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An analysis of the electoral prospects of The Socialist Party and WUAG June 10, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.

Many thanks to AK at the Irish Election Literature Blog for the following analysis, part of a continuing series, which I think will be of considerable interest.

The Socialist Party.
Joe Higgins victory in the European Elections was a huge fillip for the party, although seat wise they made no county Council gains as they went into the election with four councillors (Mick Murphy, Clare Daly, Ruth Coppinger and MickBarry) and left with four councillors (Joe Higgins, Clare Daly, Ruth Coppinger and Mick Barry). They did however add two Town Councillors, Frank Gallagher was elected to Drogheda Town Council and Terry Kelleher to Balbriggan Town Council.

In Fingal County Council 3 councillors were elected and The Socialist Party got 14% of the vote (Fianna Fail got 16%). In 2004 The Socialist Party had won 9.7% of the vote in Fingal.

For the next Dail term the party have 3 main prospects Joe Higgins, Clare Daly and Mick Barry.

With boundary changes and an extra seat in Dubin West, along with a constant presence on the ground, Joe Higgins looks certain to be elected (if not top the poll). Dublin North is a stranger one to predict. Clare Daly was expected to do better in 2007 than she did, her vote fell over 2.5% from 2002. She got 12.52% in 2002 and 8.9% in 2007.

Currently we have 2 Fianna Fail 1 Fine Gael and 1 Green in Dublin North. Fianna Fail are certain to lose one and it’s hard not to see that going to Labour given the current polls and the performance of Labour in the Local elections.

Fine Gael’s James Reilly looks a cert which leaves Trevor Sargent a Fianna Failer and Clare Daly fighting it out for the last two seats. In the Locals the Greens were as transfer toxic as Fianna Fail.

Still I suspect Sargent may get a decent amount of transfers, especially if Fianna Fail have votes to spare. I gather too that with the change in boundaries some of Clare Dalys Swords area is no longer in the Constituency. So it all depends on transfers. Will Fine Gael and Labour transfer to Daly more thanSargent?

In Cork North Central there are hopes for Mick Barry. Between local and General Elections his vote has been on a steady climb. He again topped the poll in the local elections polling over 2000 votes. In 2009 The Socialist Party also fielded Dave Keating in the neighbouring Cork North East Ward so the partys base on the ground is expanding.

Currently Fianna Fail have 2 seats, Labour’s Kathleen Lynch a seat and Bernard Allen of Fine Gael also holds a seat. Looking at previous General Elections and the polls Fine Gael must be odds on to take the seat. There is though a strong Left vote in the Constsituency that contains some of Corks more deprived areas. To get in, Mick Barry would probably want Kathleen Lynch elected on the first count, and then to be ahead of The Workers Party Candidate and Sinn Fein’s Johnathan O’Brien and the second Labour candidate and take the final seat on transfers.

It’s an outside chance.

Workers and Unemployed Action Group

South Tipperary currently has two Fianna Fail TDs and a Fine Gael TD. Its likely that one of the Fianna Fail seats will be in trouble (Martin Mansergh). The last time out Seamus Healy lost out by 59 votes to Fianna Fail’s Martin Mansergh. In the Local Elections WUAG gained 2 seats on Clonmel Borough Council a seat on Carrick on Suir Town Council as well as holding their two seats on the County Council. The Group have been to the forefront of the Campaign to Save South Tipperary (Clonmel) Hospital. Healy will need to increase his vote from his 2007 figure to land a seat and also be at be well ahead of Labours Phil Prendergast who is likely to be more inclined to pick up Fianna Fail and Fine Gael transfers (should there be any).


1. Blissett - June 10, 2010

Lynch will not top the poll in Cork North Central, if the labour swing wasnt there, she would be in danger of losing her seat, a local issue with making representations on behalf of the family of a rapist. Not popular. Indeed was Ger Gilroy from Blarney LEA willing to run as well, he would likely poll ahead of her, however he has ruled himself out. Mick O Connell may run as a second Labour, but the only effect he may have is to damage O Brien slightly. O Brien has a chance, probably a stronger chance than Barry if you look at sf vote around constituency (note Blarney LEA is near on half the constituency, while sf vote wasnt massive, there wasnt any SP candidate. They wont get the votes they need here). Still and all, things need to come right for O’Brien to get in, but I wouldnt rule it out. Likely outcome is second FG (Could be any combination of Allen Kelly Murphy depending on who they choose.) at the expense of Noel O Flynn, who is no loss whatsoever!!!


2. Justin Moran - June 10, 2010

If you look at the three Cork City wards on the northside the SP, contesting two, polled 2391. Sinn Féin, contesting three, polled 2363.

Now Blisset makes the point that half of Blarney is in CNC. Assuming it’s the urban end of it, that’s likely where most of Sinn Féin’s 1087 votes came from.

Judging the next general on the ’09 locals is probably a mug’s game but on those numbers, though there’s not much between them, you’d fancy Sinn Féin to just shade it. If that happens, it would be interesting if Barry replicated his 2007 transfer rate to SF of around 28 per cent.

Also be interesting to get some local knowledge on what might happen with Ted Tynan’s vote now he’s a councillor. Still, you wouldn’t want to bet against Blisset’s suggestion of FG picking one up at FF’s expense.


Mark P - June 10, 2010

The reason that Barry is seen as having a slim shot at the seat while O’Brien is seen as having an even slimmer one is that Barry himself is a higher profile candidate and his own local election vote is considerably higher than O’Brien’s. Barry has been arguably the most visible councillor in Cork for the last few years.

On party local election vote across the whole area, SF have an advantage overall but I don’t think that’s likely to be relevant. In my view Barry gets it or (more likely) neither of them even end up close. O’Brien getting it would really shock me, unless there’s some wider swing to SF between now and the election.


Blissett - June 11, 2010

No, you have picked me up wrong, not half of Blarney is in CNC, the Blarney LEA makes up nearly half the Constituency. Which means that there is that massive chunk of the constituency where SP has never been seen


Blissett - June 11, 2010

Also last general showed that outside his sizeable local vote, there wont be much come to him, from elsewhere. He will poll well, but almost certainly behind O Brien, who while he may be less vocal, is very much well got in knocka, farranree, and has a decent profile. He got a sizeable vote in his own ward and all. Add to that Davey McCarthy’s votes, who wont stand, which half of more of which will go to O’Brien. Ted Tynan’s vote is likely to remain more or less the same. Although he got elected, it was on a not enormously improved vote, and he isnt exactly known as a superhero cllr.
He will tranfer in all sorts of directions, but probably in the largest chunks to SP and SF.
If I was a betting man though, i see it being

allen (if he runs)
and Kelly

or if not allen, then Murphy.


3. que - June 10, 2010

Regarding Ted Tynan’s vote probably as likely to go SF as SP but thats a hunch only.

Excellent analysis as usual re post.

For me it hightlights the highly localised nature of the SP and also the fact that the party is still very much knocking on the door.
The fragility of the vote is demonstrated by the fact that only Joe is a cert. The councillor base is still small and even Joe was squeezed in 2007 in the first election that was about the economy in decline.

Even with a good election the SP might be 2-3 max in the dail, but all that derived in the usual areas.

Outside of Higgins, Daly and Barry did they successfully build profiles in any other wards/councils.

If they want to have national ambitions then they need to start beating the geographical handicap. Can anyone advise whether re locals?


4. que - June 10, 2010

Can I withdraw my question re the locals. But I would still argue that the SP must evaluate how it becomes a bigger party and therefore able to wield influence and create change. How will they get to 5-6 seats. The clock is ticking already as we are no 2 years into an economic collapse. One electoral cycle staring this year for argument gets us to about 2015.

Which is a long time away but also short for a political party relying on economic hardhsip to grow. I think they face some very significant challenges in this regard.


DublinDilettante - June 10, 2010

Strange statement about hardship. Don’t know how you make that out. They made steady inroads during the height of the boom. If they were solely focused on getting people elected, I’m sure they could find a few parachutists for that purpose, but I don’t think they have any particular desire to be WP Mk. 2, electorally speaking.

That said, they have no organisation at all in Ballymun/Finglas, where there’s a left council seat for the taking, and where local Shinner spanner Dessie Ellis is hoovering up left and former WP votes, ahead of probable election to the Dáil. Speaking of which, I saw him wandering around with a clipboard (“canvassing”, mar dhea) earlier, for the first time ever. Definite indication of imminent election.


Mark P - June 10, 2010

The Socialist Party has been carrying out quite a lot of activity in Finglas over the last few months. Early days though and I doubt if Dessie is quaking in his boots just yet.


WorldbyStorm - June 10, 2010

Hmmm… if I were in the WP or SF I might be a little upset, 🙂
but to be honest I’d consider that Dessie Ellis’ seat would be a left seat. And I’d think given that he’s doing well on the vote he must be doing some work…


DublinDilettante - June 10, 2010

It’s definitely a left vote. That don’t mean it will be a left seat. And trust me, he does fuck all of any note, except show up in the freesheets occasionally.


WorldbyStorm - June 10, 2010

Mind you, you’re not a fan of SF, so I’ll calibrate that response 😉


Mark P - June 10, 2010

It’s a fair enough question.

An important thing to remember is that the Socialist Party doesn’t see itself growing larger and larger, first Sinn Fein size, then Labour size etc It’s longer term perspective for growth is as one organised strand within a wider working class party, incorporating a range of socialist and left currents.

A second important thing to remember is that the Socialist Party isn’t primarily, or even secondarily, an electoral party. It’s priorities can be quite different from those of more mainstream parties.

That said, yes you are right that the Socialist Party’s electoral base is clearly very geographically limited. The SP has expanded somewhat in recent years, and now has branches in a lot more places than it did a few years ago. Various branches, new and old, will be picking candidates and trying to develop an electoral base. But that’s a difficult task for a small party – at this point we have very little “baseline” support in areas where we haven’t done that sort of work before.


que - June 10, 2010

cheers MarkP,


5. irishelectionliterature - June 10, 2010

One of the factors that first propelled Joe Higgins to a Dail seat was The Anti Water Charges campaign in the mid 90s.
With the prospect of Water Charges and a Property tax raising their ugly head again its an area that I’m sure The Socialist Party and the other Left (which I’ll be covering too) can profit from.
Both taxes will be deeply unpopular across the board.
If Mick Barry or Clare Daly were to be at the forefront of these campaigns (as is likely) in their area then they should benefit electorally.

I’ve actually heard semi complaints from people in Dublin West that the Socialist Party are too active!
“I’m afraid to answer the door, in case its Joe Higgins again!”


6. irishelectionliterature - June 11, 2010

One other thing I forgot to mention about Seamus Healy is that Fianna Fail ran the Clonmel based Siobhan Ambrose in 2007 as a spoiler candidate.
Its unlikely that Fianna Fail could run 3 candidates in this 3 seater again.


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