herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Cabinet seat for White depends on size of vote

AS the showdown for the 
Labour leadership comes to a head today, junior health minister Alex White will need to get a respectable vote to ensure he gets a seat in Cabinet.

After a five-week campaign, the Dublin South TD's rival, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, is expected to coast to victory to replace Eamon Gilmore to become the new Tanaiste.

She is also expected to use the mandate from the result to pick her ministerial line up.

DANGER

But Mr White is in danger of missing out on Cabinet promotion if he gets wiped out and picks up less than 30pc of the vote.

Despite the contest being regarded as over, for the past four weeks Ms Burton has kept pressing home her advantage in the campaign.

Ms Burton has spoken during the leadership debates about the importance of her securing a strong mandate.

Several Labour sources say Mr White's prospects of elevation from his current position as junior health minister to a full Cabinet portfolio is dependent on the result.

The estimates of the result that would put him in the danger zone range from 30pc downwards.

Some suggest he can get away with 25pc, but anything less would be tricky.

One Labour deputy said it would be very difficult for Ms Burton to give a full Cabinet post to Mr White if he cannot receive a significant membership vote.

"I believe she could not put him in Cabinet if he is below 20pc. It would just look absolutely awful," the TD said.

Another suggested that there was a deal of anecdotal evidence that Mr White was not going to get too much support from members on the southside of Dublin.

Mr White is a TD in the Dublin South constituency, where there is a substantial block of Labour members.

"Now, if he cannot get support in that area - what is the point?" the Labour politician said.

The Labour deputy leadership is also expected to have an influence on the ministerial selections.

Favourite

Alan Kelly remains the overwhelming favourite, but some strategists claim if he fails to get more than 40pc of the first preference votes, he can be caught on transfers.

Mr Kelly is regarded as a certainty for inclusion in the new Cabinet line-up.

Michael McCarthy has emerged as the dark horse in the race, with his table-thumping debating style going down well with the party membership.

But Sean Sherlock's supporters maintain he is still in contention, while Ciara Conway's backers also believe her approach to the race has served her well.

hnews@herald.ie

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