Thursday 27 November 2014

Voters even more determined to give Coalition a good kicking and Labour bears the brunt

Published 07/06/2014 | 02:30

Eamon Gilmore. Picture: Arthur Carron
Eamon Gilmore. Picture: Arthur Carron

A fortnight on and the government parties are still rapidly going south.

After a ferocious election kicking, Fine Gael and Labour have poured forth their honesty in dishonesty, saying the voters – the ungrateful sods – have spoken and we are listening.

But government attempts at reconciliation have thus far cut little ice with the public.

Today's Irish Independent/Millward Brown opinion poll tells us that Fine Gael is down four points after the local election, dropping to just 20pc. Labour is down a further 2pc – heading towards the old sporting adage that they might ultimately be lucky to get "nil".

Those "Independents and Others" are still flying very high, posing a major challenge for the main parties sooner rather than later.

And the rise and rise of Sinn Fein continues – on a weekend when the party was installing itself as a major force in so many local councils across the country.

Indeed, the big parties may well don their thinking caps about how to deal with what might well be the biggest crop of independent TDs in three generations.

We may need to find a different way of doing politics.

Sinn Fein may well be also taking its first halting steps away from protest politics. In the past the party has always wanted to be right about everything that is wrong.

But remedies cost money, which must be raised through local and national taxes – and exercising political power is more complex, slower and more difficult to show results than just telling everyone about what is wrong.

So we will begin to see whether Sinn Fein can step up to responsibilities in the southern jurisdiction just as it has done north of the Border.

Explanations around Sinn Fein's success in having a contradictory best of everything in both jurisdictions may be drawing a little closer.

These survey findings again tell us that the next election will be the biggest Irish political contest, perhaps since 1947.

Fianna Fail is not really prospering from the government parties' disarray, and its 20pc is down a deal on its local election performance.

The two key words 'Dublin' and 'women' still summate the challenges for the Soldiers of Destiny. The party of Eamon de Valera is back on the road after its near wipeout in the February 2011 general election – but that road stretches rather far ahead of it.

These opinion poll findings again raise serious questions about the future existence of the Irish Labour Party, 102 years after its foundation.

Labour stalwarts know that the party cannot depend on surviving as it did in post-coalition kickings in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

They also know that for the foreseeable future Sinn Fein sits on their left flank, ready to take votes from the Labour Party more readily than from any other party.

On balance, all trends shown on May 23 in the local and European elections continue.

Nothing has happened to change anybody's mind – if anything, voters are even more entrenched.

Irish Independent

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