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Brexit fan March 30, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Thanks to JM for pointing me towards an interesting letter from Nick Wright of the CPB in the Irish Times critiquing Fintan O’Toole from a British Lexit position. He argues that ‘The most important issue for half of all Leave supporters was British sovereignty. Only a third put control over immigration first, although both sovereignty and immigration as well as the economy were important to the majority of anti-EU voters.’

Given that in current polling 61% of voters demand immigration control one would wonder if the sovereignty issue was used by some, at least, as a means of coming across in a more positive light at a time when outright immigration control sentiment was less publicly acceptable, and given the fact of the win for Brexit now they feel less compunction in being, shall we say, tactful about it.

But even that point about how ‘immigration’ was important to the majority of anti-EU voters beyond those who prioritised it as number 1 should be deeply troubling for leftists of all stripes.

Then he writes:

A third of black and ethnic minority voters opposed EU membership, including a majority of Sikhs and Jews.

Perhaps, but two-thirds supported it.

Then he argues that…

The political outlook of Leave voters was equally mixed. More than a third of Labour and SNP and a majority of Plaid Cymru supporters opted to leave the EU, along with a quarter of Greens and almost a third of Lib Dems.

I guess I could argue that that’s not equally mixed but why be pedantic. Even so it indicates that the majority of supporters of all parties bar PC mentioned voted to remain. Significant majorities in all cases. He continues:

Just under half of voters described either capitalism, globalisation or both as a force for ill in society, and the majority of them voted Leave. In fact, they comprised around a third of anti-EU voters.

It’s odd having to point out in a critique of a letter by a Marxist that a strong strand in conservative (and reactionary, and fascist) thinking holds precisely those views.

And odd too this concluding paragraph…

As part of the Lexit (Left exit from the EU) speaking tour currently in Ireland and talking to audiences in Cork, Dublin and Newry, it struck me that there are two kinds of unionists on this island – UK unionists and EU unionists – and I am surprised to find people who stood against the Lisbon Treaty as an outrage against Irish sovereignty now find it expedient to suggest that, because a majority of people in the Northern Irish statelet voted to remain in the EU, that this should trump the expressed will of people in another country.

I’m not quite sure what he’s saying there at the end, but it seems to be that those who are anti-Brexit (in Ireland) seek to frustrate Britain’s exit from the EU. But that’s simply inaccurate and a misrepresentation of the reality.

If England and Wales, and note he doesn’t bother to mention Scotland directly (telling that too given how Brexit is impacting on the actual UK), want to exit that is their absolute right. We’ve long stated on this site that Brexit must occur – that is that the UK leaves the EU as a member (though we’ve also argued for the softest possible Brexit in order to minimise disruption to workers on all these islands).

But I think by contrast most people in this state and on this island don’t believe that a vote in relation to “the expressed will of people in another country” should impact undemocratically on people on this island and that the British government seeks to impose it on Northern Ireland (and arguably Scotland) over a democratic vote in that ‘statelet’ is deeply problematic. Not his problem, I guess.

After Brexit? March 30, 2017

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Ray Bassett writes in the SBP at the weekend yet again about how…

…there has been no serious examination in Ireland of the alternative to the present strategy (of remaining fast to the EU), namely a bilateral deal with Britain, which perseveres as much as possible of the statue quo; and subsequent negotiations with the remaining 26 member states about retaining our access to the single market, either with a special status inside the EU, or, if that is not possible in some close association with the EU. Ireland needs to be keep its options open in an increasing uncertain environment.

Of course for Bassett it is cut to the chase:

One of those options has tone an Irexit, forced on us by the terms of Britain’s agreement with the EU, or alternatively by unpalatable changes internally to the operation of the EU. There is no good option or us from Brexit.

That last is true. But what does he mean by ‘serious examination’. I find it highly unlikely that the potential outcomes haven’t been considered in all this by the government, DFA, etc. But there’s a problem and this was articulated some weeks back in the same paper by another former diplomat. It makes no sense for this state to lay out its cards on the table at this point. Quite the opposite. A wait and see posture is vastly more sensible given the chaotic trajectory of the UK itself (and all the other issues relating to its coherence as a single state). Secondly does he mean that Irexit isn’t front and centre? Well that’s a different issue. He seems oblivious of the fact EU membership remains strongly supported by the population of this state. Overwhelmingly so.

Thirdly, and perhaps most oddly, there’s a further fact. It is generally acknowledged that in purely economic terms the exit from the EU by the UK is going to be profoundly negative. A self-inflected wound that will place barriers between it and key markets, isolate it politically and in other respects, and see an improverishment of its citizenry. Those who counsel that the ROI should follow that exit seem unaware at best and indifferent at worst of the implications of that. Why would we tie ourselves to a state that was doing any such thing? It makes no sense whatsoever – again whatever our feelings about the EU as an entity or how we can hope to move on from it in the future.

That indifference, that unawareness, is deeply troubling.

Signs of Hope – A continuing series March 30, 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?

No General Election here March 30, 2017

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Richard Colwell writing in the SBP at the weekend after the latest RedC poll argues, hardly surprisingly, that ‘were we to have another election the result would leave using pretty much the same situation we are in now’. And he notes that FF might take the position of FG but similar issues remain in terms of government building with FF struggling to build a coherent bloc. Indeed he suggests that FF support may have faltered in its upward trajectory, one seen in recent months.

Colwell disagrees that Independents and others are losing massive support. ‘[they] appear to remain strong…’ and notes that the support base is between 13% and 16%.

And from all this? He argues that ‘with a stable picture among he electorate, and with no party securing any meaningful momentum it is unlikely we will see any party forcing a general election soon’.

Difficult to disagree.

That May letter… and this state March 30, 2017

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Here is the paragraph on Ireland.

v. In particular, we must pay attention to the UK’s unique relationship with the Republic of Ireland and the importance of the peace process in Northern Ireland. The ROI is the only EU member state with a land border with the UK. We want to avoid a return to a hard border between our two countries [sic], t be able to maintain the Common Travel Area between us, and to make sure that the UK withdrawal from the EU does not harm the ROI. We also have an important responsibility to make sure that nothing is done to jeopardise the peace process in Northern Ireland, and to continue to uphold the Belfast Agreement.

And on all that… From Siobhan Fenton in the Guardian – a key point.

[Northern Ireland] merited scarcely a mention in the run-up to the EU referendum, with neither Leave nor Remain campaigns grasping the complexity of how Brexit will affect Northern Ireland. Nine months after the referendum, no one in the British government seems any the wiser about the future of the Irish border.
It is astonishing that May is moving to trigger article 50 without seriously addressing this beforehand. Once negotiations with the EU formally begin and the official countdown to a deal deadline starts, she might just realise the enormity of the problem she has been sidelining thus far.

But keep in mind that mentality Fenton mentions still persists. This from the same paper on the same day – an analysis of May’s Article 50 letter that somehow doesn’t mention the word Ireland once (though Scotland is referenced once).

#JobstownNotGuilty Assembly for Justice March 29, 2017

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JRG raises an important point. He notes the upcoming:

Saturday a #JobstownNotGuilty Assembly for Justice will take place in Liberty Hall. Guest speakers include Paddy Hill, Ricky Tomlinson, Eamon Dunphy, Rossport 5, Jimmy Kelly, Patricia McKenna, Frances Black and others.

As he says…

Every left activist who wants to defend the right to protest should attend.

And this evening he notes:

Two serious developments for the Jobstown defendants this evening.

The DPP is going to the Circuit Court tomorrow looking to change the bail conditions of the Jobstown defendants to prevent them speaking at Saturday’s Rally For Justice or at any other protests. It is possible that the new bail conditions could be so restrictive as to result in some of the Jobstown defendants being jailed tomorrow.

In a second case tomorrow it appears that the DPP is also attempting to ban the Raly for Justice and the demonstration planned for the end of April on the grounds it could ‘prejudice the jury’.

There is an onus on all activists to act now to defend the right to protest and the right to defend oneself when under attack by the state, right-wing politicians and the right-wing media.

He raises an interesting point when he said earlier in the day that:

Surprised that there has been no discussion on this site about the upcoming trials of the Jobstown defendants.

I think (hope?) that that is because we’re all of one mind on this which is that the criminalisation of protest is wrong – and there’s a general awareness of large-scale events like this taking place.

But, that said – and this has a broader importance – anything that we are sent we will post up (within the usual guidelines on the site) and notification of events like this is always very welcome. So much appreciated JRG and anything similar fire links/press releases to the usual email.

Centenary Celebrations …… March 29, 2017

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2021

Presumably an anniversary that will not be celebrated by all. Can’t see an influx of tourists like we had for our Centenary Celebrations. A post Brexit Northern Ireland (should it still exist as an entity)
No doubt there will be a massive Orange March , Bonfires, Flags , a few pogroms, reintroduction of internment and so on and so on…..

Brexit: It giveth… and it taketh away… March 29, 2017

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And…

Speaking of negative effects of Brexit. The Economist Intelligence Unit said London is cheaper than New York for the first time in 15 years, and that relative prices in Manchester have fallen so far that the cost of living in the city is now on a par with Bangkok.

But:

“While the declines mean that British cities are cheaper compared to their international peers, the rise in import prices caused by the weak pound will mean that locals won’t see their own shopping baskets falling in price. In fact the opposite is likely to be true and, while UK cities fell down the ranking local prices for the basket of goods surveyed have begun to creep back up,” said the EIU.

Traditionalism, populism and immigration in Holland March 29, 2017

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Check out this BBC Analysis podcast for an insight into the Catholic, or cultural Catholics supporting PVV candidates in Holland, in the south of that country. It really does underline how focused on identity politics these new ‘populists’ are.

One notable aspect is that everyone, and I mean everyone, speaks English. But what are they saying, check out the Dutch Labour Party person talking about Rotherham…

And what about voters attitudes in the UK to Brexit. March 29, 2017

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And following on from the last post about polling in the UK. Reading this Matthew D’Ancona piece in the Guardian I was struck by an unfamiliar feeling… that being that he was fairly spot on. Writing about immigration promises from Brexiteers he shows how incorrect they were and further notes:

Keep an eye, meanwhile, on that word “illegals”, which is gaining poisonous currency as a catch-all term for all migrants and non-white people. In his interview with the Times in January, Donald Trump used it, quite inaccurately, to describe Syrian refugees welcomed to Germany. The intended force of the word is not hard to fathom. To call someone “illegal” is to strip them of their legitimacy and brand them as – at best – second class.
This is the sharp end of a broader phenomenon in which political language is being used with pernicious elasticity. The true legacy of the fading UK Independence party is not the EU referendum or its outcome. It has been to force the politics of Enoch Powell into the mainstream and to pour all social grievances, dysfunctions and resentments into a vessel, bursting at the seams, marked “immigration”.

And he notes how:

The broad claims of the referendum campaign are starting to dissolve into the pixelated reality of policy, practicality and compromise. According to a senior government source, a wonderful irony is now manifesting itself around the cabinet table in the contributions of Liam Fox, David Davis and Boris Johnson: “There’s no doubt that Theresa wants to bring down immigration. But the three main Brexiteers are suddenly becoming more and more vocal about the need to keep the numbers sufficiently high for the needs of the economy. You hear Liam saying: ‘We mustn’t do anything that threatens prosperity.’ It’s becoming more and more clear to them what’s at stake.”
In their defence Fox, Davis and Johnson would doubtless insist that their demand was only ever to “take back control” of immigration from the EU, rather than specifically to reduce the number of newcomers. But this was always disingenuous.

Yet this was the ground the Brexiteers chose to fight upon. As he says, UKIP’s shift from sovereignty to anti-immigration saw that party, and more important support for Brexit, increase markedly.
And what of this?

The message that the voters heard loud and clear was that escaping the grip of Brussels would mean fewer foreigners coming to Britain. As Deborah Mattinson’s fascinating Britainthinks panel surveys have shown, leave voters interpret “hard Brexit” unequivocally as being “tough on immigrants” and are uninterested in economic counter-arguments. What motivates leavers, Mattinson concludes, is “broader cultural issues”.

Well worth reading the analysis offered by Mattison here in PR Week. The panels conducted by BritainThinks offer a deeply troubling insight into how immigration is the key issue for so many, and clearly drove the vote.

2. That said, what unites ‘leavers’ is that the economic arguments, sacrosanct to so many politicians simply don’t matter. The main vote drivers were controlling immigration and restoring sovereignty. When economic arguments are raised, they are often contested, but ultimately drive decision making much less than these broader cultural issues.

There’s more too:

4. Another key learning is about the sheer weight of expectation. Voters from all but the ‘devastated pessimist’ group expect life to be good, post Brexit. The government has not really managed these expectations and it will be very hard now to live up to them. One typical ‘leaver’ said “I am looking forward to it. This is a fantastic opportunity to rebuild the country: more police, better hospitals, more schools and more teachers”, while even a ‘remainer’ observed “This is a chance to explore a different avenue for Britain. To see if this could make Britain even more successful.”

And keep in mind too how general polling, as noted previously still has enormous focus on immigration control.

This qualitative research has been reinforced by quantitative findings: according to an Ipsos Mori poll in Friday’s Evening Standard, 61% regard immigration curbs as the priority in the forthcoming negotiations. A recent study by the NatCen thinktank indicated that 68% want the principle of free movement to go.

That’s the Tory/UKIP Brexit.

BTW, this from Fintan O’Toole makes a not dissimilar point re overselling Brexit on the part of the Tories/UKIP, etc.

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