Interesting poll in the Republic of Ireland by RedC. Firstly, there’s the voting intentions themselves post Ireland’s economic troubles, just as an opportunity to marvel at the complete collapse of support for a governing party. In an election tomorrow respondents said they would vote Fianna Fail 13%(-29), Fine Gael 32%(+5), Labour 24%(+14), Sinn Fein 16%(+9), Greens 3%(-2) – changes are from the levels of support in the last Irish general election in 2007.

To put this in context, the most famous annihiliation of a governing party in a Westminster-style Parliamentary system is probably the Conservatives in Canada in 1993. They went from 43% to 16%, leaving them with just 2 seats. If the results in this poll were repeated at the next Irish general election then it terms of support it would be even worse than the example of the Canadian Conservatives (I couldn’t say what it would be likely to do to similar to Fianna Fail’s number of seats!)

What has got more attention this side of the Irish sea though is that Conservative MP Mark Reckless commissioned a question on the poll asking if Irish people would support Ireland leaving the Euro and “re-establishing a link with the pound-sterling”. The poll suggests 34% of Irish people would support leaving the Euro and having a currency link with the pound, with 62% opposed.

Somewhat counter-intuitively, this was most-popular amongst Sinn Fein supporters, though this may well be purely a result of small sample size – there were only 108 Sinn Fein supporters in the sample (though as Mick Fealty suggests, it could just be the result of Sinn Fein being the party that appeals to Irish Euro-scepticism).

59 Responses to “A look across the Irish sea”

1 2
  1. Wow. That is all I can say. It seems that the Irish government might be defeated on a scale that could rival Mr. Blairs 1997 victory.
    I think that George Osborne will be watching this very closely. Economic failure is not an option but at least we are not in the Euro. I would say that most of the Republic of Ireland is Pro European anyway.

  2. As the German experience in the early 1930’s shows nothing helps extremist parties so much as economic collapse.

  3. Living here in Ireland is very strange at the moment. The poll is interesting but how can parties do politics when there is a four year plan that has been decided by someone else.
    FF will get blasted along with the greens – FG are suffering from the lack of a good leader – SF lack experience and Lab will not be able to put up enough candidates to benefit from their poll standing.
    Think of us on this side of the Irish Sea tomorrow when the budget is announced.

  4. @Kyle
    I’m not sure being in the Euro has had much to do with Ireland’s fall. It seems to be everyone’s favourite pantomime villain.

    It seems to me that the gravitational pull of greed and vigorous cuts that led ireland to this point did not start in europe and has (and will have) many parallels beyond the eurozone.

    Mind you. Looks a great election to lose.

  5. Can an Irishman resist the chance to comment on the country he was born in….

    I’ll resist temptation beyond venturing this: support for Sinn Fein vote may ebb somewhat….since it’s been boosted by its recent byelection success and the subsequent attention that it’s gained…a bit like the LibDems and earlier Liberal Party getting a boost from byelection their famous successes….

    Not that it could be possible in any world but the next for the Irish might behave in the manner of the English….

  6. I really like the Irish but what would the potential effect to the Pound be if they linked to us. Taking this to the next step, what would the effect be if they adopted Sterling and their banks were to produce their own notes as in Scotland?

  7. @Steve,

    I’d guess that adopting sterling (if the UK would cooperate) would be very beneficial to Ireland. But it’ll clearly never happen for quite understandable and proper historical reasons.

  8. And I don’t think it’d hurt the pound particularly in the long run. Ireland’s problem is the size of their banking sector (and it’s debt) relative to the size of their economy. To a big country the Irish banks wouldn’t be such a problem.

  9. C42 L39 LD10

    Tories pulling ahead ;)

  10. Fianna Fail will not share the experience of the Canadian Tories. With STV PR and multi-member constituencies even a uniform vote of only 13% would put them on two-thirds of a quota in four seater constituencies and within touching distance of a quota in the five seaters. Transfers and shy pollster FFers will probably bring them to around 30-40 seats. They could do better than Fine Gael’s dismal performance in 2002.

    The interesting thing about the poll is whether it creates a momentum for a possible Left coalition – ‘Guns and Roses’ as it is described by some pundits.

  11. Recent examples of the strongest party in parliament descending to fourth or fifth place: Netherlands, CDA, 2010: 13,7%, 4th place after VVD, PvDA, PVV (2006: 1st place, 26,7%). Latvia, PLL (= TP+LPP/LC), 2010: 7,7, 5th place after V, SC, ZZS, NA (2006: 1st place, 28,2). Lithuania, DP, 2008: 9%, 5th place after TS-LKD, TPP, TT, LSDP (2004: 1st place, 28,4).
    And the opposite current: From non-existence to 1st place: Bulgaria, GERB, 2009, 39,3%. From 10th to 1st place: Belgium, NVA, 2010. From 4th to 1st place: Netherlands, VVD, 2010. And so on. In the last three years we have witness more political upheavals than in two decades, it is a real vertigo.

  12. @Neil A

    “C42 L39 LD10
    Tories pulling ahead”

    Is the fact that neither YouGov nor this fine website seem to bother publishing these daily tracker polls any more, a sign that they’re getting as bored with them as the rest of us?

    That said, I can well understand your excitement since YouGov now appear to be the only polling company showing your party of preference still ahead!

    For what it’s worth, I’d be very sceptical about any opinion poll that shows support for the two parties at a combined total of 81%, irrespective of which one of the two is ahead. Ipsos/MORI. Angus Reed, Comres and ICM have the combined totals running at about 75-76% and that feels much more like it to me, some 8% or so above the May 2010 combined score, not 15% as suggested by YouGov. I know the Lib Dem support has collapsed, but my suspicion is that YouGov is, for whatever reason, overstating this and, in so doing, inflating the Tory and Labour support as a consequence. If we’re to believe YouGov today, then the Tories are running almost 6% ahead of where most of the other pollsters have them and I’m starting to get sceptical about that. They’ve probably got Labour a point or two too high as well, based on the other polling evidence available to us.

    Still, until we get some real votes to look at (Oldham in January 2001, perhaps) then I guess we’ll have to believe what we want to believe.

  13. Oops, correction alert! That previous post should obviously read Oldham January 2011 (not 2001, unless anybody thinks I’m indulging in a Back to the Future moment!!)

  14. The RedC poll was a week after Sinn Fein’s byelection win in Donegal South West, so there will be a post-byelection factor that may not last. Details with methodology and lots of pretty graphs are here:

    ht tp://

    There’s some pretty extraordinary stuff here all the same. The ruling Party, Fianna Fail (FF) are currently lying fourth with a miserable 13%. As I hoped Virgilio was able to bring up some other examples of such disastrous falls, but as he points out, it’s a recent phenomenon. Incidentally the Taoiseach (PM), poor old BIFFO is getting a miserable 8% as the preferred candidate for the job.

    According to Irish Polling Report (yes they have one too):

    ht tp://

    This will translate into seats as follows:

    Fine Gael 32% (-1) – 62 seats
    Labour Pty 24% (-3) – 47 seats
    Sinn Fein 16% (+5) – 26 seats
    Fine Fail 13% (-4) – 14 seats
    Green Pty 3% (n/c) – 2 seats
    Others 11% (+3) – 15 seats (including Speaker)

    (figures in brackets change from November poll)

    FF’s time-honoured enemies Fine Gael (FG) are currently shown in the lead with 32% (though Labour’s leader is preferred as Taoiseach by far). Of course allegiance to the two main parties, FF and FG, has long been seen as tribal rather than political, going back to which side your (great-)grandfather fought in the Irish Civil War. (Apparently nobody’s ancestors just kept their heads down and hoped it would go away. They claim).

    The way in which this model is collapsing is shown by how FG’s vote is so much stronger among the over 55s. Indeed FF and FG between them can barely muster a third of the votes of the under 35s.

    Irish poll details aren’t in the same geekish minuteness as we are used to, but full details on Reckless’s website, here, are:

    ht tp://

    because he tagged his question onto RedC’s poll.

    Actually support for the “back to the pound” option seems widely spread, but I suspect it is more to do with a rejection of the Euro than anything else. Sinn Fein voters’ support is explained by them being the only Party against the bailing out of the banks and the agreement with Europe.

    After this morning’s Naughtie “slip-up” (which Andrew Marr managed to repeat an hour later in a discussion of Freudian slips), believers in what-can-go-wrong-does-go-wrong will be delighted to note that RedC’s title page for this analysis not only misspells “currency”, but also gets Mr Reckless’s name wrong.

    [Much modified version of earlier comment plus seat analysis and less the bits Anthony nicked to use in the post ;) ]

  15. I was being ironic….

    Incidentally the daily polls appear on UKPR automatically. It’s just that AW isn’t always around to create a blogpost on them.

  16. Many thanks Roger for the plug!

    I think that the answer to the “sterling question” (not reported initially over here) is possibly not based on deep convictions, as there’s not been any discussion regarding that over here. The SF vote is very recent, and I suspect not very political (or nationalist), rather an angry reaction to the IMF package and the sense of the Govt not being in control any more.

    Personally I don’t know anyone who seriously suggests that we should join Sterling, but there has been a lot of flippant comments to the effect that our political class aren’t up to running the country, and that reply may have been another manifestation of that fatalism among some people.

    FWIW, I think FF will recover somewhat before the election to aout 20% (they are likely to change leader before then), and SF will most likely fall back when subjected to greater scrutiny. FG/LP coalition is the most likely outcome, with the main question being who will get sufficient seats to take the Taoiseach’s (PM) role.

  17. @ Neil A

    Tories pulling ahead.
    In Ireland, how are they doing?

  18. @ Kyle

    1997? More like Canada 1993, I’d say.

  19. I am very glad to see this here, as I was going to ask if there would be some consideration of the upcoming Irish General Election.

    It seems despite the large increase in Labour support they are hardly likely to be the largest party in the Dail
    (and thus probably won’t be supplying the Taoiseach/PM), although it does mean that people can safely avoid involving Sinn Fein in their coalition (I know that Fine Gael especially would not want them on board).

    As for Fianna Fail – the current government party – this points to a massive but hardly unexpected stuffing at the polls. It is very hard to lead a country into such a financial mess and expect to win a subsequent election unless the opposition is entirely moribund.

    Regarding UK politics – this is how things used to be before the LD’s invented themselves – and adds further support to my feeling any actual labour lead is small enough to be within the margin of error.

  20. Steve
    At least one and I think two of the Republic of Ireland banks print pounds as a result of having subsidiaries in Northern Ireland (corrections welcome). The rules are that any bank which produced £ notes before the nationalisation of the Bank of England may continue and it gives some small advantages to the issuers.
    Regular readers will know I have always believed that re-union offered advantages to both Ireland and the uk. It used to be thought plain daft but… However the Irish people would have to embrace it which will not be quick. But the scales have to fall from our eyes. If Ireland remains independent then the strong likeliehood is a large part of the population is going to come to the UK

  21. amber
    See my respose to you on previous thread

  22. @Amber

    You said “…In Ireland, how are they [Tories] doing?…”

    Tories in Ireland? Er, as Roger Mexico explained above, the Fianna Fail/Fine Gael split originates in the pro- and anti-Treaty sides post-partition, and is difficult to translate into a UK left/right wing axis. (This also crops up in, say, French politics. Virgilio has explained similar sitations in Italy and Greece better than I can). So there may not be a Tory-analogue in Ireland (bear in mind that terms such as “liberal”, “centre-right”, etc, do not necessarily mean the same thing in different countries).

    So, how to check? In times like this, I look to the party membership of international bodies. Since Ireland’s in the EU, I can point to the Europarties and EP groups. And the membership of Ireland political parties are as follows:

    * Fianna Fail (Europarty ELDR, EP group ALDE): Yellow by our measuring
    * Fine Gael (Europarty EPP, EP group EPP): no real UK equivalent (Macmillan Tories?)
    * Labour (Europarty PES, EP group S&D): Red by our measuring
    * Sinn Fein (Europarty PEL?, EP group EUL/NGL): no real UK equivalent (very-left-wing Greens?)
    * Green Party (Europarty EGP, EP group G-EFA,): Green by our measuring

    This approach is an oversimplification, but as a quick-and-dirty first-order approximation, it’ll do. No doubt folks south of the border will correct my more egregious mistakes.

    Hope that helps, regards, Martyn

  23. @Martyn

    A couple of additional facts to feed into the international comparison.

    Fianna Fail was until the current EP aligned with the French Gaulists in the UEN. That reflected their more nationalist identity by comparison to the EPP aligned Fine Gael. They joined the Liberal group after the UEN disbanded, partly because the Liberal group no longer had an Irish constituent party.

    Fianna Fail has at various (and sometimes simultaneous) times claimed to be conservative, liberal and socialist, in addition to nationalist.

    It’s current difficulty is due in no small part to failing identity tests for all four factions.

    Too economically reckless to be conservative and that faction of support went to FG.
    Too beholden to vested interests (public and private) to be liberal. A small faction, it was probably split between FG and Labour.
    Too regressive and austere to be socialist. The public sector and left faction went to Labour.
    Too bankrupt to be nationalist. The IMF was the last straw for this faction and they’ve just jumped ship to SF.

  24. @ Martyn

    I was being facetious, sorry. I should have put a winky face on it. ;-)

    I was ribbing Neil A for bigging up the Tories on an Ireland thread.

    But I enjoyed your comment (& Roger Mexico’s, which I did read).

  25. @ Barney

    Thanks for your reply. Don’t you be getting yourself into the same sort of trouble that Andy Burnham got himself into. ;-)

    One does wonder about a right-winger like DD actually rebelling over student fees.

    And if a Tory can vote against, why on earth can’t (won’t) the Dems?

  26. FG may be a Christian Democrat (Macmillan Tories) party, but categorising FF as yellow may be less safe, as until last year they were part of the rightwing UEN, so they seem to get around a bit, or to be ideologically volatile/ambiguous.

  27. @ Antony

    Somewhat counter-intuitively, this was most-popular amongst Sinn Fein supporters, though this may well be purely a result of small sample size


    Better the Devil you know eh!!! :D

  28. Both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael applied for membership of the Christian Democrat group in Europe in 1979. The apocryphal story is that the FF application was received first and was put into a pile on a desk; the FG application, coming later, was higher in the pile, and was accepted.

    Fine Gael had a social democrat inclination in the days of Garret Fitzgerald, but have become more rural in their party base since then and would be centre right. Fianna Fail is a populist party strongly rooted in parish politics – there are no British equivalents.

  29. Further to my earlier post on emigration, I did a bit of looking on the web and it would seem Icelanders are leaving at a rate of about 3% per year. The main driver is young people having mortgages in Euros which they can no longer pay.
    The dynamics will be slightly different in Ireland but emigration rates are likely to be similar.

  30. It must surely difficult for Sinn Fein to be part of a Governing Coalition, as if I recall correctly, in the recent By Election they stood an a ticket of opposing the austerity measures and cuts.

    As Ireland has sold it’s soul to get the bail-out, I can’t see any mileage in fighting the strings attached to the deal.

  31. The European classification of FF reveals a more profound problem facing the ELDR party. In fact, it includes some center-left parties of social-liberal persuasion, such as D66 in the Netherlands, RV in Denmark, LDS and ZARES in Slovenia, PRG in France, Radicali and IDV in Italy, some right-wing neo-liberals such as the VVD in Netherlands, MR in Belgium and FDP in Germany (in these countries the EPP parties are considered to be “centrist”, and the right is identified to the Liberals), classical liberal parties such as the FP in Sweden or PD in Luxembourg, centrist parties such as the CP in Sweden, KESK in Finland and Estonia, and finally a number of nationalist/regionalist/linguistic minority parties such as the CiU in Catalonia/Spain, the Swedish FP in Finland, or the DSP (Turkish minority) in Bulgaria. FF might be said to belong to this last group, but it also have many things in common with the right-wing sub-group, to which also belong the “Orange book” LDs, while the ones of the “Beveridge group” have more in common with social liberals. Bottom line: the ELDR is one of the more complex and ideologically-politically heteroclite parties, encompassing everything that is between EPP and PES (and in some cases more to the right of EPP). In comparison, parties as the PES, the Party of European Greens and even the Party of European Left (that covers various sensibilities, from hard communist to eco-socialst and pacifist) appear more uniform in their composition.

  32. Just returned under the Chunnel and most grateful for my first real insight of Irish politics.

    I can only hope, for the sake of our tourist economy, that the GB border officials in Calais are not so gratuitously rude and unpleasant to innocent travellers as the sour faced **** was to my son. She asked him what we had in the back of our Ford Transit and when he replied ‘luggage’ she went purple.

    Po Face is our image abroad. I hope the Irish recover from their self-created problems and don’t be so silly as to go along with punt pond nonsense. Poll result of two thirds for Euro shews they are not all daft.

  33. @AMBER
    You mention Tories in Ireland. It is of course where the word came from, I have even heard it as a forename for an Irish tinker girl in the 70s. Even Eoin could never give me a satisfactory answer of its real meaning, (perhaps JOHN MURPHY could help.) It seems to have meant, a mixture of rebel and gangster, certainly criminal in behaviour. I assume it was the Whig land owners who branded the “Kings supporters” with the name.

    Please don’t trouble to post in order to refute the aspersions on the party’s good name, your support is a given.

  34. @AMBER
    Your reference to David Davis and the funding of further education. It could simply be, that along with Alan Johnson, he is the only major politician today from a very poor (in the modern sense anyway) background. The others, regardless of party are from backgrounds that stretch from very comfortable thank you, to stinking rich.

  35. roland

    the term whig also came from ireland i belive, i have a feeling that it started as a term of abuse

  36. A “Tory” is a horse-thief, I believe.

  37. @ Neil A

    It follows then that the Tories stole power from a set of “Old Nags!” Good job.

  38. @NEIL A
    In the 17th C a horse thief was worse than a child molester, therefore it sounds about right as a political insult.

  39. Getting back to UK politics, disarray amongst Lib Dem MPs seems to be escalating. It also looks as if 4 or 5 Tories are going to vote against the fees increase.

    The whole policy on university finance seems to be unravelling – the politically swensible trhig to do might be to postpone the vote and in the spirit of coalition and consensus look at the whole issue again.

    Listening to the Tory MP for Harrow East on this, some Tories are obviously beginning to realise that the ‘squeezed middle’problem is going to get more and more traction.

    There’s going to be so much more of this sort of angst for the coalition during the coming year and I doubt whether the coalition in general and the Lib Dems in particular will be able to stand the flak over time.

  40. @DAVID B
    Your comment is not only completely of topic, but is the same comment you post every day. We know you are some minor functionary in the Fabian Society, but that does not give you the right to post the same partisan Labour news letter on here regardless of the topic.

  41. david B

    don’t get your hopes up

    the govt seem to be following the strategy that i outlined some weeks ago, if they stick to my plan then the govt should lose this vote and the cap will be set at 6 or 7 thousand in the final proposals, as i said before it is necessary that a group of blues vote against so that the senior dem ministers can vote for and the junior ones can abstain. i also pointed out that it would be necessary to have a dem minster resign, it looks like we have two or three possibles

    i must admit that it does not look like this is orchestrated but you wouldn’t want it to look that way if you are the govt

  42. As far as I can tell, the position is that:

    1) David Davis has confirmed to Sky he will vote against it.
    2) Julian Lewis has confirmed to TotalPolitics that he will vote against it.
    3) Lee Scott has confirmed to his local paper that he will abstain.
    4) Andrew Percy has confirmed to Channel4 he will either abstain or vote against.
    5) Bob Blackman has said he is undecided between voting for, or abstaining, but has not suggested he will consider voting against.
    6) Channel4 said it is “thought” Tracey Crouch might abstain, but there is no confirming quote from Tracey.

    The Standard reports 5 Conservative MPs who may not vote in favour, but says three are from London, so it presumably includes one person not amongst this 6.

    While it’s fun to predict rebellions like this, they don’t necessarily bare much resemblence to what happens when the vote comes along. Some people who are supposed to be rebels before hand normally end up voting for the motion, others who were never suspected end up voting against.

    Cynics may say the former only ever threatened to rebel to get some concession or other from the whips, and that the latter deliberately don’t advertise their rebellion in advance to avoid the whips.

  43. anthony

    if you are a real cynic like me, then you suspect that the rebels get thier instructions from the whips

  44. @Richard in Norway – “… it does not look like this is orchestrated”

    BBC reported that a tory whip entered during the LD MPs meeting today, emerged with Vince Cable’s parliamentary aide, and they then disappeared together into another committee room.

    There are suggestions that an increasing number of LDs may use the freedom NC has granted them… to vote against.

  45. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to suggest it’s a government orchestrated plot (Heaven Forbid..) but I do rather feel that having a few Tories rebel makes the whole situation much more tolerable for the government as a whole. After all, every government has periodic rebellions (naturally, given the size of our “Broad Churches”) and having Tories and LibDems in both the Aye and No camps makes it look like a Standard Government Rebellion rather than a split between the governing parties.

    In other news, I’ve noted the new prison proposals. Mostly meaningless tosh, but I’ve been saying round the office for a couple of weeks that if they cut numbers by offering massive reductions for early pleas I could live with that. It could potentially lead to a double saving. My unit spends tens of thousands of pounds (actually probably hundreds of thousands) preparing evidence for cases where the defendants eventually throw in the towel and change their plea to Guilty.

  46. DAVIDB

    “Getting back to UK politics, disarray amongst Lib Dem MPs seems to be escalating. It also looks as if 4 or 5 Tories are going to vote against the fees increase………The whole policy on university finance seems to be unravelling”

    I am aware that 2 Tories have said they may vote against the fees increase and this may be offset by a small number of Labour MPs voting in favour of it. I suspect less Lib Dems will vote against it then previously expected (and ironically they will include 2 or more Scottish MPs) & there will be several LD abstentions as provided for in the Coalition Agreement.

    Its time for you to recognise the indications are the Coalition policy on Uni. finance is very likely to be implemented with only minor changes.

  47. Time to open a book on this one – my prediction

    3 Tories vote aginst
    5 Tories abstain
    17 LDs vote against
    19 LDs vote for
    19 LDs abstain
    2 LDs are absent

  48. This will go through like sh!t through a goose. The government will win quite comfortably.

  49. 6 maybe 8 Tories vote against
    5 Tories abstain
    25 LDs vote against
    14 LDs vote for
    16 LDs abstain
    2 LDs are absent

    one lib dem minister resigns

  50. RiN
    Who are the Labour ones you thought would vote for increased fees?
    He never did get sued?
    Roland Haines
    there is something in that about Davis

1 2