Labour in meltdown mode

Who needs negative campaigning when you have the Labour party? While opinion polling seems to have been incessant in the south since the last election, the latest Millward Brown poll published by the Irish Independent over the weekend has brought more grim reading for Labour. But not only does the party now seem to be rooted in single digits (an eye-watering 6% in the latest poll), this morning the fallout has added a new dimension with calls for the resignation of party leader Eamon Gilmore. Sitting MEP, Phil Prendergast, who will be contesting the south constituency in May, openly called for the resignation of Gilmore in interviews with various radio stations this morning.

While the polls were conducted just as election campaigns were beginning and can be taken with the usual pinch of salt (they are opinion polls not election results), it seems likely that Labour will have no MEPs (and an equally disastrous local election to boot). According to the poll predictions, Sinn Féin will have an MEP in each of the four constituencies in Ireland after the May election. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, who will only be standing in the three constituencies in the south, will have at least two each and the remainder will be filled by Independents such as Marian Harkin, Luke Ming Flanagan, Diarmuid O’Flynn or Nessa Childers (and, probably, two Unionists in the north).

After the poll results were reported over the weekend, Prendergast came out this morning unequivocally saying that Gilmore is  “unaware that Labour is heading towards wipe-out”, that his leadership was in a “state of chronic inability” and that the party is now on the brink of electoral meltdown and that “if this party is to survive, there needs to be a change of leadership. I’m doing this for Labour”. She also advocates replacing Gilmore with Joan Burton (and denied on radio that Burton had any advance notice of what she was going to say). Last week’s opinion poll has Prendergast on 4% in the south constituency, despite being an incumbent. Clearly, if that was to be replicated in an election, the seat would be lost.

While the optics are dreadful of having a high profile candidate, and sitting MEP, come out so openly and call for the leader’s head, the timing has amplified it even further as there are a few days left before nominations close for the election later this week. Not only does Eamon Gilmore have the dilemma of how to deal with Prendergast, he also has to do it immediately. If he doesn’t overtly sanction the MEP for her remarks he will look even weaker and be very badly damaged by his inability to control his party. If he does sanction her, even as far as replacing her as Labour candidate in the South constituency, she may stand as an Independent and further weaken the Labour vote (both in South and in general). None of the arguments or options hold out many positive prospects for the party.

Given the recent history of junior coalition partners in the republic – with both the PDs and Green being wiped off the electoral map – Labour is the story to watch over the next few days.

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  • Mc Slaggart

    ” Phil Prendergast, who will be contesting the south constituency in May, openly called for the resignation of Gilmore in interviews with various radio stations this morning.”

    I don’t think Gilmore can do anything about the labor party situation before the election.

  • Nordie Northsider

    I think that Gilmore might be saved precisely because of his party’s dire situation. There’s nothing Labour TDs can do now but hold on and hope for some economic recovery and some goodies to hand out in a budget. Prendergast appears quite isolated today – a slew of Labour figures taking to the airwaves to defend Gilmore. That may change if the election is really as bad as polling suggests.

  • Not a chance of Gilmore going before the local and Euro polls. They’ll need him as a scapegoat if the party really does hit electoral rock-bottom. Even then Gilmore’s arrogance and sense of entitlement, and that of the leadership around him, might well persuade him to carry on regardless. The idea that Joan Burton, the Minister for Social Welfare Cuts, could replace Gilmore and drum up renewed support before the next general election might appeal to some party faithful but it just shows what a dearth of candidates there are for that poison chalice.

    With Joe Higgins going the Socialist Party will be in real trouble. He was their star performer. The possibility of it becoming simply another also-ran Workers Party must be pretty high even with Ruth Coppinger and Paul Murphy around.

  • Barnshee

    “do anything about the labor party situation before the election.”

    And not just in the ROI then

    Brown stained undergarments in London if this comes to pass

  • Greenflag

    Gilmore’s biggest mistake was taking on the Foreign Affairs portfolio . Given the depth of the financial crisis brought about by a mix of an out of control financial sector and a clueless previous administration -Gilmore should have remained at the helm in the fight to protect the living standards of the people who traditionally vote Labour by taking a Ministry more relevant to the daily lives of the Irish people.

    Instead he swans about abroad kowtowing with the high and mighty while Labour voters in Ireland get it in the neck from the right wing FG .

    Gilmore is a political traitor to the Irish Labour Party . His political trajectory going from Official SF to Workers Party to the Democratic Left and hence to Irish Labour is just missing it’s final step.

    But will FG accept Gilmore’s membership application ?

    He should resign immediately and give Labour some chance to recoup many of it’s lost voters before the next General Election .

    I never thought I’d see the day that Labour’s infamous ‘Tullymander ‘ would be outdone . But if Gilmore leads the Irish Labour Party into the next general election he’ll lend his name to another Irish Labour Party disaster 🙁

  • weidm7

    Labour was doomed the minute they went into government with Fine Gael. They should’ve known things weren’t going to pick up immediately, that austerity would be needed, that people voted for them to try and avoid austerity and that by being part of a government which implemented it, all those votes would go somewhere else since they obviously can’t trust them to do the job they voted them in for. Labour would be the biggest party in the polls now if they’d stayed out of government and Sinn Féin would still be a minor party down south. As it is, Sinn Féin look like they could establish a base with which to become the largest party in the south once the Adams-McGuinness leadership retires and those who remember the Troubles die off.

    I did a piece analysing the polls on a republic-wide level if anyone wants to see it here:

  • “His political trajectory going from Official SF to Workers Party to the Democratic Left and hence to Irish Labour is just missing it’s final step.”


    Except for this hypothetical last step, which still is off in the future and may never occur, he has been joined by the majority of his party at every step. Every TD save one made the transition from Workers’ Party to Democratic Left and the first transition was simply a name change. So the only real radical change was merging into Labour and that, I believe, wasn’t even under his leadership at the time.

  • Politico68

    weidm7 – Great Analysis there with your link but I am not sure I fully agree with your opening. yes Labour new that there would have to be pain when they came to power but the Troika made it clear at the time that they were not particularly concerned how the figures added up as long as they did. In this sense the government had choices. No surprise with the FGers getting the boot into the lower income classes but Labour had a clear opportunity to force the government into making different choices. If the 48% tax rate had of been brought in and a quicker rectification of the minimum wage along with a threshold below which some households would not be required to pay the Home tax; I think Labour would be doing far better now while FG would be most likely licking their wounds. labour simply did not make their presence felt in governemnt and now they are going to pay a heavy price for it, the same way Dick spring did all those years ago. (remember the Spring tide and the winds of change etc.) Its too late for Labour now and I doubt they will make a significant comeback before the general elections, too much anger out there directed towards them. Once the Shinners get their feet under the table, they will be there for a long time.

  • Floreat Ultonia

    Weidm7: won’t SF potentially have the same problem as Labour in the next Southern Government, or the one after? They enter Govt either as largest party or in coalition, then take the blame for continuing austerity?

    PS although the Troubles were worst in the early 70s, they continued into the 90s. They’ll be recent history, not a folk memory, for a long while yet.

  • weidm7

    Politico – Perhaps, but with each tax and charge introduced Lab take another hit, I’m not sure the intricacies of household charge thresholds would be enough for voters to stay with them. I still think those who voted for them did so to prevent austerity and those voters don’t see them as having done that, whether they actually did or not, so are looking elsewhere. With the Spring tide Labour ran on a platform of not going in with FF, then went ahead and went in with FF and were punished as a result. This time the percieved betrayal might be fatal.

    Floreat – This may well prove the case if SF go into government with FF, SF are unproven in this territory but there’s a possibility they won’t and it might be the smartest thing. As things stand now, we’re looking at a 3 horse race with the only realistic possibility of a government being FF and FG or maybe FF and SF. If SF stayed out, depending on the economic situation, a hypothetical FF/FG government might get blame for shafting the working classes and SF could ride a wave of anti-‘established parties’ sentiment into power, on the other hand if things turn up, the other two might get the credit and SF would look less credible as an alternative. But we’re getting wilder and wilder with our speculation here.

  • Greenflag

    Pat Whelan and William McAteer were found guilty on 10 counts but walked free from court after a judge ruled they should serve community service instead of prison terms

    Anglo Irish Bank collapsed in 2009, costing Irish taxpayers more than 30bn euros (£25bn).

    Now if Whelan or McAteer were couple of inner city yobs and had for arguments sake stolen property valued at ten thousand euros they ‘d be on their way to jail for a minimum year .

    But neither Whelan nor McAteer belong to that class and neither does the judge .

    Theres one law for the rich and another for the poor in our Republic . Will Gilmore or Labour speak out on this disgraceful verdict and sentence ?

    Hardly . Just another reason why SF will do well in the Republic’s local elections in Dublin . A lot of ordinary Dubliners are coming to the belief that not only were FF utterly corrupt but that their replacement is just a double named horse of the same ilk -which is very bad news for the Irish Labour party .

    Almost as in Northern Ireland -All SF have to do in the Republic to sit back and watch while the ‘conservatves ‘ and their lickspittle Labour tissue holders continue to favour the banksters over the plain people of Ireland .

  • Greenflag

    Now that the banksters have bolted free our lickspittle Government have made a ‘decision ‘

    Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore are proposing that an Oireachtas banking inquiry be established immediately.

    This is more than 3 years after they were elected ? and 6 years after the financial crisis meltdown ?

    By the time this ‘committee’ ever makes it’s report – Kenny and Gilmore will no longer be in coalition government .

    Where theres law (2014 in Ireland ) there is injustice and our politicians seem to like it like that . They might want to remember what happened to Fianna Fail can also visit FG & Labour .