#Aras11: How was it for …Sinn Fein?

Good news is they came in third. Bad news is they only took a third of the votes of the winner. No doubt they were squeezed by the last minute rush to pick/block a winner, and they might have been better advised not stake so much faith in pushing up their percentage vote during a Presidential campaign where, as noted previously, voters are more fickle than normal.

Without revisiting too much criticism already made here on Slugger of a campaign designed and made in Belfast, this was very disappointing run from Sinn Fein. Not least because the numbers (which as Mark McGregor points out from his new home represents a real terms increase from Feb for the constituencies SF contested both times was to from 9.9% to 12.5%) where at the very lower end of the party’s recent polling rate.

There are some reasons for this. Again as previously noted Sinn Fein’s ground operation had no idea where these new voters were, so conversion rates were relatively low. Add to this the fact that they were largely digging almost exclusively in hard-to-reach independent territory and you see the problem for hard working campaigners.

That hard won increase will look fine in the history book, if the party can make further progress. The thing that did not work (and the attack on Gallagher may well have compounded this problem) is the search for Republican votes from Fianna Fail.

Martin McGuinness’s rock star status bought SF a three per cent increase. His ruthless interrogation by the southern media also reminded a generation of the party’s bloody history. Next time out, they will go fishing in Labours back yard as the coalition inevitably degrades.

That’s a much smaller pool of votes. And Labour has, in the past, proven much more robust (partly for reasons of demography, partly because of the make of the old WP genepool) in the past.

Having played their best hand against a riderless Fianna Fail horse and ailed, once again the party must withdraw northwards to lick its wounds and find a less opportunistic means of building its licence in the south

  • My post that Mick notes can be found here.

  • Coll Ciotach

    There can be no doubt surely that MMcG hurt Gallagher. There is no doubt that Gallagher was associated to say the least with FF. There is no doubt in my mind that this was an attack on FF by proxy. And just as the proxy bomb was a mistake so was this. Putting the boot into FF, even by proxy, only alienated FF republicans. He has put clear blue water between SF and FF supporters. It is a cold harsh world out there and without FF to run whingeing to it will be interesting to see who is out there to save SF from their mistakes and back them in their fights.

  • Alias

    “More than anything else it will cement the relationship between the partners… there are tough days to come, there are tough budgets to come, and we have to make tough and hard decisions. This will ensure that the bond is there to do it. And I think Fine Gael will feel the same.” – Labour’s director of elections, Joe Costello

    As Joe Costello pointed out, the coalition is considerably strengtened by the election of Higgins and they see it as a renewed quasi-mandate to press ahead with the EU/IMF austerity agenda of cuts and “tough days” and “tough budgets” that will hit the poor hardest.

    The outcome of the Shinners’ stunt is that they consolidated the government’s position rather weakened it. In other words, the ended up supporting the status quo rather than providing what McGuinness was touting as opposition to it.

    So well done to the McGuinness for consolidating the EU/IMF austerity and extraction of wealth agenda, thereby hitting his own gullible supporters the hardest…

  • 241934 john brennan

    In the long run, Sinn Fein will not prosper as a purely political party until the old army command/attitudes die out. For an army, any army, the cause justifies the means, even the unlawful means. This is particularly true of fascist type armies.

    Thus it is that IRA volunteers were/are treated either as “traitors” either for not shooting someone on command, or for carrying on shooting after an ‘Army’ ceasefire command.

    Remember the Provisionals split off from the Official IRA, when the latter decided to give token recognition to the Dublin, London and Stormont governments.

    Presently the Provisional command, having agreed to give up its all-Ireland territorial claim (pending peaceful, freely given Northern majority consent) is happily ensconced in Stormont administering British rule. That is a clear breech of the IRA oath – and nothing wrong with that – provided they publically declare that the whole murderous Provisional campaign was criminally and insanely wrong – and then as Basil Fawlty famously said “don’t mention the war”.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Mick

    The spin you’re placing on this result lacks credibility.

    For starters, McGuinness’ vote represents a 50% increase on the party’s percentage of the vote in a General Election back in February- hardly the stuff of failure.

    Furthermore, in an election in which the governing Fine Gael party candidate has suffered the humiliation of losing his expenses, McGuinness performed impressively statewide, reaching double figures in nearly every constituency, something which should augur well for the party into the future.

    Thirdly, the McGuinness candidacy also sparked a frenzy amongst the unionist/ revisionist media clique which has dominated the southern media for the past quarter of a century simply because McGuinness’ candidacy provided the occasion for other voices to be heard providing an alternative version of the political context to the northern conflict.

    If that’s a failure, then please define success.

  • Mick Fealty

    Chris,

    Well have to agree to disagree on much of that. If SF were in it to win (I do not believe they were though that’s clearly what they briefed the NI media with), then this was an unmitigated disaster.

    I don’t believe it was ever a bid to win but to grow the vote in the way you suggest. So I don’t believe it was an unmitigated disaster.

    I do however believe it is misleading to compare a showing in a Presidential election with one for Dail Eireann. If it had been a Dail election the party’s performance would almost certainly have been closer to the poll averages. Then we could say for certain that this was an improvement.

    Anything else is pure spin.

    BTW how do you get a 50% increase?

  • Mick Fealty

    As for success, recouping expenses is a succes but that’s a long way short of the 3/1 price of just four weeks ago.

  • Publican

    “McGuinness’ candidacy provided the occasion for other voices to be heard providing an alternative version of the political context to the northern conflict.”

    Alternative versions are fine so long as they are endorsed by the leadership, and only so long as they didn’t mention the cost of the war, which the Stack, Kelly and McCabe families did.

    So long as any Sinn Fein candidate, IRA member or not, endorses the IRA campaign, the party will fail to garner the votes it seeks. This doctrine will not change under the present leadership. Thus, the party faces the same fate as the Progressive Democrats.

    13.7% for McGuinness vs. 40% for Higgins = failure for Sinn Fein. And as Higgins is Labour, the government did in fact win this.

    The fact that there is still so many willing to vote for a former Fianna Fail party member, ahead of McGuinness – even after the Frontline debate! – means that this is less a success that the party PR portrays it. McGuinness’s ambush of Gallagher destroyed the party’s chance of attracting transfers from those voters in the future.

    It had no good effect on the by-election either (again won by Labour), with him only attracting 8.6% of the vote. The party only won 9.9% in the general election, and 13.7% is not a fifty percent increase on that.

    Unless the party actively addresses the issues these results really demonstrate, party funds will continue to be wasted on failure. How long can such a hemorrhage last before becoming critical? Not all Sinn Fein members or supporters have jobs or the prospect of a good pension, so why should good money be thrown after bad?

  • Decimus

    Does anyone know how the Sinners did with transfers?

  • Jimmy Sands

    Badly. Even Mitchell was outpolling Coco on them.

  • Decimus

    All in all not what they were hoping for then.

  • Mick Fealty

    Three additional points:

    – there is not the remotest sign the former FF vote is remotely interested in coming to SF whilst northern command is in control.

    – the media frenzy was essentially Republican and had nothing to do with unionism, but it did kill Martins admittedly outside chances of being in the mix…

    – no work was done in NI because all the party’s political resources where diverted to the southern excursion to the south.

    I applaud the application. But opportunism and charisma only gets you so far. SF needs to define an instrumental role in the Republic for itself.

    Without that, it cannot begin to hope to play a major role in redefining Irish politics, in the south or indeed the north.

  • lamhdearg

    Roughly Martin inspired 1 out of every 16? eligible voters, to vote for him.

  • lamhdearg

    12

  • Publican

    Mick:
    “– no work was done in NI because all the party’s political resources where diverted to the southern excursion to the south. ”

    That is perhaps the most disturbing of all.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Over the weeks I heard several times of canvassing from high ranking northern SFers across the 26. Why was Gildernew inducing canvassing? Isn’t she supposed to be on the health committee at a crucial time? Between north and south there are going to be election after another practically every year.

    Does the fact that SF don’t get a breather not damage them? They never get a chance to take stock and define a message. The empty sloganism works in the North (for now) but it can’t work in the south.

  • Alias

    “Not least because the numbers (which as Mark McGregor points out from his new home represents a real terms increase from Feb for the constituencies SF contested both times was to from 9.9% to 12.5%) where at the very lower end of the party’s recent polling rate.”

    If Labour were to use the same devious spin that the Shinners are using then they could argue that their share of the vote increased from 19.4% in the last general election to 39.57% in this election, representing a doubling of their national vote. Conversely, FG could claim that their share of the national vote collapsed from 36.1% in the general election to just 6.40% in this election. However, neither of those two parties, unlike the Shinners, feel a pathological need to lie to their own supporters and, therefore, do not insult their intelligence by comparing results from a presidential election with a general election.

    Incidentally, turnout was 56.11% in the presidential election compared to 70.1% turnout in the general election. A low turnout benefits the Shinners whose dedicated voters still turnout to vote, thereby making it appear that their percentage of the nation vote is higher than it actually is (and higher than it would be if it was a general election and thereby had attracted a higher turnout). So wipe 20% off that bogus gain to get the real (but equally bogus) gain, and you get no change at all.

  • Decimus

    Alias,

    In summary it’s a great big Provo shit sandwich and all the sinners are going to have to take a bite.

  • Not a bad weeks work for Sinn Féin but not exactly a great one.
    The percentage vote is higher than in February of course….their detractors wont acknowledge it of course……but its in that grey area where it is at the bottom end of SFs expectations and just too high for detractors to legitimately claim that they failed.
    They can with some justification claim that they won the Election for Labour & Higgins (not that Labour, Higgins or their more fanatical cheerleaders will acknowledge this). But whether they won it for Labour by fair means or foul is a bigger question.It leaves a sour taste.

    They have snatched Defeat from the jaws of Victory from Fianna Fáil and denied them or their proxy a boost. Strategically a good thing.
    They have also got a very lucky 70 year old into the Presidency and a man who is unlikely to look for a second term as Gallagher might have done. Again you cant fault the strategy.

    Yet last weekends Strategy meeting between McGuinness and his advisors would have been an interesting meeting.
    That Frontline Debate had to be handled just right. Basically it was.
    But quite possibly in terms of tactics, it cost SF a percentage or two.
    So they settled for something pyrrhic. Clearly they would not win and got probably the best result they could have got. …Higgins.

  • Decimus

    fitzjameshorse,

    Alternatively it’s a great big corned beef sinner sandwich and they are happily chewing on it. I suppose it all depends on what reality you are living in.

  • “But whether they won it for Labour by fair means or foul is a bigger question.”

    fjh, it has also been argued that the Dublin orientated MSM leant towards Michael D so Martin’s fumbled intervention gave this MSM a stick which it turned into a cudgel to attack Sean – in the expectation of benefit to Michael D.

  • Nunoftheabove

    “- there is not the remotest sign the former FF vote is remotely interested in coming to SF whilst northern command is in control.”

    Yes and I believe it’s also very well worth questioning whether there is any real wisdom in chososing to see the FF grass roots as SF’s ‘natural’ key target constituency in any case or any inevitability about SF’s capacity to attract them now or conceivably ever.

    They have entirely different conceptions of what they call republicanism and entirely different conceptions – and experiences – of what electoral politics is and what they want/need/expect it to deliver and how it should be delivered.

  • Here are some figures and approximate percentages for Dublin Central for 2007, 2011 and the Presidential election:

    LAB: 4353 – 13% > 9787 – 28% > 12269 – 44%

    SF: 3182 – 9% > 4526 – 13% > 4490 – 16%

    A 4% point difference in 2007 grew to 15% in 2011 and 28% in the Presidential election. The SF vote in the past two elections stood still but it was reflected in a 3% point growth.

  • 241934 john brennan

    How was it for RTE and Martin McGuiness? If Sean Gallagher gets a good lawyer will he not also get substantial damages from them both – for seriously damaging his campaign by deliberate use of false allegations, false tweets etc , during the Pat Kenny show?

    How is that RTE, our national broadcaster, having just issued its most detailed and lengthy apology for falsely slandering Fr. Kevin Reynolds (with damages to follow) has not learnt its lesson? It then aided and abetted Sinn Fein scurrility in an unedifying presidential election/broadcast. Will there now be legal consequences/sanctions?

  • Jimmy Sands

    it has also been argued that the Dublin orientated MSM leant towards Michael D

    It’s an article of faith with the right. I’ve yet to see a shred of evidence.

  • Lionel Hutz

    I haven’t heard much comment comparing the elections in DW. Up to 25% of those who voted for McG in the Presidential didn’t vote for Donnelly in the bi-election. Why?

    Tactical voting? There are many constituencies where McG got votes that are nowhere near substantial enough to elect a TD and the constituents will know it so the vote will drop. Add to that that in the constituencies where SF do have a TD, many dropped.

    This is such a mixed bag for SF. There at a crossroads in the south and I don’t see the kind of moves required to consolidate their recent showing in the GE. The local elections will be more important but unless SF start to articulate a messagethen a calmer electorate atthe next GE will be less inclined to vote for them.

  • Lionel Hutz

    John Brennan,

    Do you have a source for that information on Morgan?

  • As a non-SF supporter, I have to admit that MMG made a reasonable, even good, showing.

  • Lionel Hutz

    It was so-so and will therefore be chalked up as a missed opportunity

  • Mick Fealty

    Lionel,

    It’s interesting you did not get an answer to that question on DubW.

  • Neville Bagnall

    For all the attacks by the media and Mitchell, I think the killer blow for McGuinness was David Kelly.

    I think it crystalised for many people what a McGuinness Presidency might mean, not so much at home as abroad. Above all else people want to be proud of the President. A scene like that in Britain? It was too easy to visualize.

    For SF more widely, I think an effect might have been to enlighten a younger generation that SF has a past it can’t be honest about. That might tarnish their shine a bit. I don’t think its the history that matters half as much as the fact that they’ve been seen to have as loose a relationship with the truth as the “establishment” parties. Which puts all their fine radical speeches under a cloud. Disillusioning for some perhaps?

    Finally, Dublin West shows that fighting the Labour Left and the ULA outside of their heartland is anything but a foregone conclusion.

    I used to think that SF would find it easier than Labour to become the second national party in the state (assuming the amalgamation of the centre-right) or at least overtake Labour. But they are not closing the deal.

  • Mick Fealty

    Neville,

    Some sharp observations there. I would add the party’s weakness in the south has been its strength in the north: the Peace Process.

    It allowed them to trade arms for political capital in a market that was highly regulated by the British and Irish governments.

    The problem is twofold:

    – the market in the south is unregulated. Therefore you get a massive swing from FG to Labour in Endas Mayo constituency.

    – The peace process retains powerful emotional agency (though I suspect this is fading over time), but virtually no political agency in the south.

    In short, voting SF has no tangible purpose in the south, and the protest market is somewhat saturated just now.

  • slappymcgroundout

    “I haven’t heard much comment comparing the elections in DW. Up to 25% of those who voted for McG in the Presidential didn’t vote for Donnelly in the bi-election. Why?”

    One of those things, or both. Recall that word on the street is that the office of President is not political and if so, as such, SF policies don’t matter. So they like Marty’s personality but didn’t vote Donnelly owing to SF policy. And/or they simply didn’t like Donnelly.

    “For all the attacks by the media and Mitchell, I think the killer blow for McGuinness was David Kelly.

    I think it crystalised for many people what a McGuinness Presidency might mean, not so much at home as abroad.”

    Most of the rest of the world does not know who Marty is so they won’t care. How many David Kelly’s are there to confront Marty in the US in any event? Here:

    http://www.ajr.org/article.asp?id=2014

    For how little it matters here, I cannot even remember Marty and Peter ever being in the US. Here’s one more:

    http://articles.philly.com/1994-02-04/news/25860089_1_gerry-adams-ira-sinn-fein

    Wait until Michael D. comes, and I’ve my two signs up high, IRISH GOVT SUPPORTS CHILD MURDER (referring to the child suicide bombers of the PLO, Hamas, etc.) and IRISH GOVT SUPPORTS MURDER OF AMERICANS (referring to Michael D.’s presence at a candlelight vigil for the late Mr. Arafat and Mr. Arafat and his mates killing Cleo Noel, Jr., George Curtis Moore, and Leon Klinghoffer, to name just three). If I can manage to affix a device to my head for a third sign, it will read, IRISH GOVT SUPPORTS MURDER OF OLYMPIC SPORTSMEN (referring to Munich and the Black September folk being run by Arafat’s 2nd in command). The Irish public may have misjudged who was acceptable to some outside Ireland. The Israel lobby is going to go bat sh-t crazy over any visit. Should be roundly entertaining and I’m looking forward to protesting at least one of his visits.

  • “Up to 25% of those who voted for McG in the Presidential didn’t vote for Donnelly in the bi-election. Why?”

    Perhaps voter recognition, Lionel, including wall-to-wall coverage on the Pres. election. I think the use of that 25% figure exaggerates the change.

    The SF vote in Dublin West is growing steadily; it’s up from 4.78% in 2007 – 6.11% in 2011 – 8.9% in by-election – 11.9% in Pres. Note also that after the FF hit in 2011 it’s on the mend in the by-election; note also that SF and FF are each up about 3 percentage points in the Pres. compared with the by-election and in Dublin Central Martin is also 3 points up on Mary Lou from the Dáil election, a pattern that appears in several other ‘strongish’ SF constituencies.

    If you then take off those 3 points from Martin’s 13.7% showing you end up with 10.7% which might be closer to what SF could expect in a General Election.

  • “The Irish public may have misjudged who was acceptable to some outside Ireland. The Israel lobby is going to go bat sh-t crazy over any visit.”

    Slappy, the Israeli lobby would have been even more agitated by Martin and his minders, present and recent past. The first link would indicate a disconnect between SF HQ and its grassroots in Moyle.

  • 241934 john brennan

    Let’s not forget Martin McGuinness ran for president as an Independent, not as a Sinn Fein candidate. His designation on the ballot paper was ‘IND’. Was the Sinn Fein brand name considered too toxic?

    However, Marty is more at home and more comfortable in the northern Chuckle Brothers’ party – now recently rebranded as the Peter and I party.

    In reality he is northern deputy leader of the SF/DUP DUOPOLY

  • Lionel Hutz

    I didn’t expect to get much of an answer to my question on Dublin West. It’s a very strange thing to think about at least 25% (and it is atleast 25%) of those who gave McGuinness a number 1 didnt give it Donnelly. It’s strange because, for me this result proved to me that Sinn Fein were wrong to run with McGuinness- that there was indeed an opportunity for SF to get 20% of the vote and that this is an underachievement for them.

    But perhaps I’ve got that completely wrong. Maybe he maximized the SF vote and that they can expect to lose 25% of it.

  • Alias

    “Let’s not forget Martin McGuinness ran for president as an Independent, not as a Sinn Fein candidate. His designation on the ballot paper was ‘IND’. Was the Sinn Fein brand name considered too toxic?”

    It looks like Rory Carr was right about that then. It might have something to do with the party not having enough Oireachtas members to nominate a candidate for the presidency and thereby having to support an independent? I think it requires 20 TDs, so they would have come up short but I’m not sure how that works.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Does anyone else thhink that McGuinness will go for Foyle in the next Westminster elections? It seems he has been playing up his Derry roots more than usual lately