Sunday 25 February 2018

John Downing: Could John the Baptist save Labour?

John Downing

John Downing

So, what now for Labour?

In the count centre at Citywest Hotel there was a strong through-put of Labour heavy-hitters giving it large amounts of “Yep it was a terrible day – but you have to see things in context.”

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte stopped by to say “not even John the Baptist could have saved Labour”.  And the party would now sit down with Fine Gael and work out a new Programme for Government.

Deputy leader, putative future leader, and Social Protection Minister, Joan Burton, was far more the focus of attention.  Would she be challenging Eamon Gilmore for the leadership any time soon?

“I’m not going to call anything like that 'til we get the results in,” she said rather intriguingly.   Was this a chronicle of a heave foretold and upcoming drama?

We’ll know in the next few days.

But if it is election count drama you want look no further than City West on the outskirts of Dublin this teatime.

Just eight votes separated Paul Donnelly of Sinn Fein and Ruth Coppinger of the Socialists in the battle to be the new TD for Dublin West as the third count gets under way.  David McGuinness of Fianna Fail was just a thousand votes behind that pair and could be ruled out of the reckoning either.

It was like the Eurovision voting of old with just a few countries left to vote.  This one is all about transfers and especially the destination of some 7,500 votes which independent David Hall and Fine Gael’s Eamon Coghlan have between them.

The next count distributed some 3,500 from Labour and the Green Party and it put Ruth Coppinger some five hundred votes clear of the Sinn Fein contender.  So, it was on to count four and the distribution of some 4,693 votes from FG’s Coghlan.

McGuinness and Fianna Fail have a mathematical possibility which rests mainly with Coghlan’s vote.  But for older observers there is the reality that if either Coppinger or Donnelly were to fall, the transfers of the fallen one would flood in great numbers to the other.

Thus the real question remains shall it be Sinn Fein or the Socialists?

And Labour in this by-election count?  Emblematic of the day, their candidate, Loraine Mulligan, came seventh out of 10 and behind Roderick O’Gorman of the Green Party.

Still more evidence of Labour’s day of horror.  Last time there was a by-election here, in October 2011, Labour won it!

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