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What we are reading and the CLR Book Club, Week 17, 2017 April 25, 2017

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Still no real discussion on what we might read next. Any thoughts on how to organise that?

If he’s that bad how come he’s that moderate?  April 25, 2017

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Is the question that comes to mind reading Polly Toynbee in the Guardian. Never been a huge Toynbee fan and ever less so as time marches on but this is a puzzle…

For on the one hand she presents Jeremy Corbyn as… well, read on…

Who knows what other clumsy damage he may inflict during the campaign. And afterwards, he might not go. Remember Tony Benn celebrating the millions of votes for “socialism” under Michael Foot’s 1983 political suicide manifesto, though Labour had crashed to epic defeat? Fantasy politics reign again when Momentum responds to May’s announcement by tweeting about the “path to victory for Labour”.


Waiting for the 60% of Labour party members who voted for Corbyn to come to their senses looked like a very long wait indeed.

But hold on. Is this the same red revolutionary as the one she then writes about as follows:

Labour’s manifesto may not contain much all MPs couldn’t campaign on: Corbyn has been no firebrand after all. His recent cascade of minor policies are fine in themselves: £10 a week more for carers by abolishing inheritance tax cuts, a £10 minimum wage, free school meals paid for by private school VAT, obliging companies to publish their tax returns, and more. But elections are rarely about policies. Elections are won by the best-led party; YouGov finds just 15% put Corbyn as best leader, against May’s walloping 49%.

Leadership. Well, surely. But that’s a two-way street. How did the other side of the street hold up on that?

And… hold on further. Even when he’s not being…er… immoderate, he still can’t win for…

Just watch those reasonable policies twist in the wind under Lynton Crosby’s fiendish hand: Labour will snatch your inheritances, kill parents’ private school aspirations, punish business with compulsory unionisation, and so on. Labour can only make radical policies fly when floated by a trusted leadership. Nothing Corbyn proposes is as radical as Blair and Brown’s £5bn windfall snatched from privatised utilities – but by then they had earned economic credibility the hard way.

But there’s an obvious riposte or two to that. The man has only been in the job a couple of years or so, there’s been leadership challenges, the policies he actually supports as against the ones he is said to support are rather mild, and so on.

As it happens and it pains me to say this, Corbyn probably isn’t the leader for this point in time. I think absent Brexit – and the attempted coups – he would make a compelling leader for the BLP entering into an election in a year or two.

But Brexit has fundamentally shifted the terrain UK elections are fought on. And relentless media and other attacks have had their effect.

On the other hand, he’s the only leader the BLP has going into the election and deserves support for that, and certainly a lot better than the muddled argument Toynbee attempts to deploy against him.

And perhaps given that she is one of those who has attempted to paint him as immoderate she might think about her own culpability in a process which has led as she says to a situation where British politics ‘has rarely looked grimmer’.

Hermínio da Palma Inácio April 25, 2017

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We attended an exhibition opening in Torres Vedras of material on Hermínio da Palma Inácio who at one stage was the most wanted man in Europe. He was the head of the Liga de Unidade e Ação Revolucionária (LUAR) a Left Wing Revolutionary orgainisation. We were given our own tour of the exhibition in English by José Pacheco Pereira.
Hermínio da Palma Inácio was one of a group that hijacked a plane in Casablanca , flew in over Lisbon where they dropped a hundred thousand anti fascist leaflets calling for the overthrow of the dictatorship and free elections, before flying back and landing again in Casablanca.
They carried out the biggest bank robbery in Portuguese history to help fund their activities as well as a failed attempt to take over the city of Covilha. He spent many periods in prison and escaped a number of times. Included in the exhibition was a tobacco pouch which contained a file which he used to get through the bars of one of his cells. The pouch was a gift from his sister.
There was also propaganda material from LUAR , wanted posters and more.

After that we were given a Virtual Reality tour of the Archive. It was very strange getting a VR tour of rooms we had been earlier in the day. Still you can see a massive use for it for Museums and so on.
There was also a book launch of a number of books in the Ephemera Collection. One on FUR which was a Left wing alliance of small left groups set up after the 1974 Revolution. There was an array of wonderful stickers and other material from these groups on display.

Another Book was on Mozambique and there were a number of propaganda flyers dropped by the Portuguese onto various areas of the country. In the middle were leaflets with pictures of people that were quoted as saying they were in favour of Portugal. When Mozambique gained Independence the people pictured in the Portuguese Propaganda were all killed.
Then it was off to a restaurant for a dinner which was hosted by the Mayor. Then back again to the actual exhibition opening (it took place at 10 pm) where a comrade of Hermínio da Palma Inácio walked the crowd through the exhibition. It was broadcast Live on Facebook and at one stage had over 100,000 viewers. Then speeches there before heading into a lecture hall for talks on the various Ephemera books and a talk on the archive by José Pacheco Pereira.
The talk finished and we were presented with a gift by the Mayor of a number of books about the locality and wine and some local pastries. It topped off an incredible day!
One of the things the archive has been doing for a number of years is having someone present at every protest in Lisbon. There they gather flyers, take photographs and also ask people for their hand made signs at the end of the protest. There is quite an archive of these signs already.
The following day , taking it easy eating lunch in Lisbon in the Praça do Comércio we noticed a protest about Venezuela. After lunch we went over to the protest to see if any of our friends from Ephemera were there. We didn’t see anyone , so I took some pictures and sent them on. They hadn’t known about that protest!
An amazing few days that thought me a lot about archiving, themes, Portuguese History, telling stories in an exhibition and more.
Should you find yourself in that neck of the woods it’s well worth contacting them.

Wales yesterday, Scotland now and a further retreat in the polls for the BLP April 25, 2017

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From the Guardian…

A Survation poll for the Sunday Post put the Tories at 28%, against 43% for the SNP, with Sturgeon’s party seven points lower than its vote in 2015. At that level, the Conservatives would win up to eight seats.

For the Sunday Times, a Panelbase survey put Tory support at its highest since the 1970s, at 33% against 44% for the SNP. In theory, that would give the Tories 12 Westminster seats – a total the party privately regards as fanciful.

And a basic point:

Yet such polls offer fresh evidence that the EU referendum result has disrupted politics in the same way the independence referendum did in 2014: this time the Tories appear to be the beneficiaries.

Indeed they do, but in such a way as to decouple the BLP from its base. And so Brexit wends its way through the British polity. If one had sought to design something that would functionally prove utterly divisive to left politics there it is difficult to think of a better way.

A visit to The Ephemera Archive in Portugal April 24, 2017

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A number of years ago I was contacted by Julio, one of the volunteers at the Ephemera archive in Portugal wondering if I had any Irish material that I could send them. So for the past few years I have been sending some of my spare material there and getting material in return. Mostly stickers, badges and posters. …….
So last week I spent Spent a few days visiting the incredible Ephemera Archive of José Pacheco Pereira in Portugal (they have a brief report of the visit here) . It’s a private collection which has well over a million items and is housed in a complex that currently consists of six buildings. Having arrived on Thursday night we were met at the airport brought to our hotel and then brought to an office in Lisbon housed in a bookshop . It is used as a collecting , sorting and cataloging centre for the archive volunteers . Walking in there were stickers, posters , a CPP ML Flag and much more. We spent over an hour there and were literally in shock at the quantity, quality and variety of the material there. From there it was off to a pub where at 12.30 José Pacheco Pereira joined us , fresh from his evenings TV presenting. A fascinating man.
The following morning we were met at the hotel to be taken to Marmeleira where José Pacheco Pereira resides. We were privileged to get a private tour of the complex from José Pacheco Pereira himself (the last person to get one was The Portguese Prime Minister!!)
The tour began with some paintings, and antiquarian books and then down a stairs into a room that at one stage would have stored wine caskets. We were shown posters, leaflets and odd things like candles, cups, glasses you name it , it had been used in electioneering. On then into the next room and a collection of flags, banners, umbrellas. There were leaflets , books all archived neatly and orderly. All the time learning more and more about Portuguese history and political history and the importance of material from the 48 years Portugal was under a dictatorship. Much of the material printed and distributed underground. Indeed our host lived under an assumed name during the last years of the dictatorship. There were stories galore, how the IRA got weapons from Portugal for a period after the 1974 Revolution, how the Communist party built a network of smoking rooms around the country as a way of clandestinely organising. Communism in Portugal had a Marxist Leninist tradition as opposed to the Euro Communism of other European countries. It was strange too on the journey from Lisbon to be shown “that town on the left is a Communist Stronghold” .
We also got an education on Portugal’s colonial past as material from the Independence struggles if Angola, Mozambique, Equatorial Guinea and Cape Verde was shown. (One of the pluses of exchanging material is that I now have a collection of beautiful Angolan posters).
There were the personal archives of many Portuguese political figures here too.
Having visited three of the houses , it was time for a traditional Portuguese lunch. Beautiful food eaten in the shade looking with a beautiful view.
The tour resumed with papers, cartoons and a collection of cigarette lighters which included one of Colonel Tejero!
Some more amazing items and then one of the highlights of the trip, the censorship collection. For 48 years anything in newspaper’s, books and so on had to go before the censors. There could be no mention of Suicide, anything critical of the church, the regime and so on. Like ourselves a kind of Catholic utopia had to be reported.
( Is there a censorship collection in Ireland?)
Some more objects such as an item presented to Soviet dignitaries as they visited Soviet factories. A Churchill figure that once squeezed became erect and had a swastika on his knob! There were also an amount of objects associated with Freemasonry.
The whole thing was incredible …… and then we were taken to an exhibition launch … of which more tomorrow!
Many thanks to all there for their wonderful hospitality
Some Photos

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A new dynamic in Irish politics – at least the LP hopes so… April 24, 2017

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I enjoyed this in the Irish Times this weekend… Fiach Kelly wrote about the LP conference, it’s first since losing power last year. And it wasn’t exactly an happy analysis. Still, what do people think about this?

The public, after giving Labour a thrashing at the last election, have not yet been listening to Labour. The party has yet to break above the 5-6 per cent mark in opinion polls. Howlin pointed out that the polls have not really shifted for any party, and he was correct. Polls are unlikely to shift until a year or so after an election, since the public is still largely justifying the choice it made 12 months previously.

Uh-huh? Uh-huuuh???


Predictions for the UK GE April 24, 2017

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These from Adrian Kavanagh using the model he employs for RoI elections.


Left Archive: Comment, British and Irish Communist Organisation, Vol 2, No.3, 22 June 1973. April 24, 2017

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To download the above please click on the following link. BICO COMMEnt

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to the person who forwarded this to the Archive.

This edition of Comment from BICO is a short six pages long. It carries an attack on the National Wage Agreement. Also mentioned and criticised is a piece from the Irish People of Official Sinn Féin which attacked Conor Cruise O’Brien for suggesting that the state might beam British television stations into the Republic. Another piece engages with social class and illiteracy.

Meanwhile… in France April 23, 2017

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From RTÉ...

French centrist Emmanuel Macron has come out on top in the first round of France’s presidential election with far right leader Marine Le Pen in second place, which means both have qualified for the 7 May runoff vote, pollsters projections from partial results showed.

Mr Macron won 23.7% of the vote and Le Pen 21.7%, an Ipsos/Sopra Steria estimate showed.

Mr Macron got 23% of the vote and Le Pen got 22% in an estimate from Harris Interactive.

Will this shake matters up? April 23, 2017

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The vote today on abortion legislation reform… from the Citizen’s Assembly the final determination of their deliberations:

The Citizens’ Assembly has voted to recommend an extensive liberalisation of the grounds on which abortion is available in Ireland.

In all, the Assembly approved 13 grounds for legal terminations in the event of the electorate supporting its recommendation that the current Constitutional restrictions on abortion should be replaced in a referendum.

The Assembly voted to recommend that terminations of pregnancy should be available in Ireland with “no restriction as to reasons” by a margin of 64% to 36%.

I wonder was that the expected outcome when the idea was first floated?

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