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Live Commentary on the Final Surrender to the Fiscal Institutions of Imperialism November 18, 2010

Posted by Garibaldy in Capitalism, Crime, Fianna Fáil.
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I should make clear that the title reflects my belief that the Irish state has pretty much always been run in the interests of the form of capitalism known as imperialism, with the wholesale adoption of neo-liberalism in the last decade and a half simply putting an ideological gloss on what was already the case. Having said that, it’s hard not to see the current state of things as marking a significant development of some sort. I take WBS’s point that the surrender of sovereignty involved has been exaggerated. But still. We never saw comments of this type in the Irish Times when the state surrendered its currency

[Is this] what the men of 1916 died for: a bailout from the German chancellor with a few shillings of sympathy from the British chancellor on the side. There is the shame of it all. Having obtained our political independence from Britain to be masters of our own affairs, we have now surrendered our sovereignty to the European commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.

The surrender of currency was of course a surrender of a significant amount of sovereignty, one that took the dilution of democracy involved in EU membership to new heights. The joke made in some circles at the time that this represented as big a sell-out of the rights of the Irish people as the Treaty did have an edge to it. It is remarkable now to watch Lenihan and the like backtrack on what they were saying yesterday, after Honahan said he was expecting a loan from the IMF worth tens of billions. Lenihan is now saying the following

The problems do not relate to our budgetary position. Our budgetary strategy this year is front-loading a €6bn adjustment in the budget, has been fully endorsed by all of the ministers in Europe. That’s clear.

The problems we’re addressing here are problems of a structural character in the banking system, there are of a necessity, technical questions that require intensive discussions
which are now under way. The government and its EU partners are still examining options on what shape A package of financial assistance might take.

There is no question of loading onto the Irish sovereign and the Irish state some kind of unspecified burden. That’s why the government has taken great care not to take a formal
application at this stage but engaging in intensive discussion to see exactly what the options are.

So that’s alright then. Anyway, you can watch the final humiliation of the arrogant Fianna Fáil Celtic Tiger generation (the true heirs of the Fianna Fáil An Taca generation mercilessly criticised and exposed by the United Irishman newspaper in the 1960s, some of which can be seen in the CLR’s Left Archive) unfold minute by minute thanks to the Guardian.

To come back to the title of the post – this is the final surrender of the Fianna Fáil/Green coalition. The surrender of the state’s assets and policy to international financial capital will doubtless continue under the McCarthy report mark II on privatisation and the new government, whatever the specific elements of its composition. The crimes of the Irish bourgeoisie against the working class are far from over.

Socialism or Barbarism goes the saying. Looks like we’re in for a hell of a lot of barbarism, doled out at the hands of domestic and foreign callous asset-stripping capitalists.

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Comments»

1. Mark P - November 18, 2010

I see that the Irish Times editorial today is in large part concerned with making sure that no blame for what is about to happen to the Irish population should be affixed to our wonderful EU overlords.

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2. Eoin - November 18, 2010

It is of note perhaps that Honohan is being used as the front man for some kind of technocratic process occurring in smoke-filled rooms with the ‘men’ of the IMF. Further evidence of the evacuation of politics from this nightmare.

As is clear from Lenihan’s comments above, intensive discussions and formal applications are very different things, if you’re the Minister for Finance.

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3. Mark P - November 18, 2010

And of course, even though they’ve finally shifted from denial to snivelling, they can’t bring themselves to understand why our EU overlords are willing to “bail us out”.

I genuinely wonder if Kennedy and her lackies are just so stupid that they don’t realise that the “bailout” is about loading further debt onto the Irish population so that we can throw further money into the black hole of the banks, so that in turn the European Banks get their money back from the Irish banks? Or do they know that at some level, but just not care?

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4. sonofstan - November 18, 2010

All this sovereignty guff from quarters that would defend to the death the corporate tax rate as ‘the cornerstone of our industrial policy’ – the instrument that turns us into a cheap financial whore for multinationals is, for the IT, and for every party in the Dail, sacrosanct.

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RosencrantzisDead - November 19, 2010

I see that the government is holding firm on CT in the talks that were definitely not negotiations. To me, this implies one of two scenarios:

1) The government actually believes that low CT is vital to their industrial policy and will do anything except raise it by a few points. The announcement is designed to give them a base line for negotiations. If the EU partners insist on the CT issue, the government will respond that this is a no-go area because ‘they have promised the people’.

or

2) The government is secretly fine with raising CT and are using the announcements as a bargaining chip – when they eventually relent on the CT issue, it will look like they have made a major concession and, thus, will argue they are entitled to better terms from the ECB/IMF as a result.

I have a feeling that the government position is the former. This is not good. One should point out that ‘being cheaper than the other guy’ is not an industrial policy, let alone one suitable for a developed nation. If CT is a cornerstone then we are truly being run by Elixir of Life salesmen.

Neither strategy is to be advised. Playing hardball (which the government are now doing) could be construed as an attempt to mask serious weakness. It may also piss off the EU partners enough that they would withdraw and claim that the Irish government were incompetent. I am sure the ECB have some sort of a startegy if negotiations fail, and the IMF are under no obligation or pressure to grant a loan or a contingency fund at this time.

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6. Pope Epopt - November 18, 2010

Funny, ramshackle, kind of ‘Empire’ it is though. Although look at most empires in history; we in Ireland tend to model empires on the relatively efficient and single-minded British Empire of the 19C (as did Lenin, for that matter). And that is why the world ‘imperialism’ is such a blunt tool. Think instead, perhaps, of the Holy Roman Empire or the Byzantine Empire. There is hardly a centre to hold.

Really, people, there never was much ‘sovereignty’. All that has happened is that organisation of extraction of value from the Irish working class moved to Berlin. A good thing too, say I – now we can concentrate on fighting this thing at an appropriate scale – i.e. European at least.

It also means that the current crisis of capitalism (manifesting as the debt mountain) moves to the German banks. It is no more sustainable there than it is here.

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LeftAtTheCross - November 18, 2010

I’m finding it difficult to get worked up over this for much the same reason you’re putting forwards there. This is somehow inevitable, not in a pessimistic “there is no alternative” sense, but in a positive sense that the contagion is inevitable and will lead to further fracturing in global capitalism. Of course the immediate consequences here may be unpalatable, but things have to get worse before they get better, or else nothing will change.

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RosencrantzisDead - November 18, 2010

I share your lack of ire. Largely, I think it is because most of us felt that the government’s strategies would inevitably bring us to this point, so I am not surprised. In a way, I imagine Michael Taft and the guys over at TASC feel vindicated. Although, I imagine they are not ones to gloat about this.

I am becoming pissed off at some of the commentariat, who are enthralled with the idea that the IMF will come in and destroy all the things that they don’t like (Civil service, social welfare, the professions etc.). I think we still have to wait and see what is proposed. Two of the biggest items on our balance sheet are NAMA and the banks – the IMF will have to deal with those.

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Pope Epopt - November 18, 2010

All right, I exaggerate – de Valeran isolationism and ‘self-sufficiency’ was sovereign in a sense, but once that was shelved…

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Garibaldy - November 18, 2010

I was trying to get across that I wasn’t talking about this as an empire in the sense of a territorial entity, so much as the financial institutions that the states that do/did have empires operate on behalf of.

Of course you’ll get no argument here about there being loads of economic sovereignty before this. But I don’t think it can be said that this is insignificant either, if only for the symbolism.

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WorldbyStorm - November 18, 2010

I hope you’re right LATC.

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Pope Epopt - November 18, 2010

Point taken – more Empire in the Negri/Hardt sense. But when people hear the work imperialism they think gunboats shelling villages or helicopters raining down napalm on peasants. Which is why it’s a dud term, IMO.

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7. Pope Epopt - November 18, 2010

The Bullingdon Boys’ offer to protect their exposure really amuses me. They are running scared after the Icelandic default.

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8. crocodile - November 18, 2010

Just had a phone call (1.40)from a BBC researcher asking me if I’d participate in a telephone vox pop, live on tonight’s PM Programme.(I commented on their website a couple of weeks ago). Unfortunately don’t finish work til 8 tonight (bloody public flexitime etc etc).

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WorldbyStorm - November 18, 2010

Nice to be asked. :) I guess.

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9. neilcaff - November 18, 2010

Brilliant analysis/showmanship/demagoguery from Max Keiser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzUD6d72l8I&feature=player_embedded

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L. Aughable - November 18, 2010

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Dr. X - November 18, 2010

Couldn’t we have one of these with Stalin?

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WorldbyStorm - November 18, 2010

Interesting idea. I like it!

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ejh - November 18, 2010

What’s the apostrophe doing in “Senators? Fucking illiterate YouTube generation.

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ejh - November 18, 2010

…and, as is traditional in such postings, the punctuation in mine above is also lacking. Hey ho.

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10. Garibaldy - November 18, 2010

The reason for the Tories being so “nice” explained. From Cameron

“Let me just say obviously if you look at the relationship between Britain and Ireland, it’s one of our biggest export markets.
We export more to Ireland than we do to Brazil, Russia, India, China combined
Our banks are very connected to the Irish banks. We have an interest in not just the eurozone being a success, we have an interest in Ireland being a success, so I certainly don’t want to rule things out, but as I say, I don’t think we should be speculating.”

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irishelectionliterature - November 18, 2010

The Guardian has this nice picture of the IMF lads in Dublin…

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WorldbyStorm - November 18, 2010

In a way isn’t it telling that this is being live covered on the Guardian?

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CL - November 19, 2010

“British banks had some £140bn tied up in Irish banks by the end of March, with the taxpayer-controlled Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group the most exposed.
The FSA is desperately seeking more up-to- date information about potential losses on outstanding loans to Ireland.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/article-1331428/FSA-tells-banks-reveal-Irish-Iinks.html#ixzz15mhFu57e

Iceland has shown what needs to be done.

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11. neilcaff - November 18, 2010

The number one item on the BBC News at One was the protest organised by the SP outside the Dept. of Finance. Joe Higgins was interviewed.

Did it get any coverage in the Irish media?

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Budapestkick - November 18, 2010

Not sure, but it was on Al Jazeera as well.

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Mark P - November 18, 2010

It had a few lines this morning in the Examiner, saying that the picket would happen today. I don’t know if it was covered by RTE as I’m doing everything possible to avoid RTE coverage at the moment.

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Mark P - November 19, 2010

It was just on TV3 news there.

On a related point, it seems that Vincent Browne’s “Are you not ashamed?” rant last night has had a bit of a resonance. Rabbitte and some TV3 journalist were both using the same line today.

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Ghandi - November 18, 2010

Protest also attended by Workers Party and Communist Party of Ireland

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HAL - November 18, 2010

Were they invited by the SP.

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Mark P - November 18, 2010

There was a general invitation to anyone interested.

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LeftAtTheCross - November 19, 2010

Video of IMF protest outside Dept. of Finance on 18 Nov. Malachy Steenson, WP Dublin Region spokesperson, speaks at 1min:10sec.

Voiceover at start sounds like Eugene McCartan of the CP and there’s a statement from Joe Higgins of the SP also.

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Mark P - November 19, 2010

That is indeed Eugene.

Paula Geraghty does the left a real service with her video interviews at protest after protest.

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LeftAtTheCross - November 19, 2010

Paula Geraghty does the left a real service with her video interviews at protest after protest.

On that we agree.

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12. LeftAtTheCross - November 18, 2010

WP statement on economic treason behind loss of sovereignty:

http://www.workerspartyireland.net/id539.html

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WorldbyStorm - November 18, 2010

Thanks a million, I’ll post this up later…

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Tim Johnston - November 18, 2010

There’s something decidedly un-left-wing about the use of the word “treason”, or am I the only one to think so?

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No.11 - November 18, 2010

No.

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Budapestkick - November 19, 2010

I agree. It’s a term being thrown around a lot. It’s quite silly and nationalistic sounding but I can understand why it would get an echo and why people would use it.

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Alan Davis - November 19, 2010

Agreed – but given that the WP have a reformist approach that takes the existing capitalist nation state as a given it is perhaps not so surprising.

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Garibaldy - November 19, 2010

What capitalist nation state would that be Alan? Surely you aren’t referring to the 26 counties? (Before anyone thinks I’ve joined RSF I’m just making a point about the use of language when criticising other people’s use of language)

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Alan Davis - November 19, 2010

Garibaldy,

Interesting point and I accept the correction. What I was trying to get across is that WP’s reformism, as I understand it, is based on accepting the existing legal/political framework of capitalist rule – just making it work more in the interests of working people, as per their new “We Demand Democracy” campaign.

I would point out that I wasn’t criticising WP’s use of language but rather their political programme/perspective.

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Garibaldy - November 19, 2010

I don’t think it’s as much a case of accepting as of working within them because they have the acceptance of the people. Hence the dumping of abstentionism way back when. I’d rather have a social democratic capitalism than a neo-liberal one. But I’d also rather have socialism. In the interim, as Marx and Engels did, I think it’s important to fight for reforms.

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Alan Davis - November 19, 2010

There is an important difference between fighting for reforms, which both revolutionaries and reformists can do, and having a programme of reformism.

The distinction being over whether you believe socialism can be achieved through the parliamentary structures and capitalist legal/political framework or not.

Indeed some reformists would effectively equate social-democratic capitalism with socialism.

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Garibaldy - November 19, 2010

I understand your point Alan. It’s just that clearly we aren’t going to agree about whether The WP is guilty of embracing reformism as the goal.

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Alan Davis - November 19, 2010

Fair enough – though I’m not sure I’d argue that WP have reformism as their goal.

At least on the basis of the ones I’ve met and worked with in Cork I’d say that they genuinely want a socialist society (and not just in a social-democratic capitalist way).

But they present this as being achievable through the reform of capitalism, rather than through its revolutionary overthrow.

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LeftAtTheCross - November 19, 2010

“But they present this as being achievable through the reform of capitalism, rather than through its revolutionary overthrow.”

Are these not complementary approaches though? Why must one focus on only one path to the bright socialist future?

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Alan Davis - November 19, 2010

Reformism’s central political message is that fundamental social change will occur through the existing legal/political structures of bourgeois democracy. Therefore there is no need to build organisations of workers democracy that are able to effectively challenge the capitalist legal/political framework. Indeed, as history shows, reformism is hostile to the building of such alternatives and will try to divert them back into the capitalist legal/political framework and where necessary will side with the capitalists when they use their state forces against those workers’ organisations.

At the core of this is a different assessment of the state. The reformist vision necessarily implies that the capitalist state can be used to defend the interests of working people. On the other-hand revolutionaries recognise that it must be removed and replaced with our own organs able to enforce working class rule.

While revolutionaries and reformists can, and should, work together on specific campaigns for new reforms and in defence of previously won reforms that is quite different from saying that they are “complementary approaches” to the socialist transformation of society.

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13. Pope Epopt - November 18, 2010

My suspicion is that IMF austerity policy will be no worse that what was already planned by FF/FG/Labour. They may even say enough is enough and insist on some form of stimulus, as they have suggested to other jurisdictions during this crisis.

I’m not saying they will have as their underlying position the interests of the capitalist class, rather that they may well have a better sense of what will work for them than the boneheads that were in charge here.

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Pope Epopt - November 18, 2010

s/will/will not/

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Pope Epopt - November 18, 2010

scrub that correction.

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RosencrantzisDead - November 18, 2010

I think you are spot on there, Pope.

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Alan Davis - November 19, 2010

While I would largely agree one possible difference is that an EU/IMF package may involve scrapping the CPA and another round of pay cuts for the public service.

Of course the main point is that whoever carries out the attacks, EU/IMF or FF/FG/LP, the tasks of the workers’ movement in organising defence against those attacks remains exactly the same.

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14. WorldbyStorm - November 18, 2010

Well given that our satraps have largely acquiesced to every demand of them, and anticipated many of them, from the markets I too think you’re correct Pope Epopt.

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LeftAtTheCross - November 18, 2010

On privatisation, which one assumes will be part of the pound of ideological flesh to be paid to the IMF, one would wonder if the FF/FG gombeens are upset that the process of privatisation would be rolled out under the supervision of external technocrats rather than their own cosy cabal of insiders.

Normally one would expect the Toryboys of FG to welcome the prospect of small government / big society, it would fit with their plans on healthcare and the semi-states (New Era) for example. Maybe the sheen is taken off by the diminishing possibility of them directly profiting from the disposal of state assets, not being able to pocket the proceeds by dodgy dealings in the time-honoured fashion.

If a side-effect of the loss of economic sovereignty to the EU/ECB/IMF is the reduction in influence of the local gombeens that that would be one ray of sunshine to be welcomed.

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ejh - November 18, 2010

That said, just on privatisation generally, is anybody pointing out that regardless of one’s ideological views on it, selling off assets at a time of financial crisis is a guarantee of getting the worst possible price for them?

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LeftAtTheCross - November 18, 2010

But the opportunity which arises is one for the insiders to provide private-for-profit services in the hole where the disposed-of public services used to be. They will welcome that opportunity even if the public assets are given away for nothing, because the sale price only benefits the state, not them.

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Tim Johnston - November 18, 2010

And I’ve always said that, ejh. I’m of course not against privatisation but it would seem that if it’s not been done when times are good then it shouldn’t be done now. It’s the same with a lot of the cuts, actually. If FF were such “neo-liberals” why did they expand the government to the size it is now – and in fact rather than shrinking it again they’ve chosen to chip away at the livelihoods of the most vulnerable, rather than reduce the number of civil servants and departments (and banks. and quangos)

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Pope Epopt - November 19, 2010

Tim, perhaps you had not noticed the difference between neocon/neo-lib rhetoric and neocon/neo-lib practice. The neocons aren’t really interested in shrinking the state; they are dependent on manipulating it. Their practice is to ensure that the parts of the state that promote their profits are swollen at the expense of social spending.

Look at the military Keynesianism that has been practiced in the US, since Reagan’s era really, or the US/UK quantitative easing which went straight to financiers, effectively staving of default rather than stimulating anything.

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Tim Johnston - November 20, 2010

Pope, while I’m fairly sure there’s a major difference between neoliberals and neocons, I do accept your point, and it’s precisely that that I’d criticise – FF has never been interested in shrinking the state and I don’t mean to imply they were- IMHO they’re simply interested in moving cash from working/taxpaying people up the ladder to fund developers/friends, etc, and the concept of state largesse has never been questioned; it’s simply a case of who should benefit from it. Your statement
“Their practice is to ensure that the parts of the state that promote their profits are swollen at the expense of social spending” sums it up perfectly.

My point was, I suppose, and this has always been my opinion, is that the whole austerity drive is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, and has little or nothing to do with ideology. If you think FF are neoliberal wait till the IMF gets to work..

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15. Blissett - November 18, 2010

Oddly enough I believe one of the baby blueshirts made such a point (on the pragmatic we’ll get a shit price basis rather than a privitisation generally is a bad idea basis) at the YFG conference. One assumes that he was not invited to the conference evening soireé for his indiscretions..

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WorldbyStorm - November 18, 2010

And these guys are going to be in power post- general election, not that one, but his colleagues. :(

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ejh - November 18, 2010

It’s a perfectly sound point as far as it goes, though I imagine it will be swallowed up in the torrent of

a. “there is no alternative” ; and

b. “this is your punishment for bingeing on the welfare state”.

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16. dmfod - November 19, 2010

on a lighter note anyone hear Ned O’Keefe on the radio earlier expressing his horror that the IMF will trigger ‘left wing extremism’ like in Latin America??

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EWI - November 19, 2010

on a lighter note anyone hear Ned O’Keefe on the radio earlier expressing his horror that the IMF will trigger ‘left wing extremism’ like in Latin America??

Yes, just like those “Sinn Féiners” a century ago, I guess.

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17. D_D - November 19, 2010

The Hitler video is inadvisable, I think. There is no prism through which the Nazis could look better, or cleaner or more principled than Fianna Fail, Sean Fitzpatrick and the Golden Circle. This kind of ‘humour’ could encourage some politically naive people who might think ‘a strong man’ is needed and who might not get the ‘subtleties’. Hitler might have moved against sections of the old bourgeoisie but he ‘hanged’ a whole lot more too, beginning with the trade unions. He would have been wading in, clubs in hand, to the ICTU march on 27th. Sorry to maybe appear prissy but I have only anger for the Nazis.

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18. sliabhdubh - November 19, 2010

I know thaqt the rebublican clubs had the eec,sussed a one big company to screw the working class.We have no money thye world is poor as we will no ever4 knbow it.Then billions come out to bale us out,never,they bale the rich out we pay for the bale out.We never waqnted the eec,a rich mans club get richer on the back of the poor,free state is a number one culprit.

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19. ejh - November 19, 2010

By the way, you’ll all be delighted to know that TVE1 news this morning, in Spain, had your crisis reported on by their London correspondent. With a photo of Tower Bridge in the background.

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Garibaldy - November 19, 2010

Must be an austerity measure.

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20. CMK - November 19, 2010

Has anyone seen or heard from the Greens over the past few days? They seem to have gone to ground completely.

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Garibaldy - November 19, 2010

Presumably they are getting all the swearing out of their system before going public.

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sonofstan - November 19, 2010

Has anyone seen or heard from the Greens over the past few days? They seem to have gone to ground completely.

Six feet under it would be nice.

Actually, Gormley has surfaced to say that the IMF could be ‘a positive’ thing, giving us the chance to make structural changes that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. Insert your own expletive.

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Garibaldy - November 19, 2010

The IMF being well known for its progressive environmental policies of course, so you can understand why he has said what he has.

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21. dmfod - November 19, 2010

bit of a different message to their Irish Social Forum days eh?

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Mark P - November 20, 2010

Deirdre de Burca was their main representative in the planning process for the Irish Social Forum. A different world.

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22. sonofstan - November 19, 2010

Bit of a new narrative emerging here, actually: the wheedling suggestion that this might, in the end be ‘positive’, that it might shake us up. Welcome to Vichy Ireland.

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23. Pope Epopt - November 19, 2010

Is Paddy Power taking bets on corporation tax going up to 14%? That should satisfy honour for all parties while being below the psychological 15%, and when the Double Irish is applied won’t shave profits much. Especially considering all the other cost reductions the multinationals are benefiting from.

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24. dmfod - November 20, 2010

indo article by Fionnan Sheahan – Get ready for the red scare!:

http://www.independent.ie/national-news/fianna-fail-meltdown-fears-over-imf-arrival-2428676.html

Labour may not be the only beneficiary from Fianna Fail’s expected decline as there is a growing view that hard-left politicians will also garner support.

And there is a belief within both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael that a swing toward the hardleft groups of Sinn Fein, socialists and independents could elect anything up to 20 TDs – rather than all the gains going to the Labour Get ready for the red scare!

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RosencrantzisDead - November 20, 2010

I don’t know if you will see a swing in terms of seats to the SP/SWP/ULA, but I would expect to see greater interest from parts of society that have become disillusioned with current system. This, however, may very well happen along with a resurgence of a harder Right, who will want to foist the blame for the crisis onto ‘cronyism’ and the unions.

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sonofstan - November 20, 2010

Reports that RedC tomorrow has FF 17 FG 33 LP 27 SF 11 (interesting…) GP 3 others 8

Presumably taken on Tues/ Weds – the events of later in the week has to have shaken even a few diehards in FF/GP

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RosencrantzisDead - November 20, 2010

Those are interesting numbers. On those figures, I suppose 15 or so seats for candidates running on a broadly left platform is possible. Fascinating numbers – has the FF ‘core vote’ eroded even more?

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sonofstan - November 20, 2010

More info – RedC taken on Mon/ Tues when it wasn’t even clear that the IMF were coming. Would be interested to see how an SF vote of that size would/ could turn into seats and where…. DubSW? DMW? Central? Limerick? Kerry South? Dotski?

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WorldbyStorm - November 20, 2010

Surprised FF’s still at 17% to be honest, if the figures are accurate. Good for SF to break out above 10%. They’ll be rightly pleased.

Dotski and AK/IELB.

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Mark P - November 20, 2010

I’m surprised to see an article predicting “up to 20 seats” for SF, left independents, and the socialist left. I suppose it’s just about conceivable – but it would mean pretty much every serious ULA and SF candidate winning along with some other left independents.

I think dmfod is right that, if elements of the establishment genuinely think anything like that sort of breakthrough is on the cards, we will be in for quite the red scare over the next while.

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25. CL - November 20, 2010

The IMF has intervened because the ruling oligarchy’s response to the crisis has failed; but IMF programmes’s are based on the same failed economic philosophy, so the crisis will intensify.
This is an opportunity for the Left,-and for the Right.

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Budapestkick - November 20, 2010

True. I didn’t really agree with Morgan’s prediction of a new right-wing populist party but it’s not difficult to see FF and FG resorting to that kind of politics. The first sign of it will be desperate FF backbenchers using anti-immigrant rhetoric to hang onto seats, a la Noel Flynn in 2007.

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