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March 29th Poll from RedC/SBP – an extrapolation… March 30, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.

…here from Adrian Kavanagh on Political Reform.

The Sunday Business Post-Red C poll (30th March 2014) estimated party support levels as follows (and relative to the previous such poll): Fine Gael 26% (down 3%), Fianna Fail 22% (NC), Sinn Fein 21% (up 5%), Labour Party 9% (down 2%), Independents, Green Party and Others 22% (NC). My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fianna Fail 36, Fine Gael 49, Sinn Fein 33, Labour 8, Independents, Green Party and Others 32.

Usual caveats apply, not least that the election isn’t going to be this week. But isn’t it striking how SF is, in this poll at least becoming one of the big three in terms of potential seat numbers. Personally I tend to the view they will be closer to twenty plus seats and that’s a significant figure in and of itself suggesting that their niche on the political spectrum is expanding.

But as shea noted in comments under the earlier piece on the poll, look at the Independents and Others. 32 seats. Remarkable (and consider too that in 1969 there was one Independent elected to the Dáil). It speaks of enormous potential there for those in that category. And then there’s the LP, beaten back to near-historic lows. That would certainly be some legacy the current leadership had handed them.

Even putting aside the deviation between the eventual election and this poll what of the pressures this subjects the government parties to, in particular the LP? Every month and every new poll that comes out forecasting electoral disaster is one that places them in an increasingly more difficult position. For all the rhetoric about this Government falling over the Shatter/Callinan issues it seemed highly unlikely that that would be the outcome. But even if ‘politics as usual’ has taken over from the economic narrative that merely highlights how almost random events can and will destabilise this administration as we draw closer to the election – though expect no end of scare-mongering in the next twenty four months from that quarter about political instability and the dangers of SF, Independents and smaller parties, etc.

And it’s not just politics as usual, with further cuts of €2bn plus to be made at the end of this year and austerity effectively in perpetuity on the menu. Small wonder SF and Independents and Others are doing so well and that the combined SF/Ind/Other vote is now at 44%. That’s not a left vote in its entirety, and the left bits probably aren’t for the most part all that left, but it speaks of a significant tranche of opposition to the status quo and the orthodoxy.


1. CL - March 30, 2014

Its unclear how much the populist nationalism of Sinn Fein represents an alternative to orthodox economics.


But there is some hope:
“The Sinn Féin TDs were the only ones to point out the ideological agenda of the IMF.”

Although Ms. Spain’s use of the ESRI model,-a derivation of orthodox economics.- in Sinn Fein’s pre-budget submissions must cast some doubt.


que - March 30, 2014

Which economic model should they follow as an alternative and I mean an economic model not just a set of nostrums?


2. Justin - March 30, 2014

We’ll see what they do in government. If they toe the line of their coalition partners and distribute a few crumbs to various elements of nationalist sentiment, then so much for populism. Look to Stormont to see the lows they are capable of.

Also, note how new-labour-ish pro-market politicians such as Martin McGuinness and people without much politics other than cultural nationalism can employ the populist rhetoric of the ‘equality agenda’ while signing up to the latest Thatcherite assault on working people. Caveat emptor.


Jack Jameson - March 31, 2014

Where exactly are the Shinners “signing up to the latest Thatcherite assault on working people” and what is your practical alternative?


Justin - March 31, 2014

For example, SF support for lowering corporation tax in NI. For example, Mitchell McLaughlin’s idea that NI should become a business-friendly Enterprise Zone. For example, the 2011 NI Executive Economic Strategy, which Sinn Féin signed up to with its DUP coalition partners affirms that “the challenge for the Northern Ireland Executive […] is to both rebuild the economy in the aftermath of the recession and to rebalance it towards the private sector in the context of the constrained public expenditure position” (2.30) and Chapter 3 of the document sets out the background to the UK deficit in terms that entirely reflect the Con-Dem austerity agenda, with its talk of “reducing welfare costs and wasteful public spending” (3.6) . It declared that following the public consultation “a draft Economic Strategy will be developed and this will also reflect the outcome of the UK Coalition Government Paper on rebalancing the Northern Ireland economy” (2.33). For example, in an interview in 2010 McLaughlin highlighted the over-dependence on the public sector in NI , preferring a “creative tension” between strong public and private sectors.

Alternatives? SF is a communalist party reflecting the votes of Catholics of all classes in NI. As long as SF remains a communalist party there will be no alternative for it but to fight its corner in the compulsory Stormont Coalition. In the immediate term, a left wing party of class would reject compulsory cross-communalist government and go into opposition against austerity. It would not be the business of a left wing party of class to administer thatcherism.


Bob Smiles - March 31, 2014

When Martin McGuinness was criticised for being too left wing in the FS president race his answer was that he had strong links and respect among the top business’s leaders in the united states


3. Jolly Red Giant - March 30, 2014

But there is some hope:
“The Sinn Féin TDs were the only ones to point out the ideological agenda of the IMF.”

That is like claiming that SF are the only party that recognises that night follows day – jeeezzzz.


ejh - March 30, 2014

Well, maybe, but the idea that the IMF aren’t fundamentally ideologically-driven seems to be more widely-held than it ought to be.


4. CL - March 30, 2014

Not saying much but on some issues, relative to Labour, Sinn Fein can look left-wing.
“The Sinn Féin spokesperson on Energy Deputy Michael Colreavy has described the government decision to sell Bord Gáis Energy as a betrayal of the massive amount of public money invested to date, and of the potential for the company in the future to become a leading player in the renewable energy market.”

“Depending upon performance, taxpayers may net a sum as low as €129 million for a retail book of almost 700,000 customers, a power plant that cost €400 million to build in 2010, and a near 40-year old brand (the State is obliged to rebrand what remains of Bord Gáis)….
The Government, to be fair to it, had to sell something to keep the troika off its back. It was obliged to take the best deal it could get, and this was it.”
(Ireland exited the bailout three months ago, but the Troika is still on its back).


hardcorefornerds - March 31, 2014

How much of that statement derives from being on opposition though, versus Justin’s comment above about Sinn Fein in coalition in the North? Seems to me a large part of how ‘left’ a party – Labour included – is depends on whether they’re in government or not. Which is itself a cliche but I think it also points to something fundamental about the constraints politics operate under.


5. 6to5against - March 31, 2014

There’s another way of looking at this, wherein we do not so much ask if SF are a party of the left, but where their participation in government would move the centre of gravity of Irish politics.

I have no doubt that SF would happily do things in government that would be anathema to any left wing analysis, as long as it is politically feasible for them to do so.

But they are a populist party, and they are likely to enter government after a very long period of austerity that has clearly failed, even by its own tired logic. And no matter what they do, they will still attract the hatred of the Indo and a large block of middle ireland. It seems likely to me that to maintain any sort of base, they will need to satisfy a vaguely left-wing populist agenda.

It would be far from a socialist paradise, but when you look at where we are, I can’t honestly see a govt with SF in it being any worse than we now have, and I can see it moving things very broadly leftwards.


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