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Why would they expect it to be different? April 21, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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…is the thought that comes to mind reading that a line-up of various Fianna Fáil luminaries have decided that the performance of the party in Dublin is ‘brutal’ (copyright M. Hanafin, B. Ahern).

Don’t they have any memory at all of the events of the past decade?

Bobby McKnight funeral – Tuesday 22nd April April 21, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Republican Socialism, Republicanism, The Left.
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Bobby McKnight was involved with the republican movement in Belfast since the late 1940s, was jailed during Border Campaign, involved in reorganising the IRA during the 1960s and a leading member of Official IRA after 1970.

Funeral on Tuesday 22 April, leaving family home to be at junction of Beechmount Avenue and Falls for 1pm- to Milltown Cemetery for burial.

Apologies for late notice which was due to being out of the state for the past five days.

Left Archive: H-Block Struggle – Irish Revolution, On the March, a Peoples Democracy Pamphlet, 1981? April 21, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, People's Democracy.
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HBlock-PDpamphcover

To download the above file please click on the following link: H-Block PD pamphlet x2

Many thanks to Niall Meehan for scanning and donating this to the Archive.

This is a very useful document from Peoples Democracy issued during the initial part of the H-Block campaign. In 13 or so pages it outlines the position of PD on the campaign, positions it as ‘A Political Issue’, ‘Humanism’, ‘Fianna Fail/SDLP’, the ‘Experience of the Civil Rights Movement’, ‘Winning Mass Support’, ‘The Trade Unions’, ‘Workers and the National Question’, ‘The Role of Women’, ‘Youth and H-Block’ and ‘A Fighting Organisation’.

It is far too comprehensive to do justice to it in its entirety, however the Introduction gives a good sense of the direction of the pamphlet.

As the Introduction notes:

PD has always fought for a broad based campaign on the question of H-Block. From the moment Britain withdrew political status we took the initiative in trying to win mass support for the prisoners. We were active from the beginning in building the RACs…

…our persistent efforts to build broad support for the H Block prisoners from both Sinn Fein and the Left. The Provos claimed we were selling out the National struggle while the Left denounced us for wanting an alliance with bourgeois individuals and parties. Neither accusation was true and by participating themselves in the National Smash H Block Committee our critics have in practice come to recognise this.

It argues that:

Today no one can doubt the merit of a broad-based campaign. The H Block Committee’s list of success is impressive. The conspiracy of silence has been breached and tens of thousands of people have received first hand information about the conditions in Long Kesh and Armagh.

And it concludes.

In this pamphlet we explain the reason for our involvement in the campaign and how we see it developing in the overall context of the National struggle and the fight for socialism. the success of the campaign to date is clear. But it is also clear that we have reached a plateau in our activity. If we are going to take the struggle forward we must know where we are headed.

Throughout the text there are some interesting observations, for example:

Experience has shown us that the liberals, intellectuals and others who do not recognise, even in a historic sense, the need for national liberation, have not flocked to the H-Block campaign. The active campaigners have been those who supported the national liberation struggle over the past decade. The broad, popular, base of the campaign has been comprised of those who, while being neither Socialist or Republican, retain a long term hope for complete national independence.

And speaking of Australia, what of New Zealand? April 20, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
3 comments

…interesting piece on attitudes to the monarchy in New Zealand on foot of a visit there by members of the British royal family. There’s quite strong republican sentiment in that state, and one that is reflected even amongst the ruling conservative National Party… though:

[under National party and avowed Republican Key] however, signals have been contradictory. He reintroduced titular honours in 2009, and on the crucial matter of ditching the monarch he is looking happy to let “eventually” drift into “not on my watch”. Yet he’s keen on the de-Britification of the flag, even while New Zealand keeps its British monarch.

Which suggests many things.

As for the public, they’re divided, but they’re hardly marching in the streets. A recent poll commissioned by a republican group showed 44% wanted the next head of state to be a New Zealander. But on any given day, mortgage rates and the price of milk seem more pressing than who will be your next constitutional figurehead.

Which surely is similar to many places where constitutional issues have a genuine power but that power fluctuates in terms of its prominence and intensity.

What of this?

Compared to Australia, New Zealand is generally considered more royalist, possibly because of Australia’s higher proportion of Irish Catholic settlers. That’s evidenced by Australia’s introduction of republican-style honours in 1975, yet republicanism reached a high-water mark around 1999, when a republic referendum was defeated.

Support for the monarchy there recently polled at around 55% – not all that different from some New Zealand polls. Meanwhile, Australia’s prime minister, Tony Abbott, has reinstated an oath of allegiance to the Queen and restored titular honours. These aren’t the actions of someone on the verge of running Her Majesty out of town.

Perhaps not. But in a way isn’t this a process of a slow but steady march to less and less of the substance and imagery of monarchy in these states – with certain reversals along the way? It will be interesting to see if a future Australian Labor party government will do away with those honours.

That’s not to deny sentiment or attachment, those feelings are real(in so far as “feelings” express sentiment on the part of those who hold them). But they operate in something of a void. Nor is that to deny that they have political expression – Abbott’s reinstatement of those trappings is telling given his political position. But again the substance is significantly different.

Fundamentally these are largely sovereign nation states with their own local, regional and international interests and much of this is simply froth and optics. And it can be that because the stresses and tensions that characterise states with strong historical linkages living geographically cheek by jowel are largely absent in the relationship between the UK and Australia, New Zealand and indeed Canada.

Sunday Independent Stupid Statement of Easter Week April 20, 2014

Posted by Garibaldy in Sunday Independent Stupid Statement of the Week.
43 comments

It being Easter Sunday, I’m sparing myself reading this, so over to you. I’d be amazed if it’s not filled with very stupid stuff this week, including on the debate over the 2016 commemoration.

Two polls…two sets of results… April 19, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
14 comments

Not sure what to make of these polls from the Sunday Independent and the Sunday Times. http://www.rte.ie/news/2014/0419/609879-opinion-poll/

Very divergent figures, lots of don’t knows, and perhaps too intermittent to provide a clear insight into the dynamics extant. Liberius, Ivorthorne and Shea offering interesting analysis in recent comments.

Ah, no John, don’t do it… April 19, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, The Left.
3 comments

…a great interview with John Cooper Clarke here, but… what’s this he says?

So which way would you vote?


It’s a tough call. I wouldn’t recommend any of them. I suppose if I had to I would vote Labour but only out of blind class hatred, nothing else.

Fair enough.

But…

That’s what keeps these bastards coming back. To be honest, the only one whose language I even remotely understand is Nige [Farage]. Shoot me down in flames. Everyone else: they talk about nothing that seems to matter. It’s beyond satire. And even satire has become PR, you know, since someone told politicians they will get more votes if they join in with the piss-taking themselves.

Hmmm…

This weekend I’ll mostly be listening to… the Creatures (Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie) April 19, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie kept the Creatures as a sort of the dancier, albeit experimental and therefore more clattery sounding or if you prefer the more percussion oriented iteration of the Banshees, and why not? Though truth is that the Banshees for all their ability to craft pop hits were a curiously gritty operation. Siouxsie is in a way beyond analysis, being such an iconic figure both musically and in terms of aesthetic throughout the 1980s and beyond. But that grit has, I’ve always felt, anchored her close to her punk roots which has curiously afforded the baroque elements a more convincing aspect.

And with the Banshees as the main project the Creatures appeared but intermittently, with only three albums between 1983 and 1999. ‘Miss the Girl’ from 1983′s Feast is probably their best known track and very fine it is too.

But, I have to admit to a fondness for Anima Animus from 1999. It’s as good as anything the Banshees put out in years prior to its release and yet has a nicely electronic inflected aspect that positions it neatly in the last part of the 1990s. Granted Siouxsie has one of the most distinctive voices in music – with an ability to shift from whispers to great sheets of sound with perhaps disturbing ease, and one would expect it to be good, but tracks like 2nd Floor with its insistent dance gothisms (perhaps even a touch of electroclash in there too) work perfectly.

Prettiest Thing has a nicely sinister/cynical approach set to a pulsating electronic bass. Say is a bit of a dance/electronic classic, perhaps as close to a ballad as Siouxsie was ever likely to present us with (is that an hint of the melody from Jealous Guy in there?), and yet executed effortlessly. And Another Planet is, like almost all the tracks, dripping with atmospheric menace.

Well, well worth a listen.

Miss the Girl (from 1983 and live on Top of the Pops)

2nd Floor

Another Planet

Disconnected

Prettiest Thing

Say [the music in this is pretty low in volume, but you get the idea]

Paul Murphy European Elections Poster April 18, 2014

Posted by irishelectionliterature in The Left.
10 comments

Just got this picture of Paul Murphys European Elections poster. I quite like it.
pmurphyposter

Incomes and inequality April 18, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy.
6 comments

Two pieces in the Guardian recently raise a number of useful questions. The first is a breakdown of UK incomes.

The figures paint a picture of what average incomes are in the UK for different household types. It may come as a surprise to some people that an income for a single adult of less than £39,800 is enough to be among the top 20% of earners for that group.

And:

The median income for a single adult in the fifth decile is £17,600, but for a couple with two children it is £44,200, which may take them into the 40% tax bracket, helping to explain why so many families on average incomes feel they are in the “squeezed middle”. However, the figures do not distinguish between couples made up of two earners and those where just one is working.

There’s some reasonably good explanations as to what this means in comments below the piece… as one commentor says ‘what the chart really shows is the minimum income required to be in the top 5%, or top 15%, or top 25%, and so on’.

Meanwhile, what of this? An argument against inherited wealth. It does seem to me that inherited wealth, or the promise of same, is one of the great bulwarks raised up against progressive political approaches. It generates pools of inequality and privilege. And yet I cannot see how this can easily be addressed in a context where for example in the UK:

The “nil-rate threshold” – the value under which inherited wealth is untouched by tax – currently stands at £325,000, frozen since April 2009. But that’s only half the story. Since 2007, it has been possible for spouses to transfer their unused nil-rate band allowance to their surviving partner. This has lifted many estates in the £300-500,000 band out of inheritance tax altogether: at this point we are beginning to talk about substantial, indeed life-altering, sums of money.

In the Republic the situation appears to be as follows:

If you are a surviving spouse OR surviving civil partners taking an inheritance from your deceased spouse or civil partner, the inheritance is completely exempt and, no matter how valuable, will not be liable to Inheritance Tax.

And a variety of thresholds apply where tax is applicable.

Anyhow the Guardian piece makes the following point:

Why do we permit this? The transfer of wealth between generations is an injustice: it is a reward for no work, and a form of access to privileges that are otherwise beyond reach. Professor Thomas Piketty, in his new book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, makes the argument that, after a social-democratic blip in the middle of the last century, inheritance is once again becoming the key route to wealth. Piketty argues that if wealth is concentrated and the return on capital is higher than the economy’s growth rate, inherited wealth will grow more rapidly than that stemming from work.

The idea of a ‘social-democratic blip’ is well worth considering. The essential rout of social democracy (or not even a rout, because that suggests that at least some fight was put up where it might be better to see it as a stealing away in the night) shows how even under fairly weak SD approaches it was possible to start tilting the societal direction leftwards whereas now in the absence of that it is now becoming possible to strip away the residual elements of that dispensation.

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