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Red scare October 24, 2018

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If only this claim wasn’t from a Republican source…

A pre-election report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers sounds the alarm: “Coincident with the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx’s birth [May 1818], socialism is making a comeback in American political discourse. Detailed policy proposals from self-declared socialists are gaining support in Congress and among much of the electorate.”

Though this has a political aspect too – well, of course…

The paper also just happens to be “coincident” with the 2018 midterm elections. It does not take a wild leap of imagination to foresee a feedback loop in which the Fox News host Sean Hannity cites the study as evidence of socialism posing an existential threat, after which Donald Trump talks and tweets about the issue.

The article is entertaining, for example:

The paper also has a dig at Nordic countries often cited approvingly by many on the left as socialist success stories. First, it says, Nordic countries’ policies are not really socialism as economists define it. Second, “living standards in the Nordic countries are at least 15% lower than in the United States”. And if the US had adopted Nordic-style policies from the 1970s, “its real GDP would decline by at least 19% in the long run, or about $11,000 per year for the average person”.

Hmmm… I wonder.

Still, the very fact the Republicans are pushing a very explicit red scare tells its own story. Socialism in the US. We can but wish, but…small steps.

Man overboard… again… October 23, 2018

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Eleven men and one woman voted against the legislation. Two Fianna Fáil TDs, Eamon O Cuív and Marc MacSharry voted against the Bill as did Mr Tóibín, former Sinn Féin TD Carol Nolan, Independents Michael and Danny Healy-Rae, Michael Lowry, Michael Fitzmaurice, Mattie McGrath, Michael Collins, Peter Fitzpatrick and Minister of State and Independent TD Sean Canney.

Well now. Will Peadar Tóibín be suspended again from SF on foot of the vote on the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill?


…the second stage of the legislation was passed by 102 votes to 12 with seven abstentions and it now goes to committee stage.

The seven who abstained were:

Those who abstained included Fianna Fáil TDs Eugene Murphy, Pat Crowley, Sean Haughey and Aindrias Moynihan.

It’s odd, but looking at the overall numbers 12 votes against and 7 abstentions is lower than I’d have expected. What do others think?

Speaking of lists… how about that list for Cabinet? October 23, 2018

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A snippet in the Phoenix suggests that it was Seán Canney’s former comrades in the Independent Alliance who were instrumental in pushing him forward as junior Minister again. Indeed it mentions in passing that Canney and his friend, turned rival, ‘Boxer’ Moran, are on good personal terms again, this predating Canney’s remarkable re-ascent (to coin a phrase). But perhaps more interesting is this. Shane Ross and Finian McGrant went to Varadkar with a list, according to the Phoenix with three names on it. One was Noel Grealish (a man who has now pledged his support to the government in this time of national crisis – that being Brexit, it’s hard to keep up these days), the other was, obviously, Canney. The third? Why Maureen O’Sullivan. I’m guessing this might have been a solo run by McGrath who was once close to Tony Gregory.

Bus(dis)Connects… October 23, 2018

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There’s a rising buzz of hostility towards the BusConnect proposals, and it’s telling to me that this is manifesting itself as much on the government side as the opposition. For example, the IT reports this week that Fine Gael TDs including Varadkar and Bruton (or rather their offices) made representations about the concerns of constituents in regard to the proposals.

I felt from first hearing this proposal that the likelihood of it becoming a problem for the government was very very high. And not simply because of its novelty.

Also in the IT is this account of one blind person who will be adversely affected by the proposals, and the point is made that more broadly they will present a barrier of access dissuading people from making journeys. This is all deeply problematic, but what is a little astounding is that none of this was thought of prior to the event.

A public transport system has to work for users. There are gloomy tales of similar systems to that proposed in Australia where ‘hubs’ and ‘spines’ become congested, where routes that have served to allow school children to make it to school on time or leave in the afternoon have changed times and become unusable and so on. Few would argue that there is a perfect system in place at the moment but the potential levels of disruption that the proposals appear to entail are considerable.

As Tony Murray, the blind user, notes:

“Any significant design project, whether it’s technology or transport, the user has to be at the centre of it. And in terms of inclusivity, that should be users of all abilities. I think that is a failing on the part of the NTA, for not considering users of all needs and disabilities.”

That’s more than a failing.

Wrong side of history. October 23, 2018

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Good piece by Daniel Geary a little while back here which recalls one small but far from insignificant fact in relation to Paisley and Paisleyism and a broader point too…

The year 1968 is most associated with youthful activism on the left. From Prague to Paris, from Chicago to Derry, people demanded a more egalitarian society. But it was an equally significant year for those on the right who advocated exclusivist forms of nationalism that resonate today in the politics of Trumpism and Brexit.
The conservatives’ 1968 was just as global as the left’s. In 1968, Richard Nixon won an election speaking for a “silent majority” of patriotic white Americans. British MP Enoch Powell warned that “rivers of blood” would flow if Britain did not keep out non-white migrants. The charismatic Belfast minister Ian Paisley resisted efforts to extend full citizenship rights to Catholics in Northern Ireland.

1968 is rightly considered important, whether it was quite as pivotal for the left as is sometimes suggested is perhaps open to question. Indeed for all the complaints from the likes of Peter Hitchens et al about the liberal 1960s being the source of all contemporary woes the reality is that change came passing slow in the intervening decades as conservatism or a fading social democracy saw a retreat rather than forward movement.

But the point about Paisley is well made. And let’s keep in mind the contemporary resonances – the attitudes of the DUP to marriage equality, etc long before we even get to parity of esteem between unionism and nationalism/republicanism. 1968 isn’t quite 2018. But nor is it entirely dissimilar. Perhaps that’s the lesson, that conservatism remains live and active albeit in different forms.

Reckless… October 23, 2018

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Got to enjoy this line from Micheál Martin from the weekend’s Fianna Fáil Wolfe Tone commemoration…

On Brexit, Mr Martin said: “It would be reckless to have an election in the midst of all of that. We need a parliament and we need a government that can respond to the unexpected around Brexit, and we could be facing some unexpected developments around Brexit.”

Reckless for Fianna Fáil too.

The elephant in the room October 22, 2018

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Interesting, this from the PUP conference, a speech by Dr. John Kyle. There’s a lot of stuff in that I suspect many would say was quite reasonable, even if many of us would have different views on the overall dispensation. Now in fairness perhaps this is just a part of a much longer speech – and yet, and yet, it slides away from an issue of the day, something one might expect due to its sheer prominence would inflect almost all aspects of it. It’s there… on the tip of my tongue, what is it again, starts with a ‘b’… actually two things that start with a ‘b’. One has an x in it and the other an o…

It’ll come to me, I’m sure.

Those 2016 polls… October 22, 2018

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Just a reminder, when looking at polls, at how they fared in 2016. Even the exit polls were a bit awry – not least and this was reflected throughout polling in the campaigns where SF’s rating was a good 1-7% out. Smaller parties had it rough.

That said average out the last five or so polls not including the exit polls and for the smaller parties including Labour the results were almost all with .5% with the only variation being in the exaggeratedly high (as was eventually evident) polling for FG and SF.

Which only goes to say that as always polls should be taken with more than a pinch of salt.

Presidential Campaign News: In with the old… October 22, 2018

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So, Peter Casey has restarted his campaign. Last week’s little controversy clearly was but a speedbump – though his performance on Friday on the radio news was such to indicate that he had looked into the abyss and drawn back. And…

Writing in the Sunday Independent, Mr Casey said that he took the decision to continue to contest the election after being inundated with messages of support.

But not to worry, for he’s a new message…

He also said he would campaign on his belief that Ireland is a “welfare-dependent state” which has led to a “sense of entitlement that’s become unaffordable”.

This is near enough implausible to the point of ludicrousness but no matter, with some it will dovetail with their own beliefs.

His words about ‘socialist politicians’ are crafted from the same cloth. There’s problems aplenty in this society without his having to make up ones. And what this has to do with the Presidency…

Irish Left Archive: The Worker, No. 3 April 1972, Socialist Workers Movement October 22, 2018

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To download the above please click on the following link. the-worker.pdf

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to the person who forwarded this to the Archive.

This edition of the Worker joins two already in the Archive and from the same period. The Worker was the regular publication of the Socialist Workers Movement. As with other party papers from this period it has a tabloid format and an extensive range across eight pages.

The lead story examines the issue of direct rule in Northern Ireland by London. It argues that:

The civil resistance campaign must be maintained. The defences must be kept up against sectarian and military attacks. Protestant workers will, in time, being to see that their ‘loyalism’ has brought them no particular advantage in the long run. The British ruling class is discarding their old means of dividing and ruling the whole working class. Craig’s manoeuvres could tie working class organisations, making them incapable fo defending any basic class interests.

And it suggests that:

The way forward now is to build a working class movement in the 32 counties which can challenge ether economic and political power of British and Irish capitalism, as well as maintain the necessary physical defence.

Other pieces note that editions of the Worker were seized from a car driven by Bernadette Devlin, another strongly critiques the move to enter the EEC and a near full page article later in the publication asks ‘What is the Common Market’.

It also notes that in March of 1972 the SWM affiliated to the Socialist Labour Alliance. This gives some insight into the genesis of that entity.

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