An Ipsos MRBI opinion poll in the Irish Times last Friday morning captured the media headlines with claims that support for both Fine Gael and Labour has dropped. Fine Gael is down by three points to 33%, and Labour by six points to 19%. Fianna Fáil is down 1% to 14%.
According to the poll Sinn Féin is up 6% to 21%. Interestingly the poll was taken at the start of this week immediately after the Labour Party annual conference.
Usually parties get a positive bounce after such events.
This blog has a jaundiced view of such polls. I’m not going to get over excited by an opinion poll claim that we are the second largest party in the state and the real opposition to the government in the Dáil – the government is after all implementing Fianna Fáil policy.
I know we are the real opposition. That is obvious each day in the Dáil chamber. As for the rest, opinion polls are at best a snapshot of public attitudes at a given moment in time. Not too much should be read into their conclusions in respect of individual parties. Although for political anoraks they are the stuff of life.
Whatever about the fortunes of the parties this blog believes that the real story in Friday’s poll is the clear rejection by the public of the government’s failing austerity policies. This reflects what Sinn Féin is hearing on the ground. Citizens are hurting and this government needs to listen.
The significant and painful cuts to public services, and the range of stealth taxes, including septic tank charges, the household charge, water charges which this government has decided to implement, are causing great hardship.
The dreadful social consequences of austerity are to be found in the numbers of citizens unemployed; the thousands of our young people who are emigrating; in every household struggling to pay rent and mortgages and household bills; on every main street where businesses are shutting down; and in every hospital and school where reduced resources are hurting the sick and the young. More than 100,000 households are currently in mortgage distress with 91 more joining that number each day.
This is unacceptable. The government is making the wrong political choices, including decisions to implement Fianna Fáil policy and its support for the Austerity Treaty.
Fine Gael is doing this because it is a conservative right wing party – though I am sure even some members of that party have reservations about the issues involved in this Treaty.
But Labour leaders know the truth. Not that long ago Labour MEPs voted against measures in the European Parliament that are now part of the Austerity Treaty. One described austerity as a ‘recipe for the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.’ While another, Proinsias De Rossa, said these measures ‘will kill growth, destroy jobs and derail recovery.’
The failure of Labour to stand up for working people and its willingness to ally itself to an Irish Thatcherite strategy is why it has seen its position in the polls eroded. Labour TDs and Seanadoirí should vote with their conscience and in solidarity with working people against this Treaty.
Will they?? This blog doubts it.
In this the centenary of its foundation by Connolly and others, and mindful of next year’s centenary of the Dublin Lockout and that great ideological battle between left and right, Labour today should be standing with the working people and against austerity and against the William Martin Murphy-like conservatism of the 21st century.