Gilmore denies big boost in support due to 'no-cuts policy'
LABOUR leader Eamon Gilmore yesterday denied that his party's strong standing in the latest opinion poll was down to its opposition to all spending cuts -- even though it had not proposed any alternative savings.
Mr Gilmore has seen his party's support leap by a massive 16pc to 35pc in the latest Millward Brown/Lansdowne opinion poll for TV3 News.
The poll makes Labour the most popular party, with Fine Gael second on 30pc and Fianna Fail third on 22pc.
Mr Gilmore is also now the most popular choice to become Taoiseach, with 36pc nominating him for the job, compared to 19pc for Fine Gael's Enda Kenny and just 11pc for the sitting Taoiseach, Brian Cowen.
Mr Gilmore said yesterday that his party was on course to be the largest in the next Dail and claimed that it could win more than 50 seats.
"The Labour Party has accepted it is necessary to make the fiscal adjustment," he said.
"We have committed for some time to the necessity for a €3bn adjustment in the public finances for 2011.
"We produced very detailed proposals in advance of last year's Budget and we've already said that €3bn is possible to achieve by a mix of measures in the capital budget, on expenditure and on the revenue side."
Mr Gilmore said Labour would soon bring forward a policy on public-sector reform, which was likely to be a key issue in the next election.
Fine Gael's enterprise spokesman Richard Bruton is responsible for driving his party's approach to public-sector reform and is due to publish proposals in the next month.
The issue was discussed extensively at the Fine Gael parliamentary party think-in in Waterford, but Labour's document is still being worked on by its policy unit.
A spokesman for Mr Gilmore said it was hoped that the proposals would be published by the end of the year.
Mr Gilmore's claim that Labour would win more than 50 seats appeared to be contradicted by Ruairi Quinn, the party's director of elections, who predicted that it would win just over 40 seats.
"I think you're looking at 40 plus," Mr Quinn said. That would not make Labour the largest party in the next Dail.
However, he said that the two-and-a-half-party system was breaking up and being replaced by a genuine three-party system.
He also claimed that the latest figures pointed towards Mr Gilmore becoming Taoiseach.
But Mr Gilmore said Mr Quinn was being overly cautious in his predictions.
Directors of elections always err on the cautious side," he said. "At the end of the day, the director of elections has the responsibility to deliver it over the line. We're standing enough candidates to be the largest party, that's our objective.
"This opinion poll confirms it can be done. Winning the next election and having a Labour-led government are achievable objectives -- they are what we set out to do."