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Writing Brexit… December 28, 2018

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Still working through Sean Swan’s book ‘Official Irish Republicanism, 1962 to 1972’ – one thing is the chapters get longer as it moves towards its conclusion. Hope to start posting them up early in the New Year. But in the meantime, have been dipping through Owen Bennett’s ‘The Brexit Club’ which looks at the Leave side at the referendum, or should that be sides?

What’s notable is not merely the centrality of Farage to the early parts of the exercise, but a Farage who had already determined UKIP was not the vehicle to drive it forward, but also the network of right wing and ‘libertarian’ right groups, think-tanks and so on in from the start, and how very few Labour figures were willing to be involved on the Leave side.

There’s also a weird sub-issue about ‘the posh boys’ as Farage saw it, that is ‘the privately educated university graduates – rather than the millions of people who had voted UKIP at the general election’. This subdued class warfare between upper middle class and middle class is curious – though telling. The resentments and personal hostility which it engendered were a very real aspect of the campaign(s). But it was inconsistent, it became, as it were, a badge, to be applied (with some truth) to some but not to others who had precisely the same backgrounds depending on how close they were to Farage (or his views) or not.

The book also has a fantastic opening scene where John Redwood, scourge of Major et al, and long time Leave proponent is barracked at a meeting by UKIP members and supporters for being insufficiently pro-Leave.

Meanwhile, so far, hardly a mention of an island in the Atlantic to the west of Britain.

[Labour for Britain] announced itself on 17 June with a joint statement from Kate Hoey, Hopkins and Stringer…

In an interview with the New Statesman, the County Antrim born Hoey did display some reservations over the group’s name. ‘I don’t like the word ‘Britain’ because that excludes Northern Ireland,’ she said…

And that’s pretty much the sum totality of a mention of the North for many many pages.

And a telling anecdote…

By the first week of January 2016 Leader of the Commons Chris Grayling and Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers had had enough. The pari may not have been the highest-profile members of Cameron’s top team, but their Euroscepticism was well known around Westminster – and the Cabinet table. Daniel Hanna was a particular fan of Villiers, who had joined the government as a Transport minister in 2010; ‘The first thing she did was to take the EU flags off al the buildings under her ministry’s control. Now can you imagine any Male politician doing that and then not telling anyone? I only know about that because a civil servant told me,’ he said.

Is it not remarkable that that is the most striking thing about Villiers, not here position as NI Secretary, or all that that implied and the significance of that to any Brexit, but rather what she did re the EU flag six years previously?

Jer O’Leary December 27, 2018

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Very sad news that Jer O’Leary has died. He joins Sean Garland and Alan MacSimoin as staunch leftists who have passed this year. I think I first encountered him during his exhibition of labour movement banners at the Project, all the way back in 1986. Come Here To Me has a fine overview of O’Leary’s life here. As they note:

He was, firmly and completely, a man of the Left. In 1967, a 22 year old Jer O’Leary joined the Republican movement, the beginning of a life-long involvement in republican and socialist politics that shaped everything he did.

Christmas cheer… December 27, 2018

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Some entertaining anecdotes here, though one would wonder how true a few were, on Slate.com about Christmas holiday office parties and such like. I particularly like the one about the second-in-command in an organisation who sent an email around to get donations for a holiday gift for the CEO, this being a two day weekend away skiing. Nice.

I tend to avoid events like that for various reasons, many of them practical – though by the way, any further thoughts on a CLR meet up, as raised in comments previously, now that I’ll go to.

In my previous employment Christmas was famous for unrestrained hostility. The group was going through a labour dispute, some of us started up a union and it rapidly took off. Entertainingly this made all social occasions incredibly fraught. Excessive drinking was the order of the day. The company Christmas dinner one year saw management pelted by bread rolls, that sort of stuff. And this unfortunately, for management, at the large Christmas parties in hotels where multiple companies have their parties in the same room. That was a tradition that rapidly was abandoned thereafter.

Christmas expenditure… December 27, 2018

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This seems extraordinary.

Irish households will each spend €2,690 on average this Christmas, according to research by the business group Retail Ireland. 
The figure represents a 3% increase on the average spend last year.

Does this account for food and all other items?

Christmas Tree December 27, 2018

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The above is Nina, singing the song from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the 1969 Bond film. A great mad song, I love the fantastically stilted and minded delivery, this from the Morecombe and Wise Christmas Show, a whole different world. But just on Christmas trees I’ve always felt more than a bit equivocal about them. I like trees a lot and the idea of a one use tree sits badly with me. Had the same artificial Dunnes purchased tree for the best part of 15 years and so far so good, metal fatigue hasn’t set in.

Christmas Lights December 27, 2018

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This from Which.co.uk from last year gives a sense of just how much energy electric lights consume. It’s not an academic question, every year there’s more and more. And unlike ‘real’ Christmas Trees these I like a lot – there’s something something about the darkness lit up, about standing between the LED and the star (apologies to B5). So colour me conflicted.

But the amount of energy is actually surprisingly low. Which Magazine determined it was about £8.94 sterling added onto ones electricity bill for the month of December if you ran 7 strings of lights for 30 days. Use energy efficient LEDs and that can go down a remarkable 90%. Certainly not the worst use of electricity in these times.

What you want to say – 27 December 2018 December 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.

Open for business… December 26, 2018

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I was in a bookshop the other day and discovered that it was open today from sometime after midday. And lots of other shops are now open on Stephen’s Day too, an increasing trend across the years. How does that impact on workers? I dislike the chipping away of near traditional periods where most workers didn’t have to come in. In fact I’ve always liked the idea of days when most shops aren’t open – and not, obviously, for religious reasons.

Granted, and I know this from direct experience this Christmas period in regard to hospital, there are places where life must continue as near normal. But even there it was notable how many patients were being sent home for the holidays or allowed out on the equivalent of day release.

Roscommon evictions December 24, 2018

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Jason O’Toole, again not unknown to us here, has some thoughts in the Irish Mirror on the evictions. One very good point is that…

..how is it tolerated that some thugs can drag people out of their home without wearing similar identification? Clearly, there needs to be a tightening up the laws to prevent such underhanded tactics being used in the future – but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Nollaig Shona Daoibh, a chairde December 24, 2018

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