Ipsos /MRBI: Irish Labour’s ‘poll of despond’…

Here’s the latest figures from the Irish Times Ipsos /MRBI poll

Fine Gael: 26%
Sinn Féin: 23%
Fianna Fáil: 22%
Labour: 6%
Greens: 2%
Others/Ind: 21%

Right about now is when Labour party activists should be hitting the panic like hell button. As Adrian Kavanagh notes, the party has not seen ratings like this in twenty five years, though it has to be said, the change is right on the margin of error.

Labour’s absences, as noticed by Miriam Lord, from the National Ploughing Championship is likely just symptomatic of bad feeling building up inside a party who’s leadership is not yet focused on the terrible fire sale that may lie ahead.

Of the rest, the only other statistically significant change is the drop in Fianna Fail’s rating from 26% down to 22%, and independents who rise within their customary corridor to 21%.

The wicked genius of FG was divide the Ministry of Finance in two and give Labour the hard task of public sector reform (erm, that’s spending cuts to you and I), whilst Michael Noonan took the glory for various deals some of which took his natural machine guile and others arising from the realisation at the ECB that you can bleed a thing to death.

The Seanad Referendum has been a good gig for Enda and Fine Gael, which is borne out in the figures of the poll. Damian Loscher comments:

Fine Gael’s stance on the referendum is broadly in tune with public opinion. While it is viewed as cynical and populist by some, the majority of voters back the proposal to abolish the Seanad (62 per cent in favour). Overwhelmingly, Fine Gael voters (77 per cent) are intending to vote Yes.

Good news for Sinn Fein. Yes, undoubtedly. And not just in their contention in the twenties with the big boys, but it also shows they are demographically strongest with new voters by some way:

They register 23 per cent support in today’s poll, a gain of two points, and are especially strong among those aged 18-34 (32 per cent support), where they are the party of choice by some distance.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • Morpheus

    Interesting times when you couple these results with The Sunday Independent results which have a SF/FF coalition as the current favorite among the electorate, something which SF thinks is a good idea and FF won’t rule out.

  • Nordie Northsider

    It’s no secret that SF wanted coalition with FF before their ‘disappointing’ election in 2007. Now I’m not so sure. No matter who takes power in 2015/16, there won’t be many goodies to hand out and this Govt’s cuts won’t be reversed. It’s one thing associating with a big-spend populist party at the height of an economic boom, quite another sidling up to a widely-hated rump of a party in a continuing period of austerity.

  • Mick Fealty


    Spot on. I imagine they’ll be focused on Dublin results and trying to effect an FF lock out of the capital before even contemplating an entry into big government politics in the south.

  • FDM

    The interesting point that the article deriving from this…

    “The latter [SF] backed by one in three voters in Connacht-Ulster and one in five in Dublin, is now the two regions’ strongest party.”

    is that [if I am reading what they say correctly] after the next set of elections North and South that SF may be the biggest party in Ulster, Connaught and Leinster [Dublin].

    Oh err missus.

  • megatron

    I dream of a day when I can read an article about a poll without someone reading the words statistical significance.

    All changes (even a .00001% change) are statistically significant in that it changes the statistic we are measuring (party support).

    You can decide for yourself what you judge as significant but putting a 3% increases in a “satististically significant” box and a 2% increases in a “margin of error” box is absolute nonsense and should stop.

  • megatron

    On to the poll itself. Seems broadly good news for SF.

    It is interesting to see labour continually justifying staying in government. I actually believe that the labour ministers think that sacrificing the party for the country is worth doing.

    Any logical analyis would say that is not true and can only be as a result of at worst self interest and at best overconfidence in their ability to alter the country for the better.

    If they believe in the cause of labour it should not be sacrificed for small marginal gains over a few years/

  • Megatron,
    they find themselves exactly where the Green Party was a few years ago. What option do they have now? They know that they can;t destabilise the Government or they will be beaten up in real life in the street as well as annihilated in the elections.

    At best they can stay the course and hope that the recovery starts to happen enough for people to forgive them and cut them some slack. They need to stick together though as outriders and splitters will be taken down by the pack as soon as weakness is shown. However I don;t know what is being said behind closed doors but the leadership seems to be having a job holding it together.

    I believe that the Greens were naively doing what they thought best for the country by staying there so long. I think they had integrity.

    Labour – less so. There’s naked ambition there. Lurking.

  • John Ó Néill

    Labour may now be beyond panic like hell. As Miriam Lord points out – Labour haven’t appeared at the Ploughing Championships in three years. I was at it (for the first time) last year (for work reasons) and the scale is hard to take in (I believe up to 80,000 people per day attended this year). And there is a lot of traffic in and around the stands run by the various parties, as well the walkabouts done by various elected representatives. This year, I happened to be at the Tullamore Show (my other half was working at it) which is one of the biggest apart from the Ploughing, apparently (I think there was supposed to be 50-60,000 at it). Again, lots of political reps but no Labour. So, its penetrating down beyond even the big events.

    Adrian Kavanagh notes that the last time Labour was as low as 6%, it was in elections where they didn’t field candidates in every constituency and, it should be noted, before the merger with Democratic Left (which tended to poll around 3% or so itself). It has an ageing front bench (most are either over 60 or within a couple of years of sixty). From the top of my head, only Sean Sherlock and Alan Kelly (both close to 40, I’d think) are not of that older generation on the front bench. So it has the in-built danger of well-known faces who may well retire rather than face the possibility of being dumped by the electorate.

    And the current options? A change in leadership seems like a choice. But it would mean in-fighting and a need to give some concessions to Fine Gael to keep them sweet whilst Labour sorts itself out. Bailing out of the coalition would mean hoping that Fine Gael look for an alternative to an election, either in a pact with Fianna Fail for a minority government or a random gaggle of independents to prop up a minority government (I think we can rule out a deal with SF here). Collapsing the coalition to face an election would mean taking a big hit in terms of Dail representative (prospects for MEP seats are equally grim). However, staying in government could mean stagnating in the polls at the lower reaches for a couple of years. This would mean remaining continually weak as a partner in government at risk of having to take more hits for not being in a position to implement enough policies to claim justification for remaining there.

    So Labour may well be beyond panic now.

  • Mick Fealty

    I think HOwlin is right. They need a rising tide in the economy, but you’d imagine that even at that, it’s going to be tough.

    Call me picky, but a FF/FG government ain’t going to happen till after hell freezes over, or at least this side of a general election.

    Whichever of the two gets ahead then may try for a minority government with the tacit support of the other.

  • megatron

    I think labours 2015-2025 goose was cooked when it went into government. If they hadnt gone into government they really could have aimed to be leading gov party after next election.

    They would still maximise their seats at next election by changing leader and leaving now (hopefully without causing an election) but the difference might be so small you could justify to yourself (at this stage) staying in and making some impact on policy over next 2.5 years.

  • megatron

    PS – really when you think about it Labour tying themselves to FG was eventually going to end in disaster. It could only ever be about getting FF out and that isnt really what the labour electorate were looking for.

  • Feckitt

    According to this poll, SF are now by some considerable distance the most popular party across Ireland, North and South.

  • redstar2011

    Feckitt in theory yes

    However they are almost two separate parties in how thy act North and South- fight cuts South, implement cuts North!!!!!

  • willieric

    sf and the green party……..renamed ‘guns and roses’?

  • FDM

    Where is Douglas Hurd when you need him?

    Anybody remember “Mr Ten Percent”?

    “Oh the times they are a changing…”

    Quite Mr.Zimmerman.

  • megatron

    Redstar, in contrast to SF, I am sure you apply lazy media narratives consistently across both sides of the border.

  • redstar2011

    No megatron just facts.

    Their policies, particularly their economic approach has become very conservative. And in the North they talk a good fight against cuts, then implement them.

    I remember the days they called themselves ” revolutionary!”

  • Greenflag

    “The wicked genius of FG was divide the Ministry of Finance in two and give Labour the hard task of public sector reform (erm, that’s spending cuts to you and I), ”

    That was just ‘wicked genius ‘ Part 1 . Part 2 was getting Gilmore to be Tanaiste AND Minister for Foreign Affairs .The Tanaiste post is ‘decoration ‘ and the Minister of Foreign Affairs gets to fart around the globe to visit places like Ethiopia etc etc which keeps/kept the Great Leader away from the ‘home front ‘ and focused on matters which while important on their own account have little or zero impact on Labour’s traditional voter support in the Republic .

    Travel may or may not broaden the mind but in the case of Gilmore it has’nt broadened his party’s support -in fact quite the opposite .

    FG political genius or Labour Party Coalition negotiating idiocy ? Some of both I suppose . Not that FF have benefitted. The only beneficiaries appear to be SF and some independents .

    Goodbye Gilmore and thanks for the brief memory of a once possible to consider Labour voter plurality in Dail elections -but no thanks for the eh ‘political lack of genius ‘:(