Historically low poll result increases pressure on Labour ahead of Budget
Eamon Gilmore maintains there is ‘no pressure’ on his position as party leader
Tánaist Eamon Gilmore: “The pressure on us is to get the budget right and to get us out of the bailout that we were put into.”
The Labour Party and its leader, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, will be under considerable pressure to show they can have a substantial influence on this month’s budget following the party’s worst results in an Irish Times opinion poll for over quarter of a century.
In his first public reaction to The Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll last night, Mr Gilmore described it as “disappointing” and conceded that people were angry at the Government. He maintained, however, there was “no pressure” on his position as party leader. The poll’s key finding was that support for Labour has fallen to 6 per cent, the lowest figure for the party since November 1987.
“Given the very difficult decision we have had to make as a government, I think that is reflected in the popularity of the Government and the popularity of the Labour Party in particular,” he said.
Other senior party figures, including Ministers Brendan Howlin and Alex White, yesterday conceded the poll had come as a “jolt” to the party and was a “poor poll”. Few of the party’s TDs said the result would put a question mark over Mr Gilmore’s leadership although some, including Kerry TD Arthur Spring, argued that Mr Gilmore needed to move out of Foreign Affairs into a department where he would have more domestic visibility.
Senior sources said the main focus would be to ensure that the budget adjustment was clearly below the €3.1 billion figure which has been recommended by the troika.
Mr Gilmore, speaking on RTÉ, played down the suggestion there was additional pressure on his party over the budget but repeated his view that the adjustment should be less than €3.1 billion.
Asked directly about increased pressure, Mr Gilmore said: “The pressure on us is to get the budget right and to get us out of the bailout that we were put into.”
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin briefed colleagues during a discussion on the budget at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting. Spokesmen for the parties said Fine Gael and Labour were close to agreeing an overall adjustment but would not specify either the figure or when it would be finalised.
Today’s exchequer figures for September, including VAT figures for July and August, may influence the final adjustment if it varies from projections. The Government pointed to positive Live Register figures, which showed a monthly seasonally adjusted reduction of 1,800. The numbers on the Live Register this September was 414,600, a reduction of 20,655 compared to September 2012.