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What a difference a day or two makes… September 30, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics.

John McHale, writing in the Irish Times on Tuesday, 28th of September.

Spain provides a good example of what can be done when markets take the view that you are getting on top of your policy challenges. Relatively modest accomplishments on its budgetary and banking policies have allowed Spain to detach itself from the stigma of the other “peripherals” – Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

Reported in the Irish Times on Thursday, 30th of September.

The euro fell the most in a week against the yen, fuelled by the Central Bank’s announcement and Moody’s Investors Service downgrading of Spain’s debt ranking.
Moody’s lowered Spain’s rating by one step to Aa1 from Aaa, citing the nation’s “weak” economy.

Not quite meanwhile back at the Seanad… September 30, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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Mid-morning, Seanad Éireann, the chamber rather sparsely attended during ‘Statements on the Economy’ – natch – and what does one see on the live feed, Pearse Doherty making an impassioned attack on the lack of clarity over matters financial, and who is that sitting beside him, is it, could it be, no, not Eoghan Harris!

Meanwhile, the emissary from the Department of Finance, Martin Mansergh, made the following intriguing statement…

Public sector wages have been cut providing a clear lead for other areas of the economy, or some such…

…wasn’t the original central argument that public sector wages were too high both in themselves and relative to the rest of the economy, not that the PS would be trailblazers for overall cuts?

Ah, how quickly they forget.

The third poll of Autumn… September 30, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.

This is great stuff and no mistake. I haven’t been able to get the print edition of the IT yet, but… what was released last night is remarkable.

When people were asked who they would vote for if there was a general election tomorrow, the figures for party support when the undecided voters are excluded, compared with the last Irish Times poll on June 11th last, were: Fianna Fáil, 24 per cent (up three points); Fine Gael, 24 per cent (down three points); Labour, 33 per cent (up four points); Sinn Féin, 8 per cent (down two points); Green Party, 2 per cent (down two points); and Independents/ Others, 9 per cent (no change).

This clearly doesn’t tally with the SBP poll at the weekend, indeed it’s hugely divergent as regards both FG and Labour.

And just as the SBP poll prompted the thought that those who might relish its findings were precisely those who wouldn’t have much liked the TV3 poll, well, now we have another turnaround.

Now, perhaps this is due to the following:

The polling company Ipsos MRBI has dropped the adjustment it has applied to the figures for the past decade. It was has reverted to a simple exclusion of undecided voters for the top line figures which are compared to the same figures in the last poll.

But the core votes don’t tell us much more either…

The core vote for the parties (before undecided voters are excluded) compared with the last Irish Times poll was: Fianna Fáil, 19 per cent (up three points); Fine Gael, 20 per cent (down one point); Labour, 27 per cent (up five points); Sinn Féin, 6 per cent (down two points); Green Party, 2 per cent (down one point); Independents/Others, 8 per cent (up one point); and undecided voters, 18 per cent (down five points).

Note that last figure. As IELB noted last night, and he will have a longer post soon here, people are making minds up…

And there remain oddities:

Despite the improvement in Fianna Fáil’s position, just 13 per cent of voters are satisfied with the way the Government is doing its job (a rise of one point) while 83 per cent are dissatisfied (no change).

What to say?

In a way it doesn’t matter if it’s accurate or not, and most likely it’s not. 1 in 3 prepared to vote Labour. Maybe. Probably not. But it is significant in reflecting a churn of sentiment and worse again for some having potential effects on actual political activity and events, however tangentially.

Terrible terrible news for Fine Gael. And Kenny’s performance in the Dáil yesterday won’t have helped much. One wonders if we’ll see coup redux any time soon, particularly if the timeline to the election seems to lengthen much beyond the Winter (although that is, one imagines, contingent on the Budget being passed, and no end of fun yet to come as regards a certain M. McGrath and N. Grealish and their positions on various issues health related).

In that circumstance some might just think it worth looking for a replacement leader who would have a few, maybe more than a few, months to settle in. Particularly as sonofstan noted last night, on these figures FG could lose seats. Now there’s something I’m sure they hadn’t reckoned on. And for the first time there seems to be something of a prospect of the LP moving towards a parity of seats with FG (lower than the LP, I’m sceptical). Again, that’s something I’d imagine FG hadn’t counted on, so perhaps prepare for anything.

Sinn Féin remain mired in the 6-10% band that they have appropriated for the past seven or so years. Far from bad, but no breakthrough (though perhaps they might console themselves that given the movement elsewhere on the Opposition polling side they’ve done remarkably well to consolidate their vote).

Whether the rating for Labour is correct or not, and as I noted earlier in the week I’m dubious, it does provide them with a terrific fillip at just the point they need it. It doesn’t so much matter as to its accuracy as to the perception it conveys that the LP is in the game at a completely differently level to heretofore.

And the intervention by R. Quinn during the week as regards the Dáil pairings underlined that dynamic, so much so that it elicited particularly sour responses from Fergus O’Dowd and Alan Shatter of Fine Gael which merely pointed up the absurdity of the initial decision.

Of course another way of looking at this is that there potentially might be tremendous volatility in the FG/LP vote. But while possible somehow that doesn’t entirely convince me.

Note that as with the SBP poll the Independents and Others votes are holding up quite nicely. Surely, surely that must indicate a fair wind for Joe Higgins and one or two other further left candidates.


All this is to ignore something quite remarkable, polling results, consistent polling results across protracted periods of time whereby the traditional structure of Irish political loyalties have been significantly changed. In a way it’s not that Labour is polling so well in two polls as Fianna Fáil continues to poll so poorly. No wonder there is gloom on the FF benches, and maybe we’ll see more than Grealish and McGrath raise their head above the parapet. An historic low for Fianna Fáil appears to be right ahead.

The storming of the Dáil… September 29, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics.

Well now. Here we go. It was clear from the photographs that the truck wasn’t driven into the gates, so much as through them. Presumably the driver didn’t know of, or ignored, the mechanical barrier that lies just inside the gates.

Interestingly the garda helicopter wasn’t on site until 8.50, but given that there was little (or nothing, yes, let’s go with nothing) it could reveal from the air that wasn’t apparent on the ground small wonder it was gone by 9.00 or so.

As a protest it was well thought out, the immobiliser being a particularly nice touch in that it delayed the removal of the offending vehicle. And as a defining image, well, any semiotician worth their salt will tell you the importance of concise clear-cut messages.

This will be short hand for the Anglo-Irish debacle for quite some time. Prepare for cartoons, perhaps even a quip on Jay Leno (I jest, sort of – by the way on a slight tangent anyone who read the not so ‘funnies’ in the Phoenix this fortnight will have realised, as I did, just how appallingly that interview will continue to play for Cowen).

On the other hand, as a long-time community activist of my acquaintance who rang me to to tell me the news said, in case being actually in work I wasn’t aware of what was going a relative stones throw away (which by the way I wasn’t having not heard the news), it’s really just a side-show. And this isn’t the storming of the Bastille. Tedious as it may seem it’s feet on streets and political activism that will blunt the policies of this government. And that, as we all know, is a fair bit more difficult even than driving a cement truck in through the gates of Dáil Éireann.

More from the economic front… September 29, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics.
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It’s a bit annoying to be presenting what may seem like my single-transferable post on Sunday Business Post editorials, but really, reading the latest one the sense of deja vu is unmistakable. Isn’t this what they said last week?

With the publication of this weekend’s opinion polls and the fear of a general election asserting itself among the Fianna Fáil party, the immediate threat to Brian Cowen’s leadership appears to have passed.

However, his jaded government is showing few outward signs of getting to grips in a constant and coherent way with the crisis we face.

Well yes, but in different words.

Anyhow, you’d think the SBP would be contented with a government that has largely done the markets and the private sector’s bidding. You’d think that, but you’d be wrong.

The Taoiseach, together with his Minister for Finance, have a decision to make.

Either they can push through the kind of decisions which are needed – including a brave and reforming budget package – or they can’t. If they can’t, then they should call an election.

The time for muddling through and hoping things will get better is over.

The situation on the financial markets threatens our very economic sovereignty.

The government has been lax in the extreme in letting this crisis build during the summer period, when nothing seems to happen in the closeted world of the government and the public sector.

But hold on. Surely the Government, by its own lights, has done precisely what was demanded of it, as David McWilliams helpfully points out in a column in the same edition:

We in Ireland were told that, if we knuckled under and slashed our budget deficit and kept our banks afloat by giving the innocent the bill for the guilty, we would be rewarded by the financial markets with lower interest rates.

This was never right. It was always wrong because that is not how the world works.

The markets want growth and anything that strangles growth scares them.

Those of us who argued that the government’s policy would fail were ridiculed.

Yet again, official Ireland has been proved to be wrong, criminally wrong. But these spats really don’t matter; what matters is how we are going to get out of this.

Now, I may have missed things, but it seems to me that what McWilliams argues is right. The Government has initiated a plan and stuck to it. It brought the unions onside, it has agreements about the Public Sector. Indeed difficult to know precisely what the SBP editorial’s problem with the PS is, other than it simply existing – given how quiescent PS workers have been in the main in accepting all that has been thrown at them. The further complaints of the SBP on that matter are most odd, really, when you think about it.

The Croke Park agreement was negotiated in April and passed by the unions in June.

Yet it is only now that talks are starting on actually implementing it.

How many more months will it be before the ‘flexibilities’ promised in the deal are delivered? Or will they be delivered at all?

While companies in the private sector are forced to go through wrenching and sudden adjustments, this is a clear signal that those managing the public sector are still not responding to the urgency of the situation we face.

It seems to ignore the fact that there have already been wrenching and sudden adjustments in the PS long before April or June, or indeed September. Moreover, does it seriously believe that any changes – which by the way I think are welcome – are going to make a blind bit of difference this fiscal year?

But for the SBP it is the former rather than the latter which always, always grabs its attention:

The fiscal crisis – a greater threat than the horrendous hole the banks have got us into – will not be solved unless the cost of the public sector is reduced.

Now note how the ‘cost’ of the public sector is elided with public expenditure. But…

Does it genuinely believe that the markets are spooked by the PS? Unlikely, given that the analysis provided elsewhere concentrates not so much on the cost of public expenditures (seen as largely manageable) as on the cost of recapitalising the banking sector. And consequently the tears it sheds seem, well, to be honest, a little offensive…

This change (in the PS) can be achieved with a limited effect on public services – and on the people who depend on them – or it can be achieved after huge disruption, division and suffering by some of the most vulnerable people in society.

That is up to the public sector employees and the unions which represent them.

But it must and will be achieved.

No amount of wailing about the cost of Anglo Irish Bank will change that.

Hmmmm… ‘wailing’? Is that what the anger is? And are we all missing something when we read week after week from commentators as diverse as Kiberd and Cooper in the Sunday Times and McWilliams in the SBP that it is Anglo that is the problem? Are they wailing? Wailing in the very pages of the SBP. Or what of Cliff Taylor’s piece in the same edition which goes through the problems relating to the banks and discusses the market responses without once mentioning the public sector? Odd. Indeed odder still the problems articulated yesterday in relation to bonds which seem to be driven almost entirely by the banking situation, or more precisely by the Anglo-Irish bailout and the figure now looming out of the financial mists.

And consider this:

There is no point pretending that there are easy answers to the banking crisis by suddenly shifting the losses elsewhere.

Which is rich considering that the losses were suddenly shifted onto the public, a public which overwhelmingly had no hand or part in generating them.

Nor is there any point in pretending that there is some quick fix to our budget deficit.

Woolly talk about finding efficiencies means little at a time when we are having to pay more than 6 per cent to borrow funds on the markets.

And so we’re getting there. Because after all, isn’t it all a little woolly the talk about changes under Croke Park? I’m all for a single employment ‘market’ in the PS, I’m absolutely for rationalisation of various oddities of employment there (although I’m also aware of the fact that the PS isn’t an entirely undifferentiated area and that different employments within it have distinctly different aspects to them). But if that’s the case, then… ah, but read on…

Unfortunately, the nature of Irish politics is to avoid any radical solutions. Is there a politician brave enough to stand up and admit that we will need a property tax and water charges, because otherwise the income tax bill will suffocate the economy?

Is there one who will say straight out that pensions must be cut – including the vastly generous arrangements for public sector pension holders?

Except of course, it doesn’t really mean that pensions should be cut, only public and state ones. No word about private pensions, or God forbid, even the hesitant rhetoric from one E. Milliband about imposing some sort of restrictions on higher wages in the private sector. not a bit of chat about how private sector employers eschew provision for most of their staff across that sector?

And entertaining to see how a property and water taxes, unimplementable we are told in the short term in any even half way egalitarian fashion (and probably in the long term), are top of the SBP’s list. What they’re talking about is a flat tax initially – and who does that affect most? So much for the ‘most vulnerable’ in society.

And then we get to the heart of it. Because the truth is the SBP doesn’t really believe in the very policies it championed in editorials calling on – for example – the unions to be responsible:

Is there a politician brave enough to say to public sector unions that they must deliver by Christmas, or the Croke Park deal will be torn up? Indeed, if growth does not recover, it may need to be torn up anyway.

The irony is that, if the public were given a clear road-map, rather than undermining confidence it might actually rebuild it.

Really? With who? The Irish people? The unions? Anglo bondholders?

I’ve mentioned before, I’m an unlikely defender of the Irish PS in some respects. But to blame the PS for things it can’t be responsible for, or either hasn’t done yet (or not done, if you see what I mean) or alternatively to pretend that it is either desirable or feasible to move yet again against it is the optimal route forward seems curious, to put it mildly.

When we come down to it the economic policies adopted by the government are faltering and badly. But the SBP is now convinced that it’s not NAMA and Anglo-Irish that are sinking the economy, but a largely beaten public sector and public expenditure.

That level of self-deception is remarkable. It truly is.

The second poll of Autumn… September 28, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.

Let’s start with the by now characteristic mess that is the Dáil pairings row.

To Fine Gael’s decision that

[they] [would enforce] stricter pairing arrangements and put… renewed pressure on the Government to hold outstanding byelections.

A decision which resulted in:

Minister for Education and Skills Mary Coughlan… [cancelling] her participation in an Enterprise Ireland “education mission” to the United States because Fine Gael refused to provide cover for her absence in votes, according to a Government spokesman.

Labour responded with this rather less heated suggestion.

Ruairí Quinn has said he would be prepared to provide a Dáil pairing arrangement with Fianna Fáil to facilitate an official trip, provided his party was satisfied it was a proper mission.

Forget the actuality, it’s the optics. Screwing up visits like Coughlan’s to the US looks awful. Just dismal. It’s a bit reminiscent of the proposal to abolish the Seanad. There’s a tendency, it would appear, in FG to push the thermonuclear button when more measured options remain available. Anyhow, that’s their problem, and perhaps one of the reasons that as seen below their poll ratings continue to dip (or perhaps this latest piece of political theater was a response to dipping ratings).

Meanwhile, dear oh dear, now it’s Mattie McGrath who puts down a marker.

In another blow to the Government’s fragile majority, South Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath said he would not support the Coalition on the planned removal of acute services at a local hospital in his constituency.
The proposal concerning South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel is part of the reconfiguration of services in the southeast.
Mr McGrath, who lost the Fianna Fáil whip in the summer after opposing the stag hunting bill, said he was angry that doctors, nurses and the public were being kept in the dark about what was going on.

I’m still a tad cynical about all this. Is it posturing, or genuine (in the sense that they’ll feel no choice but to vote agin the government when push comes to shove)? We’ll see.

Note the wriggle room…

“I’m a member of the Oireachtas and I haven’t a clue what’s going on on this either,” he said.
“If the process isn’t reined in and there isn’t an open, honest interaction with all parties concerned then the Government will not have my support on this issue.”

Meanwhile we have the Sunday Business Post poll (and AK of the IELB is drafting up a post on the polls which will go into greater detail, but here are my initial thoughts for what they’re worth). This is a poll that indicates some slippage for the opposition and no real change for Fianna Fáil.

Rejoice ladies and gentlemen! We have dug deep, deeper than ever before and now, it appears that we have found the core FF vote (granted it was 21% in May last year, but…).

But, given the dismal news for FF across the Summer, both in terms of policies determined earlier in the crisis, the current fetish for progressing them and the appalling public presentation by them, well, in a way this is a surprisingly robust figure. 24%, and no change? Cooler heads amongst them might well be talking up their prospects in the near future, and why not? Last weeks poll is presumably what initiated the wobbles with Grealish and McGrath. This week? Well, not exactly great news, but a little better.

They can do better, I’m certain of that. I’d think they’ll add a fair few percentage points as time moves on.

The threat to the Coalition comes as new Sunday Business Post /Red C poll put support for Fine Gael on 31 per cent, down two points from June, with  Labour, who led in a separate poll on Thursday, down four points to 23 per cent.
The survey, carried out before an unexpected fall in second quarter GDP on Thursday, but following a controversy over a radio interview Mr Cowen conducted after partying late with colleagues, had support for Fianna Fáil steady at 24 per cent.
Only 19 per cent of those questioned said they had confidence in Mr Cowen as Taoiseach.
“While the Fianna Fáil vote is stable, the party is on course for by far the worst electoral result in its history, with perhaps 30 seats in danger,” the Sunday Business Post  said.

It’s interesting that the identity of those who would be pleased by this poll switches markedly from the previous poll. For TV3 it was Labour, for this one it has to be Sinn Féin. 10% and a good performance, no doubt about – one wonders if they have benefitted from some former LP voters. And the Green Party might be a little happier after the shock last week from the TV3 poll. 3% is a bit healthier than 2% (and they received 2% in the last SBP poll). Actually, for them it’s a lot healthier and might mean the difference between no seats at all and one or two. For Fine Gael there’s at least the comfort of not having their numbers go beneath 30%.

Bu Labour must wonder about the volatility of polls which place them 12 points apart. In truth, at this point, they may be somewhere in the middle. That’s mathematically convenient, but. Polls .. you know.

I have to say, and this is entirely unscientific and subjective, this tallies closer to my own sense on the ground as to where votes would go. The idea that more than 1 in 3 would vote for the LP just doesn’t seem right. 1 in 5. Well now, that’s a different matter. That feels more likely. That said, it’s still an excellent result for Labour and perhaps the TV3 poll will result in a certain steadying of their position at the higher end of the range. And yet, given that in 2007 their vote was 10% and now it is consistently double and more of that…as noted previously, on a good 20% plus one could envisage 30 plus seats.

As for the Independents, they’re on a healthy 10%. That’s not bad, even if there’s still the suspicion that in those percentages lurk the odd FFer. But they’d be disappointed if there weren’t half a dozen or more returned.

Vincent Browne suggests that Labour will be hard pushed to get 45 seats, indeed he says ‘realistically it will be less than that’. He suspects FF may fall back to 48 seats, but look at the FG poll rating. 31%, four points above where it was on election day in 2007. That doesn’t seem to me like a party likely to be getting 70 seats, or even 65. Indeed on those figures it might be lucky to get 10 extra seats. And that’s a most interesting Dáil, one where FF might be touching 50, the LP 40ish and FG in the early 60s. Not a lot of room there for others.

And politically, while all is gloom amongst the parties (it is – really), the danger to the government remains as it has been, the Budget. Mr. McGrath and Mr. Grealish have some time to position themselves before that. And so does the government.

As Mary Minihan noted in the Irish Times , the brute facts are as follows:

THE 30th Dáil has 166 seats. Three are vacant due to the retirement of Martin Cullen (FF) of Waterford; the election of Pat the Cope Gallagher (FF) from Donegal South West to the European Parliament and the death of Séamus Brennan (FF) of Dublin South (and resignation of his replacement George Lee).
THE GOVERNMENT can count on 79 votes: there are 70 Fianna Fáil deputies; two TDs who are without the FF whip but supportive of Government – Dr Jimmy Devins and Eamon Scanlon, both of Sligo-Leitrim; Independent Minister for Health Mary Harney, formerly of the Progressive Democrats; and six Green TDs.

And the rest?

THE OPPOSITION can count on 75 votes: 51 Fine Gael TDs; 20 Labour deputies and four Sinn Féin TDs.

And the spanners in the works?

OTHERS: It is more difficult to predict the future voting intentions of eight other TDs:

Two are more or less onside…

Independent Michael Lowry of Tipperary North is expected to continue supporting the Coalition for the present but has declared he will not vote for a new Fianna Fáil nominee for Taoiseach if Brian Cowen is removed from office.
Independent Jackie Healy-Rae of Kerry South shares Mr Lowry’s position.

Three are more or less not but look to me unlikely to bring down the Government short of the Budget:

Independent Joe Behan of Wicklow, who left Fianna Fáil over 2008 budget cuts, cannot be counted on by either side.
Independent Finian McGrath of Dublin North Central votes on issues as they arise. He voted against the Government when the Dáil debated a motion of confidence in Taoiseach Brian Cowen in June, but has supported animal welfare legislation and the Civil Partnership Bill.
Independent Maureen O’Sullivan of Dublin Central shares Mr McGrath’s position.

And three are engaged in the political equivalent of attempting to appear so volatile that the fear is they’ll do anything, anything at all…gulp.

Independent Noel Grealish, a former Progressive Democrats deputy of Galway West, announced on Friday he would not support the Coalition until such time as health budget cuts in the west were clarified.
Dr Jim McDaid of Donegal North West, without the Fianna Fáil whip since abstaining in a vote on the cervical cancer vaccination programme in 2008, has threatened to vote against the budget in December unless his local Letterkenny General Hospital is protected from cuts.
Mattie McGrath of Tipperary South lost the Fianna Fáil whip for voting against the law to ban stag- hunting in June. He said yesterday his support for the Government would depend on the retention of acute services at South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel.

So, more or less definitely 81 for the Government in the general way of things and Grealish at this point the least dependable, at least rhetorically, of the latter trio. Given that Behan et al vote with and against it doesn’t seem as if the government will stumble just yet.
Or as Pat Leahy puts it in the Sunday Business Post:

Privately, many government insiders believe that the best the government can hope for is to pass the budget -its fourth austerity package in just over two years -in December, to pass the Finance Bill early in the new year, and then prepare itself for a mid-year election.

Some way to go still.

Workers’ Party Submission to the Review Group on State Assets and Liabilities September 28, 2010

Posted by Garibaldy in Workers' Party.

From the Introduction to the Submission (click here to read the full submission)

The Workers’ Party notes that the Review Group on State Assets and Liabilities was established in July this year.

In the normal course of events the Workers’ Party would welcome the establishment of such a body. We believe that our publicly-owned enterprises including, in particular, our semi-state commercial companies can play a vital role in helping to lead this country out of the mess into which it has been landed by the bankers, the land speculators, and insufficient and incompetent regulation. We further believe that the people, as the ultimate owners of our publicly-owned commercial state companies should be consulted on the state of these companies; whether, for example, the boards of these companies reflects the needs of the citizen as shareholder; and whether the protocols for the appointment of directors by the government bear scrutiny.

We must however place on record our firm conviction that this review is not being held in good faith. We believe that the Department of Finance, which established this review, has a clearly preferred outcome and that the sole purpose of the review is to provide a publicity and political fig leaf for an already decided policy. There are three very firm pillars for this belief.

The terms of reference of the review are both prescriptive and restrictive. We can let the terms speak for themselves: “1. To consider the potential for asset disposals in the public sector, including commercial state bodies, in view of the indebtedness of the State;
2. To draw up a list of possible asset disposals;”.

The terms quoted above clearly indicate that the Minister wishes to engage in wholesale privatisation and/or asset stripping of our public resources and he merely wishes advice on how best to rob the orchard.

The composition of the review body gives us no confidence that an unbiased review of State Assets, and our publicly-owned enterprises and companies will take place. In particular the nomination of Mr Colm McCarthy as chair of the review gives us cause for concern. Mr McCarthy has been a virulent and high profile anti-state enterprise ideologue and propagandist for several decades, and has always been a champion and advocate of private profit without any regard to the public good. Furthermore Mr McCarthy has stated in public that in his comments on the 2009 Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes, he sometimes deliberately strayed from the economic to the political sphere and was, in effect, a kite flier for proposed government policy. To put such a person as chairman of this review is a clear travesty of even the most strained concept of impartiality.

The Minister has set September 10th as the final date for the acceptance of public submissions. This, despite the fact the review itself was only announced in mid-July. This has left a mere eight-week window, at the height of the holiday season, for concerned citizens and bodies to make their views known to the review body. There is no good reason why the announcement of the review and the announcement of the date for submissions could not have occurred in June or indeed in May. It is very clear from many remarks made by the Minister during the year and more particularly by the Chairman in Volume II of the Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes, published in July last year, that the process of the wholesale disposal of State Assets has been under active consideration for over a year. Therefore the window allowed for public consultation seems deliberately designed to exclude rather than include.

Bearing in mind the reservations expressed above we enclose our submission to the Review Group on State Assets and Liabilities.

September Union Post September 27, 2010

Posted by Garibaldy in Trade Unions.
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Click HERE for the September edition of the Union Post from the ICTU, including information about the demonstrations on Wednesday.

Relish the adult discourse around the Labour Party leadership election… September 27, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics.

David Miliband tells Labour conference: ‘End the soap opera’

Sound advice, but wait, what’s this in the Observer from the previous day as part of a broader piece on the bros. M?

Sibling rivalry
Rivalry is often seen as central to sibling relationships. Sibling pairs in literature and the media almost always reflect this negative view, vying for affection and admiration— in the bible, for instance, Esau steals his brother’s birthright and Cain, consumed with jealousy, murders his brother Abel. Psychoanalysts claim that we must constantly struggle against murderous feelings towards our nearest and dearestthose closest to us.
Yet scientific research suggests otherwise. It is more common for siblings to play up their differences. If one is good at spelling and the other not, they are likely to view themselves as the practical one and the academic one, rather than good and no good. This relieves the tension and helps each to respect differences.
Competition is more likely to occur between siblings of the same sex who are close in age. What happens if, as with the Milibands, the younger brother overtakes the older? Mythology would have us believe that this spells doom. But there’s no rule that says that later-born siblings should be less successful. On the contrary, it’s often a closely run race.
In most cases, in most families,competition between siblings will enable rich and mutually beneficial relationships — not murder.

Yeah, not murder…


Meanwhile, I have no real sense of Ed Miliband’s politics, but this, this I like…

• He said he was opposed to cuts in universal benefits. “I’m all for speaking hard truths. I don’t personally think undermining the universal welfare state is the right thing to do,” he said. This was in response to a question about cutting child benefit payments to middle-class families.

Left Archive: The Republican Movement and Socialism, 1950-70, Jim Lane, originally published in the Starry Plough (IRSP), 1987 September 27, 2010

Posted by irishonlineleftarchive in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Irish Republican Socialist Party.

Please click on following link to download the document: The Republican Movement and Socialism, 1950-70

Next week we will have a most interesting document from the British Labour Party Young Socialists. But this week we return to Jim Lane who as noted here and here has been involved in Socialist and Republican politics from the 1950s.

It’s important as a preface to acknowledge both the work Jim Lane has put into writing this and making it available for publication and the work Conor McCabe has put into compiling it for release – and indeed the broader research he has been conducting the fruits of which are evident in the Open History and on both the Irish Left Review and the Irish History. This and other documents from Jim Lane will provide a key element of the Archive over the next six months as they are posted up.

This document by Jim Lane provides an analysis of The Republican Movement and Socialism, 1950-70 and was originally published as a supplement to the Starry Plough (organ of the Irish Republican Socialist Party) in December 1987. This version was a revised and updated piece from 1989 (and there is some prescience in the analysis that the then WP had tilted to reformism and was in the process of becoming a second Labour Party).

The text itself provides a fascinating critique of the narrative that the Republican Movement was shifting towards socialism during the early 1960s and argues that conservative strands remained pre-eminent within it throughout that period and afterwards. There’s certainly some telling quotations such as one from a front page article in the United Irishman from 1965 which berated the introduction of English as part of the Mass.

A very useful addition to the Archive and once again many thanks to Jim and Conor.

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