20/02 The Sunday Papers
In the Sunday Papers, Fine Gael give the Labour Party a spanking in the polls, while Manchester United are linked with ... pretty much everyone.
The Front Pages
The main headline in the Sunday Independent is ‘Poll: give us Enda without Gilmore’. A Sunday Independent/Millward Brown Landsdowne poll shows a surge in popularity for the Fine Gael leader at the expense of the Labour Party. Incredibly, considering the last 14 years, Eamon Gilmore is less favoured than Fianna Fáils Micheal Martin to be Ireland’s next Taoiseach.
Martin is favoured by 28 per cent of the population to be the leader of the Dáil, Gilmore is favoured by a mere 24 per cent, while Enda Kenny is the choice of 33 per cent of people for that position. Worryingly for the Labour Party, people seem to be warming to the idea of a majority government, with 51 per cent of people believing Fine Gael and Labour to be incompatible.
Fine Gael are polling at 37 per cent, a full 17 per cent higher than the Labour Party who drop three points since the last poll. Fianna Fáil are within four points of Labour on 16 per cent, up four. Sinn Fein are up two to 12 per cent, Independents are down two to 14 per cent, while the Green Party remain unchanged at a mere 1 per cent.
Also in the Indo is the story ‘Unions slammed for “interference”’. A Fine Gael front bencher has described an attempt by public sector unions to instruct people not to vote for Ireland’s most popular party as “murky and underhanded”. Economist Eddie Hobbs has also got in the act of blasting the unions, saying that “the union interference in the election is quite extraordinary.
"Clearly they have designed Labour policy because it’s a carbon copy and now they come out from the shadows to try to influence the election result. They fear their time is passing. Look at the union chief’s salaries, quango membership fees and power during the social partnership process and it’s easy to see that this is a kick-back to from a regime fearing change by people voting in a way that doesn’t suit them.”
On the front of the Sunday Times is the headline ‘Fine Gael reaches out to Labour’ which reports that the party led by Enda Kenny is likely to snub independents in favour of a coalition. Fine Gael’s deputy Finance spokesman Brian Hayes is quoted as saying that “the overriding objective for Fine Gael after this election is to form a stable coherent government that will last the course for five years.
"I would hate to see a situation where we were depending on Michael Healy-Rae and Shane Ross, for example, to stay in government. There are hard decisions ahead, and we shouldn’t have to rely on one or two people for support. What the country needs is stability.”
Fine Gael’s communications spokesman Leo Varadkar echoed those statements, saying that “there are rough times ahead, and we need a stable government. If we only needed one or two independents, that could perhaps work. But if we were faced with the choice of seven or eight independents or the Labour Party, then I think we would have to pay the price for a stable government and go into coalition with Labour.”
Tales from the Tabs
On page 12 of the News of the World is the headline ‘Don’t dilute Labour vote’. Eamon Gilmore has called on voters not to vote for left-wing independents such as those running under the United Left Alliance banner or for Sinn Fein as it might damage his chances of being the next Tainiste. He believes that a vote for them will be a vote for one-party government, and that a Fine Gael majority would be a disaster.
“The danger of voting for ‘left this’ and ‘left that,’” he said, “is it dilutes the Labour vote and could allow Fine Gael an overall majority. I think there’s a danger the Labour vote will be diluted by people voting for different organisations on the left. First of all, the opportunity of a Labour-led government will be missed.”
The desperate plea comes in the wake of a disastrous Red C poll, which rates the Labour Party at 17 per cent – 22 points behind Fine Gael and only one ahead of Fianna Fáil. This suggests the chances of a Labour-led government are somewhere between slim and none.
Gilmore continues, “We’ll end up with a Fine Gael government pursuing very right-wing pursuing very right-wing policies. The Labour Party set out to give people the chance to elect a Labour-led government and that remains our aim. I’ve listened to people over the years crying about why there was never a Labour government in Ireland. This is the first time in the history of the State that the option of a Labour-led government is viable for the people.”
The Sports Pages
‘Luka who Fergie wants,’ is the headline on the back page of the News of the World. According to the tabloid, Alex Ferguson is willing to pay €40 million for Tottenham’s Luka Modric as a potential replacement for Paul Scholes. The 25-year old Croatian playmaker, however, only signed a new 6-year contract in May of last year, and is said to be very happy at the Lane.
It seems every week either him or Bale (who also has a lengthy contract) are linked with somebody else, but considering how important both are to Spurs and the fact that the North London side are relatively financially stable and on the precipice of qualifying for the Champions League again, the bid would surely have to be a lot higher than €40 million.
Manchester United are also said to be targeting Everton’s Jack Rodwell (€30 million apparently – a price that seems remarkably inflated) and Sunderland’s Jordan Henderson (€18 million). Michael Carrick will then apparently go back to Tottenham in part –exchange, Danny Wellbeck and Darron Gibson will join Sunderland, while the two Owens (Michael and Hargreaves) will be released.
The paper also claims that United are monitoring Bastien Schweinsteiger, Ashley Young and Gareth Bale (of course!).