Bertie’s quip that he was really socialist may have sounded like pistol whipping a Labour party that was struggling in the opinion polls to get out of a core support measure of between 12 and 14%. But it was also his peculiar talent to hoover up a large chunk of the urban working class vote and keep Labour firmly rammed back in the poor place. Tonight, the O’Conaill Street blog reports the rather shocking finding that Labour is now polling ahead of Fianna Fail:
The adjusted figures for party support, compared with the last Irish Times poll in November are: Fianna Fáil, 22 per cent (down 5 points); Fine Gael, 32 per cent (down 2 points); Labour, 24 per cent (up 10 point); Sinn Féin, 8 per cent (up 1 point); Green Party, 4 per cent (no change); and Independents/others, 9 per cent (down 4 points).
That’s a drop of some twenty points since last June. Notionally at least, Labour seem to be being bolstered from all round them: 5% from Fianna Fail, with some pulled in from Fine Gael, who drop 2 points from their poll surge in November, and some from independents. Sinn Fein, who might have expected to prosper from the economic downturn remain becalmed on 8%; suggesting that they simply do not figure in the calculations of potential swing voters.
It’s still three years to go before Bertie’s Fianna Fail alliance is tested at the real polls. You get the feeling that the teachers on the government benches will be fingering those lucrative agreements to return to work when the nation turns against them. But some of the lawyers amongst them may face stiff questions about their capacity to take and read a brief before returning to the bar…
Eamon Gilmore has finally done what his talented predecessor signally failed to do for the duration of the boom and get his party back into the kind of winning territory the party last saw under Dick Spring.
Fine Gael have more or less maintained their position after a surge in the same poll in November. It remains to be seen whether Gilmore can do the same. As Fianna Fail continue to drift the Greens will continue to be heavily targeted by both the main Opposition parties as what they clearly believe to be the government’s weakest link.