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Labour at the next election ……10 seats? February 13, 2013

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Politics, The Left.

I know we’re probably a few years away from an election but ….. with Labour now sliding in the polls , Paddy Healy made an interesting Comment on the recent Sunday Business Post Red C poll stating

When the Labour party vote declined to 10.4% in the 1997 GE following the Spring/Bruton/De Rossa government , it retained 17 of 33 seats. I believe that if Labour polled 11% in a general election to-day that it would retain far less seats. Traditionally, many Labour candidates were elected on transfers from independents and minor parties (in addition to benefitting from the surplus of coalition partner Fine Gael). The current poll indicates that Sinn Fein will be above the Labour Party on first counts in a large number of constituencies. Sinn Fein transfers will be unavailable in far more constituencies than was the case in the 2011 General Election. The decline in the Fine Gael vote will ensure that surpluses transferring to the Labour Party will also be reduced.

before finishing on

I will be very surprised if the Labour Party wins much more than 10 seats in the next general election. That would mean a loss of two thirds of existing Labour seats.


Now Labour were at 10% in the recent IPSOS / MRBI poll and the regional breakdown was as follows , 18% in Dublin, 9% in the rest of Leinster, 6% in Munster, and 5% Connaught/Ulster.
The non Dublin figures will be worrying and being on 6% in Munster is very low considering they currently have 9 TDs in that area. The analysis also pointed out that whilst Labour are on 18% in Dublin the Property Tax and Water Charges have yet to be introduced and its going to be Dublin that bares the brunt of the Property Tax. So Labour are more than likely to drop a good bit further in Dublin.
The recent Promissory Note ‘Deal’ is supposed to give fillup to the Government parties (which we’ll see at the next Red C poll, however I think it will be Fine Gael that will be the main beneficiaries of this.
In fact its strange enough in that I almost think in the long run Labour could be hit by the saving. So for example you’ve saved a billion annually why not drop the property tax, why not reopen a specialist hospital ward, why not build the school and so on.
I also suspect that like Fianna Fail the last time out we may see a number of senior Labour people retire at the next election. Canvassing and campaigning they are likely to be met with a vitriol they aren’t used to.

Well lets look at those Labour seats , the one quandary I’m in is what happens the TDs that have jumped ship but are still in the Party? Willie Penrose is due back in the fold soon but its hard to see all of Pat Nulty, Róisín Shorthall, Colm Keaveney and Tommy Broughan back onside unless there is at least a change of leadership. I could be wrong and Broughan could well retire with his existing constituency gone and split into some of Dublin Bay North and Dublin Fingal.

Carlow Kilkenny – Kilkenny based Ann Phelan is highly unlikely to hold on here even were Labour not to run a Carlow candidate. verdict – Loss

Clare – Michael McNamara highly unlikely to hold his seat –
Verdict -Loss

Cork East- Sean Sherlock should just about hold on
Verdict -A Seat

Cork North Central – Kathleen Lynch will have a fight on her hands but should hold on, mind you if shes behind Mick Barry she could be in trouble
Verdict – Probable seat

Cork South Central – Ciaran Lynch will be under pressure from Sinn Fein and with the Constituency losing a seat from 5 to 4, Lynch will be the one n grave danger.
Verdict – Loss

Cork South West – Michael McCarthy is highly likely to lose his seat.
Verdict – Loss

Dublin Central – In what will be a 3 seater Joe Costello may well retire and I gather Emer Costello has been getting a profile in the area recently. A tough enough one to call and Costello lost the seat he won here in 1997 having won it during the ‘Spring Tide’ of 1992.
Verdict possible loss

Dublin Mid West – With 2 TDs Labour will have to field them both, likely to hold one.
Verdict -hold one lose one

Dublin Fingal – Increases to a five seater from the old Dublin North. Labours Brendan Ryan should hold on here but only just.
Verdict Hold

Dublin Bay North – A five seater made up of the old Dublin North Central and Dublin North East (minus some voters gone to Dublin Fingal). 3 Labour TDs were elected for the area in 2011. Sean Kenny, Tommy Broughan and Aodhan O’Riordan. There may well be retirements and it will be interesting to see if Broughan stands. Either way I think Labour will only win one of the five seats.

Verdict hold one

Dublin Bay South -A four seater of The Old Dublin South East with a bit of the old Dublin South Central. Ruairi Quinn will surely retire and Kevin Humphreys will find it difficult to hold on. Still I think he may just hold on.
Verdict – Hold one

Dublin North West
If Róisín Shortall stays as an Independent, it will be her rather than Labour TD John Lyons elected. Either way its Shorthalls seat .
Loss of one and if Shorthall is an Independent then a loss of two from 2011

Dublin Rathdown – Assuming Alex White stands here, he’ll lose
verdict -Loss

Dublin South Central -Going to be hard to hold on to 2 seats here with it reduced to a four seater.
Verdict lose one, hold one

Dublin South West – Currently hold two TDs in Pat Rabbitte and Eamonn Moloney. The increase to five seats might be helpful to them. They should hold one.
Verdict lose one, hold one

Dublin West – In 1997 Joan Burton lost her seat. Could it happen again? Varadkar should be safe so you are left with Joe Higgins, Burton, Patrick Nulty , McGuinness of FF and Donnelly of Sinn Fein fighting it out for the remaining 3 seats. Its going to be very close and surely there are more insensitive Social Welfare cuts on the way.
A possible loss (or two if you count Nulty)

Dun Laoghaire -In Effect a 3 seater as Sean Barrett is automatically returned. The sheen has certainly left Gilmore and it will be interesting to see if he can hold on. Definitely one FG with Gilmore fighting it out with a second FG candidate, Richard Boyd Barrett and FF.
Verdict -Should hold on but stranger things have happened.

Galway East – Down to 3 seats and highly unlikely that Keaveney (were he to run as a Labour candidate ) can hold on.

Galway West – The addition of parts of Mayo wont help Derek Nolan, who despite the surge to Labour in 2011 only increased the Labour vote by just over 1%. Next time out Michael Ds personal vote will be gone and Nolan looks to be a goner.
Verdict Loss

The new five seat Kerry constituency is going to be very competitive. FF will surely win one at least, FG one, Sinn Fein one and the final few seats between FF, FG, Tom Fleming, Michael Healy Rae and Labours Arthur Spring.
Verdict Loss

Kildare North
The various projections have Labour holding on here, mainly I suppose in that there is no big SF presence in Kildare. However if, as is likely, Emmet Stagg retires, would Labour be able to hold on to the seat. I suspect a resurgent FF may take this seat.
Verdict Loss

Kildare South
Again another constituency where if the TD retires the seat could be lost. If Jack Wall retires Labour will find it hard to hold on to the seat.
Verdict Loss

Limerick City (4)
Can Jan O’Sullivan hold on here? Sinn Fein will be pushing for a seat and Fianna Fail will be pushing for a second seat. Were Michael Noonan to retire , she probably will just about make it. Mind you she could well call it a day herself and in that case the seat would be gone. This is a tricky one in that Adrian Kavanaghs analysis of the various polls all have this as a Sinn Fein gain from Labour. I think she will just about hold on.
Verdict Hold

Longford-Westmeath (4)
This is a strange one. Labour will hold if Willie Penrose stands (or indeed his Brother). If not the seat will be gone.
Verdict Hold with a Penrose standing , loss without a Penrose

Louth (5)
Labour polled under a quota here in what was effectively a four seater in 2011. Next time out Sinn Fein will surely be looking for a second seat or indeed third seat here and Fianna Fail will be looking for a gain too. I cant see Ged Nash holding on.
Verdict Loss

Meath East (3)
Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein will be out to take Dominic Hannigans seat. Hes unlikely to hold on.
Verdict loss.

Tipperary (5)Even in a five seat Tippperary can Alan Kelly hold on? He’s geographically isolated with some of his Nenagah hinterland gone to the new Offaly constituency. There will be six TDs going for 5 seats and Fianna Fail will surely gain at least a seat here. Sinn Fein will be pushing hard for a seat too.
Verdict loss

Waterford (4) -Fianna Fail are likely to gain a seat here with Sinn Fein pushing too. Ciara Conway will find it hard to hold on.
Verdict loss

Wexford(5) Brendan Howlin should just about hold on here
Verdict hold

Wicklow (5)- Despite fielding 3 candidates in 2011 Labour barely got a quota between the 3 of them. Anne Ferris looks very vulnerable.
Verdict Seat Loss


1. tomasoflatharta - February 13, 2013

Reblogged this on Tomás Ó Flatharta and commented:
This analysis fits in very comfortably with the analysis published on this blog last Saturday February 9 following the publication of an Irish Times Opinion Poll.

A different related question which deserves attention is what to do about the construction of an anti-capitalist/anti-coalition akternative, both inside and outside the Dail.


2. Paddy Healy - February 13, 2013

This is my comment on the more recent IPSOS/MRBI Poll which compliments my earlier remarks:
Arising from the seat allocations made by Adrian, it is clear that if these results were replicated in a general Labour might hold no seat in Munster. The probability of this outcome is increased by the fact that Labour was down to 7% outside Dublin in the poll. Remarkably, the seat held by Eamonn Gilmore in Dun Laoire is under threat in the context of the automatic re-election of the Ceann Comhhairle in that constituency.
Labour has always had difficulty retaining seats when the incumbent passes on. The retirement of some Labour ministers could increase the electoral damage to the Labour Party.
It might be useful to put faces on the probable Labour casualties if the poll were replicated in a general election
IN Danger of Defeat :Eamonn Gilmore, Sean Sherlock, Kathleen Lynch
Very Unlikely to be re-elected:Brendan Howlin, Ciaran Lynch,Jan O’Sullivan, Alan Kelly, Joe Costelloe, Alex White ,Arthur Spring(Kerry), Ciara Conway(Waterford), M McNamara(Clare), McCarthy(Cork SW), Nolan (Galway West), Nash(Louth), Ferris (Wicklow), Hannigan (Meath East),Wall(Kildare South), Ann Phelan (Carlow-Kilkenny), Burton or Nulty (Dublin West), Dowds or Tuffy (Dublin Mid-West), Kenny or Broughan (Dublin bay North), Lyons or Shorthall (Dublin North West), Quinn or Humphreys (Dublin Bay South),Michael Conaghan or Eric Byrne (Dublin South Central), Keaveney (Galway East)
I understand that the share of the vote for “others” in the poll was 32% in Dublin.
After the Spring/Bruton government the Labour Party was able to retain 17 of the 33 seats in the 1997 GE. On that occasion it was helped by transfers from the Fine Gael excess and from the elimination of Sinn Fein and others. The decline of the Fine Gael vote and the strong showing of SF and “others” in the recent poll is very bad news for the Labour Party.


3. TheOtherRiverR(h)ine - February 13, 2013

In Limerick I could see Deputy Perjury retiring. I’d be surprised about FF getting the second seat. They’re weak in the city at the moment with just one councilor on Limerick City Council.

Very difficult to know with Dublin Central, the boundary changes there screw FF and FG and it’s very hard to see either of them get a seat (along with Dublin North West it could be another constituency not to return either an FF or FG TD).

In a lot of the cases you’ve to ask who’ll gain the seat lost by Labour. In some constituencies SF don’t have a good organisation on the ground to get a seat, while FF’s organisation is still atrophied in some of the Dublin constituencies.


WorldbyStorm - February 13, 2013

That’s an interesting thought re DC. I’m hard pushed to see and FFer get a seat there, at least as matters stand now. But, perhaps in two or three years. It’s like there’s a void which hasn’t been filled and as the tide goes out for FG and the LP it’s precisely your last question which is up in the air.


Joe - February 13, 2013

I propose a selection convention – regular CLR contributors, resident in DC, can attend as delegates. Delegates will be vetted by me before they can vote (naturally).
Hey presto, a CLR candidate for that seat that’s up for grabs in DC.


RosencrantzisDead - February 13, 2013

I thought Averil Power was the Dublin Central candidate for FF?


WorldbyStorm - February 13, 2013

Dublin Bay North I’d have thought


Joe - February 13, 2013

It would be Mary Fitzpatrick for FF in DC.


WorldbyStorm - February 13, 2013

Heh heh heh


Jack Jameson - February 13, 2013

Averil Power is still campaigning via her website for the new constituency of Dublin Bay North.


4. richotto - February 13, 2013

The above comments seem to me to have an element of dancing on Labours grave which is affecting judgement. In 1987 after a five year govt which arguably more a failure than this one Labour under Dick Spring was reduced to 6.5% but held on to twelve seats. Withing five years and under the same leader it was up to a record 19%. Not bad for a record of supposedly betraying the working class.


WorldbyStorm - February 13, 2013

But is the context quite the same?


richotto - February 13, 2013

Not too dissimilar. No two situations are exactly the same. I would have thought that Labour have more to show for their efforts now than then. The predictions of below ten seats on 10% seem a bit unreasonable given that they held on to twelve in 1987 on 6.5% and from an outgoing base of only about fifteen TDs.


WorldbyStorm - February 13, 2013

I’m not sure 1987 was quite analogous to 2015/6, firstly the economic crash now is starkly different to the long standing economic decline of the late 70s/early 80s. The LP itself was as you say yourself coming from 15 to 12, but the current polling suggests a much much starker fall from 36 odd TDs at present. Ageing cohort of TDs and as IEL suggests back in 1987 it was WP to left and – ironically – PD to right providing competition. Now it’s a raft of alternatives under the Indo/Other umbrella, plus a renascent FF, plus a very strong SF and so on.


richotto - February 14, 2013

In 1987 the PDs were almost exclusively taking votes from FG supporters. FF were still very popular among the less well off and better able to capitalize in seats than SF have proven to date. Workers Party was at its peak then taking seven seats and the primary left party in Dublin. Today the opposition is all over the place and transfers will leak leaving a 10% share for Labour worth a good 20 seats I would guess. In terms of the nitty gritty of governing the country as opposed to protest politics it will be harder to argue with the status quo when the election comes around. Back to 1987 again FF were riding on 55% at the begining of the four week campaign and when the hard questions were asked of what the alternatives were it went down and down to 44%


WorldbyStorm - February 14, 2013

Well nothing you’re saying contradicts the point that there are many more rivals for LP voters today than in 1987 (and clearly from the figures some LP voters went to PD). Btw surely WP won 4, not 7 seats. That latter was in 1989.


richotto - February 14, 2013

Correction 4 not 7 seats, good point on the WP figure altough they were on the rise in Dublin more so than the combined ULA. The PD vote was 12% and FG vote went down 12% with FF static. LP went down about 4%. Take you pick on how effective todays opposition are compared to 1987. I would argue that they are not sufficiently serious about offering an alternative and this will come to the aid of LP at a later stage.


WorldbyStorm - February 14, 2013

Can’t disagree that an inept opposition will give the LP opportunity… That said unlike 87 it’s fighting two significant rivals who can poach from its social democrat turf, ie SF and FF. and that’s before we get to Indos etc.

I don’t think it’s the end of the LP, but it could be very messy and ten TDs and fewer than SF could prove to be an existential challenge for the longer run.


ivorthorne - February 13, 2013

If FF’s latest surge proves anything it is that Irish people make goldfish look like elephants. That said, it isn’t just the poll figures that make one think Labour will do badly. There is also the important issue of retirements.


irishelectionliterature - February 13, 2013

In 1987 The WP were at the same situation SF were in 2002, in that they had prospects of seats in a handful of constituencies. This time its different. Also there were not that many Independents elected back then either.
So many people voted Labour as they didn’t want to vote for FG or FF (Haughey led) and in many parts of the country they had little alternative.
I reckon we’ll probably see the same amount of Independents if not more elected next time around.
That 1992 campaign where Labour polled 19%, they went up from something like 11% in the polls at the start of the Campaign to 19% on polling day.
Also in 1987 things were indeed bad but the difference was that things had never been good.
Also in 1987 Labour didn’t raise voters expectations in any way similar to the way they did in the 2011 campaign.


richotto - February 14, 2013

Fair enough points on the different contexts. Its just a hunch but I feel that there will come a time and soon where people get a bit sick of independents. Its ok when they are seen as underdogs but a perception could arise that they are getting a bit big for their boots. People just assume sometimes that a trend will continue and a reverse shift in opinion then goes unnoticed till election day. For instance every political analyst predicted SF’s contiunued rise from five seats to nine or ten between the 2002 and 2007 elections right up to election day itself and then the reverse happened. Opinion polls failed to spot this as well.


WorldbyStorm - February 14, 2013

It’s weird, that’s also my instinct too that people will get sick of Indo/others, but… it’s two years now and that block is remarkably solid. The longer that continues the more people tend to stick with an identification. Even if we pare away five or six percentage points we’re close enough to where it was in 2011.


5. Paddy Healy - February 14, 2013

There is no necessary contradiction between Labour holding on to 12 seats on 6.5 % of the vote in 1987 and getting 10 seats or less on 11% in 2016. There is no direct proportionality between seats won and national percentage poll of a party in our electoral system. In a four seat constituency, of which there are many, a quota is 20%. If a candidate achieves 70% of a quota (14%), s/he is almost certain to be elected, particularly if s/he is the only candidate of the party concerned. At this level and above there is a “seat bonus” or on the other side of the coin, falling below this level incurs a seat penalty. On the other hand a very low national poll does not necessarily mean a complete wipe out. This is because of what the statisticians call “pocketing”. For example, because of the weakness of the Labour Party in Connaught/Ulster, a low national poll for Labour could be consistent with a high vote in a number of pockets. Unlike the PDs and the Greens, the Labour Party, did not disappear even in its worst days.
The demise of Sinn Féin and left wing candidates in the last days of the 2007 election-at the height of the boom, was due to special factors. Fianna Fail targeted working class areas with the message “you have never had it so good, if you vote for anybody else it will all go away” and it worked.
There is no possibility of boom conditions by 2016 because of the ESM treaty requirement to reduce debt to GDP ratio by 3% per year.
Others(excluding Greens) got 15.4% in the general election. But this figure is inflated by about 4% by “no hope” candidates who only feature in actual elections. The current poll of others is double that in OPINION POLLS taken in late 2010, when Fianna Fail had already “tanked”.
It is as certain as it can be that Sinn Fein and Others will be ahead of Labour in very many constituencies in 2016. This will make transfers from Others and Sinn Fein unavailable unlike the position in 1987.
There are already over 30 sitting TDs between Sinn Fein and Others. Others include ten TDs who position themselves to the left of Labour. The Workers Party(4) plus Others(9) came to a total of 13 seats in the 1987 general election


6. Voting Fianna Fáil – Like A Dog Returning To Its Vomit | An Sionnach Fionn - February 17, 2013

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