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Problems for the BLP January 20, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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This from Politico provides an insight into the current woes of the BLP. Granted it is riding reasonably high in the polls. It has gained another MP defecting from the Tories. But what’s happening behind the scenes?

Britain’s Labour Party is asking its own staff to accept a real-terms pay cut as it deals with the loss of more than £3 million to falling membership and reduced trade union support.

The decline in income from two traditional sources will increase pressure on Labour leader Keir Starmer to attract big donations as he seeks to benefit from Boris Johnson’s trouble in the polls.

Labour staff were briefed on the state of the opposition party’s finances at a meeting last week with senior party figures. They were offered a 2 percent pay uplift for next year — a real-terms cut when inflation is factored in.

And what of this?
 

Staff were told that the decline in membership has been much higher than expected, while potential fines from a security breach in November and a loss of union contributions have caused “substantial” additional costs.

The large trade union Unite, which has previously been Labour’s biggest funder and was a staunch supporter of Starmer’s left-wing predecessor Jeremy Corbyn, announced last year it would cut political donations to the party and divert the money to union campaigns.

Labour membership peaked in January 2020 at more than 500,000, but figures presented to staff last week suggest it has been falling since.

And:

One staff member who lost their job accused the party of “talking a good game about workers’ rights while senior officials treat Labour staff with contempt and tank the party’s resources.”

They added that the argument that jobs had to go to make the party “fighting fit” for elections had been shown up as “a lie.”

Fear? January 20, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Ah, the Irish Times. Its health correspondent offers a piece that seeks to make some sort of overview of where we are in the pandemic (something that some will find echoes this rather more robust effort by Tomas Pueyo – I don’t agree with everything but broadly it is good). Needless to say the framing at the IT continues. It is entitled “As Covid risk recedes, we will need to unwind built-up fear”.

But, tellingly this is the only reference to fear in the actual piece:

Finally, we all will need to unwind the fear we have built up during the pandemic to match the reducing risk posed by Covid-19.

Fear is an interesting one though. Look at the Amarach studies and what one finds is not so much ‘fear’ as caution, resignation and a range of other emotions. Indeed Fear was, in terms of recorded emotional wellbeing, only higher than the next emotion (Loneliness) for a brief period in March 2020 when it was at 22%. Since then it fell to 10% in June of that year, rose slowly to 16% in October of that year. Dipped to 10% in November and December before rising to 16% in January and February of last year. From then it remained for most of the year around 10 down to 7% before rising to 10%, 12% and then back down to 10% in November, December and early January of this year. This isn’t to deny that stress was the highest rated negative emotion. But again that was variable and interesting was lower than than the highest rated positive emotion by a good 10% or more most of the past two years. So even that framing seems askance. Surely Cullen would be better looking at stress as an issue, or loneliness.

Note the following:

The world fought back with lockdowns and other restrictions that were and still are highly divisive.

Were they, are they? Not according to the Amarach polling. There were distinctly different views, but the vast majority supported those restrictions and continue to do so.

While it does look as if many restrictions can be unwound, given the way in which the pandemic is heading, at least for the moment, there’s this, which seems premature:

Many will chose to continue wearing masks, keeping their distance and limiting their social interactions, but the rationale for universal mask mandates will diminish. If rules need to be reimposed at some point so be it, but make this conditional on clearly-agreed criteria.

And the Pueyo article linked to above makes the case very clearly that some more weeks of caution is a good idea: “You might want to remain vigilant for a few weeks while this wave passes. You don’t want to join a full ICU and no available treatment anywhere around you.” Sensible advice.

And more broadly? This from the Guardian:

What does all this mean in terms of living with Covid-19? We still need to test. We still need to vaccinate and combat misinformation. We need to encourage people to wear medical-grade masks such as N95s in crowded and indoor settings. Employers need to recognise and support employees who have been identified as in a shielding group. We also need to review isolation and other policies so they remain safe, but are less disruptive to the functioning of society.

We will still need to monitor Covid-19 in public health, as we do other diseases. When people say it will be “endemic”, that doesn’t mean harmless. Endemic means that we accept a circulation of a disease because elimination or eradication is perceived as too difficult. Malaria, dengue and measles are endemic in certain parts of the world even though they are all serious diseases. Malaria was endemic in the United States until the government decided to eliminate it.

 

Trouble at Westminster… January 19, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Embarrassing morning for Boris Johnson.

The Tory MP Christian Wakeford has defected to Labour, piling more pressure on Boris Johnson as growing numbers within his own party call on the prime minister to resign.

Just minutes before prime minister’s questions, Wakeford – elected as the MP for Bury South in 2019 – crossed the floor to sit with Keir Starmer’s party, declaring in a letter to Johnson resigning the Conservative whip that he was “incapable of offering the leadership and government this country deserves”.

The move will prove a huge embarrassment for Johnson, who is fighting to avoid enough of his own backbenchers submitting letters calling for a no-confidence vote. Fifty-four are needed to trigger a ballot. Many of those who have written a letter are members of the 2019 intake, like Wakeford. He submitted a letter last week.

Not that I’d exactly call the new Labour MP necessarily the greatest adornment for the BLP. 

Collusive behaviours January 19, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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There’s long been a trope on parts of the right in the UK and in certain other quarters about the RUC which has been all too generous to that organisation as a whole, and which regards the replacement by the PSNI as some sort of great wrong. Yet reading this report it is difficult not to feel that the eventual disbandment was essential for broader societal acceptance of policing.

An official investigation into police handling of loyalist paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland that resulted in 19 murders has identified “collusive behaviours” and “significant concerns” about officers’ conduct.

The long-delayed report by the Northern Ireland police ombudsman into the killings included an investigation into the circumstances around the 1993 Greysteel pub massacre, which left eight people dead and 19 injured.

All the attacks were carried out by the Ulster Defence Association/Ulster Freedom Fighters in the north-west of the island of Ireland between 1989 and 1993.

What’s particularly notable is how late in the conflict these attacks were. But also notable is how the RUC had information on potential targets which was not conveyed to a number of them.

While she said that there was no evidence that the RUC had prior knowledge of the attacks, the names of a number of people targeted in the attacks were discovered in loyalist “intelligence caches” between November 1989 and February 1992.

The police failed to warn a number of people their lives were at risk and in some cases did no assessment of the risk. That, she said, was a “contravention of RUC Force Orders”.

Of the 11 attacks investigated, seven involved the targeting of individuals whose names had appeared in the caches.

What you want to say – 19th January 2022 January 19, 2022

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
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As always, following on Dr. X’s suggestion, it’s all yours, “announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose”, feel free.

Remote working stats January 19, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Some fascinating statistics in relation to remote working in the Republic released by the CSO yesterday. Two particularly striking ones.

A new survey from the Central Statistics Office reveals that 90% of those aged between 35 and 44 years who could work remotely would like to do so when Covid-19 pandemic restrictions end.

The CSO’s ‘Our Lives Online Pulse Survey’ also shows that 80% of those in employment have worked remotely at some point since the start of the pandemic.

That last statistic is surprising to me. Are there that many jobs in the economy that allow up to 80% of workers to work remotely? I’d have thought it was fewer, but if even close to that 80% that’s an enormous number of people who have the facility to work in that context. I’m guessing, though I could well be wrong, that some of these would be companies who turned from public facing to delivery? But is that it? Or is the figure overstated?

As for the appetite for working from home I’m very intrigued by the demographic – 35 – 44. That’s younger than I’d have expected for that sort of sentiment. Any explanations there for that?

And this rings true:

This [80%] compares to just 23% having worked remotely at some point before the outbreak of Covid.

Predictably for those who want the option of WFH there’s a distinction in the figures:

Of the 90% of those workers who would like to work remotely, 28% said they would like to do so all the time, while 60% said they would like to work remotely some of the time.

Just 12% said they would not like to work remotely in the future.

 

This following makes perfect sense:

The CSO said that respondents who could work remotely and living in the Mid-East Region – Kildare, Louth, Meath and Wicklow – as well as those who used public transport and those whose travel time to work before the pandemic was more than one hour were more likely to say they would like to work remotely after all pandemic restrictions are removed.

As does this:

74% of those who work remotely said they felt they had more time on their hands, because of remote work, to do things they never got the chance to do before the pandemic.

For those fortunate in short commutes that hour or more sounds daunting. But a lot of people have to contend with that day in day out. Where I work I know people who come in from Waterford on a regular basis.

 

It’s all very interesting but I would like to see some information on how work life intrudes in the WFH scenario to home life. I know for myself and I’m far from a Stakhanovite, that there’s a tendency to check work emails over the weekend to see what is coming in on a Monday morning, or to check them in an evening, and I’m fortunate in not having to field calls after working hours. That’s a sort of mission creep and one can view it as a good thing – psychologically being prepared for the ebbs and flows of work, or a bad thing – letting work intrude into time periods where it never did before. And for those who have to field a lot of calls during and often after working hours, well that’s a whole different ballgame.

Also there’s the question, as raised by many people in comments here under other articles on this topic, about the suitability of domestic spaces for work. Two years in, more or less, and that’s something I don’t even think about – but it is a very real element of all this and I should, as should anyone working from home.

 

 



Energy Costs January 19, 2022

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.
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My electricty/ gas bill arrived during the week. I thought we had been doing alright in waiting to turn the heating on, turning off lights, unplugging things etc…. I shudder to think what it would have been if we hadn’t made a small effort.

The proposed €100 energy discount being given by the Government will be a drop in the ocean for some people. I’m working from home, which means the odd cold day I might put the heating on earlier than normal , at least though i’m not paying the cost of petrol or diesel for a commute.

I know there are international factors at play but if we have a brutal cold snap, people will be at the pin of their collar, already there are many choosing between heat and food.

The implications of the rapid rise in energy costs are huge. Post Covid could be the issue the government are most worried about.

An invasion of the North in 1969? January 18, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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What do people make of this a report, from the Irish News, that suggests:

A CO Tyrone man has claimed the Irish army came within minutes of invading the north to highlight the plight of nationalists faced with a sectarian onslaught in the late 1960s.

He ‘revealed how he was in a house in Dublin with former Irish government minister Neil Blaney when the daring operation was dramatically called off at the last minute.’

But…

A secret Irish army document, Interim Report of Planning Board on Northern Ireland Operations, also known as ‘Exercise Armageddon’ and drawn up in 1969, later confirmed plans by the government to cross the border but warned such as move undertaken against the north would be “militarily unsound”.

Here’s a post on this topic from the past. 

“Seeking No Honours: Tom & Marie Johnson” New ILHS title. January 18, 2022

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This new ILHS title by Shay Cody (current president) and Charles Callan,(former president and long-time secretary) with reflections from Padraig Yeates and Brendan Howlin from the ILHS has just arrived from the printer 

It is 136 pages in length and has been much anticipated and retails for €12.00. It includes a number of interesting additional pieces including Cathal O’Shannon’s tribute published in Liberty, February 1963,amendments to the Democratic Programme, and Johnson’s statement to the Bureau of Military History. Facing the inside the back cover is a colour image of Tom and Fred Johnson’s refurbished gravestone.

The piece on Marie Johnson is an expanded piece written by Charles Callan from his earlier essay in Saothar: Journal of the ILHS.
The publication is sponsored by the Fórsa trade union.

Making it up as they go along… January 18, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Fairly blatant stunt by the British government in relation to the temporary return of the dual mandate. But as noted yesterday, this is far from uncontentious – for example.

A row over “double jobbing”, which would mean MPs in Westminster also sitting in the Stormont assembly, has erupted in Northern Ireland with accusations the government is trying to prop up the Democratic Unionist party.

The chair of the Northern Ireland affairs committee, Simon Hoare, described the move as a bad idea and urged the House of Lords to reject the relevant amendment to proposed legislation.

And the Guardian notes that:

The proposals, to temporarily restore a practice that was banned in 2016, would allow the DUP leader, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, to contest the Northern Ireland assembly elections in May while remaining an MP at Westminster.

On Monday, Donaldson confirmed that he planned to stand for the local Lagan Valley seat at Stormont while remaining an MP, a move that could make him eligible to become first or deputy first minister if the DUP succeeded in becoming the biggest or second biggest party.

He was pressed on reports that a second DUP MP was also planning to stand for local election but declined to identify the individual, saying the selection process was not yet complete.

It’s pretty dismal really. A sort of gaming of democratic processes for the advantage of one party, and gamed by the British government. Difficult to disagree with the following:

The Ulster Unionist party MLA [member of the legislative assembly] Mike Nesbitt said the plan “reeks of corruption”, claiming Boris Johnson’s government was “going out of its way to prop up and support one party”.

The DUP’s response is laughable.

The DUP hit out at what it termed “fake outrage” by political opponents, saying the proposal would bring stability to Northern Ireland “at a time when devolution is deeply unstable because of a one-sided and undemocratic [Brexit] protocol”.

Even in purely practical terms this is an absurd proposal. But in democratic terms it is worse, diluting the ability of those elected to one democratic institution to function fully because they’re having to also work in another. These sort of expedient and self-serving moves only undermine democratic structures. Very very unwise.

 

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