kelly spoke to Keelin Shanley on Morning Ireland this morning.
During the interview Mr Kelly not only denied leaking any data, he denied knowledge of any such analysis having been carried out.
From the interview…
Keelin Shanley: “First off, did you leak such a report?”
Alan Kelly: “Obviously, I never put anything into the papers, in relation to the issue, I’ve said this quite clearly. Whatever happened last Friday week, or whenever it was, that was published on Saturday, actually, to be straight about it, nobody’s ever directly said this to me. But I believe this is a complete storm in a teacup, I’m director of elections of the party, I’m not even aware of such analysis which is done in. If it was, I’m sure I would be aware of it.”
Shanley: “So you’re saying you didn’t leak it? Have you asked your staff?”
Kelly: “Not alone that, but I’m not aware of such analysis existing.”
Shanley: “So you didn’t leak it and you don’t, you haven’t seen it. Did you ask members of your staff whether or not they had leaked such a document or similar information?”
Kelly: “Of course I’ve spoken to everyone within, the people who work for me, but everyone in my own team, they’ve absolutely not, is the answer, but I’ll bring you back to the original point here. I’ve never seen such analysis, and I’m sure, as Director of Elections of the party, I would have seen such analysis. So I mean where this is coming from, certainly it’s not something that has crossed my desk.”
Shanley: “And minister does it concern you, I mean, what does it say to you, I suppose, about your standing in the party, that your parliamentary colleagues were so quick to decide that you had leaked this document. And I mean the language reported: ‘a boil that needs lancing’, ‘an appalling lack of political judgement’, what do you make of that?”
Kelly: “Well, as I say to you, I’m, no one has actually said this directly to me, so…”
Shanley: “Well, you’ve read the reports like the rest of us?”
Kelly: “Yeah, there’s quotes in the paper but look I’m used to papers taking ink, I’m used to commentary being out there, after the last number of years, in this government, and in this department, I’m used to all such commentary being out there. But it certainly, many of the comments that are made in the paper, much of the analysis that’s put forward I certainly wouldn’t even agree with. I think that we have a great possibility of bringing this government back, I believe there’s a huge roll towards the Government, given the economic turnaround that’s happened…”
Shanley: “Fair enough, minister, but bringing it back to your role within the party and I mean you have, in the past, been mooted as a potential leadership candidate of the party. The fact that your party were so quick to unite around you being the source of the leak, in a way, it doesn’t matter whether you did or didn’t leak something, whether this does or doesn’t exist. It says volumes in the way in which you’re regarded.”
Kelly: “I think that’s very unfair analysis and I think it’s, you know, journalistic analysis from somebody like yourself or others who are making that opinion. I might also point out that when I ran for deputy leader of the party last year, that I got over 50 per cent support of the membership. Now does that not give you real data, real analysis of how I’m held in the party, more so than this sort of commentary?”
Shanley: “And those kinds of quotes: ‘a boil that needs lancing’, ‘appalling political judgement’?”
Kelly: “I don’t know where these quotes came from, how real or how direct they are but I’m used to all this media and commentary from time to time. It doesn’t take much to get that and it certainly isn’t something that bothers me.”
Shanley: “So it’s not something that bothers you. But minister, can I ask you, I mean you’re saying this document doesn’t exist but, you know, what went out there was the prediction of the loss of up to about 20 seats for the Labour party. You know, on the basis of the current poll standings, would you see those figures as being accurate?”
Kelly: “I believe that this forthcoming election has an awful long way to go. Obviously everyone looks at polls from time to time. You’d be lying if you didn’t say that you looked at them but the reality is when the election comes about, when people focus in on the decision they have to make, I believe that they will support the Labour party for the way in which this country has been turned around. And certainly I believe that the role of my party, the Labour party, in this Government, has ensured fairness across the five years, obviously difficult decisions have been taken but look at where we are now. And I think that the country is in a much better position for the fact that my party has been part of this Government and I wouldn’t have liked to have seen a government without the Labour party in it…”
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