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Polls and rumours of polls… February 27, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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So, what to make of the report in the Irish Times this morning that ‘hopes fade for all-party deal on tax’? What hopes? Whose?

…Opposition sources expressed disappointment at the response of Fianna Fáil to suggestions that there could be an all-party approach to the introduction of an early budget to raise taxes.

Oh, their hopes… and…

Former taoiseach Garret FitzGerald had called for cross-party agreement on the issue, saying the Government needed the support of the Opposition to get the courage it needed to increase tax revenues.

C’mon now. This isn’t serious stuff. It’s wish-fulfillment of the highest order…

MeanwhileI love the way polls are presented in newspapers. Well, particularly the Irish Independent. For in yesterdays edition
announcing a further confirmation that Fianna Fáil are in trouble – deep, deep trouble – on a mere 25% (down 17% on their election rating, and Fine Gael are on 30%:

And with Eamon Gilmore’s Labour hot on their heels with 22pc of the vote, they could be relegated to third unless Mr Cowen can stem the rising tide of public dissatisfaction with the Government.

Never!

And yet I seem to recall and Irish Times poll within this very month that appeared to
suggest they were in third place… Remarkable. The Independent obviously arrives from a parallel universe. Actually, on reflection, that doesn’t seem entirely unlikely.

But it continues…

According to the poll, Fianna Fail are no longer the biggest party in the country.

Nah… heard that in the IT poll… indeed if memory serves me right hadn’t Fianna Fáil slipped into second place behind Fine Gael in an earlier IT poll?

But for the Independent this day is freshly minted and therefore…

This doomsday scenario will loom large over Mr Cowen’s disgruntled backbench TDs as he prepares to address them at his first ard fheis as party leader tomorrow night.

Or alternatively they’ll count their lucky stars that in this poll they’re still ahead of Labour. They’ll take comfort where they can find it.

Still, parsing through the figures they may be searching quite some time:

[Fianna Fáil] is backed by just 18pc of the electorate — behind both Fine Gael and Labour.

Now that is a problem. As is…

Mr Cowen’s own personal satisfaction rating being down at 21pc

But on a personal level perhaps the most difficult pill to swallow will be the news that:

…he also scores poorly on economic competence where he is ranked below Mr Gilmore —

Although a glimmer of hope…

…but above Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny.

Cruelly dashed away…

…when it come to the main party leader who people trust least on the economy, Mr Cowen tops the poll.

Not great news there for Fine Gael. Sure, they’re leading the poll. But arguably they should be doing considerably better. Is this a function of Kenny’s leadership or of Gilmore and Labour’s approach, or some mix of both. Either way it skewers Fine Gael on an awful dilemma. They might do better under Bruton, but it is far far too late to subject themselves to the sort of bloodshed that a leadership change would entail, particularly with a resurgent Labour Party waiting in the wings.

For Fianna Fáil this must be nightmarish. Because their vote hasn’t just walked away as it tended to do traditionally to the Independents, but instead appears in the main to have gone to Labour. That narrows the range of options as regards the political attacks they can deploy and may explain the softening of their stance and rhetoric on the public sector and the unions. In other words they’ve just been faced with a practical demonstration of the fact that a considerable portion of their vote is willing to tilt left when push comes to shove. For far too long I suspect FF has basked in the idea that they had that side covered, or perhaps deluded themselves that it simply didn’t matter. Behold the limits of populism.

The Green Party is at 5 per cent, it’s election poll rating. The lesson being that the GP simply needs to keep its head down. Whether such a tactic would work in the long term remains to be seen. Be interesting though to see some detail on the figures. Sinn Féin, despite David Adams worries, is at 7%, a figure the Independent takes some delight in, particularly since they suggest there was no bounce from the Ard Fhéis. But here’s an interesting aside in the Independent…

…Mr Adams proposed a left alliance “alternative” to a Fianna Fail or Fine Gael-led coalition.

According to the poll, his three-party “left” grouping consisting of an alliance with Labour, the Greens and various community groups would attract just 34pc support of the electorate, far short of the clear 52pc majority a Fine Gael-Labour coalition enjoys.

Why mention it? Although I could add that since neither option is on the table it’s all just so much hot air.

Returning to Labour, in light of the previous poll it does seem as if there has been a substantial movement towards it. Now to sustain that… tricky.

Someone said to me that there might be RedC poll this weekend in the Sunday Business Post. I’m dubious about that, but if so, wow, are they keen to get the boot into the government.

Amazing, amazing stuff. And what with the Fianna Fáil Ard Fhéis this very weekend, note that at Citywest Hotel (and isn’t that a location redolent of the Tiger years?) ‘Security has been beefed up to contain a series of protests’.

That sounds about right.

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