Relatively stable..

While a one-off poll can only give a limited snapshot of public opinion at any given time, the value of the Sunday Business Post’s Red C tracking poll lies in identifying the general trend in parties’ support. Red C managing director, Richard Colwell, on the latest poll in the Post

The story told by this data is that underlying support for Fianna Fail is on an upward trend, with gains across each of the past two months.
Conversely, for Fine Gael the underlying figures show a consistent downward trend dating back to before the summer recess. For most of the other parties, underlying trends are relatively stable, with Labour on 12-13 per cent, Sinn Fein on 9 per cent, and the Green Party on 7 per cent.
Only the PDs record a clear upward trend in support from the lows they were at during the summer.

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  • Greenflag

    Bertie the once supposedly ‘caretaker’ leader and safe pair of hands who was supposed to be ‘temporary’ until the ‘real leader’ emerged will probably be the longest serving Taoiseach in the Irish Republic 🙂

    Barring a major mishap an FF/PD win is on the cards again.

  • fair_deal

    No St Andrews bump for SF (in fact they lose a % point) and the comment that;

    “It appears that, when Labour grows in support, Sinn Fein appears to suffer, and vice versa.”

    Is an interesting observation.

  • ronan o donnell

    Sinn Féin are at 8% not 9%.
    Thats less than the polls gave them prior to the 2002 election.

    Stalled in the north and stalled in the south.

  • Henry94

    Sinn Fein have a policy problem. They are portraying themselves as an extreme leftist party. That is a hard sell in the successful property owning economy that is the south.

    If they don’t get serious about policy then people won’t take them seriously.

    What they need to become, what their potential voters on both sides of the border want and what the national interest demands is essentially a 32 county Fianna Fail.

    My vote will be a reluctant one the next time because I think they are wasting the opportunity they have created for themselves.

  • Crataegus

    Greenflag

    I think you are probably right, but seems certain Bertie will continue in his current position be it with PDs or Labour.

    Wonder if FF would be tempted to go early spring or late winter?

  • BeardyBoy

    Yes a 32 County FF would be a wonderful ticket to support – but the need to get more assertive in their support for unification

  • miss fitz

    I know I dont have the empirical evidence for this, but I cannot see SF sustaining the support they have commanded in recent years, particularly in the North. While the eye has been on the ball of the more extreme voters who are against signing up for policing, I truly feel that they will haemmorhage more moderate supporters who feel they are sinfully wasting an opportunity for progess.

    If you arent going to be part of the solution, you are definitely part of the problem, so a move on policing has to be forthcoming pretty swiftly.

  • dpef
  • Crataegus

    Miss Fitz

    I think SF are haemorrhaging at the extremes

    I think there is a growing disquiet and cynicism among the electorate generally. The DUP and SF have problems both at the extremes and the centre. The UUP seems to be suffering from constipation, some smaller Unionist groups flatulence, the SDLP as far as I can see are going no where and Alliance is in gradual decline. The problem is there is no group with sufficient vest and resources to make any real inroads. Why would anyone go out with enthusiasm and vote for any of them? It would probably be better if some declined into obscurity instead of lingering around.

    There is an open goal but no one about that can kick a ball.

  • Rubicon

    Miss Fitz – I think part of your post is correct and the SF hierarchy know it.

    In a recent conversation with a SF MLA I was told that recognising the Garda and the “Free State” army was a worse compromise than recognising the new PSNI (where the accountability was much better) – with or without the devolution of criminal justice. This MLA was much more concerned about managing the transition in a way that kept the peace process on track.

    Sometimes politicians tell you what they think you want to hear. I’m normally sceptical – but this one was prepared to debate the issue out, stuck to his point and had thought out the alternatives.

    Both the SF and DUP have a lot to explain. Ian Paisley (Snr) was part of the movement against Sunningdale and it is legitimate for his supporters to ask him, “why the SAA and not Sunningdale”? They are confused and some may be asking why they acted in the way they did – but are likely to conclude that they were right – rather than burden the responsibility for wrong-doing. I suspect Paisley will take a similar course – if SF give him the gap.

    SF too are hung up on previous rhetoric and afraid to make a move. The real politic of unionist splits may mean that they don’t need to face this problem (right now anyway).

    It’s a cruel world in politics and the evidence to date suggests SF won’t be hung up on modalities. It is precisely modalities that unionists concern themselves with (and I often find myself wishing they had done it better).

    There’s an election coming and SF take such events seriously. The election is at the DUP’s ‘request’. SF are happy to oblige – though it has damaged their Southern plans. Why would they move such resources? The answer may have something to do with having called a bluff to expose the DUP to account for their opposition to power-sharing in the past.

    Interesting times ahead …

  • Greenflag

    Crataegus,

    Bertie will wait to gauge reaction from Brian Cowan’s Budget and then will decide on a date . Whatever prospect there was of an FF /Labour Coalition has been destroyed by Rabbitte as Labour leader so it’ll be FF/PD . SF will hold stay steady or drop a per cent . FG and Labour will be looking for new leaders post election . Trevor Sargeant and the Green’s will hold thier own and maybe even pick up a per cent or two.

    The ‘politics’ of Northern Ireland will have little or no impact regardless of any DUP/SF agreement to share power. Such an agreement is likley to benefit Bertie as much as SF who might gain a per cent or two from such a deal . Truthfully most voters in the Republic don’t believe that any of the parties in NI are anywhere close to coming to terms with the real political and economic world around them . Decades of economic and political dependence as well as division, sectarianism and conflict have inured most of the Republic’s voters to believing that anything ‘new ‘in terms of a solution will ever come out of NI via it’s local political parties and leaders.

  • Crataegus

    Greenflag

    FF + PD government may be short on numbers especially if the PDs lose a few. That then places us back in the realms of needing independents and the bartering around that is a bit unseemly. Can’t see Greens entering a government with the PDs and hence I still think if the numbers fall right FF + Labour is a possibility. Labour will find a selfless reason that’s for the good of the country, and the leader needs to be replaced anyway.

    I also can’t see SF getting much of a bounce either from an agreement or the election result in NI. There won’t be a lot of good news to encourage their activists, and there is bound to be all sorts of internal rumblings. In the long run I can’t see them moving out of their niche market in the South.

    As for the North OH God, what a mess. It keeps occurring to me that we seem to have groups that haven’t a clue how to cut a deal. In fact division must suit them. If I want a bit of land or a property or business I make an offer, if they refuse I may come back with an improved offer or I may not. Now if I were a Nationalist surely I should be thinking what would it take to get say 25% of Unionists to vote for a United Ireland? 1in 4 would be more than enough come a referendum. What sort of Ireland, what are the advantages, how do we address the reasonable concerns? Given the current stasis they may be surprised at the response if the offer was well thought out. The same proposition applies for Unionists. But in the never never land of NI politics we prefer to stand on the hill side and bleat our own preferred options. 100% or nothing so what we get is nothing.

  • Brian Boru

    The only thing that can save the Opposition now is the chaotic electoral register which has deleted 80,000 genuine voters because of a botched fragmented plan to correct the register. To be fair, beforehand up to 800,000 names were on it that shouldn’t have been. But there are still 400,000 such names – the dead, duplicates and emigrants – while the new version is if anything worse because actual voters have been deleted! The Irish Independent is reporting today that councils are saying they still haven’t enough time to fix it. In fact the only council that has a fairly accurate register now is Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown where they reportedly ignored Minister Roche’s advice and only deleted those they could verify should not be on the register. In other areas this was not the case. Compared to the 1.8 million households visited by the CSO during the Census, only 1.25 million were visited by the councils for updating the register. What particularly infuriates me is that I was deleted from both my old address and new one instead of just my old one – in spite of explaining the duplicate problem which led to me getting 2 polling cards (I only used one of course) in 2002. I contacted my council and they have said they will put me back on it but how many more of the 10,000 deletions here in Wexford will be back on by the end of the year? I fear bizarre consequences at the next election with many turned away…..

    But in the unlikely event the register is fixed in time, I think this shows that a FF-PD govt propped up by Indos is likely. However it looks like there could be only half the number of Indos we have now. That makes the kind of Independents returned crucial. There are 2 types – anti-FF and pro-FF. James Breen in Clare is a former FFer and is likely to be returned. Paddy McHugh is 50:50. Mildred Fox is retiring but its rumoured her brother will stand. Jackie Healy-Rae would win re-election but its unclear which member of the family will run – him or his son Michael. Marion Harkin – rumoured in the past to be close to the PDs – won’t run in 2007. Paudge Connolly – who recently said he would support a minority FF govt (during Bertiegate) if it restored services to Monaghan hospital – will but there are rumours of a second hospitals candidate in Cavan-Monaghan. The anti-FF Indos include McGrath, Cowley (Mayo), Gregory (Dublin Central), Healy. I think they, the Greens or SF will be kingmakers next time.

  • Cratageus

    Brian

    The Greens in with the PDs & FF. Strange mix and I would imagine the end of Sargent as leader? Surely not.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Rubicon

    Your SF MLA will love the news about Larry O’Toole then! See here.

  • Greenflag

    Crataegus ,

    ‘if the numbers fall right FF + Labour is a possibility.’

    Not this time would be my view. Brian Cowan’s Budget should give the extra per cent or two boost to break the 40 % barrier and the rest will be made up by the PD’s . It will probably come down to who wins the last seat in most of the larger consituencies . Unless there is a major swing for or against the Government this is where the election will won or lost. The factors which will determine who gets the last seat are different in every constituency – Some would include party strength and vote in the constituency – the character of candidates – local issues – the ‘independent ‘ vote – the strength and management of internal party transfers of second and third prefeences .

    FF have always had an advantage in voting ‘discipline’ . They have learned the hard way how to ‘manage’ the vote .

    ‘In the long run I can’t see them (SF)moving out of their niche market in the South. ‘

    There is scope for them to get to maybe 14/15% but only in circumstances in which Labour is in ‘meltdown ‘ and in which an FF leader is seen to be doing more than bending over backwards as regards NI and thus loses a few per cent of the FF core vote. I don’t see either of these events on any near horizon.

    SF’s economic policies as Bertie has mentioned are just not going to go down with most voters in the Republic . This does not mean that voters are entirely happy with all aspects of FF/PD government and policies but they have gone past the ‘idealistic ‘ ultra socialist ‘ model of fixing modern societies ‘problems’ by imposing ever more taxation and more government . The voters have I believe more faith in the FF/PD approach which is to try to balance the twin needs of modern Ireland both for more economic growth with greater equity within Irish society .

  • Greenflag

    Crataegus,

    ‘It keeps occurring to me that we seem to have groups that haven’t a clue how to cut a deal.’

    You should not be surprised . Given the nature of the formation of the NI State and the effective one party government rul of the UUP 1920 through 1972 where would NI politicians have learned how to ‘deal’ . Brookeborough once ensconced at Stormont is reported to have said to one of his civil servants – ‘So what am I supposed to do?’

    NI political history can be divided into 4 periods .

    1) One party Government UUP – 1920 through 1972 –
    Minimal opposition -mostly absent .

    2) Sunningdale 1972 to 1974 – A brief period in which a solution was almost found . Right wing Unionists and Loyalists together with a weak British Government both ended this opportunity

    3) 1974 -1989 -The Molyneaux -Powell era .Full integration within the UK a la Finchley was the UUP objective . Powell was very clear on the options for NI -it was either fully part of the UK or it could be part of a UI but not both . Molyneaux having local roots knew that a restoration of the former simple ‘democracy’ of a UUP controlled Stormont would never be allowed to return to one party rule decided that integration was the better deal . He had no time for power sharing or devolution . The problem with Molyneaux’s and Powell’s approach was that no British Government even the Conservatives would consider NI being just another Finchley . This is still the cross on which Unionism (be it UUP or DUP) is permanently impaled . It’s the source of Unionism’s inherent mistrust of HMG yet at the same time they know that HMG cannot be seen to ditch NI without the consent of the majority of it’s people . In this no man’s land the ‘constitutional impasse’ can continue forever going nowhere despite occassional hopes being raised. This ‘wasted’ period also allowed SF to emerge as the main party for NI nationalists and republicans . The disappearance of the UUP to Westminster left the SDLP looking like Cinderella looking at three empty bowls with no porridge hot or cold or lukewarm on the horizon. This along with the emotions engendered by the hunger strikers propelled SF into the position which it increasingly maintains today in NI.

    4) 1989 to 2006 .

    This period is a mix of cessation of violence-ceasefires -decommissioning -peace process and devolutionary settlement . It should not be forgotten that the impetus for any political movement towards ‘normalisation ‘ within Northern Ireland has come from outside NI . The efforts of US mediator Senator Mitchell and both British and Irish Governments were needed (are still needed) to keep the opposing parties talking ‘at ‘ each other .

    I remain skeptical that any ‘devolved ‘ Government will/would be anything more than another short term bandaid . We can already see how ‘devolution’ is having the opposite effect in Scotland from what was it’s intention. In NI the powers of the proposed devolved Assembly are insufficient for it’s politicains to make the policy changes which are needed to wean NI off it’s economic dependency and towards a more modern political structure . Instead the Assembly will result in a 2 party carve up of NI as replacement for the one party carve up of 1920 . Both Assemblies will be characterised by the lack of any effective opposition apart altogether from the fact that the Assembly will have virtually no economic policy making powers.

    continued later next post

  • miss fitz

    Greenflag
    Surely you mean 1921? The first govt in Stormont came into beingon June 7th 1921.

    Its a small but vital element and needs to be precise

  • Greenflag

    ‘Now if I were a Nationalist surely I should be thinking what would it take to get say 25% of Unionists to vote for a United Ireland?’

    You might – but as a nationalist I would’nt . The assumption behind your thinking here is that Nationalists want/ care enough about a UI to actually go to the bother of trying to persuade even a significant percentage of Unionists. There is a healthy pragmatic skepticism behind this ‘nationalist’ attitude however impractical it may seem at face value. What Nationalists are saying is that a UI is what they aspire to, but that unless a large number of Unionists favour such a deal (more than your 25% I’d guess ) then it won’t happen . I make a distinction here of course between the committed minority of UI Republicans and the broad mass of the Irish people North and South . Because of the local history of NI and events since the 1920 Partition -northern views on a UI and how it might be brought about differ from Southern views. Committed Republicans in NI may be happy with a 51% referendum solution in favour of a UI , most Southerners would not.

    ‘What sort of Ireland’

    Not much different from what we presently enjoy would be my instinctive response . The Republic has had to adjust to the problems posed by hundreds of thousands of new immigrants so in that respect the political absorption of a minority of British unionists would not seem to pose too many practical problems . None that could not be resolved in a practical manner anyway. However it would take IMO the perception by nationalists that a large number of former unionists were committing to a future in a UI and were politically active in trying to get the best deal possible for their ‘side’ for the ‘nationalist’ majority to ‘wake up’ to the dream /nighmare ,delete as appropriate .

    ‘what are the advantages”

    The major one would be an end to political uncertainty and a refocusing on practical issues such as the economy /health /infrastructure etc etc . The ‘constitutional issue’ because of it’s long standing pre-eminence has always been seen as the Ne Plus Ultra of the NI State . NI politics can go nowhere with this issue and nowhere without it . It’s a political catch 22 situation.

    Of course a fair and agreed ‘repartition ‘ of NI would also put an end to constitutional political uncertainty . What it would do for a 2 county NI economy and it’s future would be ‘democracy’ is less clear . An enlarged Republic could continue much as it is in the event of a fair repartition.

    ‘how do we address the reasonable concerns?

    This would be a matter for former ‘unionist ‘ representatives . A lot of what appear to me as Unionist ‘concerns’ would IMO disappear given active participation by former unionist politicians in the Republic’s parliament . The Irish Senate could be relocated to Belfast . The PSNI could become Gardai etc . Ireland would have one soccer team -one rugby team and one gaelic football/rules team .

    ‘Given the current stasis they may be surprised at the response if the offer was well thought ‘out. ‘

    There has always been an offer as in the Irish Constitution since of course watered down to an aspiration. The offer was never countenanced seriously by Unionists for it offered them nothing except political equality in a much poorer country . Today it’s a different world and if there were an offer it would be political equality in a much richer country . We Irish turned down not just the offer but the actuality of a similar proposal (1829 through 1922 ) from our neighbouring island . So I would not bet on Unionist reaction being anyway different . The world has of course changed since so other factors i.e the EU are now in play.

    On the numbers the Economist now has Irish GDP per capita at 58,020 US Dollars ( PPP 43,700) in it’s 2007 World Outlook edition. The UK figures are 42,430 US dollars (PPP 35,940) respectively . PPP is purchasing power parity . Northern Ireland’s figures (based on a 75% of the UK average) would be GDP per capita 31,822 US dollars (PPP 26,094). The outlook for the Republic’s economy to 2010 is continued growth of 4% plus . This will continue to surpass the UK’s 2.3 % for probably another decade thus widening the economic differential between the Republic and NI even further .

    My personal view would be that it’s up to Unionists -i.e former Unionists to make of a UI what they want , if that should ever become what they or a large number want . They can be a bridge between Britain and Ireland or remain a perpetual irritant both to themselves and their neighbours or maybe find some kind of half way house existence between both ?

    Their choice . Nobody can make that choice except themselves .

  • Greenflag

    Brian Boru ,

    Stop yer dreamin lad . It will be an FF/PD Government . I can agree that the number of ‘independents ‘ may decline . SF as kingmakers ? 1000 to 1 would be good odds for such a bet. Rabbitte and Sargeant have shot themselves in the foot this time out and Rabbitte will probably be replaced post election. Bertie has ruled out SF because of fundamental economic policy differences .

  • Greenflag

    Fitzer,

    ‘Its a small but vital element and needs to be precise ”

    I’m not a bureaucrat 🙂 Never had the temperament . I prefer the big picture but I’ll concede that you are technically correct.

  • miss fitz

    Sorry Greenflag. Its just one of those useless facts that seems to be stuck in my head!! Am stuck into my history at the moment as well, so couldnt help meself.

  • Crataegus

    Greenflag

    Thanks for the very comprehensive reply and I apologise for the delay and limited response, unfortunately I am up to my neck in business plans, spread sheets and trying to comprehend strange customs and laws in foreign parts.

    I don’t disagree with much of what you say and another time would like to pursue in more detail some of the observations, where I think I would differ from you is the stand off approach, i.e. its up to Unionists to decide and whilst that may be true I think you have to make that path easier. The current situation is like a country dance where the lads won’t cross the floor until desperation sets about 11.15pm.

    It may be my own background or disposition, but I find if you want something to happen then you need to be more than a little more proactive. I have been known to persuade complete strangers to participate in all sorts of developments, so far to everyone’s benefit, and it only happens if someone sees an opportunity, assesses who is needed, makes the move, has a proposition and can sell it. If you wait for Unionists it just won’t happen, there are issues surrounding pride, tradition etc that would need to be smoothed over. Interestingly given the current balance between the government and the opposition Unionists would have considerable leverage in a UI.

    Sorry have to get back to considering how best to put some flesh on some opportunities and how to make them happen ASAP. So will have to be on top of it to motivate and it will be the new year before I have any real free time.