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That Corbyn speech September 30, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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I thought his speech, fluffs and missteps and all, was really pretty good. It was curious in the extreme to see someone in this age present such an unpolished performance, but one which worked because it was so heartfelt. Remember Ed Miliband jumping through hoops like a performing political dog, having to memorise vast chunks of text and for what? Only to forget some and leave a great gaping hole for his opponents. Madness on so many levels. Whereas Corbyn, a man who is benefiting from the absurdly low expectations of a media displaying an almost parodic antagonism to him, cruises through at a steady rate of knots. Spectacular? No. Adequate? More than adequate.

Corbyn is less radical than you or me (most likely) by quite some distance – at least in this incarnation. Nationalisation? Surely, the no-brainer of taking British Rail back into public ownership. But the Royal Mail? Perhaps his instincts are for that, but there’s little to indicate an appetite at this point. It may come.

And look at Trident and NATO. Already there’s a push-back inside the LP. Simply put too many inside the LP support the former and the latter is in some respects regarded as inviolable. It seems all too likely that he may find himself outnumbered on Trident throughout his leadership.

That sentiment more broadly and within the BLP cannot be wished away. To be honest I think NATO withdrawal is unwinnable on any realistic timeframe, whatever about Trident. And the attachment to Trident is bizarre given its actual utility – or indeed the curiosity of it being an US weapons delivery system with all that that implies. One has to wonder whether the US would permit its use independent of their
imprimatur. If I was the US I’d be keen to ensure that even a trusted proxy such as the UK wasn’t given too much autonomy in regard to them.

There’s the irony in all this. In some respects Corbyn, in relation to US interests is arguably, given his disinclination to use the weapons, much more congenial to them, not that they’d ever admit it – the problem is, though,  he is all too willing to say so to others.

But all of that is for another day, what’s still remarkable is the dog in a manger tone of the reporting – the Guardian in particular is notable for it. But I’m wondering if that’s actually working to his advantage. One thing seems reasonably certain, if it were a Burnham or a Cooper up there this week there’d have been nothing like this level of interest.

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Ministerial responsibility when you’re an Independent? Chance would be a fine thing, some might think. September 30, 2015

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In the Independent yesterday Shane Coleman takes Shane Ross and the Independent Alliance to task over their stated aim of not being ‘captured’ by the cabinet government system. Coleman argues that the idea of IA Ministers – should any be lucky enough to be in such a position – not sitting at cabinet, but only reporting on their direct area of authority to the cabinet is actually unconstitutional.

The Constitution is generally a good place. Article 28, section 4, sub-section 2 states that the Government “shall meet and act as a collective authority, and shall be collectively responsible for the Departments of State administered by the members of the government”.
So collective responsibility, a system inherited from the Westminster model of government, is not just a political convention, it is required by Bunreacht na hÉireann.

Coleman may have a point, though it’s early days yet for the IA, a group which is remarkably reclusive for a formation seeking national support.

Still, ambition certainly isn’t lacking.

Questions aplenty there are, for example just how would an IA Minister refer back to the rest of the IA – how would they be kept in check if necessary, or how would they make decisions and on whose behalf? The IA sounds so loosely knit its hard to know whether it would function in any recognisable way to other parties or groups. For example, if given a Minister which one would it be? One that dovetailed with some sort of similarity of views on the part of the IA TDs? And what would that be?

What, indeed, are the views of the IA? It’s all a bit of a mystery.

The last TD to sit as a Minister from a non-party, almost literally so, was Mary Harney after the PDs had disbanded. It’s an interesting question as to who she represented, isn’t it?

Whether any other political parties would bite – in terms of inviting them into the fold is a different matter again. I’m sceptical. Others may differ.

On another matter Coleman definitely has a point:

There’s no shortage of collective responsibility, at least publicly, in the current coalition but humility often seems to be in short supply.
Micheál Martin has a point when he accuses the government running the most negative re-election campaign in the history of the State.

And while I wouldn’t agree with the next line, he’s not wrong about the broader dynamic.

Even those of us who believe the Coalition has done a really decent job in difficult circumstances cringe at the self-regarding ‘we saved the country’ hubris that comes from the mouths of some ministers.
It was on full display in last week’s confidence motion as a succession of them chose to ignore the very serious findings of the Fennelly inquiry in favour of back-slapping “steering the ship of state from chaos to calm” type guff.

As Coleman points out, the idea they’re the only show in town is much mistaken.

What you want to say – 30th September 2015 September 30, 2015

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

Why the flurry over an October/November election? September 30, 2015

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Could this sort of stuff be the reason? Hard to think it was, though no right of centre government such as our own would much like the rising tide of voices saying don’t go cut taxes, but what other reason could there be? All suggestions gratefully accepted.

The world of work September 29, 2015

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Kind of depressing reading this about management style at the Sun.

It’s not just that it happened, but that it was tolerated, and – of course – is far from unknown in many workplaces. Perhaps it is a mystery how willing people are in work to acquiesce to approaches that are grimly authoritarian and arguably borderline sociopathic, yet given the actual weight in workplace power as between those in charge and those working for them where is the surprise?

James Connolly: My search for the man, the myth and his legacy September 29, 2015

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Thanks to the person who forwarded this….

SOC

Clambering back aboard the sinking ship… September 29, 2015

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I’d manage to miss this from the Irish Times a week or so ago:

Clare TD Michael McNamara is set to return to the Labour fold after losing the party whip in May.

And return he did, as this fulsome statement from the LP itself attests:

Emmet Stagg said: “I was happy to be in a position today to inform Party Leader Joan Burton that Michael McNamara has been readmitted to the Parliamentary Labour Party.
“I will be informing Labour TDs and Senators of this development at the next meeting of the Parliamentary Party.”
Michael McNamara said: “Labour has a huge amount of work to do in the coming months, and in the run-up to the election and I want to play a full part in that work.  I will be making it my priority to seek to reform Dáil procedures to ensure that it reflects the priorities of those who vote at elections.
“I am proud of the record of this government and, in particular, I am proud of the role that Labour has played in this. When we came to office, the economy was on the brink, thousands of jobs were being lost every month, and the large-scale sale of state resources was under consideration.
“Four years later, this has not come to pass. Instead, this government, with Labour at its heart, has turned the economy around. We are now creating 1,300 jobs a week, and we have created fiscal space of some €1.5b for Budget 2016.
“As a Party, we have also left our own imprint, with workers’ rights and the minimum wage being increased at a time they were being decreased in other States under bailouts. I don’t for one moment believe that this would have been achieved had we sat on the political side lines.”

Which all sits very oddly with some of his tweets as recently as a month before his return to the fold, as reported on the Journal here.

It would be wrong, of course, to ascribe any motivation in this particular instance. But more broadly we see contradictory impulses at work in terms to departure from and rejoining certain political formations. Eamonn Maloney decided to clamber across the railing in the other direction this last weekend. Presumably some fairly hard-headed calculations are made. Is being a member of the LP with some hint of organisation better than being alone or with few people around oneself? Or is it better to take the chance that the support for IND/OTHERS is so high that it will perhaps wash one safely ashore (work with me here).

Questions, questions.

No room for complacency about the state of ‘all the children of the nation’. September 29, 2015

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Jacky Jones in the Irish Times is always worth reading – she is arguably the most radical columnist on that paper though perhaps not regarded as such because she writes in the Life & Style/Health sections. Her column today is particularly useful where she asks a few questions about the ‘cherishing all the children of the nation’ line from the Proclamation and how that is now being made part and parcel of Proclamation Day, March 2016, where schools will raise the flag and read that section of the Proclamation.

She notes that the rhetoric is undercut by the historical and contemporary reality – and offers a number of examples, including this:

Children’s rights were trampled on from the beginning [of the state]. From 1922 to 1987, births had to be registered as legitimate or illegitimate. It took 65 years to change the law.

And she notes that this had real consequences in terms of health outcomes and mortality rates for those who were ‘registered’ as ‘illegitimate’, or for the poor or for Traveller children. She also notes that there was general public and political indifference, that the ratification of the UDHR and so on made little or no difference – The Magadalene laundries, orphanages and other institutions continued into living memory, in some instances those latter rife with sexual predators, many drawn from the clergy.

And she notes that today although the situation is much better there are still numerous deficits, and some are worsening.

The Children’s Rights Alliance Report Card 2015 awarded the Government an overall C grade (satisfactory attempt, but children still left wanting). They awarded an F (fail) for child poverty and D pluses (barely acceptable performance) for the right to health, equality and nondiscrimination.

And:

Schools provide free teaching, not free education; parents pay for everything else. Assaulting children, euphemistically called smacking, is still permitted by law. Levels of child poverty have doubled since 2008. Children are stuck in direct provision. More and more families are becoming homeless.

Given our discussions on the history of this state last week it is telling to see yet again how de facto indifference manifests itself after that appalling historical catalogue of cruelty, abuse and ill-treatment. There’s every point in attempting to get the state to live up to the rhetoric of the Proclamation – but that involves the state doing much more than saying.

Corbyn and the electorate… September 29, 2015

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It would appear that despite dire warnings he’s actually making a reasonably positive impression. Given the absurd antagonism expressed in much of the British media towards him that has to count as something of a positive. I wonder if he’s going to benefit from lowered expectations. He simply is not the caricature that is painted of him and that would, over the long hall, seem to stand to him.

Another thought, much of the problems in relation to policy seem to me to be open to pushback by him. For example:

The same voters – including recent Ukip supporters – who spoke approvingly of him and welcomed a return to what some termed old Labour were often also those who named immigration as being among their greatest concerns, or used tropes such as “benefit scroungers” to express dissatisfaction about the welfare system.

Given that there’s not been a steadfast political effort made by any ‘mainstream’ political party in the UK to push back consistently against such tropes it is hardly surprising that they are embedded. But simply because they are embedded does not mean they are incontestable or unamenable to change.

A British political party leader making that effort would be something that could substantially shift the political terrain. How far, how fast, is another set of questions again. That it hasn’t been done hitherto – that, in fact, New Labour in some ways sought to use the rhetoric of ‘scroungers’, or at least the dissatisfaction amongst the public about such issues to its advantage is testament to a degradation of its politics.

Class War September 28, 2015

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Fair dues to CW for saying it like they see it at the last British election.

Class War 2015. Because all the other candidates are scum.

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