Irish General Election 2020 : Predictions & Review, Part One

January 26th, 2020

Last week, Leo Varadkar called an early Dáil Election. Will his choice backfire or will he get another term? Find out below.

Michael Martin (Fianna Fáil) has been putting the pressure on few quite some time, Fine Gael only won by a handful of seats last time (2016 election) and Leo is now starting to feel the heat.

Leo has made a handful of school boy errors and according to the recent polls, Michael Martin should be elected as the new Taoiseach on 8th February 2020.

Politics is of course very interesting and exciting, the general public have the control to elect anyone from their constituency. So far, Eighteen (18) former TD’s have announced that they won’t be running including Gerry Adams (Sinn Féin) & Edna Kenny (Fine Gael).

Ireland is a country that in my opinion has more than enough Independent TD’s. There are only a few places up for grabs, but who’s going to get them?

I will be submitting my predictions in alphabetical order.

Carlow / Kilkenny (5 TD’s)

Bobby Aylward (Fianna Fail), John McGuinness (Fianna Fail), John Paul Phelan (Fine Gael) High, Pat Deering (Fine Gael) will be elected.

Jennifer Murnane-O’Connor (Fianna Fail), Kathleen Funchion (Sinn Fein), Malcolm Noonan (Green Party) & Patrick O’Neill (Fine Gael) will fight it out for the 5th spot.

Prediction: Kathleen Funchion (Sinn Fein) will get the 5th seat.

Cavan / Monaghan (5 TD’s).

Matt Carthy (Sinn Fein), Heather Humphries (Fine Gael), Brendan Smith (Fianna Fail) & Niamh Smyth (Fianna Fáil) are the front runners here.

T.P. O’Reilly (Fine Gael), Pauline Tully (Sinn Fein) & Robbie Gallagher (Fianna Fail) will be trying their best to get the last seat.

Prediction: T.P O’Reilly (Fine Gael).

Clare (4 TD’s)

Timmy Dooley (Fianna Fail), Cathal Crowe (Fianna Fail) & Pat Breen (Fine Gael) will be elected.

Joe Carey (Fine Gael), Michael McNamara (Ind), Martin Conway (Fine Gael) & Roisin Garvey (Green Party) are the front runners for the 4th and final seat.

Prediction: Roll a dice.

Cork East (4 TD’s)

Kevin O’Keeffe (Fianna Fail), David Stanton (Fine Gael) & Sean Sherlock (Labour Party) should be elected in Cork East.

Pat Buckley (Sinn Fein), James O’Connor (Fianna Fail), Pa O’Driscoll (Fine Gael) & Mary Linehan-Foley (Independent) are all hoping to gain the fourth seat.

Prediction: Pat Buckley (Sinn Fein).

Cork North Central (4 TD’s)

Colm Burke (Fine Gael), Padraig O Sullivan (Fianna Fail) & Thomas Gould (Sinn Fein) will win a seat.

The final seat will be between Mick Barry (Solidarity), Tony Fitzgerald (Fianna Fail), John Maher (Labour Party), Oliver Moran (Green Party) & Kenneth O Flynn (Ind).

Prediction: This is one of the toughest to select. One to watch.

Cork North West (3 TD’s)

Michael Creed (Fine Gael), Aindrias Moynihan (Fianna Fail) & Michael Moynihan (Fianna Fail) shouldn’t have too much to worry about.

Prediction: John Paul O’Shea (Fine Gael) has a very slim chance.

Cork South-Central (4 TD’s)

Micheal Martin (Fianna Fail), Michael McGrath (Fianna Fail) & Simon Coveney (Fine Gael) are foregone conclusions.

The final seat should be between Donnchadh O’Laoghaire (Sinn Fein) & Lorna Bogue (Green Party).

Prediction: Lorna Bogue (Green Party).

Cork South-West (3 TD’s)

This is one of the most open constituencies, All five of Michael Collins (Independent), Christopher O Sullivan (Fianna Fail), Tim Lombard (Fine Gael), Margaret Murphy O’Mahony (Fianna Fail) & Karen Coakley (Fine Gael) have a pretty good chance.

Prediction: Michael Collins (Independent) & Christopher O’Sullivan (Fianna Fáil).

Donegal (5 TD’s)

Pearse Doherty (Sinn Fein), Charlie McConologue (Fianna Fail) & Joe McHugh (Fine Gael) will be elected in Donegal.

we’ll have a great contest here, it’ll be between Pat the Cope Gallagher (Fianna Fail), Thomas Pringle (IND), Padraig MacLochlainn (Sinn Fein), Peter Casey (Ind) & John O Donnell (Ind). I think Pat “The Cope” Gallagher can squeeze through.

Prediction: Pat “The Cope” Gallagher & Thomas Pringle.

Dublin Bay North (5 TD’s)

Sean Haughey (Fianna Fail), Richard Bruton (Fine Gael), Aodhan O’Riordain (Labour) & David Healy (Green Party) should be elected bar miracles.

The 5th and final seat will be between Denise Mitchell (Sinn Fein), Cian O Callaghan (Social Democrats), Catherine Noone (Fine Gael), Deirdre Heney (Fianna Fail)

Prediction: Denise Mitchell (Sinn Fein) could take this by a low margin but I wouldn’t play at 4-11.

Dublin Bay South (4 TD’s)

These three should become a T.D in the election: Eamonn Ryan (Green Party), Jim O Callaghan (Fianna Fail) & Eoghan Murphy (Fine Gael).

Kate O’Connell (Fine Gael), Kevin Humphries (Labour Party) & Chris Andrews (Sinn Fein) will go head to head for the final place.

Prediction: Kevin Humphries (Labour).

Dublin Central (4 TD’s)

Mary Lou McDonald (Sinn Fein), Paschal Donohoe (Fine Gael) & Mary Fitzpatrick (Fianna Fail) will be elected here bar accidents.

The fourth and final seat will see Neasa Hourigan (Green Party) go up against Garry Gannon (Social Democrats) and Neasa should do enough to get over the line.

Prediction: Neasa Hourigan (Greens).

Dublin Fingal (5 TD’s)

These three people will get over the line: Darragh O’Brien (Fianna Fáil), Joe O’Brien (Green Party) & Duncan Smith (Labour Party).

The fourth and fifth seat will see two from Louise O Reilly (Sinn Féin), Alan Farrell (Fine Gael), Lorraine Clifford-Lee (Fianna Fáil), James Reilly (Fine Gael) & Dean Mulligan (Ind) get elected.

Prediction: Alan Farrell (Fine Gael) & James Reilly (Fine Gael).

Dublin Mid-West (4 TD’s)

Eoin O’Broin (Sinn Fein) & John Curran (Fianna Fail) will get elected with plenty in hand.

The remaining seats will be between: Emer Higgins (Fine Gael), Mark Ward (Sinn Fein), Gino Kenny (SBP), Paul Gogarty (Independent) & Catriona McClean (Fianna Fail).

Prediction: Gino Kenny (SBP) & Paul Gogarty (Independent).

Dublin North-West (3 TD’s)

Roisin Shortall (Social Democrats) & Paul McAuliffe (Fianna Fail) will be the first two over the line.

Seat Three: Dessie Ellis (Sinn Fein) vs Noel Rock (Fine Gael), Dessie should do enough to get elected.
Prediction: Dessie Ellis (Sinn Fein).

Dublin Rathdown (3 TD’s)

It’ll be unbelievable if Catherine Martin (Green Party) doesn’t get in.

Four way contest between Josepha Madigan (Fine Gael), Shane Ross (Independent), Shay Brennan (Fianna Fail) & Neale Richmond (Fine Gael) for the second and final seat.

Prediction: Josepha Madigan (Fine Gael) & Neale Richmond (Fine Gael). I can see Fine Gael getting two TD’s here.

Dublin South-Central (4 TD’s)

Aengus O’Snodaigh (Sinn Fein) should get a seat.

This one will be very close and is basically a lottery between Catherine Ardagh (Fianna Fail), Patrick Costello (Green Party), Joan Collins (Independents 4 Change), Catherine Byrne (Fine Gael), Brid Smith (Solidarity Before Profit) & Rebecca Moynihan (Labour)

Prediction: Catherine Ardagh (Fianna Fáil) & Patrick Costello (Greens).

Dublin South-West (5 TD’s)

Sean Crowe (Sinn Fein), Colm Brophy (Fine Gael) & John Lahart (Fianna Fail) will be elected in this one.

Francis Noel Duffy (Green Party), Katherine Zappone (Ind), Paul Murphy (RISE), Ciaran Ahern (Labour Party), Charlie O’Connor (Fianna Fail), Deirdre O Donovan (Fianna Fail) & Ellen O’Malley Dunlop (Fine Gael) will go toe to toe for the remaining two seats.

Prediction: None for this really close constituency.

Dublin West (4 TD’s)

Leo Varadkar (Fine Gael) & Jack Chambers (Fianna Fail) will enjoy a nice wage packet for at least another few years after this election.

Roderic O’Gorman (Green Party), Ruth Coppinger (Solidarity Before Profit), Paul Donnelly (Sinn Fein), Joan Burton (Labour) & Emer Currie (Fine Gael) are the other runners & with only two seats left, it’s going to be a mouth watering showdown. 

Prediction: Roderic O’Gorman (Greens).

Dun Laoghaire (4 TD’s)

Richard Boyd Barrett (SBP), Ossian Smyth (Green Party) & Mary Mitchell O’Connor (Fine Gael) should get elected.

Cormac Devlin (Fianna Fail), Jennifer Carroll MacNeill (Fine Gael), Mary Hanafin (Fianna Fail) & Barry Ward (Fine Gael) will battle is out for the last seat but this could come down to only a few votes.

Prediction: This will be very close.

That’s the end of part one, part two will be completed next weekend.



Covered market: the politics of towns

January 26th, 2020

Since the election, talk of towns has been the talk of the political town.  Labour politicians and Conservative politicians alike have concluded that is the key to political success right now.

This apparent unity conceals a string of latent ambiguities and confusions.  What are towns? The Conservatives were mocked when they recently launched their Town Of The Year competition in Wolverhampton, which has been a city for nearly 20 years.  The optics could certainly have been better.

Lisa Nandy has made the problems of towns one of the main planks of her campaign for the Labour leadership.  She is a leading light in Centre For Towns, a think tank “dedicated to providing research and analysis of our towns”. That organisation lists 894 settlements in Britain that it considers towns, It reserves the word “city” for Britain’s 12 biggest cities.  (Wolverhampton is a town on their classification.) When most people are talking about towns, I doubt they are thinking of Kingston-upon-Hull, Salford, Southampton or Plymouth.  But all of these are “towns” on the Centre For Towns definition.

Next, what are the problems of towns?  And here we see a confusion between three entirely separate crises.  These three crises have come simultaneously to produce a sense of despondency and decline.

The first aspect of this is the impact of austerity.  Following cuts by central government, councils have pared back their services.  Libraries are being closed, potholes are not being filled, subsidised bus services are becoming skeletal.  The public didn’t notice much for quite a while but they are noticing now.  This is a common problem up and down the country.

Separately, right now we are seeing a crisis in retail as spending moves from the shop floor to online services.  This also is affecting every part of the country. It is particularly visible in the high streets of our urban centres and has a big effect on community life.  Some famous names, like BHS, have gone bust (we can expect more to follow). Others, like Debenhams and Marks & Spencer, have closed down their less profitable shops as they scramble to fight off the challenge of Amazon.  The effects are felt disproportionately outside the very largest centres because smaller places have smaller markets.

Thirdly, some towns are suffering from a crisis of identity.  Towns were founded for a purpose. If a mill town doesn’t have a mill any more or a seaside town no longer has tourists, they urgently need to find a new one.  Some have managed it, some have not. The ones that have not are in deep deep trouble.

The first problem is actually quite easy to solve for the government.  It simply needs to reverse the cuts to local government spending. If the government is serious about improving local infrastructure, there are few measures that it could take that could have as speedy and useful effects.  It might seek to ensure that the money is not moved elsewhere by hypothecating grants to local government, but if the government is going to hose money around on infrastructure projects, this is a good place to start. Where the money is going to come from is a separate problem but since no political party is now the least bit concerned about fiscal responsibility, let’s not be worrywarts.

The second problem is probably a problem that the government should not try to solve directly.  The public lament the sad state of their local high streets even as they speed in their cars to the out of town shopping centres and order their goods online.  The retail sector will reach a new equilibrium in due course between online and bricks-and-mortar spending. This is not a problem requiring government regulation.  

There is an opportunity here.  Britain suffers from having far too many identitikit towns and cities, dominated at ground level by the fascias of retail chains.  As the retail chains withdraw from the high streets, local character can be restored. Government should be looking to encourage new uses of town centre buildings (whether as offices, as private residences or something quite different).  In thriving towns, this evolution will be accepted as stoically as every past evolution of town centres. They could look far more interesting than they do now.

The third problem, that of failing towns, is not a general problem, it is highly specific.  It is also the hardest of the three to deal with. To be cynical, the success or failure of government is unlikely to hinge on it.  Too few Parliamentary seats depend on this problem being resolved. It is, however, what many people subconsciously have in mind when they think of the problems of towns, so the government needs to have some form of plan.  I’m sure it will have some fine words. I’m less sure that they will amount to all that much.

The opposition, however, would probably be ill-advised to place too much emphasis on towns. If the government gives proper attention to it, it has a good chance of making a difference to towns’ prospects that the public gives it credit for.  Labour could easily see a focus on towns backfire on them.

The problems of the large cities outside London look much more intractable and in the long term are much more important for Britain’s future.  Much of Britain’s underperformance can be attributed to their underperformance. Perhaps more attention should be given to them.

Alastair Meeks


Nine days before Iowa and the top 5 contenders are within 12 points of each other

January 25th, 2020

Chart from Fivethirtyeight.com

A week on Monday we have the very first event in the 2020 White House Race. This is of course the caucases in the midwest state of Iowa which has a reputation of pulling off some surprises and having a big impact on the nomination races overall.

This involves voters doing much much more than turning out at a polling station to cast a vote. At 1600+ events starting at 7:30 in the evening local time Democratic voters attend a meeting in their precinct. Initially there is a headcount of backers each of the contenders and only those that are able to get 15% at each meeting stay in. For those supporters of candidates getting below 15% at their meeting they have to to choose another candidate. This is all within the meeting itself and experience tells us that having a good local organisers at each event is part of the recipe for success.

The chart above from Fivethirty-eight shows weighted average of the recent state polls taking into account each pollsters’ record and approach.

Next weekend we should get the final polls with the one by Anne Seltzer for the Des Moines Register having the strongest reputation for getting this right. I’ll be waiting for that before making my final bets.

Mike Smithson


Global Heating: great crises are difficult and complex. Activists need to recognise that

January 25th, 2020

David Attenborough, like the Queen, is immortal and infallible and therefore the closest thing we have to a living god. Unfortunately, gods have little interest in the practical business of politics (or at least, only among themselves), which is where the problem lies with Attenborough’s call for action on global heating.

While it has become popular recently to refer to the problem as the Climate Crisis, this is a poor choice of wording. Presumably the previous preferred terms – ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ – are now less favoured because the one sounds like quite a welcome development while the other is far too vague. ‘Crisis’, by contrast, strikes a note of urgency.

That urgency, however, isn’t really shared among the public. It wasn’t a prominent issue in the recent general election, where the party committed to the most cautious policy on decarbonisation won a clear majority (albeit that hitting net-zero in 30 years is still committing to revolutionary change in transport and infrastructure). In the most recent Mori Issues Index, 18% mentioned the environment, pollution and climate change as one of the most important issues with only 5% putting it top.

What’s true of Britain is even more true of the rest of the world. Attenborough made the wildly naïve and misguided statement that China needed to announce it would curb carbon output and the rest of the world would fall into line and that one could hope it would happen. One can’t and it won’t.

In reality, China is committed to massive increases in carbon emissions. It plans to build 216 new airports by 2035, by which point it would have greater air traffic that the US. It produces more steel every two years than Britain has produced in its history. It burns as much coal as the rest of the world combined and is planning on opening so many new coal-fired power stations that even if every coal-fired plant in the EU was decommissioned, these new Chinese ones alone would more than offset the closed European ones.

But that’s only half of the naivety. Even if China was to plan to commit to start to cut its carbon output, it’s fanciful to believe that the US administration (for example) would feel any compunction to follow suit.

Besides, there’s an uncomfortable undertone to the preachings of old white men (or the almost religious denunciations coming from rich white teenagers). “What right”, representatives of developing countries might ask, “have white people to enjoy a high standard of living, based on already-high levels of energy consumption, not to mention all the damage done during their own industrialisation during the last 200 years, including the occupation and often misuse of the rest of the world, if the right to develop is to be denied to black, brown and yellow people?”

(These racial terms are of course not generally considered polite these days. In this context however, I think they rather highlight the hypocrisy and double-standards).

And it’s a good question. China might be on the ‘bad boys’ list now, with 29% of global CO2 emissions – much more than its 18.4% population share – but the USA, with only 4.2% of the world’s population puts out 16% of its CO2: a greater ratio still. By contrast, India, almost as populous as China, emits only a quarter as much carbon dioxide. (Interestingly, the UK is only a little above its ‘fair share’, with around 1% on both scores).

In any case, analysis is only scratching the surface of the problem. Even if there’s consensus that the world must ‘do something’ (which was about as specific as Attenborough got), and even if there were agreement on what the objective should be, there still comes the politically tricky aspect of getting there.

It’s in that policy detail that the devil lies. If it were easy, it would have happened already. No-one willingly puts the future of the planet and civilization at risk. Equally though, economies and societies are complex and delicate things and change can only be achieved if it isn’t so disruptive as to produce a political backlash against both the policies and the people implementing them large enough to displace both – and that goes for dictatorships as much as democracies.

Steve Mnuchin might have been unusually stupid in his language towards Greta Thunberg – his “study economics” comment not only sneered at, patronised and dismissed the entire environmental movement but also demonstrated a lack of understanding of the economics of externalities (one might also note that a Treasury Secretary running a $1trn/yr deficit during full employment having claimed his administration’s tax cuts would pay for themselves is not well-placed to tell others to study economics) – but beneath the media and technical ineptness is a valid point: decarbonisation comes with short- and medium-term costs and the faster the change, the greater the costs. Which someone must pay. Thunberg might complain about her childhood having been stolen (it wasn’t, though her old age might be), but radical change risks ‘stealing’ the lives of many millions of others: at best through unemployment or bankruptcies; at worst due to early deaths.

(That final point touches on the elephant in the room, namely that one major reason for the huge increase in emissions is the huge increase in population. One of John Rentoul’s top 10 zombie facts is the claim that the world’s population could fit on the Isle of Wight. That might have been true in 1950 but at the same, cosy, six-people-per-square-metre density, you’d now need an island the size of the Isle of Skye – there are three times as many people on the planet today as 70 years ago).

The business of politics is in managing differences but in order to be able to do so there first has to be some consensus of the terms of the discussion. As yet, on Global Heating, we’re not even close to being there, either on a global or a national level. Governments can, and should, keep educating the public and acting where there’s scope to do so but the reality is that large-scale carbon reduction is likely to mean making food, petrol, flights and heating more expensive (or rationed). This is why, to Attenborough’s apparent incomprehension, governments “refuse to take steps that we know have to be taken”.

Is there hope? Maybe. But it will not follow the more extreme policies (or targets, which imply policies) that Global Heating activists want, and that must mean that adaptation is a part of the solution as well as behaviour change. But unless there is realism on both sides – about what is politically possible as well as about the nature of the crisis – then the likelihood is future governments will have to impose dramatic controls after the event. But as in wartime, at least at that point the public would understand and accept the necessity.

David Herdson


Davey slips to his lowest level yet in the LD leadership betting

January 24th, 2020

He’s heading towards evens

Over the last two to three weeks there has been a fair amount of movement in the Lib Dem leadership betting with money starting to go on the Oxford West & Abingdon MP Layla Moran and with the acting leader, Ed Davey edging out.

The current 1.85 on Davey, a 54% chance, is the weakest price yet since the the vacancy became clear. At the same time money has been going on Moran and she has been at about a 38% chance.

This market has been open since Jo Swinson was elected in July and in the immediate aftermath of that election Layla was briefly the favourite.

What we do know now is that the election will not take place until after the local elections in May and the intention is to have the new leader in place in July. This might help some of the lesser known figures who have ambitions of the top job.

There have been suggestions that there could be five nominations out of the MP pool of 11, seven of whom are women. The others are Wera Hobhouse, Christine Jardine and Daisy Cooper on whom I have a 60/1 bet.

Mike Smithson


With 49 CLPs now having decided just under two thirds are going to Starmer

January 24th, 2020

Keir Starmer: 32 Rebecca Long-Bailey: 7 Lisa Nandy: 7 Emily Thornberry: 3

After what has been the biggest night so far of CLP meetings the overall picture is looking broadly the same and the big outstanding question is whether the Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry will make the cut.

Thanks to the excellent @clpnominations for his regularly updated Twitter feed for what is actually going on at the branch meetings keeping up an excellent running total of the LAB nomination race. His chart above gives a good geographical spread.

The big picture is that a consistent trend appears to be happening with just under two-thirds of constituencies going for the former Director of Public prosecutions and Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer. RLB and Lisa Nandy are currently level pegging on 7 with Emily Thornberry down at just 3.

The Twitter account of @clpnominations and many of the responses are a good place to look for the latest news and get a sense of the passion and feelings within the movement during this critical transition period.

What is clear is that those constituencies which nominated Corbyn in both 2015 and 2016 are sticking with with his chosen successor Long-Bailey while those that didn’t nominate in the last two leadership elections or went with candidates other than Corbyn are getting behind Starmer or Nandy.

We cannot assume that the constituency nominations are a good guide to how people will vote once the membership ballots goes out out in March but given the polling there’s little doubt that Starmer is worth his 69% chance that he’s been currently rated on the Betfair Exchange.

Mike Smithson


Bloomberg launches his latest ad attacking Trump during the President’s favourite TV show

January 23rd, 2020

Trolling Trump

Inevitably this led to a Twitter explosion from Trump who has now dubbed the multi-billionaire as “Mini Mike Bloomberg”. According to Politico this is part of a deliberate strategy by Bloomberg who is benefiting in the polls as a result

It’s the latest example of how a plank of Bloomberg’s campaign revolves around agitating the president, who has increasingly begun criticizing his former mayor from New York, a self-made billionaire who has spent years belittling Trump as a bad businessman and reality TV star. Bloomberg also made sure to match Trump in advertising during the Super Bowl, a roughly $10 million endeavor for both campaigns. Bloomberg’s ads are hard to miss. He has so far spent a jaw-dropping $250 million on TV commercials, many of them attacking Trump. In a primary that’s focused on defeating the incumbent, being on the receiving end of Trump’s ire is seen by many Democratic voters as a positive. As a result, Bloomberg has started to climb in polls of both the crowded Democratic primary and in general election matchups against Trump.”

In the betting Bloomberg is now the 11% third favourite behind fellow septuagenarians Biden and Sanders.

Mike Smithson


In spite of Trump’s impeachment problems punters give the Republicans a 54% chance of retaining the White House

January 23rd, 2020
Betdara.io chart of Betfair market

What is absolutely certain the top political betting event of 2020 will be November’s US presidential election. Currently the incumbent. Mr Trump, is going through his impeachment trial at the US Senate while presidential hopefuls are going into the final phases of their campaign in the first state to vote on the Democratic nomination – Iowa with its caucuses on February 3rd.

Until now PB has yet do a post on the the final election result in November. As can be seen by the chart the mood on the gambling markets is that the Republicans are going to hold on. The chances are that Trump will come out of the impeachment process still as the incumbent president. Quite simply the mathematics of the makeup of these Senate are such that it is hard to see any other outcome then him being allowed to continue.

One interesting feature of the current hearings is the leading contenders were are also members of the US Senate find themselves completely involved with that and need to remain in Washington for the the hearings. This means that Sanders, Warren and Klobuchar are not able to be pressing the flesh in Iowa and in New Hampshire which are the first states to decide.

Whether this has an impact on the outcome we shall see but notably Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg or not affected by this.

I’m not sure that Betfair punters have got this market right. Sure Trump has the enthusiastic support of his base but he needs much more than that in order to ensure a second term . The evidence is that the independent voters are not as enamoured with Trump as his supporters might hope. A lot depends on who succeeds in winning the Democratic nomination.

I am far from convinced that the Democrats would be wise to choose a contender who is older than Trump who will be 74 when the election takes place . They need a newer younger face.

Mike Smithson