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Prospects for the further left… September 30, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.
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As mentioned earlier in the week, there’s a profile in the Phoenix of Paul Murphy. But as I saw that advertised on the front cover when I purchased it I realised that it would more than likely be an overview of the SP. And imagine my lack of surprise when on reading the piece it turned out to be an overview of the SP, the SWP and so on – though with a curious drive through of SF’s candidate strategy in Dublin South-West, that latter due to the somewhat tenuous linkage that Murphy will run as the SP candidate at the Dublin South-West by-election.

The Phoenix argues that since DSW is about to go up from four to five seats it’s the GE that he and the SP are looking for as they seek to retain two seats for the SP in the Dáil with the imminent retirement from that institution by Joe Higgins.

It notes that back in the early days of the ULA things were happier, at least on the surface. 2011 saw five TDs, Higgins, Daly, Boyd Barrett, Joan Collins and Seamus Healy elected broadly speaking under that banner, though in actual fact they were elected under their individual party designations i.e. SP, PBP, etc.
As we know, the ULA disintegrated in the subsequent two or so years, with consequent, and in some instances, understandable frustration and upset on the part of many involved. And since then we’ve seen some depressing examples of political manoeuvring – most notably at the European Elections where the prospects for retention of a further left seat faded when both the SP and PBP contested it. The Phoenix argues that in relation to that: ‘Smith’s real goal is a Dáil seat in Dublin South-Central in the knowledge that this is only attainable by replacing ‘Comrade’ Collins’.

The Phoenix suggests that ‘despite modest gains in the local elections, the prospects for growth for both the far-left groups is bleak, and in fact they may struggle to hold on to any of their Dáil seats’. It is true that the locals didn’t bring massive breakthroughs, but, in truth both did build on pre-existing numbers of councillors in their respective alliances – AAA and PBP. One could argue that those will provide a core of activity around which Dáil campaigns can be supported. And, as or more importantly, vice versa.

In any event the Phoenix lists the constituencies. It’s all pessimism about Dun Laoghaire, which surprised me, but it makes a very solid point – ‘two of RBB’s comrades won council seats but with only a combined total of just over half what the TD secured in 2009’ and that in addition to the fact that due to the Ceann Comhairle being returned unelected the constituency will effectively drop to a three seater. The Phoenix thinks FF and FG will take a seat each leaving the rest to FG, the LP or RBB.

Dublin Mid-West (sic), well it argues that there are only two seats up for grabs after FG and FF, with SF, LP and the SP fighting for them. I’d think the LP might be the loser here, but it is Burton so that could alter things. SF is solidly in contention. But there’s a strong legacy from Higgins and I’m unconvinced that in any event, legacy or not, Coppinger won’t take the seat on her own strengths.

Dublin South-Central is a mess. Collins should on the face of it win. But Smith’s presence throws predictions, and SF is in contention too for a second seat (the Phoenix notes that Daithí Doolan did particularly well).

The Phoenix puts forward the case that in a way only Collins and Daly seem more rather than less likely to be re-elected, and it suggests rather tenuously that it is because they slipped the ‘straitjacket’ of ‘narrowly ideological parties’. Perhaps so. Perhaps so. But it seems to me that it’s more likely that specific circumstance in constituencies is shaping this contest. RBB is unfortunate that it’s the Ceann Comhairle. Collins unlucky that her erstwhile comrades would be so provocative. It’s far too soon to write off Coppinger.

It is true that other seats around the country don’t seem to herald any great breakthrough. But while I think there will be losses from the original five I think on a good day it might just be one or two. So not quite the wipe-out of the further left that the Phoenix would seem to make out. Indeed there’s a sense that perhaps that argument is overdone. I doubt anyone at this point expects runaway electoral and/or other success any time soon, perhaps not for decades, perhaps never. But matters staying more or less the same is far from matters going into reverse.

Referencing Adrian Kavanagh’s projections, while they’re obviously broad brush stroke they seem to point to holds, if not quite gains, for many or most further left TDs in the Dáil.

Dun Laoghaire: Jennifer Cuffe FF, Sean Barrett FG, Mary Mitchell O’Connor FG, Richard Boyd Barrett PBP

Dublin South Central: Catherine Byrne FG, Eric Byrne LAB, Aengus O Snodaigh SF, Joan Collins UL

Dublin South West: John Lahart FF, Cait Keane FG, Pat Rabbitte LAB, Sean Crowe SF, Cathal King SF

Dublin West: David McGuinness FF, Leo Varadkar FG, Joan Burton LAB, Ruth Coppinger SP

Dublin Fingal: Darragh O’Brien FF, James Reilly FG, Brendan Ryan LAB, David Healy GP, Clare Daly UL

Tipperary: Michael Smith FF, Tom Hayes FG, Michael Lowry IND, Mattie McGrath IND, Seamus Healy WUAG

So, ironically, it’s more a question of much the same as 2011: UL 2, PBP 1, SP 1, and WUAG 1. All that has happened has been a repositioning within that original 5. And of course this is only one projection and only based on the current situation.

In fairness the profile is quite complimentary to Murphy, noting his hard work on the ground and in Europe over the years. But there’s a lot of questionable stuff. Is Murphy being groomed to be the public face of the SP? Does that even make sense in the context of the sort of party the SP is? Are the SP’s and the SWP’s attitude to the North really so similar? Is the latter ‘effectively abstentionist on the national question and hostile to Irish nationalism’?

I think it probably is true that SF will roll forward yet again, picking up seats here and there that were entirely unexpected, and in a way that may be deeply problematic to the further left blocking gains here and there. There’s also the point that the demise of the ULA was a profoundly demoralising experience with ramifications that are still reverberating around the left to this day. And there’s the clear problem of having similar organisations contesting much the same electoral ground, or in some instances, as noted above exactly the same electoral ground.

In a way, though, surely another way of looking at it is that the further left has planted a flag on electoral terrain, taken and is in the process of holding seats. This despite all the problems that the Phoenix has listed, and one or two it hasn’t! In other words, despite everything the further left party least likely to return a TD next time out is not the SP, but the SWP/PBP. That most or all of the other TDs elected in 2011 will be returned. There’s an outside chance of one or two more. Sure, not exactly a ringing endorsement and unlikely to alter the overall balance of power in the next Dáil or all that much outside it if economic conditions continue to strengthen, but not entirely discreditable.

Actually a much more interesting question presents itself, and that is what, if anything, can be done with these resources, that likely 5 TDs and those three groups/parties, in relation to a broader consolidation of the Irish left.

Go Home on Time Day… September 26, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, The Left.
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…was earlier this week…but if the UK is to be taken as an example that’s but a faint hope for many many workers.

In a survey this year, the organisation found that fewer than half of parents left work on time every day, with 9% never doing so. Most of those who worked late (70%) blamed the pressures of their workload, but more than half said it was also due to the culture in their workplace and the expectations of their employer. Nearly a quarter reported that work and family time were in “constant conflict”.

I’ve always felt that work that can’t be completed in the main in normal working hours is too much work in the first place (there are circumstances – I’ve been in them myself – where work may hold to a cyclical pattern of busy and not so busy periods, but that’s somewhat different and tolerable as long as provision is made to even out hours/wages).

I once heard the overall work area and the nature of the work undertaken by those like myself as being similar to bomber crews flying through the night. Neat, but I wasn’t sure the returns were significantly better over those foot soldiers had.

And there’s an age component, as the Guardian piece linked above notes. As you get older you tend to get more immune to such rhetoric and realise precisely your value in the greater scheme of things. Which is to say not that much. It’s easier to say, if not quite ‘no’ something to that effect. Not so easy when you’re new to a job.

Again, unions are essential in this mix. I’ve no problem with people who want to work late on something. That’s entirely up to them. It’s the attitude that whatever, or even despite, the nature of the work one feels compelled to stay or feels compelled to compel others to stay that irritates me. Or the dynamic described below.

But many of us will be familiar with not wanting to be the first to be seen leaving the office, or the feeling that the boss just likes to see you at your desk.

Not good.

Some pension advice… September 24, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
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And who would be offering that? Why, look, it’s Eddie Hobbs back in the SBP. And what’s he saying? Well, in a nutshell: ‘Pension tip: marry a civil servant’. And from there he skips to the ‘insiders’.

The average wage gap between the public and private sector, adjusting for older ages and higher education, is 17 per cent according to the ESRI. If maintained over a career, this is an extra three hundred grand on the average public sector wage. That premium is a measure of the excess power of the cartel chiefs.

That’s a fascinating contention. Different sorts of workers doing different sorts of jobs with wage variations is a cartel. Workers joined together to improve their situation is a cartel.
Let’s skip past the first point about the 17 per cent premium, something the SBP itself in an editorial from early this month regards as less problematic than Hobbs (and let’s also note the figure of 17% is far from unquestionable, not least because many of the comparisons made are as Michael Taft notes for jobs where there is ‘no counterpart in the public sector’, hardly a reasonable approach to such analyses).

But whatever about all that, Eddie is no slouch, so presumably he is aware of the vehement anti-union environment of many private sector workplaces across the years, and the fact that remains to this very day. Even if he isn’t, I am – having worked in same. And the level of intimidation, threats and so on from employers to those of us who sought representation was very real. But let’s be honest, where employers have been able to organise properly almost invariably their wages and conditions, including pension provision, are better. Radically better than those who are not.

There’s a lesson there.

Eddie isn’t happy either about increments…

The pain of public sector pay cuts and the pension levy has been softened by tax relief on the latter, while the former is being gradually cured by economically incoherent increments, a creeping restoration.

Increments won’t actually make up for the loss of national wage agreements, or – and this is more important in a way – monies that pay cuts lost. That’s basic math. They may, over time bring one back to the status quo ante of some years previous, but the loss of wages during the intervening period is very real. So to argue it’s a ‘cure’ is disingenuous. That money that wasn’t paid in the intervening period is never coming back. It is as real a loss as any other wage cut public or private.

And what of wage increases in the private sector – far from an unknown phenomenon?
He continues:

Forty percent of private workers have no pension, so in this example the lifetime gap still runs into seven figures after allowing for the old age pension. Those who do have savings come to retirement with no more than two hundred grand, a sum capable of topping up the old age pension by perhaps four or five grand a year.
Meanwhile the defined benefit sector withers away because of runaway pension liabilities as we live longer and bond yields are crushed.
Without radical reform, the best pension for a private sector worker is to marry a public one.

That’s an interesting statistic Hobbs offers re forty percent of private workers. Actually, the situation is possibly much much worse than he thinks. This from FinFacts last year:

According to calculations outlined in a 2013 report [pdf] from the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), at the end of 2009, only 41.3% of workers (including in the public sector) aged 20 to 69 were enrolled in a  funded pension plan, either occupational or personal.

Perhaps those figures have improved radically across the last five or six years, or more likely given the times, perhaps not. But that suggests a good 58% have no occupational or personal pension plan.

So, nothing too about the sheer lack of social responsibility of the enterprises that deny vast swathes of private workers pension provision – and note that while companies may have pension schemes in place there’s no compunction on them to fund them in whole or part.

Nothing about the extravagant tax reliefs on private pensions for those who are fortunate enough to have them, both in terms of of relief on the pension and the lump sum payment when the pension is initially paid out for those who get that lump sum. Actually people don’t like to talk about that at all because while there’s some case that tax relief on the pension payments is a case of deferring payment (albeit usually at a rate that is advantageous to the person paying in the pension) there’s no case at all that the lump sum represents deferred taxation.

Where does Eddie think the funding of that tax relief comes from? That’s right, taxpayers of all sorts, many of whom – actually most if FinFacts is correct – have no pension provision whatsoever.

And on that point who does have private pensions? Well, this is interesting as an indication, an article in the Observer some weeks back by Katie Allen on pensions in the UK.

One salient point:

Those households that did have a private pension also had average wealth of Ј160,000 – nearly seven times the wealth of households without a private pension.

Is that pattern replicated in this state? It seems unlikely that it is not, at least in part. After all the pattern of private pension provision has tended to have been pitched more towards management.

And what of the ‘radical reform’. There’s nothing at all there about that. What does he actually propose? The status quo? A low provision state pension such as we have but extended to all and no public sector pension? He doesn’t say, so it’s hard to know – though that would appear to be the logic of his argument. But that he doesn’t offer a proposal raises serious questions as to the sincerity of his complaint.

He suggests that:

None of the conventional parties dares speak these truths, potentially leaving the political landscape open to a fast-gathering centrist movement that expresses the disharmony of the politically disenfranchised and voiceless private sector worker.

To be honest I’d love it if instead of complaining about this disparity, supposed or real, he might enquire first as to why pension provision in the private sector continues to be so poor and following on from that what he suggests is done to introduce a genuinely equitable pension structure that would encompass both public and private, and one that was worth its name rather than an under-funded low provision pension.

And as to politically disenfranchised and voiceless private sector workers, perhaps he might reflect on that group of insiders in the private sector who have access to good to excellent pension provision, again, subsidised in part from the public purse and he might reflect on that, what, 55%, 58% who are not. How do his complaints advance their situation one step forward?

That Sunday Independent Poll at the weekend… September 23, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.
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Adrian Kavanagh had some thought-provoking projections on foot of the Millward Brown/Sunday Independent poll at the weekend. The overall figures were:

Fine Gael 25% (NC), Sinn Fein 22% (down 2%), Fianna Fail 21% (up 1%), Labour Party 9% (up 1%), Independents, Green Party and Others 23% (NC)

From which Kavanagh projected:

Fianna Fail 37, Fine Gael 49, Sinn Fein 34, Labour Party 8, Independents and Others 30.

It’s not hugely out of line with the previous weekend’s RedC/SBP poll which had:

Fine Gael 28% (up 3%), Sinn Fein 23% (up 1%), Fianna Fail 18% (NC), Labour Party 8% (up 1%), Independents, Green Party and Others 23% (down 5%)

And which he projected: Fianna Fail 32, Fine Gael 56, Sinn Fein 37, Labour Party 3, Independents and Others 30.

Granted there’s a little bit of variation in the FG vote, and that of FF. But it’s barely above margin of error in both instances. And note how both the SF and Independent and Other parties are bang on 23% in both polls. That said there’s variation there in relation to the dynamics within the respective polls. Fine Gael in the SBP one is up somewhat. But there’s no change in the MB poll. Ind/Others are down sharply in the SBP poll but no change in the MB.

Do those latter figure indicate any startling changes? Well, the decline for Ind/Other in RedC/SBP is significant enough and outside the margin of error, though worth noting that there had been no poll from them for most of the summer. That’s interesting because what does it suggest, that when the Dáil is sitting Ind/Other do better in terms of public profile? If so that might explain in part why Creighton might be moving towards the Technical Group.

By way of comparison let’s recall that in 2011 at the General Election the overall figures were:

Fine Gael 36.1%, Sinn Fein 9.9%, Fianna Fail 17.4%, Labour Party 19.4%, Independents, Green Party and Others 17.2%.

The seat share on foot of that (in a 166 seat Dáil) was:

FG 76, SF 14, FF 20, LP 37, Ind/Others 19

I think that serves to show just how radically matters have changed, and all that after the radical change that Election 2011 presented in terms of the massive reduction in the FF vote, the significant increase in both FG and LP votes and that of SF too.

But broadly speaking it seems that the latest polls are reasonably consistent and if we extrapolate from these polls and that consistency we can see a clear outline of how things may well be.

Fine Gael remains in the mid-to higher 20s and can expect 45 to 55 seats depending on how good the day of the election is for them. Sinn Féin is now in the high teens or early twenties. Again they should expect to see their seat numbers at least double to 28 and perhaps do much better again. Fianna Fáil remains becalmed. It really is remarkable how little their vote has shifted from 2011, still, due to the overall environment even on only a small improvement in their vote numbers they could reasonably expect to break into 30 seats and probably quite a few more.

For Labour the situation remains grim. They will be very very fortunate to see their numbers break above 10 TDs.

For Independents and Others it is by contrast possible that they will do significantly better even than the highpoint (at least in terms of contemporary and near contemporary political history) of 2011. If they get 20 seats in total they will have improved on 2011 (and that in a parliament with 8 less TDs). If they get anywhere near the 30 projected in these polls that will be remarkable.

So, what is the likely, as against the projected outcome? Even though the election approaches rapidly, and is now, what, a year and a half away or there or thereabouts, it’s difficult to say. It is possible that the Independent/Other vote will suffer attrition as the big guns of the parties are trained upon it. Yet it also seems possible that given the attachment of voters to that cohort across what is now years that they will not, or not hugely.

There’s one other curious aspect to this. It may well be that the manoeuvres of Creighton et al will do no harm to that vote. Consider this, if Independents are regarded (and indeed project themselves) as being potentially in play in the post-election period that may well support and shore up their vote yet further. I’m not suggesting for a moment that it would go above 30 TDs, I think that’s highly improbable, but if the sense is that voting for an Independent is far from a ‘wasted’ vote and that they may well play a part in the process of government formation, well, that can only be to the good for them.

As to that government formation? I’m stumped. 80 seats are needed by any potential government as a bare minimum, and in reality many more. The only two party coalition that comes close to that on the Millward Brown/Sunday Independent figures is an FG/FF lash up. Unlikely, to put it mildly. After that it’s the deeply unlikely FG/SF one and after that we’re into Rainbow government territory with three, four or more parties. How about an FF/SF/LP government – according to the MB/SI figures it would be one seat short of 80. Not great.

The SBP/RedC figures are slightly more favourable to an FG/FF coalition.

Does that auger a National Government? Could be. Or a minority administration, possibly, though who would want to govern knowing that others had an effective veto on governing.

Small wonder that some in the Ind/Other camp are weighing up the prospects. That may be where it is possible to build alliances. But… it may also be like herding cats. Interesting – sure, entertaining – no doubt, but to not great purpose and ultimately futile.

And what of all the talk of economic improvement? I’d suggest that little or none of it is filtering down to the FG and LP votes, or only very marginally. Indeed one could make a case that that talk has little or no impact. I don’t find that very curious. Pat Leahy and others have made the point that the original sin of the coalition parties was to promise too much and deliver too little in the direct aftermath of the last election. And I think that’s more or less it. Moreover, even with the rhetoric of recovery matters remain grim. Few can be looking forward to water charges arriving over the next few months. And while the organised response to same outside of the political arena of the Dáil is difficult to determine, it does seem probable that Fine Gael and Labour will suffer yet another round of punishment electorally for those and other measures.

Taken together these two polls are fascinating. They clearly point to the problems of political movement forward for many of the parties, particularly those in government, the issues around positioning prior to the election and the dubious prospects for government building after the election. And we thought 2011 was unpredictable?

Irish Left Archive: Civil Divorce is a Civil Right – Vote Yes – The Workers’ Party, 1986 September 18, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.
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For the poster section of the Archive, this from 1986.

WP DIVORCE

The text of the amendment was as follows:

The Tenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1986, proposes –

to delete subsection 2° of Article 41.3 of the Constitution, which states that no law shall be enacted providing for the grant of a dissolution of marriage, and to substitute the subsection here following:

2° Where, and only where, such court established under this Constitution as may be prescribed by law is satisfied that:

i. a marriage has failed,
ii. the failure has continued for a period of, or periods amounting to, at least five years,
iii. there is no reasonable possibility of reconciliation between the parties to the marriage, and
iv. any other condition prescribed by law has been complied with,

the court may in accordance with law grant a dissolution of the marriage provided that the court is satisfied that adequate and proper provision having regard to the circumstances will be made for any dependent spouse and for any child of or any child who is dependent on either spouse.

As noted here it was defeated -

No 935,843 63.48
Yes 538,279 36.52

It would not be until 1996 that the prohibition was finally overturned by the Fifteenth Amendment.

If you have more posters from the Irish Left (or relating to Ireland from political parties or formations or campaigns abroad) from any period, whether issue led, party promotional, campaigning or such like please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d be glad to post them online as part of this section.

From Ireland to Greece- Pavlos Fyssas memorial vigils-Belfast, Cork, Derry, Dublin September 17, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in The Left.
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Tomorrow (Thursday, 18th September) to mark the first anniversary of the murder of Greek anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas in Athens, Greece, anti-fascists across Ireland will stage vigils to mark one year since his passing and as an act of international solidarity with Greek anti-fascists.

The vigils, commencing at 7pm, will be held at the following locations:

Belfast-Spanish Civil War memorial, Writers Square
Cork- Daunt Square
Derry- Free Derry Corner
Dublin- Jim Larkin statue.

From Reform Alliance to Technical Group September 17, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.
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Those already in the Technical Group may well be hopping mad at this latest news.

Lucinda Creighton, a leading figure in the Reform Alliance, submitted her application to Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett to join the technical group.

Ms Creighton said last night that the Ceann Comhairle had agreed to facilitate her and colleagues Billy Timmins, Terence Flanagan, Peter Matthews and Denis Naughten in joining the group.

And they’re certainly not rolling out the welcome mat:

…the loose grouping of independent and smaller party TDs say… they would oppose her application to join them.

And what of this fascinating piece of information:

Neither the Ceann Comhairle nor the Technical Group itself has a role in who can and cannot join the group. However, it had been thought that those previously affiliated to political parties in the current Dáil term – as Creighton was with Fine Gael – could not join.

And:

But Creighton said she had been in “constant contact” with Barrett’s office for the last two days and is now of the understanding that any independent TD can now join the Technical Group.

“He is interpreting the relevant standing order in such a way that any independent member in the Dáil can join Technical Group,” she claimed.

Hitherto those standing orders were interpreted on the departure of Creighton et al from FG to allow for the RA TDs and some ex-LP TDs to effectively be ‘the others’, given their own tranche of speaking time (though no resources if my memory serves me correctly).

So where does this leave Roisin Shortall or Tommy Broughan? What of the allocation of speaking time and resources?

And what of the Reform Alliance, the – er – last best hope for…erm… reform.

All very complicated, and above and beyond that, why now? Is the idea to bundle up all, or as many as possible of, the Independents in the Dáil under a single TG category thereby potentially diminishing their individual political identities to some degree? That goes so far, but what of those TDs outside the TG, that would be Grealish, Healy-Rae and one M. McGrath (IIRC) and also… Denis Naughten, previously sort of kind of of the Reform Alliance while Billy Timmins is apparently undecided (and what does that say about the Reform Alliance too?). We shall see.

More on the latest RedC/SBP poll September 17, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
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An interesting poll in the SBP this weekend from RedC. It’s headline figures as noted on Saturday were as follows:

Fine Gael – 28% (+3%)

Labour – 8% (+1%)

Fianna Fáil party 18% (NC)

Sinn Féin 23% (+1%)

Independents and Others are also on 23% (-5%)

Adrian Kavanagh – who has transcended the curious disappearance of Political Reform:

…estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fianna Fail 32, Fine Gael 56, Sinn Fein 37, Labour Party 3, Independents and Others 30.

FG big enough, one supposes, but… Behold the renaissance of the LP with a …er… ‘new’ leader. And government formation on those figures? 80 is pretty much the bare minimum necessary for a coalition to operate. How’s that going to work with the configuration offered above?

The reconsolidation of FG is troubling, but not entirely unexpected. Pat Leahy in the SBP suggests that this poll shows a ‘boost for the coalition parties’. And that it is ‘encouraging news… as the new political season begins and the countdown to the October budget begins in earnest’. I’m not entirely convinced:

Support for the government parties increases by four points today, with Fine Gael winning the lion’s share of that improvement, rising by three points since our last poll in June to 28 per cent today, while Labour gains by a single point, up to 8 per cent.

Richard Colwell of RedC puts it this way:

The rise in support in this poll [for FG] only claws back that lost during those months at the start of the year, but does show that the party can win back support with a prevailing wind behind them. The key is whether it will be enough to offset anger at austerity in the years before this.

Even if it was just anger at those years, I’d be sceptical that FG could claw back too much support. But the tenor of his analysis is that all is peachy from here on out.

Perhaps partially linked to the economic competence rating, and surely influenced by indications by the government parties that we have seen our last austerity budget, is the finding that voters also appear to be prepared to forgive the austerity that had been such a driver of dissatisfaction just a few months ago.

Erm… water charges, anyone?

In fairness Colwell is clear that Labour’s continuing low polling figures are a significant problem (look again at Kavanagh’s projection of 3!).

Still, looking at FG figures the thought does come to mind as to where else do those on the right go? Hardly FF, whose polls remained mired at just about where they were at election 2011. That in itself is remarkable. So much for their renaissance. It’s been said before that now we know their core vote. Seems they can’t actually break much beyond it. Some will be eyeing this figures carefully and wondering whether a certain M. Martin may have gone beyond his expiry date. That will probably include a certain M. Martin.

Labour? They’re not going to be cheering over 8%. That’s towards the lower end of their operating area, though I suppose a voting pact with FG might be of some help come the day of the election. But not much for them to be happy about either. A change of leader and yet so little to see gained from it. Which as any fule no suggests that it wasn’t the leader at all that was the problem but the party and its approach.

As for SF. Marginal improvement, but so what? They’re above 20% and well ahead of FF and the LP. It’s the very fact of continuity, of consolidation, that is so important to them. There’s perhaps likely to be some slippage at the election, but probably not that much. They’ll be well pleased.

And Independents and Others, sliding some 5%. Outside margin of error, indicative, of what exactly? Hard to say, still well ahead of their 2011 vote. But food for thought. They’d win big, and gain seats on this figure, but can they sustain it as Independents and Others? Or do they require more formal alliances.

That’s a thought isn’t it? Perhaps the public is tiring a bit of Independents, becoming more aware that a volatile post-election environment is likely with no party able to dominate and the combinations available being incompatible. That’s the sort of terrain a clever alliance of sorts might slip profitably onto.

Or, is it that it is far far too early to take away much at all from this poll, coming as it does at the end of a long Summer. Could it be that the return of parliamentary political activity – with the attendant focus by media upon same, will see these figures move around?

So it’s good to have a poll, but I’d feel a lot more comfortable offering conclusions, of sorts, in the wake of a couple more monthly ones. We’re moving into interesting times. The public appears to think austerity has done the business, or at least a majority of them. Perhaps that’s in a certain hope that austerity is now ‘over’ – as some of the media seems to suggest. We should be so lucky.

Notable are the figures in favour of increased public spending over tax cuts in the same poll. That probably won’t cut much ice with Fine Gael. But perhaps it should. Not least because citizens are as noted above now facing water charges and so on, and a budget too.

Leahy argues that:

What today’s poll suggests is that the root of the government’s political difficulties lies not in the unpopularity of its austerity policies – and how can one reasonably expect austerity to be anything other than unpopular? – but in the collapse of competence that occurred after the bailout exit at the end of last year.
Look at the numbers again: 58 per cent say austerity was necessary – even hefty minorities of Sinn Féin (42 per cent) and independent voters (45 per cent) agree. In the light of this, it doesn’t make much sense to assert that the voters were punishing the government for implementing something most of them agree with.

There may be something in that, but I wonder if that ‘agreement’ with austerity is rather like the agreement of one acquiescing to someone holding a gun to your head and walking forward on their command. There’s no agency involved here, no visceral or other attachment to austerity. Or to put it another way, to expect political reward for carrying through such policies (and let’s note that the government itself eschewed agency and let itself be pushed forward by the troika, not very unwillingly it has to be said) is to miss the point. Some might agree in theory that the policies were necessary, but that doesn’t mean they agree with the way they were implemented (something that the preference for increased funding of services over tax cuts is also suggestive of).

Docklands community to mark 50th anniversary of death of Sean O’Casey – this weekend September 16, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Irish Politics, The Left.
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PRESS RELEASE

Culture night performances and unveiling of important local plaque

This Thursday marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Sean O’Casey. He died on 18th September 1964 in Devon, aged 84 .
Sean O’Casey, one of Ireland’s most enduring playwrights, spent three decades of his early life living in the North Docks area of Dublin. To mark the anniversary of his death, the local community will be holding two very special events this week – an evening dedicated to the life and works of Sean O’Casey on Friday Evening and Saturday afternoon will see the unveiling of a plaque on the site of the former St Barnabas Church & School where O’Casey attended.

As part of Culture Night celebrations on Friday 19th September, the Sean O’Casey Theatre on St. Marys Road, East Wall will be hosting “What is the stars?” This is a newly constructed O’Casey piece which features scenes and characters from ‘The Silver Tassie’, ‘Juno and the Paycock’ and ‘The Plough and the stars’ alongside a musical accompaniment. In the year that also marks the outbreak of the First World War, this is a powerful piece which highlights a common O’Casey theme, of ordinary people living their lives while “The whole world’s in a state of chassis”. This will be followed by readings and performances of O’Casey material, drawn from his plays, autobiographies and letters. In addition to the invited participants, there will be an opportunity for all performers, amateur and professional to take part and read their chosen O’Casey piece.

On Saturday afternoon, 20th September, a memorial plaque will be unveiled on the former site of St. Barnabas Church, which stood from 1869 to 1969 on Sheriff Street. It’s most famous parishioner was Sean O’Casey, who dedicated a volume of his autobiography to the Reverand Griffin, whom he befriended here. The plaque will recall others associated with the mariners church – the Rev Canon DH Hall , the so called ‘building parson’ who was an innovator of housing reform in the early 20th century , and also the 12 parishioners who lost their lives in ‘The Great War’. The unveiling will take place at 2.30pm at the junction of East Road and Sheriff Street, followed by refreshments and celebratory event.

Commenting on the Culture Night event, Fran Laycock of the Sean O’Casey Theatre said: “O’Casey was a unique talent, he captured the voices of those around him and immortalised them in his work. When his characters speak, you are hearing the authentic sounds of Dublin life as witnessed by the playwright. What better way to celebrate his anniversary than by attending these performances in the heart of the community and amongst the people he was very much a part of, in a theatre named in his honour.”

Commenting on the unveiling of the plaque on the site where St Barnabas Church once stood, local resident Marie O’Reilly stated: “So much of the area has changed and important elements of our history are in danger of being forgotten. It is great to see this being prevented from happening – Saint Barnabas Church & School and the sizeable Church of Ireland population played a hugely significant part in the development of the North Docks community, yet many younger people are unaware of this. Commemoration events and the presence of historical markers will keep the great story of our area alive and hopefully encourage people to find out more.”

For further information contact:
Fran Laycock (Sean O’Casey Theatre) – 0876350056
Joe Mooney (East Wall History Group) – 0876698587

See links to event pages (which will feature related articles throughout the week):

https://www.facebook.com/events/861813560504146/

https://www.facebook.com/events/751986801509576/

The Rising Tide – LookLeft 19 in shops now September 15, 2014

Posted by guestposter in The Left, Workers' Party.
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LookLeft 19 is in Easons stores and hundreds of selected newsagents across the island now. Still only €2 this issue includes former Workers’ Party President Séan Garland’s assessment of the career of Eamon Gilmore, an exclusive article by Greek economist, Yanis Varoufakis, on the failure of European Social Democracy, an interview with new Socialist Party TD Ruth Coppinger, an examination of the growing militancy among trade union members in Ireland and John Cooney on Scottish Independence and much, much more…

Contents include:

CLASS AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

The links between Irish corporate and clerical elites, Richard McAlevey investigates.

RACISM, NORTH AND SOUTH

Brian McDermott and Kevin Squires discuss the rise of racism on both sides of the Border.

THE OIREACHTAS’ NEWEST SOCIALIST
Kevin Squires meets Ruth Coppinger to discuss her aims in the Dáil.

CAN RENT CONTROLS WORK?
Osal Kelly discusses how to put a lid on a the bubbling housing market.

WHAT IS TTIP?
Dara McHugh and Padraig Mannion discuss the threat to democracy from the secretive trade deal.

RISING TIDE OF EXPECTATIONS Workers are seeking a new militancy in the trade union movement, Francis Donohoe explores.

THE FORUM Seán Garland bids an unfond farewell to Eamon Gilmore. Also featuring John Cooney, Anna Quigley, Cian O’Callaghan, Marie Moran and Gavin Mendel-Gleason.

WHAT NEXT FOR EUROPE?
Yanis Varoufakis and Terry McDonough discuss the fall of European social democracy and look at how the Left can rise instead.

RADICAL PROTESTANTS
Conall Parr looks at the legacy of radical Protestants in Northern Ireland politics

GLAM ROCK AND ANARCHY
Dara McHugh talks music, politics and petty theft with pioneering Dublin folk band Lynched.

NO NAZIS AT MALMÖ
Neil Dunne discusses the reactions of Malmö FC to the stabbing of a fan by neo-nazis.

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