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Anonymous again… May 29, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, Internet.
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Difficult not to find at least some good in the news that Anonymous UK has hacked into and released EDL membership lists (and topping off a really bad week for the EDL).

Individuals claiming to be part of international hacktivist group Anonymous have published phone numbers and addresses for supporters of the English Defence League (EDL) as part of what they said was the first phase of a campaign to destroy the far-right street protest movement.

There’s no question but they’re an intriguing entity. Politically one could perhaps argue that they’re along the lines of ‘good intentions’. Read the statement allegedly from them on the EDL.

“We have been patiently observing your organisation as you have [indoctrinated] our young with your criminal mindset.
“Your constant belligerence, like a pack of raving ignoramuses, furthers only bigotry and segregation. You have angered us considerably and summoned our wrath irrevocably.”

There’s an hint of a (undeniably well intentioned) mwahahaha ringing in the background. It continues, noting in the wake of the murder of Lee Rigby, that:

This villainous public display has thrown the United Kingdom into mourning; every community and every congregation extending their deepest condolences.

And yet, and yet, there’s an hard edge to them in terms of those who come into their focus that somehow undercuts that – as well as the fact that numerous ‘members’ have been imprisoned for their participation.

You, however, have used this as another excuse to further spread your campaign of hate, bigotry, and misinformation. Under the guise of national pride you have instigated crimes against the innocent and incited the subjugation of Muslims.

It’s fair to ask as to how much real influence all this has – different accounts offer different conclusions. And there are serious issues of representation, such groups by their nature obviously are not subject to clear democratic legitimisation – how can they?

And yet, and yet… (again) have to admit, that their targets in the main seem well chosen. Their development (evolution?) across the last decade from lulz to an approach much closer to an activist social commentary on contemporary society is remarkable, and there’s something about them, something about the often inchoate but occasionally focused actions they take that reminds of the situationists, something of that spirit.

More on this again.

That weekend RedC SBP poll… May 29, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
2 comments

It’s worth noting briefly some of the features of the latest RedC/SBP poll. As ever the figure that really stands out remains the solidity of the Independent/Others block. It is possible to make a case that the graph for them since September 2011 has been broadly speaking upwards and note that they have only once in any of these polls dipped to 17 per cent. That remains an enormous pool of potential and actual voters. It would make one wonder is there a sort of virtuous circle effect in operation – that the sheer number of Independents/Others is sustaining their public profile and is consequently allowing them, unlike in previous Dáils to retain their poll ratings or even increase them. Could it be that that is sufficient to offset the inchoate aspect of their presentation and their lack of unified direction? Whatever, it remains a novel development in Irish political activity.

Sinn Féin might well be pleased to see their vote stabilise after some dips across the last five months. 16 per cent is a very solid rating and only a couple of percentage points shy of the Labour Party at the 2011 GE. For them to consolidate there would be by any measure a positive in terms of being this far out from the next election.

For Labour the situation is more mixed. They too have stabilised. But the general direction of their progress had been downwards across the past couple of years. The real question is is there any way they can claw back votes. To ask it is to invite derision, for there appears to be no clear mechanism by which they could do so. And that’s deeply problematic. Because it suggests the long term outlook, even short of their destruction as a national political entity (which was always unlikely), is poor. Not enough has been considered as regards their position if Sinn Féin jumps ahead of them in terms of seats and national profile. It’s not just the actual political impact, or the demoralising effect, it’s also the problem of being the fourth party in a multiparty system.

Whereas Fianna Fáil. Well, it moves slowly upwards, clawing back support. It’s worth noting that the big jump in its level of support was between January and February of this year, where it peaked at 26 per cent – up from 21 per cent before falling back slightly to 24 per cent. Was that a psychological and political watershed, where before that FF remained untouchable and after that it had gained 9 points on its GE 2011 level? The central question is whether it can shift past 30 per cent. Once I’d have said no, and it is true that there is a block on its ambitions in the form of both the solidity of the SF,

Independent/Others and to a lesser extent the LP votes. And yet, what appears to be taking place is a drift of votes from FG. That might be a profitable source of increased support. Indeed Richard Colwell makes just that point:

Also, the fact is that many of those who claim to be going back reluctantly to Fianna Fáil, actually have a history of supporting them for years before. Looking at those who claim to be undecided in today’s poll, 63 per cent voted for government parties at the last election. At the same time, 40 per cent voted for Fianna Fáil in 2007.
I asked last month what Fianna Fáil needed to do to break through the apparently solid support Fine Gael had been retaining for several months. Today’s poll suggest that might not be as difficult as I had envisaged. Perhaps the question should now be what Fine Gael can do to stop its support falling any further.

Could FF get 40 per cent again? Unlikely. But… in the current context 30 per cent would be a great improvement on 2011. 35 per cent better again.
Which brings us to FG. This is pretty disastrous, albeit the response to the poll has been muffled. It’s not just that FG has fallen to parity with Fianna Fáil, it is that Fine Gael now is one percentage point lower than it’s General Election 2007 rating of 27 per cent. Pat Leahy argues that:

Obviously, if Fine Gael fell consistently into the low 20s and Labour dipped below 10 per cent, there would be political effects within those parties. Don’t forget that it was an opinion poll which triggered the heave against Enda Kenny in 2010. There is no prospect of a heave against the Taoiseach. But you probably couldn’t say that with the same degree of certainty about Eamon Gilmore.

That’s interesting, what he says about Labour, but I wonder if it is quite so certain that Kenny’s position is secure, and one has to also ask at what point does he become insecure? 25 per cent? 22 per cent? 20 per cent?

Looking at the poll numbers in total I think it’s fair to say that a lot of the volatility has gone out of the situation. Labour, Sinn Féin and Independents/Others remain there or thereabouts, the action is between FF and FG. But as always, and not to be too optimistic, there’s huge opportunity in that Independent/Others bloc. If the will is there to use it.

Austerity apostates… May 29, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, European Politics, Irish Politics.
2 comments

…thanks to Tombuktu for noting this piece from the Guardian on the limits of austerity. It’s written by the following worthies:

László Andor, Pervenche Berès, Joan Burton, Yves Leterme and Henri Malosse

Now, if only one of them was involved in Irish politics, or had a position, I don’t know, like a Government Minister, something that might influence the current coalition.

What’s that you say?

What you want to say… Open Thread, 29th of May 2013 May 29, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
50 comments

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

Two unrelated items…. May 28, 2013

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.
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Two unrelated items….

Firstly some of you may enjoy the Brand New Retro site, well Brian from there will be giving a ‘talk’ on Friday morning …. He writes…

Why not get your bank holiday weekend off to a good start by calling into the inaugural Dublin Creative Morning event this Friday morning, 31st May in Drury St/Fade St, Dublin 2.
Their theme for May is Backwards and I’m delighted to be the guest speaker and will talk all about BrandNewRetro. It should be fun.

Doors open for free coffee, buns and magazine browsing at 8.30 am with the talk starting at 9. Expect to wrap up around 9.30 – 9.45 am.

More details here

and from the past in publishing to the future. I was intrigued by this production on last years Bush fires in Tasmania which appeared in Todays Guardian. Brilliantly put together and a true multimedia experience, combining the various mediums very well.

Demonstration tomorrow, Wednesday 29th May, against Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2013 May 28, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
9 comments

5pm outside Dail Eireann to protest against the draconian Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2013.

There is a Press Conference beforehand in Buswell’s Hotel at 4pm.

ACRA Magazine May 28, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

To download the above please click on the following link (Many thanks to MS for forwarding it):

ACRA CVERvol 17 issue 1

Perhaps it is me… May 28, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics.
13 comments

but somehow Paschal Donohoe’s line here before the weekend on the proposed abolition of the Seanad doesn’t seem as impressive to me as it clearly did to him…

Abolition of the Seanad could save the State at least €50 million over the lifetime of one Dáil term. Over five Dáil terms, with pension costs and expenses included, these savings alone would have us more than halfway to paying for a national children’s hospital.

Also got to laugh at the following:

We are already hearing proposals for reforming the Seanad. However, 10 reports on Seanad reform have been published since it was established in 1938, and not a single reform has happened. Despite this consistent failure, many of the Seanad’s most prominent defenders argue vigorously against a referendum.

Well he’s the TD now and is in the perfect place to brush off the plans and implement the plans.

Oddly though he neglects to mention the fact that he too once languished in that hell-hole on his way to a seat in Dublin Central. Which perhaps explains his concluding words:

After 75 years it’s time to abolish the Seanad, reduce the cost of politics and reform those political institutions that really do matter: the Dáil and local government.

Hmmm… In that at least, I suspect we’re hearing the truth as he sees it.

Bad to know… May 28, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
1 comment so far

…from the IT this morning.

In spite of the acute pressure on welfare, health and education expenditure, this [cutting welfare, health and education expenditures and introducing a €1bn investment programme] is seen in some quarters of the Government as a better option than simply easing off on fiscal retrenchment.

This notion is said to carry particular attractions on the Fine Gael side of the Government. There is, however, pressure on the Labour side to keep spending cutbacks to a minimum, particularly in social welfare.

The politics of ‘austerity’? Really? May 28, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
1 comment so far

Pat Leahy suggests that ‘the politics of austerity hang onto poll position’ in the latest SBP at the weekend. He substantiates this, to his own satisfaction, from the fact that:

Support may be moving between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, but on the big macro-economic questions, the picture is actually more stable. The three ‘establishment’ parties – Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour – are, to a greater or lesser degree, on much the same page economically. They all believe the EU/IMF bailout plan has to be followed. They are committed to deficit reduction, and accept a programme of public spending reduction and restraint to achieve it.

This is a most interesting analysis, but does it quite hold up? Let’s consider the useful overview in the Phoenix from a few weeks back which argued that on all the major issues of the day Fianna Fáil was shifting – rhetorically – towards the centre from the right (the Phoenix argues that it is to the left, but I think many of us would be a bit leery about characterising it in such terms). And this isn’t without import. Consider where FF is shifting its rhetoric. Croke Park 2, the property tax and increased taxation for higher earners. All of these are fundamentally economic issues. Now in fairness Leahy notes:

Sure, there are differences, and because Fianna Fáil is in opposition, it must claim to be opposed to many of the things that the government is doing – just as Fine Gael and Labour were opposed to Fianna Fáil policies but ended up having to implement many of them.

And he takes an odd line on this…

The far left, Sinn Féin and many of the independents regard this as a monstrous betrayal. But actually, most of the public is in broad agreement. It may not like austerity, but it shares the belief there is at least some need for it. Consequently, about two-thirds of them support the ‘pro-austerity’ or ‘fiscal realist’ parties. That proportion is pretty much stable.

It’s not so much a monstrous betrayal as a depressing indictment of political activity in this state where supposedly fixed positions are – very cynically – anything but once electoral campaigns are out of the way. Moreover I’m not as sanguine as he that public opinion is anywhere as tilted towards ‘pro-austerity’ as he suggests. FF’s support is growing as it puts a more populist and mildly dissident message before the people. That would seem to indicate a sentiment amongst the people for a considerable weakening of the austerity line – at the least.
Yet Leahy counts FF as part of the ‘austerity bloc’.

Today, among committed voters who express a preference, the divide between the ‘austerity’ block and the rest – including the far left, Sinn Féin and the independents of all stripes – is 63 per cent to 37 per cent. In September of 2011, it was 64-36. In March of last year, it was 65-35. In November of last year, it was 62-38. That divide ain’t moving much.

I think that’s unsustainable, not because FF is changing but because it is increasing support as its rhetoric changes – a subtle distinction. And that rhetoric is increasingly anti-austerity. And whatever FF eventually does it seems that the solidity in favour of austerity is decreasing markedly.

He then continues:

Of course, this may not persist. It is not unreasonable to expect that it will change if no recovery materialises. But if the country exits the bailout and economic recovery – as a raft of recent forecasts suggests – begins to take hold, this sort of binary politics may yet endure.
That would see the left, Sinn Féin and independents largely scrapping among themselves for a third of the vote, and Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour fighting it out for the other two-thirds. And from those three, two will form the next government.

This seems almost panglossian. Put aside the news yesterday that the government envisages austerity throughout the decade. Only last week in the very same paper Cliff Taylor wrote the following:

The gap is growing. International investors continue to pile money in, most recently to an auction of our treasury bills. Commentary refers to an economic pick-up, but anyone you talk to in the domestic economy just isn’t seeing it. With merchandise exports now slowing, you would have to ask: where is the economic impetus to come from?

Run that by me again…

Commentary refers to economic pick-up?

Presumably he is referring to one P. Leahy this weekend. But if Talyor isn’t seeing it then I suspect its a chimera.

And I think there’s a further problem to Leahy’s thesis. Austerity is under threat on a conceptual level in almost all quarters. This, of course, doesn’t mean it will be jettisoned, and the idea of an Irish exceptionalism where even if Europe discards it this state must retain it will persist. But of this not a mention in the article.

Finally, Leahy ignores one piece of polling which would suggest his argument is incorrect. That is the much more widespread sympathy for the public sector in relation to CP2 than was imagined. This might be fleeting, but it suggests that there has been a fundamental shift away from the resignation previously felt, the corrosive TINA line that has stymied alternatives.

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