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Shaping the context for thirty years… June 29, 2018

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Well, elections matter. Don’t they? Realistically Trump has the prospect of at least one, perhaps two more, SCUSA picks. It might not happen but it could. That would lead to a Supreme Court which will now have an overt 5/4 conservative majority having an even greater majority. A majority with conservative justices who will be there for what, twenty, thirty more years? Easily. Shaping the US political and economic system in the way that they do.

And by the by Kennedy was no great shakes – particularly on worker and economic issues. For example look at the outworkings of an issue he voted on just this last few days…

Signs of Hope – A continuing series June 28, 2018

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Gewerkschaftler suggested this recently:

I suggest this blog should have a regular (weekly) slot where people can post happenings at the personal or political level that gives them hope that we’re perhaps not going to hell in a handbasket as quickly as we thought. Or as the phlegmatic Germans put it “hope dies last”.

Any contributions this week?

The Presidency, #Generation Referendums and their next chance to vote on the office? June 28, 2018

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What do people think of President Higgins seeming intent to declare for a second term? Interesting that FF appear to not be fielding a candidate – possibly sensible on their part, they are not what they were. And Senator Craughwell has run into some trouble getting the last three signatures of Oireachtas members that would allow him to present a challenge. Though some might think his getting within three signatures was a miracle in itself.

Not that Presidential elections are a bed of roses. As we know all too well they have a strange propensity for filtering out seemingly strong candidates.

And what of the marriage equality/abortion referendums generation, those who voted in such numbers this last three years. What sort of Presidency do they want, and what of their opportunity to express themselves at the ballot box on this far from unimportant issue? The last vote was in 2011. The next could potentially be in the 2020s. Does that gap seem sensible? I wonder if someone would be willing to organise around the dislocation there, and at the least push for a contest.

Difficult not to agree with Harry McGee in the following:

If he is re-elected Higgins will be president until he is 84. Health is an issue. And a full explanation is required from him on why he changed his mind, which he is quite entitled to do.

People have been scoffing at Senator Gerard Craughwell for having the affront to mount a challenge. But there is a lot of merit to it being a contest, even if it turns out to be a procession.

That last is crucial. This is an elected office, the highest in the state. I think legitimation does require some sort of a vote each time. I liked McAleese a lot, was less fond of Robinson, but both I felt because they lacked challengers presented problems.

F*** Business 2 June 28, 2018

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I know that Corbyn and the BLP leadership get some stick for their stance on Brexit – some of it deserved, some not. But in a way who could blame them for wanting to avoid the snakepit that that represents short of actual power after an election. For whatever else it does leave the Tories to do the heavy lifting, and given that so much of that lifting appears to be tilting back towards EEA/EFTA status, or something analogous, why should they interrupt the Tories on their bizarre self-destructive mission.

And just on that, speaking to one person who has followed this issue from the start, their view is that it will be BINO, Brexit in Name Only and that in all real ways the UK will remain closely attached to the EU because that’s the only real alternative.

I’m not quite as sure, but I think it more likely than less. But be that as it may, Richard North pointed to this useful analysis by George Eaton in the New Statesman where he suggests that:

Brexit is now destroying what remains of the Tories’ economic reputation. The UK has become the slowest-growing major economy (GDP growth was a mere 0.1 per cent in the most recent quarter, the worst performance since 2012); firms have been dismayed by the government’s pledge to leave the EU customs union and the single market.

And:

When Boris Johnson last week declared “fuck business” – in response to warnings from Airbus and BMW – he merely defined what has long been the Conservatives’ policy. But his words were still a gift to the Tories’ opponents. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell now have a ready riposte whenever they are denounced as the “enemies of enterprise”. Labour, which has already won praise from businesses for its infrastructure and skills proposals, appears positively emollient by comparison.

And Eaton notes that on a range of issues, nonexistent Brexit dividends for the NHS, continued membership payments to the EU as well as maintaining pre-Brexit levels of expenditure for ‘agriculture, universities and regional development’, the crippling hit to the public finances with a ‘net fiscal cost of £300m a week in 2020/21’, ‘reduced EU trade’ and no end of ‘unfunded spending commitments’ that would put the BLP at its most utopian to shame, the Tories have torched their own unique selling point.

Many moons ago Michael White, then of the Guardian, noted that despite the jibes Jeremy Corbyn might actually begin to look like a safe pair of hands with the British economy. This was long before Brexit. It would appear that White was correct.

But in the meantime with this kind of stuff swirling around why on earth would Corbyn et al want to shape the outcome, not least given that they are not in power and their ability to do so is remarkably limited. I wish that the BLP would opt for EEA/EFTA status, but prior to a point where they absolutely must why should they expend political capital just yet?

And just on all that, I thought that Corbyn’s words at PMQs in the HOC this week was most telling as well as painfully accurate:

In his now-traditional summing-up attack in the final question, Corbyn said the “future of whole industries” was at stake.
“She rules out a customs union, the leader of the house rules out the prime minister’s preferred option, and reality rules out a maximum facilitation model,” he said. “That only leaves no deal, which she refuses to rule out. She is putting jobs at risk. Sadly, it’s not those of the warring egos in her cabinet.”

F*** Business 1 June 28, 2018

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The Guardian’s Brexit podcast had a commentator who had a perfect response to Boris Johnson’s telling four letter comment about business warnings in regard to negative outcomes from Brexit.

“When he says [fuck business] what he really means is fuck workers, fuck jobs, fuck the economy to which the British people might say ‘fuck you’.’

And he continued:

The poorest parts of the UK, many of them Leave areas, will be hardest hit by [international companies leaving the UK].

And what of this envisioning a new Ireland(s)? June 27, 2018

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Got the SBP this last weekend and turning to the last page of the News section what did one see but Michael McDowell discussing Brexit and Macron and such matters. No huge surprises there, and as always not a lot to disagree with (which is troubling in itself).

Still, McDowell raises a point which is worthy of discussion I suspect when writing the following on foot of demographic change in the North and the issue o Brexit.

…sensible unionists in the North are beginning to ask the question as to whether there is some political arrangement other than unified, unitary Irish republic which would better serve their interests than the existing political order.

That’s an intriguing statement in itself. I would be curious as to who these unionists are – there’s certainly some signs that this is more than just wishful thinking on the part of some in media and politics.

Anyhow he continues:

Could we envisage a situation in which the two parts of Ireland formed a loose confederation to share as partners in a single membership of the EU? Could the North in such a scenario continue to have some linkages with Britain?

He says:

These ideas may seem far-fetched or difficult to some some, but they are worth discussion on the bassi of being ideas rather than as threatening or disquieting proposals. After all there is a clear majority on each side of the border for continued membership of the EU.

I think that his idea of a confederation, perhaps not stated as such, is what the GFA/BA was in some ways moving slowly towards. One with continuing east/west links, but one which would see south/north links develop to an even greater extent while retaining a northeast identity. And here’s the thing, that would address many of the concerns of all those within the northeast – allowing for all-island and Ulster and across these islands links while not impinging on the nature of the Republic, or indeed Britain.

Now, it’s all moonshine on one level, at least in its stronger variant, but as a weaker variant we have already seen, already see, the outlines in practice. Which suggests that a stronger variant might just be possible.

A gloomy analysis of the North June 27, 2018

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I’ve always felt that Seamus Mallon has been a rather embittered presence in Irish politics. When deputy leader of the SDLP he seemed to be in a state of near perpetual disagreement with John Hume, and subsequently he has been a dour voice in regard to the Peace Process and the GFA, despite being Deputy First Minister himself.

So in one way it is both odd and not odd that he would take issue with a basic aspect of the GFA/BA dispensation in the following:

Former Northern Ireland deputy first minister Seamus Mallon has warned that holding a border poll based on the premise of securing a 50 per cent plus one vote for unity would be “a recipe for disaster” in the North.
The capacity for violence remained “very near to the surface” in Northern Ireland and that politicians must “take their time” in any discussions around future governance, Mr Mallon said.

He may be right about a border poll with that sort of knife edge majority, though telling he would see it as a possibility, but that is the basic working of the GFA/BA so it’s difficult to feel it is quite as appalling a concept, whatever about the actuality.

And intriguing that he points to the issue of violence in quite those terms.

Hands across the border… June 27, 2018

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Well now, that’s an interesting appointment. Drew Harris, Deputy Chief Constable of the PSNI (and a long serving RUC officer) is the new Garda Commissioner.

What you want to say – 27 June 2018 June 27, 2018

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

Spy Cops June 26, 2018

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The Undercover Policing Inquiry currently going on in the UK is throwing out quite a number of ‘cover names’ in an incredible variety of far left groups in the UK (and sone far right ones too). From the Sparts to the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association and even Left wing bookshops. It’s quite incredible the effort put in by the UK authorities to infultrate these groups.
There’s an ever growing list of cover names and the groups they belonged to here
I wonder how much was done here by the Gardai and indeed how many more of the names that will appear will be of ‘Irish Interest’

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