Irish Election Literature

… what you maybe meant to keep…

“No, it couldn’t be – could it?”: Labour at the next election September 2, 2010

In 2007 Labour got 10% of the vote (just over double the Green Party vote), yet here we are with predictions of Labour getting anything from double to treble their 2007 vote. In June 2010 an Ipsos MRBI poll for the Irish Times put them at 32%. Yet in January, February and March 2010, Red C had Labour support at 17% (27% is the highest Labour has been with Red C).

We go back to the Local and European Elections in 2009 and find that Labour had a national vote of 13.91% in the European Elections and 14.7% in the Local Elections. In the European Elections in the East, Labour got far less than half the votes Fine Gael got yet they both won one seat. Similarly in the South Labour got far less than half the vote of Fine Gael, less than half the vote of Fianna Fail yet they each all won the single seat each.

Simply put Labour are far more transfer friendly than Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.If they are to get enough of a seat bounce from transfers then maybe the unthinkable 50 seats is a possibility.

Another indication of Labours prowess in attracting transfers is their performance in the Local Elections in Dublin. Of the major parties their seat bounce stats were by far the highest, which indicates that they were the most transfer friendly party when it mattered.

Adrian Kavanaghs excellent series of posts on the polls and how they translate to seats based on the 2007 General Election results on puts some flesh on the bones of how seats may be distributed.

Yet for all that I find myself looking at certain constituencies seeing that Labour would win a second seat and thinking: ‘No that couldn’t be!’ …

The previous best Labour performance was 1992 where on 19% of the vote they won 33 seats. They should have won maybe 40 seats. As the 1992 election was seen as a huge breakthrough the fact that they should though have won maybe 40 seats got overlooked. They didn’t field enough candidates in certain constituencies (Dublin North, Dublin South, Dublin South Central, Carlow Kilkenny, Cork North central, Cork South Central) and any decent form of vote management would have led to extra seats in the likes of Kildare.

At the start of the 1992 campaign Labour were on 12% in the polls, so their electoral strategy was based around getting a max of maybe 15% and they were thus unprepared candidate wise.

Hence Gilmore’s decision to run second candidates where possible and also to recruit the likes of John Kelly and Jerry Cowley (another high profile addition in Clare is rumoured). So at the next election, Were there a ‘Gilmore Gale’ Labour, having learned from their past mistakes, intend to be in position to take full advantage.

Currently Labour have 20 TDs, Michael D Higgins, Jack Wall, Emmet Stagg and Brian O’Shea are all over 65 but I’d imagine will all stand again. So in this analysis I’m assuming all Labour TDs will stand again and that (I know – safe seat syndrome) all 20 will be re-elected.

First off lets put Labour at 20% Nationally, well below their current poll rating. In 2007 around half of Labour TDs were elected on less than 70% of a quota. So a doubling the vote would be unlikely to render additional seats in these constituencies.

What you do get though is almost certain (unless vote management is horrific) gains of a seat in Wicklow, Meath East, Kerry North, Dublin South West, Dublin South Central, Dublin South, Dublin North Central,
Dublin North, Cork South West, Cork East and Carlow Kilkenny.

That’s a gain of 11 seats. Their vote may have doubled but as mentioned, in many cases they had started off with far less than a quota. But these still sound plausible results and of course there are caveats with each constituency. For instance in Dublin North Central would it be Finian McGraths seat they take if they were taking one? Surely Sinn Féin would have a better chance of winning a seat in Dublin South West than Labour have of adding a second?

At this 20% Labour would also be fighting it out for possible gains in Wexford, Tipperary South (fighting it out with Seamus Healy to take a seat) , Tipperary North (They would need a strong candidate), Roscommon, Louth, Kildare North, Galway East (If only because Gilmores a native), Dun Laoghaire, Dublin North West, Dublin Mid West, Kerry South (depending on the candidate) and possibly even Dublin South East.

If they hit the 25% mark most if not all of the above should come in, especially with Labour being so transfer friendly.So we could have Labour on at least 40 seats.
Again though looking at some of those constituencies you have to wonder who would lose out? Fianna Fail but maybe also some of the Fine Gael seats such as Roscommon. Certainly Fine Gael target seats would be hit.

Now though if we hit the 30% and it is where we really start getting into ‘No that couldn’t be!’ territory…

If it’s 30% then gains in the likes of the following come into play.
Clare, Mayo, Meath West, Dublin North East , Dublin West, Longford Westmeath ,Limerick ,Galway West, Laois Offaly, Limerick City, Cork South Central, Dublin Central, Waterford, a second Seat in Dublin South, a second seat in Dublin North, a third seat in Dublin South Central. Seat gains would turn up in the most unexpected places too.

So if Labour were to get the 32% they got in the (rogue) poll, they are in with a good possibility of over 50 seats. …and again I look and I think , they couldn’t could they?

Fine Gael were taken by suprise by the Labour surge earlier in the year as they thought voters deserting Fianna Fail would desert to them. What the surge did was make them realise that not only were some of their projected gains in danger but some of their own seats too.

Yet since then of course faces have changed but policy has remained the same. An economic policy that to the naked eye is broadly supportive of the government.
If this continues then Labour may gather even more support from a populace fed with a diet of further cuts all the while in the shadow of further developer, banker and bondholder bailouts.

In my own opinion Labour need to draw a line in the sand over one or two issues with no waffle just a straight promise that is both populist and practical. It could be something to do with the banks, NAMA or even Anglo.

For all the talk of Labour not having policies on X or Y, the state of change at the minute means that anything can happen in a day never mind the course of an election campaign.

Lastly it’s going to be hard for existing TDs to take on decent running mates. Hard for many to suddenly be involved in vote management stratagies…..and of course in the past 15 years nobody has done Election Campaigns  as well as Fianna Fail have.


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