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More on that RedC/Paddy Power poll… January 17, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.

As noted by doctorfive last week saw a new RedC poll for Paddy Power bookmakers. Due to one thing and another I didn’t have time to analyse th figures in any detail before now, but they are worth slotting into a broad overview of the political situation.

The headline figures:

FG 29%(-3), Lab 13% (=), FF 21%(+3), SF 16%(-4) and Ind/others 21% (+4)

A number of obvious thoughts. This poll tallies well with the SBP/RedC poll released on 1st of December.

FG 28(-6), Lab 14(+1), FF 20(+1), SF 17(nc), Ind 21(+4)

Indeed the movement has been marginal, subsequently.

But look at the key changes, though bear in mind the last Paddy Power poll was in May 2012. Sinn Féin has moved to a new normal of mid to high-teens across the latter half of last year. Fianna Fáil has broken through the not unimportant 20 per cent barrier, while Fine Gael’s movement has been to break through the equally important 30 per cent barrier – albeit in the wrong direction. Independents remain oddly, some would say improbably, high at 21 per cent, a good four per cent higher than they were at Election 2011. Labour has arrived at a new normal too of low to mid teens.

What does this suggest? Well, a disenchantment with the political parties, where none are trusted sufficiently to be gifted anything like an commanding lead. Fine Gael’s decline is most interesting because one would have thought that it would become the natural repository of right and centre votes. But perhaps there are fewer right and centre voters willing to trust it. And in truth a lot of the gloss has gone off it in relation to obvious issues in the past three months – one could argue that the most recent developments as regards abortion provision shift its image away from a sort of technocracy towards something rather different, if no less conservative. And it’s not as if there aren’t options. Fianna Fáil’s long march back continues. But in fairness there’s still an hell of a way to go before it arrives at anything like major party status.

Though also in fairness it would do well if a vote were held on these figures. Adrian Kavanagh notes the following seat projections:

Fine Gael 56, Labour 18, Fianna Fail 37, Sinn Fein 23, Green Party 1, United Left Alliance 4, Independents and Others 19. 

One can quibble about the detail in individual constituencies, but the overall trends seem sound enough (by the way he has Seamus Healey down as an ULA TD in Tipperary, and sees all but RBB of the current ULA representation holding their seats).

Sinn Féin might be, all things considered, reasonably pleased. Their support consolidates, but it is perhaps lower than they’d like and they will be hoping that it is stabilising rather than decreasing still. That said let’s note that even close before the 2011 election the idea of them getting 14 TDs was fantastical, 23 would be excellent, and there’s plenty of time for them to prise more from the LP. Without doubt, though, they are now a substantial part of the political process in this state. Quite a turnaround from 2007.

Labour will be pleased that the blow-back from the last few weeks and months hasn’t been worse. But there’s more to come, so who knows how that will impact?

Mind you, there are other aspects worth of consideration. It’s telling, is it not, that as FF improves its position that of Independents doesn’t improve quite as well in terms of representation – they are reaping an higher vote share but they’re not seeing massively increased Independent TDs returned on foot of it. That said there’d be few amongst their number unhappy with that sort of projection. And is that a straw in the wind that the Green Party might, just might, see the hint of a possibility of some progress. They’d like to think so. But…

One thing is very clear, actual government formation in this sort of schema would be a nightmare. And while, like shares, the figures could go up from here, say for FG or the LP, few would be counting on that. Does it imply that the dynamic could be one where FG and FF coalition would become all but inevitable? Well, perhaps, but it will be instructive to see whether ‘stability’, that word of the moment, overcomes the antagonism in this polity to moving beyond two alternating centre/centre right parties towards something… different.

Another thought, those ‘new’ party mavens might want to get moving and fast. There’s not a lot of time left to start organising, and it seems unlikely that the situation will be as propitious subsequent to this as it appears now. Though whether it is that good for a new party remains to be seen. There seems to be something an antipathy to the larger parties in general, particularly when 1 in 5 of the electorate still won’t put their x beside the name of any one of them.


1. Julian Assandwich - January 17, 2013

It also doesn’t factor in the SWP CC’s ultra sectarian aggressive manouevring to run Brid Smyth against incumbent TD (and fellow People Before Profit affiliate) Joan Collins and her organization in the now reduced Dublin South Central constituency – thus splitting the vote and losing the seat for the left.

A case could be made for it if- after discussion and agreement within the ULA – and the level of struggle rose significantly that there were enough votes there for 2 far left TDs in a now 4 seater constituency. But despite that massive unlikelihood, it looks like the SWP CC made their unilateral decision to do this in 2011 or earlier, possibly while negotiations for the ULA were occuring!

Nobody doubts Brid Smyth is a highly effective activist who has done some excellent work, but, given the Collins’ organization’s social roots in the working class and long track record as socialist fighters for left unity against sectarianism, this wrecking operation should be condemned staunchly and publicly by the broadest possible section of the left at every turn.


2. Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - January 17, 2013

All those SWP members who read the CLR but are so busy they can’t stop to comment might note this. If it’s true than its bananas.


Julian Assandwich - January 17, 2013

I thought this was widely-known? Was just restating it as the OP mentioned the mistake regarding the Healys.

Anyway, it’s not irreversible. Sane SWP comrades just have to convince their CC to change course and steer away from the iceberg.


CMK - January 17, 2013

I think on ‘normal’ electoral calculus this might be a stupid and counter productive approach to take but it might have a logic in this instance. DSC is easily the most ‘left’ wing constituency in the state (if you include Lab and SF as ‘left’). Given that struggle is only going to instensify between now and 2016, or earlier if this government falls before it’s alloted time, it’s not unlikely that DSC voters could recognise the value of both Joan and Brid. There are dozens of constituencies where two, three and more identikit FF/FG know nothings are elected easily enough; it might be possible that two Left wing individuals who both possess excellent qualities could achieve something similar. Here’s hoping anyway. That’s an alternative view which could be posited to your points above. But there is probably more validity in the scenario you outline that the one I’ve just sketched. We are, after all, witnessing FF rising from it’s deathbed so maybe two far-Left TDs in one constituency is a bridge too far.


Julian Assandwich - January 17, 2013

I agree that struggle could rise significantly and 2 leftwing TDs would be great and the preferred scenario. Not impossible, just highly improbable – and they’re not foolish, they know that too.

It’s also the manner in which they’ve gone about it. The ULA running 2 candidates in a constituency is a matter for the ULA. The SWP CC can of course hold its own preference before those discussions happen, but to pre-empt that as part of the relaunch of PeopleBeforeProfit is in effect creating a direct, duplicate rival to the ULA which is absolute insanity.


LeftAtTheCross - January 17, 2013

DSC is easily the most ‘left’ wing constituency in the state (if you include Lab and SF as ‘left’)

Not so CMK. The combined first preference vote for Left party candidates in Dublin South Central was 61.7%, but in Dublin North West it was 68.0%.


CMK - January 17, 2013

LATC, correction noted: thanks for pointing that out.

Julian: it will be a tricky issue for the ULA, and it won’t be the only one. I’d quibble with the idea that getting both Joan and Brid across the line would be ‘highly improbable’ and would probably regard it is as ‘difficult but not impossible’. But I’m not on the ground there so that assessment may well be wishful thinking.


Dr.Nightdub - January 18, 2013

My gut feel, as a DSC voter, is that Joan Collins’ base lies more to the Drimnagh side of the constituency, whereas Brid Smith was elected to the Corpo from the Ballyfermot side. A lot depends on whether the dual-candidacy is genuinely aimed at capturing two seats, in which case they’d presumably divvy up the constituency amicably in terms of campaigning and call for transfers to each other, or antagonistic, in which case it’d be a shocking mis-application of resources.


3. Jim Monaghan - January 17, 2013

One leading Labour light in Dun Laoghaire sees RBB topping the poll as Labour withers on the vine. In a recent canvass of Sallynoggin (a Gilmore stronghold from WP days,) Labour supporters were accosting Gilmore.
Yet ULA and its components are in suicidal mode.The bourgeoisie do not need agent provacateurs when the fools do it for free. And the SP are now going for what they hope is a lifeboat.


Jolly Red Giant - January 17, 2013

You’ll have to give me the location of that lifeboat Jim – I must have missed the memo.


revolutionaryprogramme - January 18, 2013

But you would surely accept that the SP have effectively withdrawn from the ULA as anything other than a badge of convenience for media purposes?

See Irish Left Review for my analysis of the current situation with the ULA – http://www.irishleftreview.org/2013/01/17/lost-opportunity/


4. Jolly Red Giant - January 17, 2013

As a general comment – referring to Kavanagh’s projections are a waste of time. His statistical comparisons with the last election are useless in outlining what could potentially happening. In terms of the ULA – the least number of seats the ULA components will win is 5 (DN, DW, DSC, DL and CNC) and at this moment is potentially as high as 9 (DN x2, DW x2, DSC (x2 on a really good day), DL, DMW, DSW, CNC).

I have absolutely no doubt that the ‘ULA’ vote is higher than anything suggested in opinion polls (similarly I suspect that opinion polls are overestimating FF’s support – and yes I think there is manipulation going on for political reasons). On top of that the ULA vote is concentrated in certain constituencies – although there is likely to be a significantly bigger spread of the vote next time. Assuming that there isn’t a general election prior to the locals next year I expect a significant increase in the numbers and spread of left candidates getting elected to local councils and I expect Paul Murphy to be there or there-abouts in the Euros


WorldbyStorm - January 17, 2013

I’m curious as to what basis you have for your ‘beliefs’. No one argues Kavanagh is spot on, but what evidence do you have that any of your assertions are correct? Or to put it a different way what data are you drawing on that is superior to Kavanaghs?


Julian Assandwich - January 18, 2013

Dotski and his magic spreadsheet are back but he doesn’t seem to have adapted it to the new 158-seat Dail/constituency changes.



Jolly Red Giant - January 18, 2013

The political landscape is changing rapidly and will continue to change at an even faster pace in the coming period. Kavanagh extrapolates a national polling figure into local situations and it is a waste of time.

As for my ‘beliefs’ – gut instinct – and it has been pretty good at every election over the past 30 years.

My prediction for the left (the ULA former and extended) in the next election as of now is as follows – SP 3 (DW, CNC, DSW), SWP 1 (DL), WUAG 1 (Tipp), others 2 (DN & DSC) – although this could change rapidly. This comes from having a pretty good idea of the nature of PR STV, the make up of the constituencies, the changes in the boundaries and seat numbers and the likely impact of continuing and growing opposition to austerity over the coming period.


WorldbyStorm - January 18, 2013

No one denies the political landscape is changing and it was me who pointed out that at the local level it tends to fall apart. That said if you look at Kavanagh’s extrapolations prior to the last election from polling data he was very close to the final outcome – and ironically gave the ULA more seats than eventually turned up.

Gut instinct is all very well, but all it is is instinct. Nothing solid and nothing empirical – and how in fairness can we assess your instincts in relation to elections across 30 years?

Good luck with the prediction. Again what empirical basis is there to that? It’s like picking figures out of thin air. You could be right or you could be way off. But that’s not the point.

Kavanagh’s approach is of some (admittedly limited) use because it allows us to follow trends, it gives a sense of seat shares post election (no more than that) and overall it suggests dynamics.

It’s also fair to say that with the situation more rocky now than it has been, with the SBP suggesting that the government could fall if no deal is done on the promissory note (however, as we all know, cosmetic such a deal will be) then it’s of considerable utility to have that sense of dynamics etc so that we’re not simply operating in the dark.


Jolly Red Giant - January 19, 2013

When it comes to using opinion polls to predict the next election it’s a case of lies, damned lies and statistics.

I would even predict that if the government fell tomorrow that Kavanagh’s numbers would be way off base – the number will change significantly during the course of the election campaign.


WorldbyStorm - January 19, 2013

Of course, that goes without saying, but no one is using this as a tool to predict the next election. That would be impossible. What it is being used at is as a means to map changing party and other support and then to see how that might impact on the ultimate shake-out.

An example. By Christmas 2010 it was clear that both SF and the Independent/Other vote was increasing, the former rapidly, the latter less so but still substantially and that FF had taken an enormous hit. Two months later we saw the fruits of that dynamic.

Does this matter as anything other than a (sometimes) entertaining and interesting academic exercise? I think it does. I’m certain that for SF et al polling data energised them in the run up to the election, and for FF it did the opposite. They knew they were going to be hammered and that didn’t help. So it is, naturally, a double edged sword. But it’s the only half decent means we have of assessing the mood of the electorate etc. That’s why I’m very loath to dismiss it – even accepting many of the caveats that you raise.


5. ivorthorne - January 18, 2013

Just read Kavanagh’s analysis and it struck me, not for the first time, that it really is shocking that so few constituencies have ULA candidates. Why have left parties failed to meaningfully expand in what one would have thought was an ideal political environment?


doctorfive - January 18, 2013


write about 100 hundred times

negates any gut or instincts


WorldbyStorm - January 19, 2013

It’s a key question.


Julian Assandwich - January 19, 2013

All the left wants out of the Dail is the 7 or so seats to give it a platform. The ULA was extremely well positioned to kick on and pick up another 2 until the components decided to lose their minds. Not irretrievable.

It’s not the TDs I’d measure the growth of the left in but the amount of new leftwing activists across the country.of which there is an abundance but with no place to call home.


ivorthorne - January 19, 2013

But why? Why is it that no left wing party looked at a map of Ireland and thought that it would be a good idea to run candidates in, for example, Mayo or Roscommon during the next election.

The NUIM deprivation index shows that there are high levels of dissatisfied unemployed and working class people living in the western half of Ireland in regions devastated by emmigration. If there was ever a time for the Left to move out of its self-imposed Ghetto, it was 2011.


WorldbyStorm - January 19, 2013

That’s it precisely. And let’s look at it a different way. Take SF. No one seriously consider it will slip back from 14 seats and most think it will push over 20. The further left will be lucky to hold its current crop of seats (given the reduction in seats in the Dáíl and current – ahem – local issues). How can that be in the present climate?

Actually, let’s go a bit deeper. The Technical Group leftish social democrats, Murphy, Pringle, Halligan, O’Sullivan, are all likely to be returned and if we’re generous and throw in a couple of other names they’ll be equal to or greater than the size of the ULA component. How is that?

I’m the last person to undervalue the very real achievements of the ULA and ex ULA components in the last two years, but the gap between what ultimately is sought – the revolutionary transformation of this society and what is actually there is enormous.

That’s a very interesting point Julian re 7 and there’s a lot in what you say, but even that is a remarkably limited ambition given what is noted above.


Jolly Red Giant - January 19, 2013

For the 7 to come into play the ULA would have to be a registered political party and all the candidates would have to be elected as ULA candidates. Given the solo-run that Daly and Collins appear to be embarking on over the next couple of weeks, that prospect appears to be dimishing as we speak.


WorldbyStorm - January 19, 2013

Is that absolutely true about them being elected on a ULA banner in order to be legitimately part of a 7? In 1992 when the WP split there were huge efforts by the six DL TDs to convince Emmet Stagg to come over from the LP to make up a group. Clearly he didn’t, but he was elected under LP colours so I’m not sure how that would work.


revolutionaryprogramme - January 19, 2013

Given that it was the SP, backed by the SWP, who continually vetoed the registration of the ULA name for electoral purposes it is a bit off for JRG to be blaming the new Daly/Collins bloc ini this way.


Blackberry - January 19, 2013

The under-class moron twits are having their newly-found egos stroked and are being patronised up to the hilt by the extant ‘petit-bourgeoise’; these twits (S.F.) are self-importantly patrolling every little micro area that they can lay any kind of spurious ‘claim’ to.
This cutely deflects their attention from any far-reaching policy decisions being decided on, in the kinds of areas of housing, i.e. will? their very own children be shunted into ‘petit-bourgeoise’ investor housing when they reach 20 yrs. of age? instead of deciding upon some policy for the future that some of the central (100-120 yr. old housing) be appropriated and renovated directly for ordinary people. And in health; just blithly relying on the present socialists to produce the next generation of doctors etc.
It is dopily ‘happy’ and short-term thinking.


6. Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - January 19, 2013

Yeah, it’s all their fault alright. FFS.


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