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This Week At Irish Election Literature October 30, 2015

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Starting off with a 2006 letter from The Campaign for an Independent Left

Then The September 1983 edition of The UDA newsletter ‘Ulster’

A 1994 Cork South Central By-Election flyer from Sean McCarthy of The Workers’ Party

and finally an Opinion piece from The latest Labour Newsletter

It’s the little things… like the Army and ATMs and… October 30, 2015

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It really is isn’t it? A week or two back could the Taoiseach having delivered a budget that seemed to work just fine for FG – whatever about the rest of us, envisaged that he’d be embroiled in this, a controversy about comments made by him last week at the European People’s Party confab where he said:

“The Governor of the Central Bank in Ireland said to me: ‘It looks like this weekend . . . you’ll have to put [the] Army around the banks and around the ATM machines and introduce capital controls like they had in Cyprus’,” he said.

Of course it was nonsense, though it’s not if I recall correctly the first time a version of this tale had reached the public. But in the past that might have been okay, not this week with everyone keen to tear chunks out of him.

And of course it’s so much fluff, though it provides a handy stick for others to beat him with, and given the simple fact it wasn’t correct, well, them’s the breaks. But it’s odd. Why make the comment at all? Entirely unnecessary except one has the suspicion that the faux-heroic attitudes struck by government representatives of both parties have somehow seeped in uncritically into their thinking. The appalling truth is that they’ve come to believe all that stuff about saving the nation, and us being on the veritable brink. And so he probably believes that he did indeed have a chat where this sort of stuff was suggested to him however illogical it all might be (I think it was sonofstan who pointed out that you could turn the ATM’s off, amongst other measures).

And it also serves to underline very neatly indeed how political capital can be frittered away with incredible speed. Wonder if he regrets not going for the election now? Wonder what he thinks next week and the week after and the month after that again and the New Year will bring?

Come back Richard M. Nixon, all is forgiven… October 29, 2015

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Or almost all, at least when one sees this lineup of non-entities, ‘born to rule’ failures, chancers and far right ideologues.

Communist Embassies October 29, 2015

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Found this motion on the ‘establishment of embassies of Communist Countries’ in the 1977 Fianna Fail Ard Fheis Clar. Anyone any idea what the ‘development’ at the Soviet Embassy was?

2016. An election to lose? October 29, 2015

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Sean Whelan, writing in the SBP the weekend before last, discusses the next election – and almost inevitably does this in the context of the budget. He notes that:

From early summer on, I was of the view the government would spend some of its surplus this year to buy off discontent before it happened, to reduce the noise in the run-in to an election.
There was no point in waiting until spring to promise additional resources to health to combat the annual trolleys in the corridor winter crisis. Far better to take the sting out of it now with a big wodge of pre-election cash.
Most of the extra spending in the 2015 budget — as a result of the white paper — will stay in the budget in 2016 and thereafter, because it plumps up the year-end position for 2015, which becomes the starting line for Budget 2016, and so on.

Interesting. He also argues that the government has taken advantage of its ability to use supplementary estimates to deliver more funds, though it won’t be able to do this again from here on out due to eurozone rules. But what of this?

Faced with a general election — their jobs dependent on an electorate who have been badly battered by the crisis — the politicians were always going to go for some extra spending now. They spotted a gap between two sets of budget rules and jumped through it, laden with as much cash as they could carry.
The gamble is not with the size of the spending increase now — it’s with the stimulation of the public’s appetite for more spending with less tax from now on.

And:

Because from now on the straitjacket rules should force the government to run a very tight ship for the next three budgets to build up to a pretty chunky budget surplus. That should be the position coming into the election after next.
And if you think there is pressure to spend money that is financed by borrowing, imagine the pressure to spend more when there is a surplus. Imagine the tempting offers parties can put before the electorate in 2021.

Well that assumes things remain reasonably good. But let’s go with his line of thinking for the moment:

Imagine how nice it would be to be in government after that point (the European Commission says that if budget programmes are fully implemented, the government debt to GDP ratio should be down to 62 per cent in ten years’ time).
Just as 2007 was an election that was worth losing, being the opposition after the next election may not be the worst thing in the world either – as long as you have a realistic shot at 2021, when there might actually be some real money to play with

Now that is interesting. Not that I can see any of the actors really wanting to hold back, though some are unlikely to be called to participate at this point.

Elections Update: Plan ‘C’, that FF route to state power and the LP are ‘baffled’. October 29, 2015

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Shane Coleman had a piece in the Independent that’s not all bad this week. His basic thrust is that government formation for FG without FF seems – at this point – difficult to unfeasible. So best to dust off plan C, that is coalition. Curiously, like so many writing about this topic the idea of minority government doesn’t enter his head.

But speaking of curious, what about the last line in this.

It’s quite puzzling. Imagine on the day that Fine Gael and Labour came to power, somebody had said then that three or four months from the next election, the economy would be the fastest-growing in Europe, unemployment would drop to single digits, the fiscal crisis would be largely sorted, the Troika would be gone and the final Budget would match anything from the McCreevy era.

Surely some mistake?

Meanwhile in the same newspaper Micheál Martin was waxing lyrical about his prospects for a return to power. And what would they be?

In an interview with the Irish Independent, Mr Martin indicated that he sees the Labour Party and newly formed Social Democrats, along with Independents, as his best option for a coalition.

Uh-huh. I take it so he’s not seen the numbers. This becomes even more bizarre when the conversation takes the following turn…

However, both these parties have indicated that they want the next government to hold a referendum on Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws.
“Collectively, as a party, we will not be initiating the repeal of the eighth,” Mr Martin said, adding that if it came before the Dáil, his TDs would have a freedom-of-conscience vote.
“Nobody has said what they are going to do to replace the eighth. I think it’s a very sensitive subject and it’s one which has to be approached sensitively.”

Given that there is no way that FF is coming back to power with the LP and the Social Democrats – though note that he’s positioning himself on the centre and very explicitly so, no doubt to put some blue water between him and the old enemy (that would be FG, not SF), this is castles in the air stuff. It’s just not going to happen with FF.

He’s not biting on the FG/FF lash-up option.

However, Mr Martin said: “I don’t think the people want me to put Enda Kenny back in as Taoiseach. That’s the sense I’m getting on the doorstep.”

Right. Right. And if the numbers don’t stack up…

Finally, talking of numbers, and once more in the Independent. How’s this for out of touch?

Labour Party TDs are ­”baffled” and beginning to fear there may be no way back after failing to get any bounce in support after the giveaway Budget.

And:

Party strategists are struggling to understand the 7pc standing in the polls despite a month where leader Joan Burton won a battle with Enda Kenny over the date of the election, Budget 2016 was widely welcomed, and the ­same-sex marriage ­legislation was passed through the ­Oireachtas.

Yeah. I’m sure we’re all baffled too. Baffled that they’re baffled.

An Phoblacht out now, including… October 29, 2015

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  • It’s all about the elections – Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil back Britain’s Dirty War in Ireland
  • Opportunities for strategic advances should be embraced
  • Inquests – Struggling to find the truth
  • Housing Emergency Now – Plus Longboat Quay and Riverwalk Court
  • Dr Rory Hearne – Citizens’ Government v Fine Gael & Fianna Fáil
  • Prisoners of the Past: Ongoing discrimination against political former prisoners
  • Free Ibrahim Halawa: Jailed Irish teen’s case taken to EU
  • Budget reaction: Fine Gael/Labour government steals Fianna Fáil’s clothes
  • Uncomfortable Conversations: Chairperson of the British Irish Association and Irish Rugby International Hugo Mac Neill
  • Eoin Ó Murchú: Níl na comhairli saor ó olc ach an oiread

Upcoming Events: Symposium – The Dark Arts: photography and politics October 28, 2015

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Thursday 19th November from 2pm.
Keynote speech by Kevin Rafter on ‘Charles Haughey: power, politics and public image’ followed by panel discussions on
‘Photography, journalism and political communications in the age of spin’; and ‘Temple Bar – Possible Futures for Haughey’s legacy project’
Admission free, booking advised on info@galleryofphotography.ie
To accommodate numbers, the Symposium will take place at Wood Quay Venue.

Sinn Féin and Government ? October 28, 2015

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The news that “Sinn Féin is to enter into a vote transfer arrangement with parties and Independents who have signed up to a left-wing platform..” got me looking at message and material from Sinn Féin in the last couple of Months.
In their Ard Fheis in March one of the themes was Preparing for Government.Indeed Mary Lou ended her speech with the lines…

“We are preparing for government.We are ready for the challenge. We are ready to deliver.”


It was a confident message, a message for their own supporters but also a message that we are a responsible party, we aren’t just a party of protest, we are a party that wants to govern. Sinn Fein were doing well in the polls and well ,the thoughts of the party in Government North and South for the Centenary year of 1916 must have seen a more realistic prospect than ever. There were still overtures from parts of FF and there was no reason to think that SF support would decline.
In July the policy Document ‘A Fair Recovery is Possible’ was launched and leaflets with that slogan and details of the plan were distributed by Sinn Fein candidates nationwide. Interestingly the only time the word ‘Government’ was used in this was in relation to our current overlords.
Then this appeared in August, with the ‘Preparing for Government’ line.
CANVASS-CARD-FRONT
The confident message of Government again, the odd thing is that only a number of candidates appeared to use this line.
I wonder in the aftermath of The McGuigan killing and the attacks by FF and others did they realise that the ‘Preparing for Government’ line may end up a bit like ‘Gilmore for Taoiseach’, as SF may have been ‘Preparing for Government’ but there was nobody for them to Prepare to go into Government with.
The current message is ‘Delivering a Fair Recovery’, in the 6 page leaflet the word ‘Government’ is not used once .
With other Government avenues seemingly closed off, cue the recent emphasis on the Right2Change initiative ……

A certain form of conservatism October 28, 2015

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I was very struck reading a piece on slate about Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk jailed for refusing to sign marriage licences for same sex couples by a comment BTL which had the following line: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2015/09/republican_presidential_candidates_and_kim_davis_the_gop_field_isn_t_sure.html

This is what happens when you overturn millennia of marriage tradition.  I’m actually surprised it was only one person. 

There were the obvious, and correct, ripostes – of the sort that we’ve seen in relation to that issue here. Marriage as a construct – in the sense that we understand it now, is actually remarkably contemporary in historical terms. The idea of a marriage of equals, that the female partner has autonomy, rights and so on, is in fact very recent indeed. If one wishes to argue that marriage has traditionally been male and female, well, sure, but the marriage bit seems tangential to that.

But it speaks of a broader ignorance, or unwillingness to accept, just how much has changed in other areas and in the much much more recent past. And it speaks of another unwillingness, an inability to face up to why matters have changed.

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