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UKIP and the FN… September 26, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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How curious that both UKIP and the FN (and despite their election result in Germany being all too good, the AfD too) are running into choppy waters. UKIP looks like it is about to tear itself apart in a contest between far right and further right as its relevance declines ever further (a genuine case of be careful what you wish for – eh?). Meanwhile the FN is – oddly, having problems for the opposite reason with Florian Philipott, aide to Marine Le Pen and ‘architect’ (though I’ll bet that was like pushing an open door) of the pledge to leave the euro at the last Presidential election in France resigning from the party.

Both in a sense are tales of failure. UKIP was – as was inevitable, outflanked by the Tories. It’s all very well to talk about keeping others honest but if one cannot do anything at all that’s just rhetoric. The FN did not win the last election. Worse, and this is a key problem…

…the FN’s opposition to the euro and pledge to leave the currency, [was] one of the policies believed to have badly damaged Le Pen in the presidential election in May, in which she was beaten by Emmanuel Macron.

There’s no getting away from a simple fact. Few love the EU, few love the euro. But support for retaining membership of both (where applicable) continues to be pretty solid across the EU, has indeed taken an uptick since Brexit and Trump.


Le Pen said on Thursday the party would rebuild and said she would continue to campaign against the EU.
“National sovereignty is a mainstay of our struggle,” she said. “We will continue to fight the European Union with all our soul because it is an instrument for the elimination and impoverishment of our people.”

But one has to bet that she will, at the very least, soft-pedal her antagonism towards the EU and the euro because it just doesn’t fly with populations more broadly.


A far right cry of the dispossessed? September 26, 2017

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It’s difficult to quite understand from this remove the appeal for those in the former East Germany constituencies who voted for the AfD in such numbers that in some places it came in second in the election.

As the Guardian notes:

The AfD is by no means only a party of the “left-behinds” and its agenda continues to be set by western politicians advocating conventional small-state economics. A survey in June showed that 39% of the party’s supporters have a higher than average income.

And Wiki notes that:

AfD also supports the privatization of social programs and state owned enterprises.[90][91]

In some respects it is as if voters supported the Progressive Democrats as a protest vote (which some did, in truth, but a paradox remains). Their – some AfD voters – class interests aren’t addressed, are in fact ignored entirely. The ‘radicalism’ of the AfD is in only the most cosmetic and illusory sense.

Eight Referendums September 26, 2017

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.
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The Irish Times reports today that

The Government wants to hold eight referendums over the next two years, including one on abortion next year.

The Eight are…..
The 8th Amendment
To remove blasphemy as an offence
Change the reference to women’s place in the home
Directly elected mayors
Giving Oireachtas committees more powers
Referendum to reduce the divorce term
Voting Rights to Emigrants for Presidential Elections
Reduce the voting age

Thats some amount of votes although some will be with The Presidential Election (should there be one) and some may even hold off to The 2019 Local Elections ….. and we might even have a General Election on one of the dates too. Indeed a number of Referendum dates in 2018 could well provide cover for a snap election.
Interesting too if any wider political grouping evolves from any of the Referendums or how much they are used by parties or Independents to gather “a team” together.
Oh and looking at the list you can already figure out who the No side on a lot of them will be.

Ireland and that speech by Theresa May on Brexit… September 26, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Ray Bassett has a piece in the SBP that seems almost bizarrely at odds with the reality of the Brexit process in the UK. In his analysis of Theresa May’s speech in Florence he appears to take it at face value – ‘upbeat’ ‘on almost every issue the line she took was hugely in Ireland’s interests’. And yet, and yet, prod at his analysis and it begins to fall a bit apart. For example, he writes:

She instanced the unacceptability of a physical North/South border, the need for an extra two-year transitional period, the request of the closet possible economic relationship wight he EU, her appeal to maintain trade as tariff free etc.

And yet that’s not quite what she said. Richard North notes that:

Pointedly, she offered nothing of substance on any of the three outstanding issues.

On perhaps the most troublesome of the three, the Irish question, her superficial treatment of the issue verged on the insulting. She loftily declared, “we have both stated explicitly that we will not accept any physical infrastructure at the border”, adding: “We owe it to the people of Northern Ireland – and indeed to everyone on the island of Ireland – to see through these commitments”.

The point here is that was all she said.

Now Ray Bassett knows this because Ray Bassett has read the speech and yet he argues that somehow the speech was in our interests?

And what she did say ruled out aspects that would be of vital importance to our interests. For example she dismissed the EEA/EFTA option which incorporates freedom of movement. That’s a huge blow to working out the border. And Bassett realises this because he notes that ‘she wants to move beyond a Canadian type FTA and have a much deeper relationship with the EU’. But then immediately writes ‘However a Norweighian style association through the EEA is probably too close’. He weakly concludes that ‘she envisages something completely new… [and] used the word creative on a number of occasions’. So new that we can place it somewhere between an FTA and EEA. So deep that we can place it beyond an EEA relationship. Not so deep clearly.

Bassett can’t quite hold back his antipathy to the EU. At every point he reiterates the idea that ‘talks have been stymied by Brussels intransigence and a lack of unified approach on the British side’. But what intransigence is there? When someone like Richard North – still pro-Leave, and Leave across many decades, is arguing that the very idea of intransigence when applied in this context to the EU is a category error of dangerous proportions since it misunderstands entirely what the EU is and is not (and it is in a sense about certain legal framework and how those outside that framework cannot be treated as if they are within it), then clearly Bassett is in trouble conceptually.

Bassett then proceeds to compare like with not like by dragging in Jean-Claude Junckers speech on the State of the EU. And he then suggests these entirely different speeches, one by May and one by Junckers constitute ‘two sides’.

But unlike North (who Bassett one suspects shares a pro-Leave sentiment with if not anything like the same rigorous analysis) Bassett is constrained by that previously mentioned antipathy. North wants Leave, but he doesn’t pretend it is easy to get there or that the EU is acting unreasonably by its own lights. But antipathy gets us nowhere in what is a dynamic whose scale is so all embracing that it is not even clear it will ultimately proceed.

Read Bassett. Read North. And then perhaps read Stephen Kinsella’s (tellingly) much shorter piece in the SBP where he argues that Brexiteer rhetoric has had to be scaled back from the very day of the referendum result due to that dynamic above.

Time has falsified every single claim the pro-Brexit side has made. Institutions like the Bank of England have seen their forecasts and warnings ring true. Institutions like the Office of National Statistics have called out ministers like B. Johnson for using dodgy statistics.

And Kinsella makes the key point:

The only thing that matters in this phase is the issue of the border and how close to the status quo the eventual deal leaves Ireland. We want a hair’s breadth from today’s arrangements. The closer Ireland gets to that the closer the outcome will correspond to success by our lights.

But he cautions that while…

We already know that Britain desires a deal on the CTA. We know it has no idea how to get there.

That in a way is the heart of matter… Britain has no idea how to get there or how to get anywhere with Brexit.

One final link… bjg notes in comments linking to this, indicating that others also don’t agree with the Bassett line that May’s speech was anything to write home about about Ireland. So what exactly is Bassett reading?

Not the most cohesive political grouping in the world… September 26, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

…reading this this morning…

Independent Alliance deputy [and former Junior Minister] Seán Canney has confirmed he will vote against the drink-driving Bill sponsored by the group’s leader, Minister for Transport Shane Ross. The Bill proposes a mandatory driving ban for all motorists caught over the alcohol limit.


The stance of the Galway East deputy has annoyed some of his colleagues within the alliance, all of whom will be supporting the Bill, which is the first piece of legislation forwarded by the group. Minister of State John Halligan insisted on Monday Mr Canney should have raised his concerns over the proposals at previous meetings of the Independent Alliance and not aired them first on the public airwaves at the weekend.

Contradiction piled upon contradiction… September 25, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

In some ways the departure of AfD leadership member Frauke Petry is only curious in so far that it didn’t happen earlier. A good piece in the Guardian by Cas Mudde notes that such parties are wracked with splits with ‘moderates’ and/or conservatives tending to do a runner sooner or later from ‘radical right’ parties.

…in the past years several rightwing populist parties have radicalised and transformed into populist radical right parties, such as AfD, the Finns party in Finland, and Ukip in Britain. This always leads to internal struggles, and the exit of more “moderate” cadres – who often found their own, new party, while the vast majority of supporters tend to stay with the more radical party; as was also the case with the Front National in the 1990s and Austria’s Freedom party in the early 2000s.

It’s also fair to say that for all their rhetoric those operations are often very slipshod and even amateurish. UKIP is another good example of same. And these parties are awash with contradiction.

Perhaps this last is best served by another AfD leader, Alice Weidel who seems to almost in a single iteration embody so many of those contradictions. Anti-immigrant but former Goldman Sachs/Allianz employee, in a same sex relationship but anti-same sex marriage, and then there’s this which strikes me as utterly telling:

In April 2017, Weidel rallied against political correctness, claiming that it belonged on the “garbage heap of history”. In response, on 27 April, TV presenter Christian Ehring of the satire program extra 3 addressed this, saying “sure, put an end to political correctness. Let’s all be politically incorrect. That Nazi slut must be right. Was that politically incorrect enough? I hope so.” Weidel sued the channel seeking to forbid re-airing of the program, and on 17 May the Hamburg District Court ruled against her, stating that a public figure must stand against exaggerated criticism.[9][10] Weidel disagreed with the decision and promised to bring it to the Oberlandesgericht (Higher Regional Court).[11]

It is, by any reckoning a deeply unpleasant comment to make about Weidel – and not one that should be made, but one has to wonder what yardstick she uses to measure political correctness.

Sectarianism and the WOI September 25, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Reading this very measured overview of the debate around sectarianism in the War of Independence and after in this state by Gemma Clark, lecturer in British and Irish history at the University of Exeter,Sec the question arises again, what is the purpose of those who attempt to portray those processes and events as sectarian in whole or significant part?

I know we’ve touched on this recently, but did we come to a definitive or nearly definitive conclusion? Is it a continuation of the political conflict with Sinn Féin – one that in a context of peer-sharing and devolved government in the North, albeit with new added chaos from Brexit, seems curious. Is it a belief that in some sense the project for Irish independence is itself irredeemably sectarian – something that seems a conceptual and historical stretch. Is it an aversion to physical force – odd given that few can claim they eschewed physical force, and certainly Britain in Ireland was characterised by same.

I’m genuinely curious.

Policing and whistleblowers: The more things change… September 25, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Reading the excellent Bombs, Bullets and the Border by Patrick Mulroe (or which more soon and which, full disclosure, references one comment on this very site) I was struck by one section in particular which had a very contemporary resonance. Discussing the emergence of the Heavy Gang it pointed to divisions within the Gardaí about such methods, and also a culture of antagonism to those who dared expose any issues.

It notes that ‘individual members did take steps to stop maltreatment’ but also offers the example of one Garda who heard screams from within a station where a suspect was being held after a Garda was shot. The SCC ‘rejected allegations of brutality against GardaI… the Garda reporting the screams was apparently ‘sent to Coventry’ by his colleagues’.

Another instance where failures in an investigation of the assassination of British ambassador Ewart-Biggs were brought to light by two serving Gardaí saw them ‘being victimised while those responsible were promoted’.

Another opinion poll! September 25, 2017

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From the Daily Mail/Ireland Thinks…

It shows Fine Gael on 32%, up one point since the last comparable Irish Daily Mail/Ireland Thinks poll in June.

There is a three point rise in support for Fianna Fáil which stands at 29%.

Sinn Féin are down two points with support for the party measured at 14%, Labour on 5% are also down two percentage points while the Green Party drop one to sit at 3% support.

Independents and others are on 12%, that is a one point increase.

Solidarity-People Before Profit and the Social Democrats are each unchanged on 2%.

The interesting percentage for me, or one of the most interesting, is the share of FF/FG in all recent polls.

Left Archive: The Blanket – Vol 1, No. 1, Winter 2002 September 25, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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To download the above please click on the following link. The Blanket./a>

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

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

A range of documents were donated to the Archive from a number of groups and organisations from the 2000-2002 period. We’ll be posting them up over the Summer in order to get a sense of the specific concerns during that period, now a good decade and a half ago. This is the first.

This edition, number 1, of the Blanket is particularly fascinating. Issued in Winter 2002 it has a pessimistic tone with various contributions including a front page article by Liam O’Ruairc arguing that ‘Irish Republicanism is in crisis’. An interview with Marion Price states that ‘I wouldn’t consider SF of today being republicans, I see SF as being a nationalist party… for Republicans I think we had a setback’.

An editorial by O’Ruairc and Anthony McIntyre reiterates this:

…this journal is also very conscious that Irish Republicanism is at present facing a serious crisis. To attempt to solve this crisis, this journal intends to regenerate what is best in the Irish Republican tradition. We believe that what is most valid in it could e summarised as the ‘three Ds’; defiance, defence and dissent. Any society needs dissent from the structures of power, defence against the structures of power and to defy the structures of power. Provisional Republicanism long enough provided that until those ideas were ‘decommissioned’ by people claiming to be Republicans. Failure to regenerate them today will allow Truceleers and Good Friday Solders to use the Republican tradition to legitimate their own ends.

There is much more including book reviews, an article addressing unionism and decommissioning and reports on issues outside of Ireland.

An important addition to the Archive.

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