McGuinness: success is just about losing well?

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Martin McGuinness’ entry into the Presidential race has surely shook things up. However while some of the shriller media commentary has focused on the danger of him winning, it is past time to ask what would really constitute a victory for McGuinness and Sinn Féin. For this discussion we may need to abandon the ludicrous notion he was ever ‘in it to win it’.

If you accept SF didn’t enter their star man into the contest to be beaten and he isn’t going to win, what could their success criterion be?

I’d suggest:

A triumph:
Winning

A victory:
Polling and/or finishing 2nd
17+%

Draw
Polling and/or finishing 3rd
12-17%

Loss
Finishing under third
Polling under 12%

Destroyed
Finishing 4th or below and polling under 10%

However, I think the real opportunity for SF in this election is the chance to identify their ‘top line’ while FF are sidelined. Anything over their 10% base, anything transfered – that’s their target vote. Surely with FF out of the picture, SF’s main target in this election is identifing swing voters for the next time?

What’s your call? How do we judge a SF win?

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  • gendjinn

    I think your terms of reference are far narrower than SF’s. SF always seem to be planning a long term strategy and this step has to be seen as a component of whatever strategy they are currently pursuing.

    Their overall Southern strategy is becoming the king makers in a coalition and perhaps even more ambitious to become the dominant partner. In a presidential election people are more likely than a general to vote for a party they may not normally vote for. In SF’s experience in this regard has been very well rewarded with their “lend us your vote” converting previous SDLP voters into SF voters. They probably expect something similar to happen in the South.

    I find it interesting that you consider improving upon their GE vote of 9.9% to 17% merits only a draw. Wouldn’t something in the 10 to 12% range be a draw?

    BTW I think you mean criteria not criterion.

  • keano10

    I agree with Gendjinn. Even if he were to finish 3rd but still poll 17 per cent that would still be a success surely, having effectively doubled the party’s core vote?

  • http://alaninbelfast.blogspot.com Alan in Belfast

    Isn’t victory going to be SF polling enough to qualify for the €200k or so payout for having polled a certain percentage of first preferences and transfers?

  • Alias

    I think they are ‘in it to win it’ but will try to spin their failure to win it as something else.

    They wanted to run Gerry Adams but his lamentable shennanigans over his brother’s rape allegation meant that plan was out the window and he had to settle for a seat in Dáil Éireann. Their next best shot is McGuinness.

    Why does it matter so much? Because it’s part of the propaganda they feed to their supporters in NI, i.e. that their ‘unity’ agenda is progressed by increasing electoral support on both sides of the border. In reality, the only thing that is progressed is more jobs for the Shinners boys but at least that way they can actually claim to have a strategy.

    Sadly, of course, their forthcoming flop will undermine the BS value of that strategy somewhat – hence the “we had a cunning plan” backup.

    As it is an AV ballot it’ll all depend on transfers rather than first preferences. So why they might pick up first preerences from FF’ers without an official candidate to vote for its hard to see where they pick up the transfers.

  • Alias

    “Even if he were to finish 3rd but still poll 17 per cent that would still be a success surely, having effectively doubled the party’s core vote?”

    Nope, because support in a presidential AV ballot doesn’t translate as pro rata support in other elections. In addition, votes will be borrowed from FF’ers simply because they have no candidate in that paticular candidate wbut will have candidates in other elections.

  • Alias

    Typo: “…that paticular election but will have candidates in other elections.”

  • Mark

    You were quite adamant about Sinn Fein’s prospects in GE11 Alias and as it turned out , you couldn’t have been more wrong . Let’s just wait and see …..

    I agree with Keano and Gendjimm’s point about McGuinness polling at 17% …. however Mark McGregor’s suggestions shouldn’t be taken lightly as Mark is a former SF member .

    I would say though Mark , there seems to be a mountain of goodwill towards McGuinness in the South which could generate some surprise transfers .

    The campaign starts now and McGuinnesses’ harshest critics cannot deny his real srength is his electionering . He’s highly motivated and is a great people person . If anyone in SF can pull this off , it’s the Butcher’s Apprentice cum International statesman and peacemaker …….Martin McGuinness DFM …

  • BluesJazz

    Well, he’s now ‘ashamed’ of what PIRA did after he left it:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-15102201

    I suppose he simply heard the news and carried on fly fishing with a shrug. Mass murder of people because they didn’t worship a ‘god’ the same way was simply the way things were done. A few ‘bad apples’ went over the top.
    Way to go President

  • BluesJazz

    There was a similar group to McGuinness’s PIRA in Croatia in the 1940’s -Ustasa/Ustase?. Fanatical catholic and nationalist. Don’t know what became of them.
    man of peace, bollix.

  • the wrong side of 40

    Though it could never be measured I suspect that McGuinness was deliberately chosen over Adams because he is seen as having a bit more charisma and is actually more rounded than Adams.

    Martin had always at least been upfront about being in the IRA at some stage over our years of mayhem. I think SF may have thought that Adams was more open to ridicule over his denial. And before anyone talks about how well Adams did in Louth, lets remember that Louth and Dundalk have always had a strong republican leaning and it was no real surprise that he did well there.

    How would he have polled in places like Sligo or Roscommon, I think that putting McGuinness in was done because he was deemed more personable internally. Wether or not the media backlash was entirely forseen will only be known over time.

    I still believe that the more the media go for him, the more votes he will get. People in the South are not in the mood for being dictated to by what they deem to be an establishment institution which how large elements of the media come across as.

  • John Ó Néill

    Fielding McGuinness is effectively creating a hostage to fortune since anything less than a win will be deemed a failure by the press. The same criterion would have to apply to Michael D and Mitchell. Outpolling either of them would probably be considered a good day by SF. And I’d guess that where they get the votes may be more important than the overall share since it will be taken as a pointer to where to expend energy in the next council and Dáil elections.

    Gallagher, Davis and Dana would at least want a respectable showing. Norris will either storm it or implode completely (when his other six letters are put out).

  • Alias

    “You were quite adamant about Sinn Fein’s prospects in GE11 Alias and as it turned out , you couldn’t have been more wrong . Let’s just wait and see …..” – Mark

    Actually, I was spot-on. I said they would could in at the lower end of expectations with 13 or 14 TDs. If you want to contradict that then post a link to the post where you claim I stated otherwise. Incidentally, I also stated that the higher end of expectations was 18 TDs.

  • Mark

    I don’t have time tonight to drawl through your posts but I’ll come back yo you … that’s if they haven’t been deleted by the Mods as you got rather personal if memory serves ..

    I do remember posts along the lines of ” the Irish public will see through SF’s lies etc however as I said , I will come back to you .

  • Drumlins Rock

    A triumph:
    Winning – risky though, losing their top player from actice politics and “peaking too soon” as they say.

    A victory:
    Polling and/or finishing 2nd 17+% –
    2nd any stage yes but make that 20% first preferences.

    Draw
    Polling and/or finishing 3rd 12-17% –
    make that 15-20% & third.

    Loss
    Finishing under third Polling under 12%-
    make that third 10-15%

    Destroyed
    Finishing 4th or below and polling under 10%- agree there.

    I’m setting bar a bit higher due the the extremly high profile of the candidate and the absence of a FF candidate. I think a draw is most likely under either views.

  • Drumlins Rock

    ps, Victory is proably a bit too strong a word if you don’t actually win, “A Good/Excellent Result” is closer.

  • Mick Fealty

    There’s another outcome that’s politically usefull, which would be to top the first preferences. I think top three is more likely, but no one’s yet out front enough to rest on laurels. Four weeks to go.

  • Drumlins Rock

    how on earth can you call this farce of a circus for a rubber stamp puppet job “the real world of Politics”, currently he is co-running a region the same size as some American states with an even higher profile. Not that many political jobs of a higher rank are available to a politician from here, and at best the Presidents role is of equal status.

  • michael-mcivor

    I can’t remember the last time Martin McGuinness actually lost a election- must have been before 1997- [ when he first won Mid-Ulster ]

    my forecast is that Martin will top the poll- then we are into the lap of the Gods territory- the transfer vote-

  • fordprefect

    Wrong side of forty, McGuinness would be doing exactly the same as Adams, only problem, he admitted on tv and in court that he was a member of the IRA.

  • fordprefect

    Why don’t people flag up the inconsistencies of SF’s stance in the 26 counties and their stance in the north instead of going on and on and on about McGuinness’s past? They say/said they’ll stand shoulder to shoulder with the workers in the Free State, yet are wielding the cuts axe as well as any true blue tory in the north. (Which, by the way I predicted they would do here on Slugger ages ago).

  • fordprefect

    He won’t wriggle his way out of questions like that as easily as he does about his past!

  • Lionel Hutz

    I did a similar thread to this on p.ie and my criteria was:

    http://www.politics.ie/forum/sinn-fein/171081-what-result-would-success-mcguinness.html

    “1. What percentage of First Preference votes would be considered:
    A) a success
    B) reasonable
    C) a failure

    2. In terms of elimination what position would be:
    A) a success
    B) reasonable
    C) a failure

    I would say:

    1A) 18% or higher
    B) 15-18%
    C) less 15%

    2A) 2nd or win
    B) 3rd
    C) 4th -7th”

    I would stick with that. I do think that the introduction of David Norris and Dana has made that big success more unlikely. I think it is difficult to see MMG get more than 18% and because he is unlikely to be that transfer friendly, I just cant see him ever coming second or first. Just cant see it. Norris and Higgins are surely going to outpoll him. Dana is going to be the surprise candidate I think. She only had single figure support on the Red C poll, but i think that at that time she would not have been given a chance of even getting on the ballot.

    Another measure of success will be beating Mitchell though. Which seems very possible.

  • Alias

    “I don’t have time tonight to drawl through your posts but I’ll come back yo you … that’s if they haven’t been deleted by the Mods as you got rather personal if memory serves ..” – Mark

    Well, you wouldn’t have to search through them all. Since the comment predicts an election result, you would only have to search those between the announcement of the election and 25 February. Incidentally, I doubt I “got rather personal” with you as I only respond in kind and I don’t recall any personal abuse from you.

    “I do remember posts along the lines of ” the Irish public will see through SF’s lies etc however as I said , I will come back to you .” – Mark

    Your memory is very poor since I actually stated that I intended to vote for the Shinners in that general election. Why? Because they were the only party in the election was was critical of EU rule; and since the actual government of Ireland is the EU, I thought it best to vote for an internal opposition to it.

    When it came to it, I couldn’t bring myself to vote for them and voted independent. Does that surprise you? I’m sure it must because your memmory is totally at odds with the facts.

  • Alias

    “how on earth can you call this farce of a circus for a rubber stamp puppet job “the real world of Politics”, currently he is co-running a region the same size as some American states with an even higher profile. Not that many political jobs of a higher rank are available to a politician from here, and at best the Presidents role is of equal status.” – DR

    Well, Marty has kept his options open by having O’Dowd keep his seat warm rather than resign and go for broke. There is something half-assed about that.

    But if, as you say, the office of first minister is equal to that of the office of president, doesn’t that make the office of first minister a “farce of a circus for a rubber stamp puppet job”? I’d agree that it is, whereas the office of president still has some status attached to it.

  • gendjinn

    Alias,

    Actually, I was spot-on. I said they would could in at the lower end of expectations with 13 or 14 TDs. If you want to contradict that then post a link to the post where you claim I stated otherwise. Incidentally, I also stated that the higher end of expectations was 18 TDs.

    So what you’re saying is you always overestimate SFs best case result so you can condemn for not making your artificially high bar?

  • gendjinn

    John,

    Fielding McGuinness is effectively creating a hostage to fortune since anything less than a win will be deemed a failure by the press.

    Anyone who remembers Adams Late, Late Show performance will know that being universally attacked by the establishment does not go over well with the Irish public and will only redound to the benefit of SF.

  • fordprefect

    Gendjinn,
    I agree with you 100% on that.

  • http://nicentreright.wordpress.com/ Seymour Major

    Well, he’s now ‘ashamed’ of what PIRA did after he left it

    BluesJazz, Let us be open minded about McGuiness’s involvement in the Enniskillen bomb. There is no direct proof that he was involved but there is enough circumstantial evidence (not of the criminal standard but in terms of his reputation) to make a case to answer.

    Would Mr. McGuinness submit himself to a lie detector test?

    Granted, the test is not fullproof but if McGuinness accepted that challenge and passed it, I who presently believes that he was involved, would certainly treat such a result with respect.

  • John Ó Néill

    Gendjinn, by that token he is already home and hosed. Four weeks of concentrated media coverage will be interesting. The southern media make no bones about being partisan but it may be wearing very thin. Its too early to predict what SF may deem a success.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The bookies seem to believe that the arrival of Norris has changed the game, so they’ve widened McGuinness’ odds to 10/3 (Ladbrokes).

    We have seen that there clearly some ruthless people out there who do not want Norris to win. I am sure they are working overtime to see if they can find anything else to use against him.

  • Henry94

    CS

    Do you not think the issues raised about Norris are legitimate? The letters we have not seen were enough to make his original campaign team resign. I’m sure there are people who are out to get him but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to explain himself.

  • Mick Fealty

    Of course he has to explain himself. The legal defence is starting to look decidedly ropey. But I don’t think Martin will have to endure the same level of scrutiny for the rest of the campaign.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Mick, just as they kept poking about with Norris and pull out those other letters it is easy to to keep fueling to discussion on the IRA past of McGuinness, there are acres of muck out there to rake up. His new found shame over Enniskillen has opened a new front, how much did he know about it, will he also feel shame for Teebane, Kingsmills, the Shankill bomb etc.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    DR, it’s just as well the Tullyhommon bomb didn’t go off on the same day as the Enniskillen one otherwise the casualties there could have been so much worse. Presumably the British and Irish intelligence services have details of McGuinness’ whereabouts in the weeks leading up to the bombing but political constraints/immunity may have limited their ability to act in the interests of those local communities.

  • ranger1640

    Mark, Do you know what would be A triumph:

    If McGuinness would stop treating the public in Northern Ireland and the republic, like imbeciles.

    The man has no credibility and will say anything to get elected.

    Gay Byrne was right.
    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/republic-of-ireland/gay-byrne-attacks-mcguinness-in-tv-rant-16053993.html
    “I’ve interviewed Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams and they are so well disciplined and so well honed that no interviewer gets anywhere with them.
    “You get nowhere with them because they lie.
    “They lie all the time. They don’t mind lying and they’ve rehearsed their lies and they’ve been trained to lie, and that’s what they’re doing.”

    His latest, “he (McGuinness) said “he felt ashamed when incidents, such as the Enniskillen bombing, were carried out in the name of Irish republicanism”.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Nevin, it is one of the forgotten stories that still sends a shiver down my spine, an operation that size it would have been unlikely the top commanders in the IRA didn’t know about it at every stage. So Marty has a lot of questions still to answer and the crocodile tears don’t cover anything.

  • SethS

    I would have thought an ideal result for SF would be to top the poll, but not actually win the contect. That way they can claim a victory of sorts without losing their main man in NI.

  • Lionel Hutz

    The reason why McGuinness won’t do that is that the debate will no longer be focused on him. Norris has an outside chance of winning. As long as that is so, McGuinness won’t get the attention. The McGuinness won’t be about “why we should’t vote McGuinness”. That debated suited Sinn Fein as they could argue about Lemass and Dev etc and people would becomesympathetic to McGuinness because of all the criticism.

    The debate around McG will now be “why would we vote McGuinness”. In a 7 strong field there is little McG can offer than cannot be got elsewhere with less of a moral compromise. Dana is perfectly cheerful Derry wan outsider. Norris can take the anti-establishment vote. Gallagher the pro business vote. Higgins the left wing vote.

    I thought McGuinness was going to be a masterstroke. Now its looking increasingly like a mistake.

    Would SF have put in McGuinness prior to Norris leaving the field? I doubt it. Look how SF took to of the pro Norris independents. Look how they voted against Norris on the CCs until it became obvious that he was getting in.

  • Mark

    Alias ,

    Apologies …my mistake . I mistook your ….. shall we call it criticism of Gerry Adams for that of Sinn Fein . When I spoke of personal abuse , I wasn’t referring to either one of us having a go at eachother . I meant your criticism of Adams .

    As I told you on the night you left the last time , I’ve always enjoyed reading your posts regardless of whether I agree with you or not .

    No hard feelings …… now give us an M , give us a c , give us a G , give us a U and so on .

  • FuturePhysicist

    Anything above the 10% they apparently have could be spun as a victory in my opinion. Then again non-voters of the main three parties support would skew small results in their favor.

    I don’t think McGuinness will top the poll, the Labour/ULA vote could split 50:50 Norris and Higgins and both sides would have more than Sinn Féin under normal circumstances.

    But positions are rather silly, you’d rather be 3rd with 22% than first with 11% at stage 1.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Okay make than 15% instead … 11% too low.

  • Alias

    It is meaningless as a comparative because there is no previous result to compare it to. Even if they had a previous result for a presidential election, would anyone accept that an increase on the percentage from a different candidate seven years ago was tantamount to an increase in party support? Only the fairies and the folks who vote Shinners would fail to dismiss that bull outright.

    None of the other political parties will attempt to make a correlation between a presidential result and a general election result. They’d be laughed off the field.

    Also, the result for the Shinners will be a freak result simply because a dynamic is in play in this election that won’t be in play in other elections, i.e. the pick-up of votes from FF’ers with no party candidate to vote for. As it won’t be repeated, even the bogus correlation they will inevitably attempt to proffer if they get 15% of the vote will mean that even a few fairies might laugh at it…

  • http://joeharron@yahoo.com joeCanuck

    Anyone prepared to make a prediction about how many people will be surprised when all of the votes are tallied.? i don’t have a clue myself.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Look anyone looking to back Fianna Fáil against Sinn Fein after the aftermath of the banking bailout would probably support the likes of Norris, Dana and Mary, even Gay and Mitchell before even considering Martin.

    If McGuinness is relying on Fianna Fáil votes, he’s due a humiliation. I’d even guess that some of the independent voters who helped nominate McGuinness wouldn’t wish their voters to back him either.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Anyone prepared to make a prediction about how many people will be surprised when all of the votes are tallied.? i don’t have a clue myself.

    At the turn of the election I would guess about 10,000 genuinely disheartened Sinn Féin supporters.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Lionel Hutz i>The debate around McG will now be “why would we vote McGuinness”.

    Isn’t IRA apologetics, and repeating the words leadership and delivery to meaningless exhaustion not enough?

    Oh he’s cheap too, got to remember that with the sovereign debt crisis.