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This Weekend I’ll Mostly be Listening to… The Dils/Rank and File/BlackBird/Cowboy Nation August 19, 2017

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Punk and class war, alternative and possibly class war, country and… er… revolution? Here’s a group I’m very fond of. Actually it’s not one group, but rather a sort of continuation across various groups. In the late 1970s US punk group the Dils appeared – touting a sort of Communist, working class rhetoric, at least for a year or so. Led by brothers Chip and Tony Kinman they were pretty good, some nice punchy numbers including Class War (natch!) and Kill the Rich. Towards the end a slightly different sound crept in – that being something not entirely unrelated to country.

So perhaps no great surprise that when they next appeared a couple of years later as Rank and File they were now in a more cowpunk/proto-alt country mode. They released a number of albums but for me their standout is the first album, Sundown. Amanda Ruth is a great song. But all the songs are good to great.

Then in another shift they seemed to swerve to a drone rock, slightly electronic, style under the name BlackBird which was not dissimilar to Suicide or even the Jesus and Mary Chain (and one has to wonder were the JAMC taking notes of Rank and File in 1982 given how their music was so country inflected even as soon as their second album).

And then… in the 1990s, they reappear as Cowboy Nation, now a cowboy group plying some great simple stripped down tracks.

All this could seem like they were were simply traipsing after one style or another but actually listening to the music one can see the continuities rather than the ruptures. I think – at a push – I like Cowboy Nation the best (They’ve a fantastic song entitled Revolution, sadly not available online). There’s something very soothing about the combination of guitars and deep vocals. If there’s a faint sense that tongues are firmly in cheek, well who cares when it is done as well as this?

Class War – The Dils

I Hate the Rich – The Dils

Red Rockers – The Dils

Amanda Ruth – Rank and File

Rank and File – Rank and File

The Conductor Wore Black – Rank and File

Quicksand – Blackbird

What Goes On – Blackbird

Time to Go – Blackbird

Shenandoah – Cowboy Nation

Blood on the Saddle – Cowboy Nation

Cowboy Nation – Cowboy Nation

Bannon out August 18, 2017

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Another example of the utter dysfunction of the US administration. Barely eight months in and look at the turnover. At what point are people going to start saying, it’s not just those who are removed but those who recruit them in the first place?


Slate’s take of the reasons for the departure are interesting. 

Let’s just assume that “Steve Bannon no longer works at the White House” is an appropriate takeaway from all that given that rumors of his imminent departure had been reported by Axios earlier Friday. The Axios report and a just-published New York Times article list a number of reasons why Bannon has lost favor with Trump: He argues too much with national security adviser H.R. McMaster, he maintains a high profile in the media that makes Trump jealous, he advocates a populist economic policy that’s at odds with the trickle-down conservatism of other advisers, Jared Kushner thinks he’s too much of a hard-liner, and so forth. You’ll note that nowhere among those reasons are “he’s the country’s leading enabler of the white supremacist movement,” but that’s Trump for you. In any case, the white supremacists will now have to make do with the one billion other connections they have to the administration.

Irish trade with the UK August 18, 2017

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It’s amazing how variable the figures for Irish exports to the UK are – figures are bandied about, not least from pro-Brexiteers keen to point up why this state should follow them out of the EU… but this from RTÉ seems reasonably solid.

Commenting on today’s figures, Merrion economist Alan McQuaid said that one can only speculate as to how Brexit will impact Ireland in the coming months and years, but there is likely to be a negative impact on trade. 
He said that the UK accounts for 16-17% of Ireland’s total exports, but 30% of all employment is in sectors which are heavily related to UK exports. 
SMEs – agri-food and tourism – will likely be more affected than larger companies by the introduction of tariffs and barriers to trade, he added.

Is it correct?

Seven seats… August 18, 2017

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Tom McGurk in the SBP was writing the week before last about Brexit and it was the usual London is terrible but we should really blame the EU stuff. Okay as far as it goes but not hugely convincing. But then he took a different turn…

If Brexit crashes the already perilous state of the the North there will be a day of reckoning for unionist heads buried deep in the sand.


In fact given that Irish sovereignty has been superseded by EU sovereignty the seven SF Westminster seats have, astonishingly become potentially the single most powerful political weapon in the Brexit crisis this country possesses. And what is SF doing, walking away both from this unique opportunity and its huge responsibility?

He argues that the seven votes could ‘not only neutralise the DUP hold on the May government… more importantly it could wipe out any effective parliamentary majority in the critical votes coming up in the Commons that will shape Brexit’.

And so McGurk argues for a ‘soft’ Brexit, albeit an unspoken one.

There’s more – not least his argument that abstention is unfit for purpose in 2017, and it’s all very compelling in a way. But I wonder at all this. What would such an intervention do in relation to the debate in the UK? And what would it do in relation to SF?

Difficult not to see it playing out badly in both respects. What do others think?

This Week At Irish Election Literature August 18, 2017

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.

From 1951

“Violence and Northern Ireland” a booklet produced by the New Ulster Movement in June 1972

From a recent protest outside the US Embassy “Nazis’ Emboldened in Trump’s America” a Leaflet from People Before Profit and
“No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA!” a leaflet from United Against Racism

and finally “Local Property Tax ..a fair deal for Dublin Rathdown” a leaflet from Josepha Madigan of Fine Gael regarding the unfair burden Property Tax has on Dublin Rathdown

Kevin McNamara August 17, 2017

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It’s perhaps a sign of the broader chaos that the passing of Kevin McNamara, former BLP spokesman on Northern Ireland, has been perhaps somewhat under remarked upon. One aspect of his career was his steadfast adherence to support for Irish unity, a long standing support from the 1960s onwards – which itself indicates a certain formal emphasis within the BLP, albeit one that was not, as many of us will recall, necessarily upheld when that party was in government in the 1970s.

One other aspect of McNamara was his support for British republicanism and ‘campaigned in his last years in parliament on many issues, protesting against the Act of Succession which prohibits a Roman Catholic or the spouse of a Roman Catholic to be the British monarch’.

Signs of Hope – A continuing series August 17, 2017

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Gewerkschaftler suggested this recently:

I suggest this blog should have a regular (weekly) slot where people can post happenings at the personal or political level that gives them hope that we’re perhaps not going to hell in a handbasket as quickly as we thought. Or as the phlegmatic Germans put it “hope dies last”.

Any contributions this week?

“Have A Priest In Your Family… It only takes £1 a week” August 17, 2017

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.

Thought this might bring back a memory or two ……


Interview with Alan Kelly… August 17, 2017

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…in the current edition of Hot Press, by Jason O’Toole. A lot in it but here are some examples… well worth getting to read its entirety…

Social issues and conservatism?

You wouldn’t see sex before marriage as a sin?
Not at all! Ah, no. Don’t get this wrong. I’m very liberal on most issues. But no, no, no, I’m not. Oh my God, no! Jesus, no! There seems to be a view that some people wanted to develop for political purposes that, in some ways, I’m conservative.
I’m the most un-conservative person you’ll ever meet on most issues. I just don’t believe in shouting from the rooftops all the time. Also, my political views are very much about bread and roses. I talk an awful lot more about the bread, because unless you have the bread, I’m not sure you can have the roses.

The Left?

Do you think Labour has to reach out to
others on the left?

I would like to see the Social Democrats, in particular, and the Labour Party coming together.
You’d like to see a merging of the two

Yeah. There should be a naturally coming together. They have many fine members. It’s hard to distinguish between Social Democrats and Labour. And there’s others: there’s Independents and people across other parties. And really for the future of social democrats – which we all are – and the future of democratic socialists, really, there needs to be that coming together to forge a block not just in Leinster House but across the

And the Left?

What about the so called ‘far left’?
There is a big difference between the likes of us and the far left, who are really not interested in ever being in government or achieving anything.
It’s permanent protest. I’m not into that. Permanent protest is utopian rubbish. It’ll never materialise into anything. They basically lead people up the garden path and abandon them
all the time. It’s the politics of promoting misery and not seeing anything positive in life.

And the future?

Do you see yourself as a future leader of the party?
Whenever there’s an opportunity again I’ll put my name forward – if the people of Tipperary still elect me, that is!

Holyhead logjam post-Brexit? Surely this wasn’t supposed to happen? August 17, 2017

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I don’t recall this being mentioned prior to the referendum by anyone.

A report by the Welsh assembly on how Brexit could affect ports in Wales says customs delays could have an unwelcome impact, while the route’s two ferry operators, which have previously remained silent on Brexit, told an assembly committee of their concerns for Holyhead.
Irish Ferries said it feared a reintroduction of customs checks could lead “UK plc” to quickly grind to a halt, while Stena Line said any custom or border checks could disturb the whole business model for the “open port” of Holyhead.


Welsh assembly members heard that more than 70% of Irish cargo comes through Wales, including produce from Northern Ireland, because it offers the quickest route to the UK for exporters of perishable goods.

And an excellent point made here:

“Everyone is talking, quite rightly about the hard border between [Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland] and that is hugely important because of the Good Friday agreement, but the Common Travel Area between Wales and Ireland is hugely important because of the scale of business,” said local Labour MP, Albert Owen.

Of course this was predicted by sane Brexiteers like Richard North – hence their antagonism to the absurdity of ‘hard’ Brexits or indeed the campaigns waged. And consequently their proposal for EFTA/EEA membership for the UK post-Brexit.

But one has to marvel at the lack of interest, expertise, consideration, even basic curiosity on the part of those who argued for Brexit from whatever position as to the actual material outcomes of this for these islands.

And for those of us who have travelled through Holyhead over the last few years this feature of journeys even in the current essentially non-existent customs/other regime will strike a certain fear. Because already there are bottle necks on traffic flows as one crosses over the bridge to Anglesey.

Owen pointed out that there was already gridlock in Holyhead when weather did not permit sailings or when there was a problem on the bridge to mainland Wales.
“Traffic backs up very quickly. If there were checks, congestion would be a daily occurrence. If you have two ferries in at once, the queue could be 7km,” he said. “There’s potential for chaos, and there’s potential for restrictions for companies that need to get to the market quickly.”


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