And speaking of that poll…and that agreement last night. March 30, 2010Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
Oh dear oh dear. This has to be bad news for Fianna Fáil. What to do next they might well ask, having taken the ‘tough’ decisions, been applauded by a right of centre press and now face – as AK has noted in his analysis, a Michael Noonan/Fine Gael 2002 like outcome. Small reward for such supposed economic virtue.
Most interesting details? Well, a small gain by Sinn Féin, which might indicate that Gerry Adams speech is reaping some dividends by shifting away from left territory to more emollient ‘Republican’ territory. Labour retaining 17%. That’s a sustained trend. A couple more points and they’ll be up at 30 odd seats if the election goes well for them. 5% for the Green Party may be somewhat heartening, but where are those transfers going to come from? And note that Independents remain a significant bloc, although they’ve only gained 1%. I’ve been dubious that they’ll be returned in any numbers next time out, but… I’m changing my mind. An awful lot of the previous FF vote is going to go there, if the percentiles on this poll are anywhere accurate.
But more importantly look at Fine Gael. 35% and holding (okay, up 1%, but the point is made). That’s a solid solid vote and short of Kenny taking an axe to Varadkar, for his apostasy as regards Garret FitzGerald, hard to see them shrugging off too much of that any time soon. Kenny gets a lot of stick for his approach, but surely this vindicates his softly softly strategy. He’s no knight in shining armor, but, he’s steady and unthreatening. No small thing in a society that has undergone near-catastrophic shifts in the past couple of years.
And soon is soon. We’re now moving to two years and closing on the election. Cowen is clearly not a beloved leader, not even a respected leader, not even considered the leader to shift the economy around. The problem for him is that he’s unthreatening too, but in a bad way.
For all the arm waving about that latter topic it remains striking how few people have bought into the notion that he can do it. A mere 29% think he’s up to the job (remarkably a figure somewhat greater than his party support – is that the GP voter in there?). 66% disagree with only 5% not knowing. If there is no alternative precious few people believe that the only remaining option will be successful under him. Which is odd given that apparently there’s no alternative and the government is continuing to proceed with the measures that are supposed to inevitable.
Of course, comes the response, ‘this would be true of any government at this point’. And maybe so. But I wonder if FF aren’t prisoners of their own rhetoric. NAMA has shifted back into the public eye. The commentariat’s calls for blood in terms of arrests has taken place. But curiously this hasn’t assuaged a population which has donated quite enough of its own, thank you. I think, perhaps fatally for FF, the idea that NAMA represents a bailout of their mates has taken root. It may be fully true, or only partially so, or not really – but that is largely irrelevant. It feels true for many and therefore they’re not going to demur when it comes to pointing fingers.
Then there’s that pesky past. The small matter that the Taoiseach was Minister of Finance is coming back to haunt him in no small way. The DDDA/Anglo crossover provides more problems. The safe pair of hands when Bertie shrugged off the job way back when is suddenly looking dangerously exposed.
No wonder elements in the FF back benches are squirming. Where, they may well be wondering, is this taking them?
As ever, what about the Left? Well, if we tot up the figures we see that between them Labour and Sinn Féin have 27%. We can most likely throw in a few extra percentiles from the SP and other left party candidates. So, being generous, we see a situation where – even excluding the Green Party – the Left sits on 30% plus. The attacks on the public sector appear to have failed in one key respect…and that is politically.
And here’s the thing about such attacks. It’s all very well for the Sunday Independent or various commentators to whip up a fury about the public sector. But the truth is for all the macho bullshit about deep cuts and massive redundancies neither politically nor economically are either of those courses terribly sensible, and that workforce (or more importantly electorate) isn’t simply going to vanish. Particularly politically.
Instead of their voters simply supporting the current government, it seems that they have gone to Labour. 5% or more across almost two years now. Quite some achievement by Fianna Fáil to lose them. Quite some achievement by Labour to claw them away and to retain them.
And this presents a pretty problem for Fianna Fáil. For to claw them back they’d have to do something… like… like… minimise the effects of the cuts on the public sector in some fashion. Attempt to negotiate work arounds as regards pay and conditions… what’s that you say? Go into talks with Public sector unions? Perhaps even successfully negotiate an agreement with said unions, until recently the most damned of the damned! The worst of the worst. The… language fails us.
This game isn’t over. Not by a long shot. And whatever about the commentariat, who are going to go crazy apeshit over this (Garibaldy’s Sunday Independent post almost, but not quite, writes itself… ‘collective loss of nerve’, ‘betrayal of the coping classes’, etc, etc) the calculation in Fianna Fáil might be that 5% from their ‘natural’ constituency is 5% too much, particularly when the only ones to gain are… Labour and in a broader sense Fine Gael.
Is that enough? Not really, but it’s something. On these figures Fianna Fáíl will be going into an election, even if it manages to draw back some support from Labour, on or about 30%, at best. But it may be too late. AK I think points to a meltdown in the FF vote. Despite last night’s agreement this may still be where all this is heading.