News John Downing

Saturday 21 January 2017

Labour has only one option: to fight on within Coalition

Published 02/10/2013 | 05:00

L-R: Alex White, Alan Shatter, Padraig MacLochlainn and Sean O Fearghail. Labour has to persist in power as rivals make moves.
L-R: Alex White, Alan Shatter, Padraig MacLochlainn and Sean O Fearghail. Labour has to persist in power as rivals make moves.

SO WHAT would a 6pc showing in a general election do to the Labour Party's Dail seat total? Last time it polled such a low total – in the 1987 General Election when it got 6.4 pc of the vote – it returned a mere 12 TDs. A repeat of that outcome next time out would mean a 25-seat loss when compared with its all-time high in 2011.

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But as it assesses this latest calamitous Ipsos/MRBI opinion poll, which puts the party on 6pc, Labour strategists may fear the devastation will not stop at even those huge losses. On two occasions in the past 25 years, Labour has clambered out of electoral wreckage following a stint in coalition, and managed to regroup and prosper again.

But, in a dramatically changed electoral landscape, with Sinn Fein now rapidly devouring its left flank, Labour could face a fight for its very existence after the next election. More immediately, this grim opinion poll prediction also piles even more pressure on the party's embattled leader, Eamon Gilmore.

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