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Dublin West… June 10, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.
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There’s little to add to the analyses of the career of Brian Lenihan Jnr. His death was a tragedy for him and his family and friends. That career one which one suspects in decades to come will be viewed as being one of catastrophic misjudgement. But this isn’t the day to reflect upon that, and I’d argue that Garibaldy’s thoughts here strike the right note by positioning the man in a broader context.

That said this is a political site and it’s legitimate to work through the political ramifications even at this stage.

And the fallout of this is fascinating. None of the remaining 46 Dublin TDs represent Fianna Fáil. Bad news for that party, now diminished to the same number of TDs as the Independents in Dáil Éireann – 19 in total – at least until the byelection. These truly are strange times.

For Martin this must be a grim day, both personally and politically. Again it is the latter we should consider. No Fianna Fáil Dublin TD is an huge problem. Seeing the numbers of FF TDs dip sub-20 is almost beyond comprehension. I can’t quite believe it looking in from the outside, so being in on the inside I can barely imagine what it must be like.

Now, what of the by-election? I guess it’s possible that in this Independent time it is just about conceivable some celebrity Independent might stand. Whether they win would be quite another matter. The SP doesn’t seem to think the seat is there for the taking. Fianna Fáil might win a sympathy vote – but this close to the election? So on balance it looks likely that the seat will fall to the Coalition thereby depriving Fianna Fáil of its last remaining fastness in Dublin city. And this potentially could remain the status quo until the next election.

What then of a by-election win for Fine Gael? They currently have 76 TDs including the Ceann Comhairle. A win for them would push them up to 77 and just shy of 7 seats for an overall majority. And look here, even excluding Lowry there are seven Independent TDs who could – with a little effort – join them in a loose arrangement… Mattie McGrath, Stephen Donnelly, Shane Ross [natch], Ming, Healy-Rae, Fleming and Noel Grealish. Which would give them 84.

A deal with a soft left TD for the Ceann Comhairle’s position and hey presto, we’re in FG single party government territory.

Is it likely? No, not really. But it’s not unlikely either, at least as an hypothetical, and as a means of keeping Labour in line over the next while it’s probably no harm. There’s also the point that it offers FG a lifeline in extremis.

Of course, if Labour gets the seat it’s happy days for them. 38 TDs. A win is a win, particularly in Dublin, and it makes them a little more secure again in coalition.

Anyhow, either way I think this is a by-election we’ll see sooner rather than later. No need to have to run it when the mood music turns more sour. And of course it continues this curious honeymoon period that the Coalition has been becalmed in for a little while longer.

Comments»

1. EWI - June 10, 2011

FG wouldn’t touch Ming with a ten-foot barge pole (the middle-class conservatives who constitute the base would have fits of conniptions).

Ming’s inability to realise this, and his continued efforts at love-bombing the Blueshirts, have been bloody funny to watch.

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WorldbyStorm - June 10, 2011

In extremis, I only posit this in extremis.

And of course for FG the fact it’s vaguely possible is as good as actually implementing it for keeping others in line.

Though on reflection there is a right libertarian streak through FG that Ming wouldn’t be a million miles away from on some issues.

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EWI - June 10, 2011

Oh, I agree that Ming’s stoner libertarianism has much in common with what the FGers are about on the economic side. But his social liberalism (plus he’s a hippy stoner) will cause them to run a mile from being associated with him.

(So how are we doing on reaching the 100,000 comments today?)

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WorldbyStorm - June 10, 2011

If only! 🙂

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EWI - June 10, 2011

LATC said in the Cedar lounge birthday thread that it was just fifty comments to go! Maybe some other Friends of the CLR can be roped in to hit the total, given the occasion?

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WorldbyStorm - June 10, 2011

I think he was joking. The true figure is 56000 or there or there abouts. So another 5 years… 😦

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2. Sarah - June 10, 2011

The bye election will probably be held on the same day as presidential election. The candidate for labour will be fascinating – very very fascinating

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sonofstan - June 10, 2011

You think they’ll parachute Bacik in again? 🙂

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WorldbyStorm - June 10, 2011

In a way I think that’s a central point. The candidate selection for FG and LP is crucial.

For FF… well, already Conor’s name is being put about… but… unlikely, no?

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sonofstan - June 10, 2011

Unlikely?

I dunno – very slim chance of FF winning the seat, but the slimness is slightly less slim with an experienced candidate called Lenihan.

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3. Mark P - June 10, 2011

I should probably point out that my guess that Labour are favourites for the seat may or may not fit with the assessments of Socialist Party activists on the ground and probably shouldn’t be taken as an indication of their thoughts!

My guess is simply based on the following issues:

1) I think that Varadkar’s vote is largely personal and is much higher than the vote another FG candidate could expect.

2) While the Socialist Party has a bedrock support in parts of the constituency and so will do respectably at the very least, a fair part of the vote in other bits of the constituency is personal to Joe.

3) I think that there’s a higher basic party vote for Labour over the constituency as a whole and that more of Burton’s vote will automatically transfer to another candidate.

4) This government aren’t really being blamed for their actions yet. It will take a while for public opinion to turn against them.

Point 4 is crucial and if the government starts getting the blame for its own actions before the election then all bets are off. And yes, the Labour selection will be interesting. The obvious candidate is Patrick Nulty, but his pale pink social democracy (he’s one of precisely three left of centre councillors in the whole Labour Party) may well be seen as worryingly radical by the powers that be.

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Tomboktu - June 10, 2011

The obvious candidate is Patrick Nulty, but his pale pink social democracy (he’s one of precisely three left of centre councillors in the whole Labour Party) may well be seen as worryingly radical by the powers that be.

Three? Patrick Nulty, Cian O’Callaghan and ????

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LeftAtTheCross - June 10, 2011

Dermot Looney as the third man?? http://thelooneyleft.blogspot.com/

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4. Pidge - June 10, 2011

I don’t want to be too pious, but whatever about pub conversations, this could’ve waited a day or two. No mad rush.

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WorldbyStorm - June 10, 2011

Generally I’d agree but there are aspects of the political ramifications that are sui generis, due primarily to where this leaves FF, and I’ve tried to make it clear this is detached from Lenihan himself, but if people want a different approach the whole of the media is taking it. Moreover this is a sort of pub conversation, isn’t it? it’s informal, I doubt anyone here knew him personally…

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5. Sarah - June 10, 2011

Yes – I was referring to Patrick Nulty – many in the labour party would see him as much closer to the politics of the socialist party than of the labour party. Joan of course has tried several times to block his candidacy as he’s way too radical for her but given that he topped the poll in the locals and did really well as her running mate she may not get that chance again. Bit of a nightmare for Joan because Nulty is too radical and might actually win. I also think his candidature might be slightly palatable to the SP and SF

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Mark P - June 10, 2011

No Labour candidacy will ever be remotely “palatable” to the Socialist Party, Sarah, any more than a Fine Gael or Fianna Fail candidacy would be.

As for Nulty, my impression of him is that he’s “closer to the politics of the Socialist Party than of the Labour Party” only in the sense that he could be described as somewhat left inclined, which is of course completely anathema in the Labour Party. But the degree to which he’s left inclined seems to me to be very limited – more of a traditional moderate social democrat left marooned in a party which is indistinguishable from Fine Gael.

Perhaps I’ve picked up a mistaken impression and you could give me details of his red blooded leftism?

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Northside Socialist - June 10, 2011

Hi Mark, your analysis of Nulty is accurate in my opinion.

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Alan Rouge - June 11, 2011

Left inclined or left behind?

I always found it interesting that in the 1996 by-election there were only 252 votes separating Higgins and Lenihan jnr. It’s hard to call but I reckon it could be SP vs. Labour. No idea who SP would put forward though.

The people of Dublin West should be reminded of Varadkar’s “no red cent” speech.

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6. Blissett - June 10, 2011

I’d actually back FG here. Very little to choose between them and Labour on vote share last time out, and they are having the better of it in government as yet IMO

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7. Dr.Nightdub - June 10, 2011

Why does everyone seem to be assuming it’s a three-horse race between FG / Lab / FF?

If the last election was largely driven by a desire of the electorate to wreak revenge on FF, well that job’s been done but the paralysis of the two government parties since taking office could mean the honeymoon effect they might otherwise have been expecting may not materialise.

I’m guessing Lenihan benefitted from a big personal (part sympathy) vote which another FF candidate won’t get.

Is it implausible to think the same people who voted Higgins in, bolstered by disillusioned FG / Lab voters, wouldn’t be capable of putting another non-FF anti-government candidate over the line?

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Mark P - June 10, 2011

It’s not implausible at all and there will be a strong Socialist Party candidate. But I just don’t think that Labour and Fine Gael voters have been disillusioned yet, which leads me to suspect that the order of likelihood is currently: Labour, Fine Gael, Socialist Party, Fianna Fail.

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8. Blissett - June 10, 2011

I might add, this sunday might well be the SINDO’s finest hour. The headlines will really be something to behold.

‘We are each and everyone of us to blame for Brian Lenihans death’ – Brendan O Connor.
‘Who killed Brian Lenihan?’
‘The epitome of a statesman’

etc etc

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EWI - June 10, 2011

‘Who killed Brian Lenihan?’

Why the public sector unions, of course.

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Crocodile - June 11, 2011

Miriam Lord can beat that: ‘noblesse oblige’. It’s like the winner of a compose-a-two-word-phrase-guaranteed-to-infuriate-the-commenters-on CLR competition.

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9. John Meehan - June 10, 2011

It is always best to start with the recent figures :

http://www.electionsireland.org/changes.cfm?election=2011&cons=112

On February 25 the Labour Party was slightly ahead of Fine Gael, and the Socialist Party was in third place, about 9 per cent behind on 19 %. However, based on previous form, an SP candidate will take most of the Sinn Féin transfers – the Adams-led party got just over 6 per cent of the first preferences a few months ago.

Given recent Government wobbles :

Gilmore’s gaffes (Lisbon Treaty, Shannon Airport, Not meeting Irish volunteers on the Gaza Relief Ship, to mention just a few);

the Kenny-Gilmore Yes/No/Maybe on Phil Hogan’s publicly announced trio of new property taxes;

the mounting anger over Bichard Bruton’s determination to achieve “downward” pressure on low-paid workers – this Fine Gael Minister commissioned the Kevin Duffy/Frank Walsh Report on Employment Regulation Orders and Registered Employment Agreement Wage-Setting Mechanisms. When these two lads failed to come up with the pre-determined answer sought by the powers-that-be, the Minister promptly chucked Frank and Kevin’s work into the litter-bin and bulldozed ahead (Note to Frank and Kevin – this government will not be asking you for any more independent reports!).

I think the Socialist Party / United Left Alliance has an excellent chance of getting more first preferences than the Labour Candidate, who would then be eliminated.

In that situation, based on the behaviour of Labour voters on February 25, the SP/ULA candidate will get a good transfer – in other words, this seat can be won for the far left.

The United Left Alliance faces an interesting challenge : can it work together and make a real difference in the looming by-election, keeping Dublin a county without a single Fianna Fáil TD?

Let us take nothing for granted – hard work ahead – but a good prize can be won.

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Justin Moran - June 12, 2011

There’s a lot I’d agree with there and I don’t think the ULA can be ruled out but I suspect it’ll be trickier than that.

Firstly, I completely disagree with the notion that Gilmore’s errors, or at least the three mentioned, will impact on voters. Those are issues that activists and political nerds like us take note of, not the wider public. Shannon and the plight of Palestinians in Gaza were not issues on the doorsteps in February (would that they had been) and they’re not likely to be so now.

Secondly, some of Joe Higgins’ vote in Dublin West will be a personal vote. He’s been the SP candidate there since the mid 90s, is far and away the most high-profile representative the ULA has, a former MEP, a charasmatic and impressive media performer and so on. He attracts a vote that the SP will struggle to retain all of.

Finally, if it comes to a head to head between Labour and the SP I’d agree with your analysis of Sinn Féin transfers favouring the ULA but I think you also need to look at Fine Gael transfers. In February, across Dublin, Labour got 24.26 per cent of available Fine Gael transfers. In this constituency FG transfers to Labour are likely to be larger and therefore more decisive than SF transfers to the SP.

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NollaigO - June 13, 2011

I think the Socialist Party / United Left Alliance has an excellent chance

You have already been told that the Socialist Party are running their own candidate.
Already supported by the ULA?!

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Mark P - June 13, 2011

The Socialist Party has made no formal decision about a by-election which hasn’t even been called, and neither has the ULA.

In reality though, any Dublin based ULA member could tell you (a) that the ULA is overwhelmingly likely to stand, (b) that in Dublin West that means that the Socialist Party is overwhelmingly likely to stand and that (c) a particular Socialist Party councillor overwhelmingly likely to be the candidate.

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revolutionaryprogramme - June 16, 2011

It was reported at the Cork branch meeting on Tuesday that the SP would be standing a candidate though no name was given.

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10. Captain Rock - June 10, 2011

‘Who killed Brian Lenihan?’

Maybe the same man who killed Katie French…

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11. Captain Rock - June 10, 2011

‘Gilmore’s gaffes (Lisbon Treaty, Shannon Airport, Not meeting Irish volunteers on the Gaza Relief Ship, to mention just a few); ‘

Do you think a large chunk of the Dublin West electorate have noticed these?

‘the Adams-led party’
Is the de Valera led SF still out there somewhere?

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Doloras LaPicho - June 11, 2011

No, but the Ó Bradáigh led one is knocking around, and I think there’s a Long-led one as well.

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John Meehan - June 11, 2011

‘Gilmore’s gaffes (Lisbon Treaty, Shannon Airport, Not meeting Irish volunteers on the Gaza Relief Ship, to mention just a few); ‘

Captain Rock’s Questions :

Do you think a large chunk of the Dublin West electorate have noticed these?

Answer :

Yes
———————————
‘the Adams-led party’

Is the de Valera led SF still out there somewhere?

Answer is 2 black-humour jokes :

a) What is the difference between the republicans who sold out for a treaty in 1922 and 1998?

The 1922 crowd at least got 26 Counties back.

b) What is the difference between the Stickies and the Provos?

1969 – 1994 : 25 years.

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12. Depps - June 10, 2011

If the ULA, rather than just the SP, can put forward a strong candidate and put their combined resources together then in my humble opinion they should be in with a serious shout. Of course the opening IF is a very big one and probably a good bellwether of whether the whole ULA idea will have a meaningful future

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Depps - June 10, 2011

*strong

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Depps - June 10, 2011

*SP….. you guys really need an edit post option for the careless among us

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Tomboktu - June 11, 2011

[Edits made by Tomboktu]

I don’t think an edit option for commenters is in our powers — I’ve not seen it with any other WordPress sites I’ve used.

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popeepopt Epopt - June 11, 2011

Just posted with a couple of links to WordPress editable comments plugin, but the system doesn’t seem to have posted them.

Is this an example of cybernetic meta-editing? Is the immune system of the sight expunging viral content that may alter it’s DNA?

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popeepopt Epopt - June 11, 2011

Feck. sight => site.

Q.E.D. need for the plugin.

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WorldbyStorm - June 12, 2011

I think the plugins are for wordpress.org, their commercial arm, not wordpress.com. Could be wrong, but last time I looked into it that was the distinction. IIRC one pays for the former, but we’re not paying for the latter.

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Mark P - June 11, 2011

In reality, the ULA in Dublin West consists mostly of the Socialist Party and people who would support the Socialist Party even if the ULA didn’t exist. I have no doubt that the ULA as a whole will be involved, but in practical terms, the SP is the main factor in that part of the city.

Dublin Dilettante is wrong about there being a problem for the Socialist Party in getting someone else elected to the Dail in that particular area, but is correct in a broader sense that the Socialist Party does not want to end up with most of its key cadre in the Dail or in Dail support roles.

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Jim Monaghan - June 13, 2011

There are 2 in the Dail. A victory in Dublin West would make it 3. A long way I hope from most of your key cadre.
Stand the best ULA with the best chance. And ULA people elsewhere would travel. We need to show people that ULA is the most serious opposition to this coalition which is no different to the other one.
Lenihan and Noonan are twins.

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Mark P - June 13, 2011

I was more thinking of the experience of the Scottish Socialist Party, Jim, which ended up with much of its central leadership in parliament or in parliamentary support roles. I don’t think that did the organisation any favours and it tended to pull the party as whole towards parliamentarism.

I agree with you that the SP should stand in Dublin West and should do so as part of the ULA with assistance from others in the ULA.

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13. DublinDilettante - June 11, 2011

It’s a live question as to whether the SP can afford to have anyone else elected to the Dáil, personnel-wise! They struggled to fill the two vacancies caused by the last election…

Anyway, I don’t think it’s close to arising as an issue.

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14. Shane - June 11, 2011

One observation, which I think is a reasonably vaild comparison. September 1997- three months after the electoral backlash against Labour (not as crushing but nonetheless not too dissimilar to now) Jim Kemmy died. He was also a popular TD and was seen as someone who had died very young. The subsequent by-election, five months after his death, saw Labour holding the seat with Jan O Sullivan winning out. Labours FPV in the June 97 elections in Limerick East had barely been above 9 %. In contrast three months ago in Dublin West FF got 16.5 %

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Shane - June 11, 2011

In the by election Labour first preference vote went to 25 %

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Jackson Way - June 11, 2011

Big difference BL was not popular beyond the FF gombeen vote. Don’t believed the media crap most people know the filth BL was.

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Captain Rock - June 11, 2011

No comparison between Jim Kemmy and Brian Lenihan. Kemmy had the courage of his convictions and stood up to reactionaries and capitalists. Lenihan was one of them.

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15. “I’m allright jack” The Fine Gael way? | Machholz's Blog - June 11, 2011

[…] Dublin West… (cedarlounge.wordpress.com) […]

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16. Sarah - June 11, 2011

Well this for a start

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Michael Carley - June 11, 2011

What were his views on entering coalition with FF? This is not a rhetorical question; I genuinely don’t know.

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Tomboktu - June 11, 2011

Patrick Nulty spoke at 1 hour and one minute into the video at the Labou Party’s video of the special conference on 6 March:

http://www.labour.ie/press/delegateconf.html

He was against going into coalition.

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Mark P - June 11, 2011

A somewhat amusing speech given that every word of condemnation of Fianna Fail in it now applies to his own party, the party he’ll be looking for a vote for. A vote for Labour is a vote for water charges in Dublin West or anywhere else.

I note also that while there were references to getting organised in the community there was no call for non payment, just a call for a vote for Labour and a promotion of the illusion that Labour would oppose the introduction of water charges and/or abolish them. This is a foolish stance at best or a dishonest one at worst.

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17. Tomboktu - June 11, 2011

A deal with a soft left TD for the Ceann Comhairle’s position and hey presto, we’re in FG single party government territory.

Is it likely? No, not really. But it’s not unlikely either,

That seems to me to be the most unlikely element of the scenario. To switch the Ceann Comhairle mid-Dáil for party political reasons would damage those involved (even if Sean Barret agreed to leave the post, which I would think uinlikely).

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WorldbyStorm - June 12, 2011

Very fair point. Though… imagine the entreaties that would be made… ‘in the national good’, etc, etc. In extremis. Nothing short of that.

Or if the LP left.

Which doesn’t necessarily amount to the same thing for the rest of us but for FG would be problematic 😉

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18. The Fine Gael and Labour Party Gravy train has arrived at Dail Eireann. | Machholz's Blog - June 11, 2011

[…] Dublin West… (cedarlounge.wordpress.com) […]

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19. steve white - June 12, 2011

the SP candidate everyone of you refer to it as that, rather then Ruth Coppinger ?
surely most experienced SP’er

FF no TDs and only 18 councillors out of 127

ps why does this commenting app and twitter need

This application will be able to:
Read Tweets from your timeline.
See who you follow, and follow new people.
Update your profile.
Post Tweets for you.
Access your direct messages until June 30th, 2011.

This application will not be able to:
Access your direct messages after June 30th, 2011.
See your Twitter password.

??

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WorldbyStorm - June 12, 2011

Not a clue steve. Seems to be some new wordpress feature. If people find it distracting I’ll see about removing it.

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20. Democratic Practices in Ireland in 2011 | Machholz's Blog - June 16, 2011

[…] Dublin West… (cedarlounge.wordpress.com) […]

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