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After Scotland, some implications for this island. September 29, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, Irish Politics, Northern Ireland.
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A very readable edition of the Phoenix this week, including an analysis of the left of Sinn Féin TDs currently in situ disguised as a profile of Paul Murphy of the SP – of which more later in the week. But one thing that caught my eye was a piece on Unionism in the North in the wake of the Scottish referendum. It may have offered a No in Scotland, but the Phoenix makes one very pertinent point in relation to Northern Ireland.

By linking changes for the rest of the UK to the Scottish timetable Cameron seems determined to legislate to take away voting powers from non-English MPS before next May’s general election.

It continues by noting that should that take effect then a Labour government despite having an overall majority in the UK would then be likely unable to implement policy for England unless they get a majority of MPs there. Tough for Labour, but as the Phoenix notes, there are ramifications for Unionism.

It’s worse for the DUP: their hopes of holding the balance of power were dashed last Friday. Cameron had been assiduously courting them so that their eight MPs would enable him to continue to govern as a minority government if there is a hung parliament next May. Not any more. The DUP will be surplus to requirements.

And that means they have much less leverage at Westminster. Will this come to pass? Well, I’d think we’ve a way to go yet. But Cameron will most certainly be in a hurry to do all he can to stymie Labour and it may well be that a sort of functional part/near federalisation of the UK would be precisely what he wanted.

Of course it raises difficult issues and contradictions more broadly if Scotland and Wales (and England too!) are gaining increased powers just at the point NI is trying to hand them back and refuse any further ones.

Just in the context of debates about Home Rule still circulating in the RoI, the Phoenix makes an excellent point:

Unionists do not want anything which might increase their separation from Westminster. In effect they are still opposing Home Rule.

Sunday Independent Stupid Statement of the Week September 28, 2014

Posted by Garibaldy in Sunday Independent Stupid Statement of the Week.
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Ruth Dudley Edwards has an interesting piece in which she compares some of Alex Salmond’s statements c.2008 with recent remarks from the referendum. Let’s just say his left credentials seem somewhat less clear after reading it. She also, however, offers the following stupid comment on 16 and 17 year-olds voting.

What about the fact that only 48pc of 18-24 year olds voted ‘yes’, having got to an age when the hormones have calmed down and you can think about serious questions like what currency would Scotland have?

Too hormonal to vote. I’m pretty sure that people used to say something similar about women.

Brendan O’Connor is leading the fight back against the hegemony since 2009.

And so it has begun. The right is fighting back. Well, the centre-right is fighting back. Well, maybe the centre actually. Yes. The centre is fighting back. For five long years now, centrist parties in this country have been under attack from every worthy lefty going.

We are lucky to have him.

Finally, Eoghan Harris seems to have developed some timidity late in life.

I have no time for nationalism, at home or abroad. So I am glad Scotland said no. But I stayed silent on the issue until now because my voice would have been drowned out in the deafening Irish media consensus in favour of Scotland booting the Brits out.

Deeply strange thing for him to say.

Terrible news for the Tories… September 28, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics.
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David Cameron suffered a devastating double blow on the eve of the Tory party conference as his minister for civil society resigned over a sex scandal and a second Conservative MP defected to Ukip.

For…

The first blow came when Mark Reckless, the MP for Rochester and Strood, delivered the news that he was defecting to Ukip, at the anti-EU party’s conference in Doncaster.

So that’s two UKIP byelections to be fought by the Tories. One which looks more certain to be a loss for them, Reckless’s seat, not so much. How this buttresses the UKIP vote further down the line is a fascinating question. I figure we could see a couple, but probably no more, of them take seats after the next election.

But not only but also!

…it emerged that Brooks Newmark, a father of five and campaigner to increase the role and number of women in politics, had resigned from the government after being caught sending explicit pictures of himself over the internet to women, in a tabloid newspaper sting operation.

Do these people have the attention span of gnats? Has he not heard of Anthony Weiner? Does he think that online communications are somehow inviolable? I’m never able to understand just how insulated politicians seem to think they are from the base reality around them. The addition of a tabloid adds another unpleasant aspect to the story – their efforts to drag themselves to some sort of moral high-ground, while unable to appreciate the swamp they are in and of, are as noxious as they are predictable. And there’s a question as to whether this is a matter of public as distinct from private concern too. It’s not clear is there any element of public hypocrisy (whatever about his private behaviours).

Meanwhile despite the news from the Observer that Labour has taken a hit in the latest poll, the poll of polls on UK Polling Report shows them actually increasing support over the last week or so with their majority increasing from 16 to their more usual 40+.

Those Observer/Opinium polls are peculiar, seeming to diverge fairly distinctly from other polling results at times, though in fairness that could be due to natural variation.

Speaking of which… sharp elbows! September 28, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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…this is a revealing insight into the attitude of some…

Fine Gael TD Frank Feighan has apologised for his actions during an altercation with protesters who approached the Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s car during a visit to Roscommon on Friday.

And:

He said that assessing “the situation when he arrived, I formed the opinion that the Taoiseach was going to be confronted in an aggressive and physical manner.

“In hindsight, I misread the situation and overreacted in a tense situation.

“As a Fine Gael TD and a member of the Government, the public expects the highest standards.”

In the video, Mr Feighan can be seen elbowing a protester out of the way

And who, pray, were protesting? Presumably it could only have been the most dangerous hardened activists, only waiting to get the digs in to the hapless FG contingent?

Erm…

The Roscommon Hospital Action Committee candidate in the forthcoming Roscommon/South Leitrim by-election, John McDermott, has said he has lodged a formal complaint with the gardai concerning the incident.

The trials of FG… September 28, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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Reading Stephen Collins in the IT this weekend in relation to the McNulty/IMMA story I was struck, in between his sympathy for our ‘working every available hour and surviving on as little sleep as possible’ Taoiseach, by the following:

The spectacle of Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin taking the high moral ground over a minor political stroke is laughable but that doesn’t mitigate the damage suffered by Fine Gael, particularly in the light of the promise it made that things would be done differently.

To me that sums up in a nutshell, unintentionally of course, so much that is wrong in relation to such matters.

The time for comparing and contrasting with what others might or might not do – or whether they would do worse again – is long gone. It’s the acts themselves and the processes that are important – and in that context this isn’t ‘minor’ because it exemplifies an attitude to appointments to public institutions for individual party political gain. One could go further and argue that this in some ways also exemplifies a delusion held jointly by FG and some of the LP that they are in some sense more moral than others…

A Dalek September 27, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Seeing as they were mentioned last week… here’s one I saw over the Summer in Cheshire.
Dalek straw sculpture by Snugburys

As the Guardian noted:

A Dalek made of straw created by Snugburys ice cream shop in a field near Nantwich in Cheshire. For over 10 years the owners of the ice cream shop have been building amazing straw sculptures in their field along side Chester Road. This year’s sculpture coincides with the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

Malcolm Young September 27, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Uncategorized.
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Last year in Classic Rock (I read it so you don’t have to) there was a surprisingly – well – open overview of AC/DC which noted that rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young was in a way the man behind the scenes, particularly but not exclusively in relation to business matters. Indeed in many ways it could be said that it was his band and he appears to have had remarkable control over hiring and firing and so on. Interestingly not a man given to interviews. Be that as it may, a genuinely great musician in his own way, as AC/DC are a genuinely great band in their way.

This week came the sad news that due to a now protracted illness he was leaving AC/DC on a permanent basis. One can only hope that this isn’t entirely accurate and he returns to full health.

We’ve had two This Weekend’s I’ll mostly be Listening to them, one from yours truly and one from IEL which capture different facets of the group. But here’s Young himself doing his thing, one during the Bon Scott era and the other with Brian Johnson on vocals.

Sin City

If You Want Blood

Thunderstruck

Back in Black

This claims to be the rhythm guitar track to Let There Be Rock. It could well be.

A feminist epiphany… September 27, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Listening to the Accidental Tech Podcast there was a reference – following on from a previous edition which had dealt with sexism in the computer games industry – to this:

The Anita referred to is Anita Sarkeesian of the – to my mind – excellent Feminist Frequency.

Brilliant comment by iestyn lloyd.

“a new form of Irish politics may be breaking out” September 27, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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Or so suggests Michael Clifford in this post on the Examiner about Phil Hogan’s travail’s in Europe…

Big Phil is going before the European Parliament’s Agriculture committee next Thursday to explain why he should be given the ‘agri’ portfolio. Some of the MEPs are not best pleased with the big guy’s most recent efforts to bury any queries on how he conducted himself as a member of the Irish government.

And:

He’s being pursued by Nessa Childers, who is refusing to pull on the green jersey and get behind our man in Brussels. She apparently doesn’t understand that what happens in the banana republic should stay in the banana republic. Instead, she is intent on telling tales about the morally bankrupt political culture we endure here.

As well as…

Childers isn’t the only Irish MEP refusing to pull on the jersey. Five of the 11 MEPs elected last May in the Republic are objecting to Hogan’s appointment. This is unprecedented, but at least it’s a sign that some politicians are willing to break out of the cozy consensus around this kind of thing.

The three Sinn Féin members and Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan have numerous objections to Hogan, which involve relatively routine political stuff, like questionable appointments to state boards, and his handling of the establishment of Irish Water. The members believe the issues they raise render Hogan unfit for commissionership.

I really hope this is true, in the sense that it does mark a step change in the way political appointments are regarded in this state – indeed there is obvious irony in the fact that closer to home FG is running into trouble over appointments. Clifford argues:

On the face of it, these matters would not be alien to politicians in general across the EU, but at least the objections signal that a new form of Irish politics may be breaking out, albeit in isolated patches. Quaint notions like suitability for a particular office were promised by the current government as part of their “democratic revolution” on election in 2011, and while that has turned out to be a joke, at least others in the body politic are signing up.

Which is true and all credit to them, but note that they’re not in government. And Clifford notes that ‘in all likelihood, the commissioner-elect will ride out the storm’. Though as he also notes… “once again, another member of that bright, new shining government of 2011 has been a major disappointment. Wherefore now the new politics of the “democratic revolution?”.

It was almost entirely a facade from start to finish.

This Weekend I’ll Mostly be Listening to… Girlschool September 27, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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Some groups work best with albums, others with singles. Perhaps others still find EPs the best form. Girlschool, purveyors of – at least initially punk inflected – New Wave of British Heavy Metal seem to me to have done their best work on single. Kim McAuliffe (vocals/guitars), Kelly Johnson (guitar/vocals), Denise Dufort (drums who had some sort of a stint with the Au-Pairs according to some online sources) and Enid Williams (bassist) in many ways were reminiscent of the Runaways transplanted to Britain. There’s something in that, particularly in the vocals and the speedy charge of the drums/guitar/bass lineup. There’s a sense that they fitted as neatly into the more melodic end of punk as much as metal – and they weren’t afraid to see themselves as directly influenced by punk, at least on their earlier tracks. But that said there was a strong metallic foundation to their output. Sufficiently so that Lemmy from Motorhead sought their addition to the Bronze label which Motorhead were on having seen them live.

And later there was their eventual one-off merger with Motorhead as Headgirl, which produced that enduring classic, their cover of Johnny Kidd and the Pirates ‘Please Don’t Touch’. It’s worth noting that for both groups that release was their most successful chart appearance to that point.

Their early material was fantastic, a rabbit punch of hard-edged music but as time moved on they suffered from a move towards more US oriented rock sounds as well as line-up changes. But those early years and the singles and EPs that they released during that period are well worth a listen.

Taking some at random, ‘Take It All Away,’ one of their earliest tracks is rough and ready and clearly punk influenced. ‘Emergency’ again has that punky vigour (and there’s something about the phrasing of the guitars at the beginning which reminds me of the Pink Fairies). It is fair to say they riffed on certain sounds… Yeah Right is not a million miles from Emergency. ‘C’mon Let’s Go’ just perfect in its gonzoid glam stomp genius. ‘Nothing to Lose’ which surely shares some strands of DNA with the Runaways. And there’s many more and a special word for the rhythm section who power the tracks through.

As it happens I used to know someone who emigrated to the UK and who fell into their circle. He found them extremely friendly and welcoming, just genuinely nice people.

I don’t want to make any great claims about this music, and yet even today I find it oddly satisfying. In fact even more than the Runaways they remind me in their earliest years in some ways of the Ramones, that sense of rawness, of economy and the fact that well over a quarter of a century later they still work together – well, okay, that’s not the Ramones, but that was a process of attrition, was it not? (sadly Johnson died some years ago but McAuliffe, Dufort and Williams are still playing as Girlschool).

C’mon Let’s Go

Emergency

Nothing to Lose

Watch Your Step

Take It All Away

Please Don’t Touch (as Headgirl, with Motorhead).

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