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Some more clips from the Ireland and the Spanish Republic series of talks On the 80th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War October 23, 2016

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Some more clips from the Ireland and the Spanish Republic series of talks On the 80th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War.
Many thanks to The Irish Republican Marxist History Project
Speaker : Dr Barry N Whelan

Speaker: Dr Brian Hanley. The IRA, the Republican Congress and the Blueshirts.

HFR October 22, 2016

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Or High Frame Rate – a method of filming at higher frame rates. Ang Lee has just put out a film in 3D at 120 frames per second. This approach has earned more brickbats than accolades.
I’ve never seen one myself (I avoided visiting the cinema for the Hobbit trilogy), has anyone here? What’s it like?

Star Wars themed jets October 22, 2016

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star-wars-branded-jets-by-ana-airlinesReading Airliner World (I do it so you don’t have to) I see that All Nippon Airways have three or four Star Wars themed jets. Their livery is in R2D2, BB8 styling. And it’s not bad. Of course I have to wonder if one could put pretty much anything on the exterior of a jet and it would look good. Though perhaps not (I think Braniff may be the worst – though memorable).

More on Libraries… October 22, 2016

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Thanks to the person who forwarded this:

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Eoin Ó Broin TD has expressed concern about plans to extend the staffless libraries pilot scheme.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“I share some of the concerns raised by the Staff Our Libraries campaign on the plan to continue the rollout of staffless libraries to approx. 20 branches after the initial trial of the service in libraries in Tullamore, Banagher and Tubbercurry.

“The campaign group is calling for a full and independent analysis of the pilot scheme on which this roll out plan is based and I support this call.

“Furthermore, an iron clad guarantee needs to be given by Minister Coveney from the floor of the Dáil that the continued rollout of this scheme will not result in staffing hours being cut.

“Professional librarians are an invaluable resource in all our local libraries and we need reassurances from the Minister that they will not be replaced by automated services. The Minster also needs to provide assurances that the will be provisions made for people with disabilities or those with special needs during the staffless hours in the 20 plus pilot locations. I have raised this matter with the Minister and I will do so again in the coming weeks.” ENDS

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… AnDa Union October 22, 2016

Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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Started listening to these again recently.From Inner Mongolia AnDa Union play traditional Mongolian music in a variety of styles. Mongolian Throat singing , Horse head fiddles and other traditional instruments. They have played in the UK but as far as I know they have yet to play here.

If you’ve time the below link is to “Anda Union From The Steppes To The City” a documentary on the band.


Then some of their music

Punk milestones: October 22nd 1976, First British punk single released…. October 22, 2016

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New Rose, from the Damned, released this day, October 22nd 1977. Produced by Nick Lowe. And the B-side – perhaps presciently given their pop inclinations, Help! by the Beatles.

“Clogged up” ports October 21, 2016

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Yet another problem to add to the farce. The latest wrinkle in the Brexit story.

Ministers were also warned that some ports, including Dover and Holyhead, which handle a lot of road freight, could be seriously clogged up if there were customs checks on vehicles transporting goods.
The document said that extra infrastructure required, likely to include dozens of parking spaces for lorries undergoing checks, could not physically be built in Dover because of its cliffs.

I once travelled overland from Ireland to Austria – around 1982 if I recall correctly. I well remember the longest part of the journey – seemingly – was the wait on both sides of the English Channel.

Back to the future.

Moderates and liberals October 21, 2016

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Michael McDowell is, not unlike many of us, puzzled by how Trump managed to get ‘so close to assuming the presidency of the most powerful nation on Earth’. I’ve got to say, I don’t think he can win, but I won’t rule out the possibility that he might. So perhaps best to wait a while and see what happens.

Still, McDowell is spot on in the next part:

The blame of this complete betrayal of the democratic system must lie fairly nd squarely with the Republican Party. They nominated him. Most of them endorsed him. many of their congresspeople and senators are now scurrying rat-like to and fro on the ropes between two sinking ships – the rotten hull of the USS Trump and the water soaked decks of their own fragile candidates.

McDowell doesn’t hold back, either:

Earlier this year, and before Trump was selected, and in the context of warning against complacency that Trump would be easily defeated, I wrote here: ‘If the GOP has allowed it self to become the political cat’s paw of a coalition of birthers, racists, homophobes, creationists calling themselves evangelists, plutocrats who regard state-funded healthcare as s threat to their savings, pacifists in the war on poverty and butters who want to water board and bomb their way to international respect we should worry not just for the US but for ourselves.

And he blames all this on a Republican party which ‘failed to deal with the Tea Party, which hijacked the Republican Party and drove it to the extremes… and they were let do so by moderate Republicans, who became ashamed to describe themselves as ‘moderate’. Moderate became the ‘M word’ just as libel earlier became the ‘L word’, immoderate and illiberal became by necessary logic, badges of praise. Then there is Fox News. The damage Fox is doing to American democracy is very clear and obvious now.

He relates how those like ‘resident right-winger’ Glenn Beck ‘peddled his hateful bile’. Ironically, as was put to me, Beck is one of those steamrollered by Trump et al. McDowell is scathing about gun laws, creationism and makes a good point that all the rhetoric about Hillary having ‘hate in her heart’ and ‘Obama is divisive’ is just so much hot air.

Of course, some of that rhetoric, and particularly that around Fox, was performative. Not exactly insincere – at least not in all cases, but overheated and exaggerated for effect. But surely social media is another part of this too. I mention Ken Bone elsewhere. That is a prime example of how uncontrolled social media is, in the sense that it surges where it will.

In a way what is also interesting is how McDowell’s politics, which most of us would position firmly right of centre is in his own perception quite distinct from all this. Whether he is entirely immune to these dynamics is another matter. I recall his railing against equality, to taken an example at random, and wonder if the distance is quite as great as he proposes. And yet, and yet, he thinks it is.

We often reflect on the cleavages between and within the left(s) but the same is true on the right, just there’s a tendency to, I think mostly, rally to the banner. Power tends to see the right consolidate rather than otherwise. And that explains one part of the puzzle. But whatever about it appearing monolithic there remain divisions within.

UK left in pieces? Well… October 21, 2016

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Here’s an odd one, a piece by David Marquand in Prospect which after a bumpy start winds up – unexpectedly, for me at least, in a place where I think he may be correct. So we here the ritual stuff about Labour’s unloved leader. But clearly only unloved by some, that being a fair tranche of the PP. Yet Marquand notes that:

The Jeremy Corbyn surge that transformed the contours of Labour politics a year ago was undoubtedly powered by revulsion against the ideological vacuity of the Tony Blair-Gordon Brown New Labour regime of 1997-2010. Blair’s insistence that Labour now stood for a preposterous “Third Way” designed to turn Britain into a “young country”; the contempt for civil liberties that pervaded a series of “anti-terror” laws; and, above all, the unlawful folly of the Iraq War stank in the nostrils, not just of the so-called “hard left,” but of idealistic progressives of all ages. Brown’s assiduous courtship of the City and insistence that financial regulation would be “limited touch” and not just “light touch” were less obvious, but another affront to traditional social democracy. Meanwhile, the Gini coefficient, which had measured a sharp climb in inequality under Margaret Thatcher, stubbornly refused to fall. Against that background, Corbyn’s election and now re-election are not just understandable; they were predictable. The shock and horror with which the Westminster village greeted them only shows that its denizens have lost the plot.

I think that’s correct.

He then continues:

Unfortunately, the Corbyn remedy has proved to be poison. The civil war between extra-parliamentary Corbynites and the New Labour retreads in the parliamentary party has made Labour unelectable. If a general election were held tomorrow, Theresa May would sail to victory. Almost certainly, Labour would suffer a crushing defeat—perhaps as crushing as 1983, conceivably as crushing as 1935 or 1931. All the signs are that the party I joined at 20 is in terminal decline.

The problem is that that is nowhere near as clear cut as he presents it. Terminal decline? Hardly. In a problematic place, without question.

In fairness Marquand notes having looked around Europe at various examples of social democracy that are in serious decline, or worse:

To a political class accustomed to taking class and ideology for granted this new landscape is both incomprehensible and alarming. Some are in denial. Labour politicians as varied as Lisa Nandy and David Miliband have suggested that the old show can be kept on the road if Labour adopts a revamped ideology, more appropriate to the new world order which has emerged since its last winning streak, and appeals more energetically to the insecure, “left-behind’ working class which flirts with Ukip and voted “Leave” in the EU referendum. Labour, in short, can flourish again if it makes modest changes in order to stay the same—a tactic sometimes known as “dynamic conservatism.”

And he does make a fair point here too:

Activists of the left, including Momentum may convince themselves that traditional politics of ideology and class is in rude health, because they have recruited many hundreds of thousands of members. That, however, is deluded, because the numbers they will need to prevail in a general election run into millions, rather than hundreds of thousands, and there is no sign in local elections or opinion polls of them making any progress at all. Other progressives recognise that the emerging landscape is indeed new, but find it so distasteful that they can’t bring themselves to grasp its inner meaning or grapple with the emotional dynamics which brought it into being. A good example is Vince Cable, the most perceptive front-rank politician of recent times. He has realised that the old politics of class and ideology are under threat from a new politics of identity and ethnicity, but he assumes as a given that these new politics are inherently irreconcilable with the historic values of social liberalism and social democracy.

But I, personally, don’t believe it is anywhere near time to make that assessment that the energy unleashed by Corbyn cannot make inroads in the medium term. This idea of political projects as being immediate, next election things, is far too short-sighted. It takes years to build and consolidate. Indeed the trajectory of New Labour itself suggests precisely that. And if New Labour was played out – as even Marquand admits, then for a successor to simply step in to fill the breach was unlikely, if not indeed impossible. Similarly with Toryism after Thatcher.

But where Marquand becomes particularly interesting is in what follows:

If his assumption were valid, the outlook for progressives like me—who have spent a lifetime trying to figure out how best to marry and promote these two progressive traditions—would be dire indeed. Fortunately, the assumption is awry. True, some movements which fly the flag of identity are patently hostile to liberal and social democratic values: Ukip and the motley crew of Tory Brexiteers who did the heavy lifting in the “Leave” campaign rank among them, as do Poland’s Law and Justice Party, Austria’s Freedom Party and Geert Wilders’s Party for Freedom in the Netherlands. But some movements which have abandoned the old politics of class-based ideology in favour of the new politics of place and identity are as committed to liberal and social democratic values as parties of the traditional left.

This is true of the Catalan separatists who are steadily gaining ground in what is still north-eastern Spain, less certainly of the Basque nationalists in the north-west and of the 30-odd regionalist and/or separatist parties in the European Free Alliance. Some are distinctly exotic, if not eccentric—Mebyon Kernow in Cornwall, the Occitan party in France and the Schleswig party in Denmark. But in the two non-English nations of Great Britain—Scotland and Wales—the story is more auspicious.

And he points to the SNP and Plaid Cymru as examples of social democratish parties that have locked into a progressive left nationalism.

He admits:

Where all this leaves progressives in England is far from obvious. If solidarity could somehow be engendered by new movements at the regional level, then one can imagine an analogue with the inclusive nationalism that has developed in Scotland and Wales. Unfortunately, with arbitrary and ahistoric borders, the big regions—such as the north-west, or the East Midlands—scarcely touch identity at all. Indeed, John Prescott was humiliated in a 2004 referendum in which he tried and failed to persuade the citizens of the north east to back a new assembly.

But discussing London and other big cities he notes more hopeful signs. Labour in London for example, and the mayoralty:

It encouraged Londoners—who increasingly identify as such—to believe that the capital could go its own way. As indeed London did in both the EU referendum, in which it broke heavily for “Remain,” and the last general election, when it swung to the left despite the nationwide Conservative victory. With new metro-mayors for Manchester and other conurbations in prospect, it may be that Labour parties (or radical independents, like the first-term Livingstone) in other great cities will be able to develop agendas that go with the grain of their citizens’ identities, just as Sadiq Khan is now doing at City Hall.

By the by that point about London being Remain is hugely important, as were most other metropolitan centres. He concludes:

Make no mistake, though, the political mechanics of allying the metropolitan social liberalism that might thrive in the cities, with the more conservative Labourism that might still stand the best chance in small-town England, where very different identities are salient, will be fraught indeed. Who knows what sort of pacts or institutional innovations may be required? What is certain is that it will take a politician of rare creativity to find answers.

But for progressives who are lucky enough to live in Scotland or Wales, the reconciliation of the politics of identity with social democracy need not be so fraught. Like the SNP, Plaid Cymru practices the politics of ethnic identity, but in a distinctively Welsh and less abrasive fashion. Both parties offer more hopeful paths for their respective nations than does the played out Labourism of yesteryear. I shall vote accordingly in the next Westminster and Assembly elections.

I don’t know whether in England it is possible at this point to reshape politics to that direction. It seems to me that currently there is such an entrenched hostility to the left – even the mild left, that achieving a measure of state power is going to be deeply difficult. Whether the LP – the British LP – can present itself as a standard bearer of SNP style mild progressive leftism (and some would question that last quite justifiably, though the SNP is ironically more clearly rhetorically left wing than the Blair LP) is hugely open to question. As to a successor, well, can’t see that happening.

Perhaps I do an injustice to Marquand, but at least he seems to be engaging with the reality as it is now of a Corbyn led LP.

The other pieces are intriguing, not least Andy Beckett who is a fraction more optimistic than I am. What do people make of the last piece by former LP MP Gregg McClymount who lost his seat to the SNP at the 2015 GE? He seems to believe that the LP could vanish entirely. I’m sceptical, but…

Rally for Justice! Tomorrow October 21, 2016

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