Can this be right?

The Irish Independent reports the results of a TV3 opinion poll carried out by Millward Brown Lansdowne – the rest of the poll can be read here [pdf file].  Margin of error is 3 percentage points.  RTÉ have also picked it up.  From the Irish Independent report

Compared with the last poll by the same company, published in the Irish Independent in February, Fianna Fail is down five points to 22pc, Fine Gael is down four points to 30pc, and Labour has shot up 16 points to 35pc.

The Green Party is unchanged at 2pc, Sinn Fein is down 4pc to 4pc, and Independents are down 2pc to 8pc.

While it’s worth noting that these are the figures after the 17% of ‘don’t knows’ are excluded, the changes from February, in a poll using the same methodology, are eye-catching.

And from a northerly point of view, interesting that 28% of identified Sinn Féin supporters apparently have a preference for Irish Labour Party Leader Eamon Gilmore to be the next Taoiseach – compared to 33% who would prefer their own party leader, Gerry Adams.

Although that might be because they recognise that he’s an absentee leader…

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  • dublinsinnfeinsupporter

    Without being complacent, it is fair to ask whether this may be a rogue poll. Some polls out on Saturday and Sunday will probably show that it is.

    Even were it not, this is not a case for or time to panic. Sinn Féin have always taken a long term approach to party building; Gerry Adams stated (in 2005) that the effects of the 2005 IRA statement would be slow-release rather than immediate.

    Furthermore, Sinn Féin are more interested in building up voter strength in key constituencies than in build nationwide thinly-spread support. It is those built-up support bases that return TDs. A thin spread support does not.

    Independent commentators predict that SF will increase their number of TDs at the next election in several targeted constituencies. It is all about hard work on the ground as far as Sinn Féin is concerned, in terms of building up.

  • dublinsinnfeinsupporter

    Sinn Féin believe in steady organic sustainable growth, built by activism at constituency level , rather than unsistainable thin-spread growth, of the here-today-gone-tommow type that characterises the growth of Labour and FG. It is important not to put too much weight on a single poll that has just come out.

  • The Labour jump suggests either a rogue poll or just illustrates how volatile public opinion is at the moment. As to the SF share – the game for SF is to attract transfers as much as first preference votes in the elections. A 10% score in the polls is still useless if it only translates to 6 or 7 seats.

  • dublinsinnfeinsupporter

    Remember this 4% is only an average across all constituencies. It says NOTHING about the key constituencies that SF are targeting.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Can this be right?…….No.
    Its an Irish Opinion Poll. They are rarely right.

  • Pippakin

    SF are in trouble, Adams is tainted, and McGuinness who is so far relatively undamaged, appears to me to be wholly absorbed in the north.

    Labour have made consistent gains across several opinion polls and Gilmore is both presentable and capable. As far as I know he has no paramilitary baggage which is another plus.

    I used to support FF (sorry). I now support Labour. Im not so unusual.

  • Anon

    In regards to SF, for the TEN MILLIONTH TIME what is the margin of error? How many times has this been recorded? If the answer to those questions are 3%, then anything 4-10% is usual for SF and expected given their 7% at the last election. If you can’t manage this, then please, just submit the numbers without comment because you are a complete and utter moron. I am not expecting 538 here but some minimal intelligible comment would be nice.

    In any case, the interesting bit is the shift to Labour, because it is huge and a similar spike has been observed before. is it right? That depends on what you mean by right. It may be an accurate reflection of now. More polls are needed. Is it a sustained jump, and will it be seen at the next election? No one knows yet.

  • Garza

    The fact alone that you are not getting any dissatisifed FF voters should be VERY worrying for SF.

  • Greenflag

    We’ll have to differ on GIlmore . He has evolved from Worker’s Party to Democratic Left to the Labour Party -over the years . He was also a Trade Union official . I don’t know of any paramiltary connections but I suspect not .

    I too used to support FF but not next time out . It would require a radical shake up both in the government team and in their policies before I’ll trust them again . A spell in opposition is what they need at this stage . Can’t see either Kenny or Gilmore being effective though in Government . Gilmore is too beholden to the public sector unions and the civil service mandarins as well as the RTE thought police . Kenny makes John Major look like Superman 🙁

    Ivan Yates and or Richard Bruton or even Noonan as leader might persuade me to throw a first preference in the blue shirt direction just the once ye understand 😉

    Its a quandary . SF may do a little better if this recession doesn’t lift soon . FF will be down barring a miracle in fact barring several miracles in a row . It will as they say be interesting -Probably the first election in almost 20 years which will fox many of the election junkies as to the outcome . Then there is the PR voting mechanism which will be tested if all the major parties are ranging from the low twenties to the mid or low thirties .

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    One more poll like this and Kenny will be gone – of course he should have been long gone by now – he makes Tommo Elliot look like Mr Personality – well perhaps not.

    The problem is that in times like these the country needs austerity and the Labour Party will find it very hard to adminsiter such medicine to the Plain People of Ireland.

    Though in ‘leadership qualities’ terms (looking comfortable and sounding knowledgeable) Gilmore looks a very good bet.

  • dublinsinnfeinsupporter

    It is important to protect the interests if the least well off. Sinn Féin do not believe in cuts that would hurt the less well off. It is through progressive tax that the bulk of this should be met. It was not the poor who caused the crisis.

  • Realistic Projectionist

    Sinn Fein in the Republic positions itself as a left-wing party, far more than it does up here. If they can’t make hay during the worst economic situation the country has ever faced, one wonders when do they expect to start gaining votes? It’s clear that not only are Irish Labour taking Fianna Fail votes, they’re also swallowing up Sinn Fein’s electorate.

  • White Horse

    dublinSFsupporter

    I get a sense that this poll has really panicked you.

    All this talk about the long-term building seems like bullshit to me. You simply have no relevance to the public in the 26 counties.

  • dublinsinnfeinsupporter

    Arrant nonsense.

    It is folly to place too much weight on a single poll, within the margin of error (+ and – 3%).

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    dublinsinnfeinsupporter,

    re. “It was not the poor who caused the crisis”

    I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment but it is like many things in life it may be extrmely unfair but that is simply the way it is.

    If the bread winner in a house pisses it all up aginast a wall there will be no bread to go on the dinner table – the children have to go without (or get into debt) not because it is their fault but because there is no fecking choice.

    At least the Plain People of Ireland had a choice and the dull fecks voted for what was obviously a corrupt party (FF) for office.

    Politically as SF have little chance of getting elected they can afford to tell it otherwise but the Plain People of Ireland hopefully know the horrible truth and will probably vote to take their medicine and forget about the jam which was all eaten yesterday and probably the bread as well – at least for the forseeable future.

    If the Labour party get into power as seems extremely likley anjd the IMF or other tells them to cut spending or lose soverignity they will do it and that will leave SF in a nice position the election after next with the Labour party discredited for doing what was necessary – that is assuming we are still afloat and not everbody has emigrated.

  • Paddy Matthews

    The problem is that in times like these the country needs austerity and the Labour Party will find it very hard to adminsiter such medicine to the Plain People of Ireland.

    The problem is that the broken-down old nag that is the Irish domestic economy is being asked to pull a cart overladen with heavy slabs of bank debt. Further cutting the horse’s rations and whipping it ever harder while at the same time loading more and more slabs into the back of the cart is unlikely to end well.

    To quote today’s Financial Times (behind a subscription wall but a Google News search for “Ireland’s dilemma” will bring it up):

    “Ultimately, given the government’s determination to shrink the primary deficit, the main determinant of debt sustainability will be the interest rate. Getting market rates down will therefore be more important to control the deficit than cutting a couple more percentage points of GDP from public spending (a course that anyway might further harm a growth path that looks set to lag the government’s own projections).”

  • White Horse

    Sammy

    That’s just more bullshit designed to keep SF hopes alive. The fact is that SF have no economic policies and the reason for that is that they’re afraid of division in their base between the left and the lunatic right in places north of the border. While they have no credible economic policies, they will always be irrelevant.

  • dublinsinnfeinsupporter

    It was sammy.- what a lot of right wing rubbish.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    White Horse

    “they will always be irrelevant.” With Marty as dFM that is a little silly.

    “While they have no credible economic policies, they will always be irrelevant.”

    Their economic polices had more ‘credibilty’ than FF / FG as we can tell from the current mess.

    I am suggesting that the absence of SF economic relaism will not work this time out but may do after 4 or 5 years of (hard) Labour. People will simply forget that FF caused the problem and get pissed off with Labour.

  • dublinsinnfeinsupporter

    Naive and silly stuff. Let us not put our trust in fairy tales.

  • White Horse

    Sammy

    Irrelevant primarily south of the border where the poll is relevant.

    What are SF’s economic policies?

    In five or six years people will go back to FF not SF because SF has no relevance.

  • dublinsinnfeinsupporter

    SF’s policies are and have been VERY clear.

    On the specifics we opposed the Euro which takes away power over countercylical monetary and fiscal policy. We stood for state owned banks – which would have been far better than what we got from the likes of Anglo Irish.

    We stand for a greater emphasis on local indigenous export oriented business and less on low-corporate-tax-induced FDI, where profits flow out and are not committed to Ireland.

    We stand for investment in education – which brings wealth and helps the least well off in particular.

    We stand for greater equality between rich and poor and a move away from a policy of cheapness and low tax to a policy of better public services financed by progressive tax.

    If you don’t know our economic policies then you should; they differ from the consensus that prevailed. We were criticised for that but these policies look pretty clear to me.

  • dublinsinnfeinsupporter

    Absolutely not panicked. Sinn Féin have a clear plan to build up in specific constituencies so the results of nationwide polling (which is just an average across many consttituencies) is not so important. Sinn Féin’s tally is subject to the 3% margin of error so we await further polls – the RedC one on Sunday for instance. But as I say the nationwide poll isn’t so important for a targeted constituency based strategy.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    dublinsinnfeinsupporter,

    You fecking free staters – you come up here to the occupied territories and are not able to defend your position through rational arguement but have to resort to very poor sloganising which is typical of the politics of the pale .

  • dublinsinnfeinsupporter

    I can now see you are just a trole. I will not be taking your posts seriously from now on.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    dublinsinnfeinsupporter,

    There are very difficult times ahead and there will be pain for everyone and whoever takes office will probably be damaged by being in the right place at the wrong time. You are not reflecting very well on your party to try an pretend otherwise and try looking at the pragmatic politics of SF in power in the North rather than through your-Free-State-filter .

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Paddy,

    There are another 10 economists that will say just the opposite – the fact is the arguement needs to be approached from a pragmatic view not an ideological one – in so far as there is any certainty in Economic we should use evidence and best practice and not wishful lthinkink as our somewhat excitable free-state visitor seems to think.

  • Why, says I, should any sane individual even think such a poll might invoke “panic”?

  • dublinsinnfeinsupporter

    There is to be an MRBI poll tonight (for tomorrows Times). It will come out around 9pm-11pm.

    There is to be a REDC poll tomorrow night (for Sundays SBC) and it will come out around 9pm tomorrow.

    So that will be more informative than this one poll regarding Sinn Féin.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    White Horse,

    Of course some will return to the FF fold but I think that like the church they have been holed below the waterline and will never recover to anything like their previous postion. The raw anger over the criminal neglience shown by FF when in power is not going to dissipate anytime soon and every cutback and hadrship endured will be associated with their gombeenery.

    Having said that FG were cheering on from the sidelines as the car drove straight into the wall of economic reality and they spent their time arguing over stamp duty rather than crying halt. The small left wing parties, including SF were simply laughed at and pilloried when they pointed out that the average industrial wage woudln’t but you a space on the park bench.

    Although a less generous person might suggest that even a stopped clock is right twice a day nevertheless on the biggest economic issue since the founding of the state the left has the comfort of knowing that there analysis was much better than that of the carzy feckers in charge – and the main opposition.

  • plainly speaking

    dublinsinnfeinsupporter says: “SF’s policies are and have been VERY clear.”

    Really? Anyone who recalls Gerry’s squirming and economic illiteracy in the run up to the 2007 election will find that very hard to believe.

  • Garza

    Even at 7%, that is awful for SF, you are not even getting the protest vote!!

  • White Horse

    Sammy

    On economics I think your analogy with the stopped clock being right twice a day is apt.

    I wouldn’t of course refer to Sinn Fein as left per se. They are an amalgam of the lunatic left and lunatic right and that is why they won’t ever settle for an honest economic policy. They will never upset the lunatic right by being serious about their so-called left wing credentials.

    Yes, they know what left wing policies are, but like during the Troubles, where they professed to know what compassion was, they’re only paying lip-service to it while they embarked on a feeding frenzy for the right.

  • Pippakin

    Greenflag

    I agree it looks as though FF are facing a long time in the political wilderness. Not sure they won’t pick up some votes from the faithful when push comes to shove at the voting booth.

    Gilmore has grown. His trip around the parties has given him some perspective and he knows which buttons to push, although I too wonder if he will shrug off the unions etc. as he must if he is to lead.

    SF are in trouble, they should be miles ahead at this stage and they are no where near. I wonder if it might be good for them if Labour did win. If only because being popular in opposition is nothing like as hard as maintaining that popularity once in power. Interesting times we live in!

  • slug

    Sinn Féin’s approach to politics here and politics in the six counties is motivated by common values: values of the progressive lefft. A concern for the least well off in society, human rights for all especially the vulnerable, investment in public services, free at the point of use,, financed by progressive tax on those most able to pay, and a focus on economic equality of income, equality for gays lesbians and transgender , womens rights, and full cultural and economic equality for all..

  • slug

    …or at least that is what they would argue.

  • joeCanuck

    I’m surprised that anyone would get exercised over the results of one poll. Was the poll taken after the Taosaich (sorry, can’t spell) appeared to be tired and emotional one morning? Alaistair Campbell’s 11 days have passed and I don’t see any more controversy.
    So Labour supporters shouldn’t be laying in the champagne and Powers just yet. As that other Labour party leader succinctly put it many years ago, a week can be a long time in politics.

  • Pippakin

    joe

    Labour have been rising in the polls for some time. This latest is another sign of steady growth.

  • White Horse

    Yes, they know what the values of the progressive left are, but I emphasise again that they pay lipserrvice to these populist ideas because they know that a section of their support would be lost if they really progressed down that road.

    They are a phoney party inhibited by debts owed to the far right of the North’s business and rural conservative communities who egged them on during the Troubles with money and other assistance.

  • PJM

    The polling company is the same but the methodology is different (this one is phone only) so beware of the trends.

    The Labour level of support is consistent with other polls – they have been level pegging or ahead if FG in several other polls. The FF support is also consistent
    The SF level looks low and either it is wrong or SF are being squeezed by Lab

  • barnshee

    “Sinn Féin’s approach to politics here and politics in the six counties is motivated by common values: values of the progressive lefft. A concern for the least well off in society, human rights for all”

    LOL
    just like the rights allowed at
    Event: Kingsmill Massacre.
    Date: 05.01.76 (Bloody Monday).

    Event: Belfast Centre Bombings.
    Date: 21.07.72 (Bloody Friday).

    Event: Darkley Massacre.
    Date: 20.11.83 (Bloody Sunday).

    Event: Teebane Massacre.
    Date: 17.01.92 (Bloody Friday).

    etc etc

    “A concern for the least well off in society, human rights for all”

  • dublinsinnfeinsupporter

    Almost certainy it is wrong. A rogue poll. You get one every so often.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Now now Barnshee — the above were engaged in acts which negated their human rights, ie travelling to work, worshipping in church and shopping.

    Yes indeed everyone on the island can trust SF regarding human rights (see above), the economy (witness the super job they’re doing in the north, particularly on delivering on school repairs/updating/rebuilding promises) and their cultural equality (just ask anyone from the protestant community how their British culture is respected).

    ‘progressive tax on those most able to pay’ — rough translation — tax the better off till they leave the country

    ‘a focus on economic equality of income’ — what does this mean exactly?

    ‘equality for gays lesbians and transgender & womens rights’ — are such groups not already considered equal?

    Sadly for SF their vague policies and north-centric issues are largely ignored in the republic, who have much more to worry about than the constant six county mantra. The party’s only chance of avoiding political oblivion is to ensure that NI remains within the UK for as long as possible.

  • Alias

    Ireland’s multi-seat constituencies will (thankfully) ensure that Labour’s lead in the poll (it if held it) doesn’t translate into it becoming the largest party after the next election by causing its vote to split among its multiple low-calibre candidates. Voting for labour is a manifestation of the self-serving Irish serving their individual interest (as the usually do) rather than their collective national interest. They see Labour as more willing to increase taxes (on minority others) in order to maintain the bloated welfare state.

  • Mick Fealty

    Can we stay on the topic concerned? I’m not saying it’s exactly playing the man, but it is *way* off topic and aimed at playing politics, rather than seriously discussing politics!!!

    Setting aside the the veracity of the poll for a moment, what I find most interesting is the way Labour are playing it.

    They’ve been squeezing the public sector and Dublin FF vote for a couple of years now without affecting the SF urban vote.

    But they are now playing up the ‘let’s make history’ narrative, which has to be piling on the pressure to the two old parties.

    SF – probably rightly – claimed that they were the victim of a squeeze last time out between FG and FF. This time, if Labour can keep exciting the electorate with the real possibility of moving into the Taoiseach’s office ahead of Enda, that squeeze could get really personal for SF next time out.

    I kind of expect to see a correction as we get closer to the election, which could come as early as Springtime. The question is only, by how much.

    Gilmore’s playing way better than any of his opponents. And the polls (though to be fair they are a much rarer species) are not as febrile as the British polls on the way to the Coalition victory in May.

    Enda’s got his work cut out for him…

  • Mick Fealty

    Probably true. The trouble for all their opponents is that Labour can riff on this for quite a while until the corrective comes along which proves whether it is an outlier or not.

  • SDLP Man

    Mick

    I don’t think any ball-playing is going on. It’s just that dublinsinnfeinsupporter (DSFS) comes over as being so sanctimonious or, maybe at best, thoroughly naïve. This is a political site, where a lot of contributors are pretty well informed, and people remember the reality of what Sinn Fein’s actions have been. It’s not surprising that people line up to give him a good cyber-booting.

    The contradictions are so glaring. For example:

    1. SF in the South say they want to leave the Euro, yet simultaneously they demand that the North join the Euro.

    2. Most people outside FF agree that the banks should be taken into public owners yet, when push came to shove in 2008, and they had a chance to do something radical, Sinn Fein TDs voted in the Dail to support the blanket guarantee to bond-holders, including those of Anglo-Irish Bank.

    3. The South’s economy is totally on the floor. The consequences of leaving the Euro and bringing back the Punt would be catastrophic. What would the convertible Punt exchange rate be against the dollar, sterling and Euro? Remember, our liabilities would still be denominated in those currencies. National wealth would be totally destroyed and there would be hyper-inflation.

    I’ve listened again to Adams’s joust with McDowell. He mentioned none of these so-called policies, he was totally dire, he just kept muttering into his beard something about equality.

    Adams has been MP for West Belfast for over a quarter of a century. Economically, it’s a complete basket case. For all his vaunted access to the movers and shakers in the upper echelons of US society, he hasn’t brought a single job to West Belfast. How could he? Even as late as 1991, when the IRA bomb-blitzed Belfast Adams went on record to say there would be no economic normality here. The man is a mediocrity and an arm-chancer.

  • Mick Fealty

    Yes Sammy. Quit spamming!!!

  • dublinsinnfeinsupporter

    The people of West Belfast appear to disagree with your analysis. Because SF got a remarkable 5 seats out of 6 in the last election and Gerry Adams is in the top 3 MPs out of the 650 Westminster MPs that were elected in 2010 in terms of share of electorate who voted for him. The SDLP are absolutely nowhere in West Belfast and you know it.

  • dublinsinnfeinsupporter

    The welfare state takes a smaller share of national income in Ireland than in any other EU country. Ireland is not a high tax country. The rich can afford to pay more.

  • SDLP Man

    Yeah, DSFS, says more about the mindset of the majority of people in West Belfast than anything else. Don’t you remember the Andersonstown News Squinter piece of March 2008 which told the truth about the place, but which was quickly recanted when Joe Stalin (he inherited his eyes) aka Gerry Adams cracked the whip. It’s vanished from all the sites but I can quote it for you ifyou want.

    I never believed in the maxim ‘vox populi, vox Dei’, though you must accept democratic election results Most people in RoI voted for Ahern in 2007 and a large part of the rage against Fianna Fail is because they have realised what fools they were to do so and they’ve nobody to blame but themselves, hence they take it out on Cowen,

  • SDLP Man

    DSFS, your concerns about democratic legitimacy is touching. Just a pity that your associates in the Provos didn’t have such sensitivities 1970-1994 when they were blowing people and places to bits in defiance of the democratic will of the vast majority of the Irish people and, indeed, for most of that period even the benighted voters of West Belfast.

    The truth is that the moment for the economic and social regeneration of West Belfast by worthwhile FDI, probably a window of about eight years from 1998, has been irretrievably lost forever.

    Have just retrieved the Squinter article of 28 March 1998. Here’s some of the good bits, DSFS, to digest with your lunch:

    “…it’s time for Gerry Adams to shoulder his share of the blame for the mess we’re in and stop blaming everybody else.

    “Adams has been the West Belfast MP for 20 years. First elected in 1983, he has served continuously since then, save for a five-year break when Joe Hendron took back the seat for the SDLP in 1992.

    If a week is a long time in politics, then 20 years is the Upper Paleolithic Age. It is in that same 20-year period that the slow, steady decline into chaos in certain parts of West Belfast began…”

    “When he asks for and gets our votes he accepts a host of very onerous responsibilities, and the most basic of those responsibilities is to make his constituency a good place for decent people to live and for parents to bring up their families. In that he has failed terribly.”

    “And every time Sinn Féin gets together at another fist-clenching Stormont meeting (the 2008 equivalent of Long Kesh political lectures), we’re told that economic deprivation underpins the myriad social problems that are convulsing the West Belfast community. They hope nobody will think to ask whose job it has been for the past 20 years to get investment and jobs and to generate community confidence and optimism.

    It wasn’t as if Adams didn’t have the clout and the contacts.”

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    A reasonable response to his “what a lot of right wing rubbish”

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    The fact is that in Ulster pragmatic, practical politics are popular and in Marty they have probably the best performer in the Assembly. People actually believe that SF will be sensible in power but for a variety of reasons SF have not got that message across in the South and that is largely down to their unconvincing economic policies and probably their policies on Europe.

    Ireland is in an horrendous mess and SF dont sound as if they are likley to convince enough people that they are the sensible choice for government. I’m sure the leadership know this and they probably be happy enough to bide their time until the election after next when they can continue to build slowly, criticse the hard decisions that are necessary and then capitalise on the new governments unpopularity. Resaonable tactics particulalrly if Labour are tainted by FG just like the libdems are in Britian.

  • Alias

    It comes down to Labour not being in a position to capitalise on any lead it has in the poll (if it is accurate) through a historical combination of not running candidates in all constituencies and presently not running enough candidates in multi-seat constituencies.
    If they try running candidates for all seats in constituencies where they have one TD then they risk splitting their vote and risk losing their existing seat, and if they try that in constituencies where they have no seats then they’re guaranteed no seat.
    Gilmore just looks like a puffed-up clown talking up his chances of being the next Taoiseach. A better option would be to formalise a pact with FG and work the vote management between the two parties.

    “Ireland is not a high tax country. The rich can afford to pay more.”

    Yes, you and Garret Fitzgerald share that view. But while you probably hold it to tax those that contribute to society in order to fund those that don’t, he, as a good europhile, holds it in order to ensure that Irish taxpayers’ money is removed from the Irish economy and redistributed to eurosystem banks elsewhere in the EU as it EC policy.

  • Neville Bagnall

    For what its worth I think there are a number of factors playing into Labour’s success and SF’s stagnation.

    1) Electoral System
    2) Regionalisation
    3) Conservative Ireland
    4) The times they are a changin’ (or not)
    5) Leadership

    STV in the Republic, like all electoral systems, affects the number of national parties that can exist. Since the constituencies return 3-5 members, that places a limit on the number of parties that can be successful. Since the famous Tullymander, it has been restricting the ability of the Labour Party to grow to equality with FF & FG. That has eased somewhat over time as 4 and 5 seaters reappeared. But it makes it almost impossible for a fourth party to thrive for more than one election.

    One reason the Labour Party has managed to survive in STV even after Tully is that it has a “regional” vote or more accurately an urban vote, in Dublin and Cork primarily, that sticks with it even in the worst of times and ensures the party doesn’t get wiped out electorally. The party in that “regional” area has a strength and durability out of proportion to the national picture and irrespective of national trends. The closest SF has to that regional power base is along the border. Even that may be dissolving in the wake of the settlement. Its too early for the Greens to have developed such a base, even if they could, which I’m not sure of. I think they’re more like the PDs, a niche policy party that will rise and fall with the perceived importance of their ideology.

    One thing I think the Left in Ireland misunderstand – the public sector (and to a wider extent the rest of Irish society) is primarily middle class and conservative. It may be unionised, but it is still conservative. It does however have a strong (post-)Catholic social solidarity streak that is capable of embracing a progressive party. That is one reason why it has traditionally voted FF rather than Labour. The radical left has never been very successful and even in the midst of the current crises, there is nothing to indicate that the Irish are the slightest bit interested in revolution of an economic or any other stripe. To that extent, the collapse in FF support has allowed Labour to consolidate the centre-left mainstream typical of all the successful social-democratic parties of Europe. In the current society SF will not displace Labour by being more radical. Instead they become a niche policy party. SF in the south is the United-Ireland Anti-Europe Party. Anything more gets lost in the noise. Neither are mainstream positions.

    FF has occupied the “competent centre” of Irish politics for a long time. It became the party of permanent government. And fell into the trap of permanent government – it was captured by the vested interests, both left (unions) and right (developers). That would have cost it dearly enough in time through corruption, but the crash has exposed the fiction of competence. FF sowed the wind (particularly in 2007) and has reaped the whirlwind. As a result the electorate is ready for real change (as long as it doesn’t change anything). Currently the Labour party fits that bill best. Its offering competence and leadership (unlike FG) but isn’t FF. Its a historic opportunity for Labour, and one they are rising to.

    Leadership matters in a time of crisis, and without a doubt, that is Labours strength right now. Its not about protest, or righteous anger (although both are important in small doses). SF has a leadership problem on multiple levels. First, they don’t have an effective southern leadership. Second, as a niche party, it doesn’t matter anyway.
    FF cannot be saved by its leadership, but even allowing for that, its not doing itself any favours. Cowan is a busted flush, as are most of the cabinet who were there before 2007. Lenihan has a slight advantage because of his recent rise, and because he stood up to the unions and “took the hard decisions”. But he was initially seen as floundering as MoF, and his approach to the banks may be a millstone. If there is a double dip, his rating could go down as quickly as it rose. He may bring FF back from the brink after the next election, time will tell. FG also has a leadership problem. Kenny too is a busted flush. He seems iffy on economic matters, thats bad enough, but he sometimes seems to be making it up as he goes along, and his colleagues are bad at disguising that fact. Then the failed putsch. General impression – incompetence. By contrast Labour’s leadership team has been as sharp as a tack. Calling some of the key decisions right, contained anger, unity of purpose and ambition. Big picture – they haven’t said anything to scare the horses, yet they’ve said enough to offer hope of change. But most of all they’ve succeeded. When you are looking for competent and successful national management, competent and successful party management is attractive.

    Can Labour keep it up? If I’m right, and competence is what matters, I don’t see why not. They may even rise more before the election. I don’t think either FF or FG can scare the electorate. Is Joan Burton really less capable than Brian Lenihan, Michael Noonan or Richard Bruton? Labour is too mainstream to scare middle class voters. It may even spin a good story on the Public Service – in favour of service level maintenance and real reform but not beholden to the FF-cozy union leaderships. It won’t get the bonus FF or FG would get with similar percentages, but it won’t be a LibDem sqeeze either, if for no other reason than STV.

    As for the election after next – Labour will be more mainstream, and will be squeezed by both FF and SF. Just like in 97. Whether they keep seats (like in Westmeath) or lose them (Clare, Sligo, etc) will depend both on government and individual TD performance. As always.

  • Mark McGregor

    politics.ie has the numbers for the regular SBP poll that would makes this TV3 one look way off:

    FG 31 (-2)
    FF24,(nc)
    LAB 23 (-4)
    SF 10 (+2)
    GR 3 (+1)
    Oths 9 (+3)

  • Pippakin

    Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    I completely agree. MMcG has done well in the north. He has almost, but not quite, managed to lose the paramilitary image. Not so in the south. Not because of the paramilitary issue. I’m not sure what it is, perhaps it’s because in the south he is more obviously second in command and GA is damaged, possibly irreparably.

  • slug

    In Northern Ireland memory of his IRA leadership does not go away, except his own memory. From time to time. When asked the odd uncomfortable question about it, you understand. Claudy Priest…meeting etc.

  • Neville Bagnall

    That would be more in line with expectations after the summer recess. Little or no change outside margin of error. Slight drop in opposition if anything.

    RedC weigh their sample based on voting likelyhood and past voting record. (i.e. they try to get a sample that would have produced an accurate poll for the last election)

    The Lansdowne poll used a different methodology this time (telepoll vs interview) by comparison to the last time they polled. They also seem to have a simpler weighting system than RedC.

    There is also an MRBI poll due. It too is going to use a different methodology, but in the weighting as opposed to collection method I believe.

    It will be interesting to see where it comes out and if it confirms either of these polls. Given that they were taken so close together, the large difference (significantly outside the margin of error) does need an explanation. It would help if all the firms produced a common baseline weighting before additional weighting was performed. That might at least rule out sampling bias on this occasion.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    SF have no direct line of connection with the South being anti-European and (largely) Left wing means you have to fight for the scraps – at least until recently.

    Adams was for years close to being the most popular leader in the southern polls of such things but had not enough of a party strucrure and not sensible enough policies, to gain any traction.

    Running an insurgency and now justifying it, with what some might regard as inevitable collateral damage that is entailed in that, is a very diffilcult call and not an obvious vote getter.

  • Pippakin

    Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    I think you may be right. The collateral damage aspect is offensive when applied to any innocent victim and even more so when it is applied to Irish people murdered by Irish people.

  • Pete Baker

    “Adams was for years close to being the most popular leader in the southern polls of such things”

    Wrong.

    Those polls always asked, and still ask, ‘How satisfied are you with his leadership of his party?”

    That’s a different question entirely, and one in which the answer will take into account such things as the direction the party was going in – towards full participation in democratic politics – and the visibility of possible alternative leaders – not very.

  • ulsterfan

    Earlier commentators made the point that SF were planning for the long term and their present performance should be viewed in this light.
    Is this not the party founded in1904 or thereabouts and is the oldest political party in Ireland.
    If I was a member I would want my money back.
    What have they been doing for 106 years when they can only show support from 6-8% of the Irish people.
    they have obviously been wasting their time and ours.

  • Reader

    Pete Baker: Those polls always asked, and still ask, ‘How satisfied are you with his leadership of his party?”
    Interesting. So Gerry might get a big thumbs-up from any Garda Special Branch members who were polled.

  • jim

    let us not put our trust in fairy tales…..and u a sf supporter all gerry tells is fairy tales and u obey