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What you want to say – 26 June 2019 June 26, 2019

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

This cannot be happening… June 25, 2019

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…according to Lexiteer rhetoric… this being the news that:

Emmanuel Macron’s plan for the biggest wave of French privatisations in a decade is under threat after opposition politicians took the unusual step of joining ranks to push for a referendum on the sale of Paris airports.
The centrist French president wants to sell the state’s controlling stake in Aéroports de Paris, the profitable operator of Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports, which are used by more than 100 million passengers each year. It would be among the biggest privatisation operations in French history, alongside Macron’s plans to sell other stakes in the national lottery as well as the gas and power group ENGIE.

Now there’s two aspects to this that strike me forcefully. First that the airports remain in public ownership and secondly that Macron appears possessed of the idea that somehow privatisation will alter things for the better. Is there any serious evidence for the latter. And as to the former, this blog has long championed the point that in Europe social and public forms of ownership – state, municipal, federal, co-operative and so on – are vastly more prevalent than in the UK (which is where the Lexit view – and the IreLexit view – seems to take its cues from). And this dislocation between a continent where there such ownership is conspicuous by its reality as against a UK where it isn’t points up the ignorance of much Lexit thinking. This isn’t to argue all is perfect on the continent, anything but, but there are solid achievements in the public sphere that need to be defended and losing a potentially more radical Britain from those discussions is bad in itself (though it is going to happen) and secondly to pretend they don’t exist is worse again.

As to the second, would entirely agree with the following:

But political opponents accuse Macron of ‘Flogging the family silver’ and letting go of strategic state infrastructure. They say the UK with its privatised Heathrow airport and privatised railways, illustrate a potential nightmare scenario of key transport infrastructure run for profit.

Again the irony is almost too much. Lexit proponents do not see how the state they are in is shown up as what not to do in Europe as against states that are remaining in the UK which have greater degrees of public ownership.

That issue of strategic state infrastructure is a key one. That should be an irreducible core of within a state around which there are then overlapping areas of state, municipal and co-operative forms of social ownership, the latter forms pushing into the broader private sector to provide social alternatives to private business. In other words a truly mixed economy, one where private enterprise continues to exist, albeit socialised in key respects with worker directors, unionised workplaces and so forth, but that those social alternatives provide…well, an alternative.

There’s a third aspect to this, that public forms are under threat as always, and they need to be defended. To me the struggle in France is one that all workers should be engaged in in whatever manner is possible to ensure that the social core remains extant. But what are the best mechanisms to do that pan-EU? Any suggestions?

Knowledge gap June 25, 2019

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Whatever about the supposed source – this news that a false Facebook effort to spread disinformation about Northern Ireland and Brexit raised a smile for me:

Digital researchers at an investigative centre connected to a US-based think tank found that a fake Irish Facebook account was among 16 used to spread disinformation with forged documents from dozens of online platforms in a bid to stir tensions within and between countries, including Ireland and the UK.
Facebook took down the accounts in May after the social media network identified a broad campaign of co-ordinated inauthentic behaviour “emanating from Russia” involving the use of fake accounts.

Not least because of the stories such as these:

The fake stories centred on false claims that DUP leader Arlene Foster favoured the EU’s approach to Brexit, that former British defence secretary Gavin Williamson said the Real IRA helped in the attempted assassination of Russian spy Sergei Skripal, and that the Real IRA were recruiting Islamist fighters.

Whatever else whoever concocted them didn’t have much knowledge about matters Irish. But perhaps that doesn’t matter…

Would it not be easier for the FG party to dissolve the branches and elect new ones? June 25, 2019

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Apologies to Brecht for mangling his poetry but his lines come to mind reading this tale…

Fine Gael TD John Deasy has hit back against a vote of no confidence in him by the local party organisation in his Waterford constituency.

Speaking to The Irish Times on Tuesday morning, Mr Deasy said “the entire Waterford organisation needs to be stood down and reviewed by headquarters; repeated warnings have been given by myself and other with regard to the behaviour of individuals in Waterford for years now.”

Apparently said meeting was attended by councilors and members. According to the IT there’s a fierce rivalry in the constituency between different FG camps. Anyone closer to the ground able to judge how this might go?

How long might government headed by a new Tory leader last? June 25, 2019

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Possibly not very long at all to judge from this analysis on politicshome.com

As it notes the latest problem is the suspension of Mark Field after last week and various others in trouble. And already the Tories with DUP support (10 MPs) have a majority of a mere 4. But… with by-elections and other problems facing them as it stands that could b whittled away to near parity with all others in the opposition.

And then there’s this dynamic which post-dates the departure of some Tories to the hapless Change UK crew:

One minister said she would leave the party if Mr Johnson and his supporters, such as Jacob Rees-Mogg, took over the Conservatives.
Another minister said he knew of five or six Conservatives who were openly saying they were so opposed to a Johnson premiership that they could not stay in the party run by him and a group of “Brexit ultras”.

Then there’s this from last night in the Guardian:

Conservatives stepped up warnings on Monday that a Boris Johnson premiership could lead to the collapse of the government if the leadership frontrunner attempts to pursue no deal.

One former Tory minister said he believed there were many more Tory MPs who would be prepared to take that step than those who would publicly admit it. “I do think at least 10 would vote to bring down the government if the government was taking us into no deal,” the MP said.

Granted that’s just words, and Johnson has been careful to try to appear to be appealing to all strands of opinion within the Tories. But it indicates even more clearly just how knife-edge all this is.

And for yet more evidence of that what about the latest polls which continue to show the Brexit party on or about 20-23% or so and the Tories either level pegging with the BLP or quite some way behind.

And for the shape of a parliament on those sort of figures look no further than here.

How Johnson, indeed any new leader, steadies the boat escapes me – even if he ‘delivers’ Brexit the UK political system appears wide open. Though the situation for Labour would hardly be much better given the difficultly in sustaining a government 88 seats or so short of a majority and the implausibility of coalition with either LDs or SNP (and neither of those would bridge the gap). Of course one has to keep in mind that the Tories will likely get a bounce with a new leader, but… the issues remain, new leader or not, and the same old contradictions remain too.

By the way, for those who thought the 2017 election demonstrated the primacy of economic and other issues, that may represent a false dawn. The last year or so has shown Brexit tumbling through the political landscape wreaking havoc all around. Perhaps that was an inevitability as it worked slowly but surely as so much political activity came to be defined by the issue. Then again how could it be otherwise?

Conservative? Unionist? June 24, 2019

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So, Boris Johnson’s rise to the top, hitherto largely unimpeded has hit a small, but not yet clearly unimportant, hitch this last weekend when, near inexplicably, his private life went very public indeed. The odd thing is how much of a unforced error this is. No one went after him. Quite the opposite. And yet that has to at the very least bring the question of his suitability for leadership of the Tories into a degree of question. For if this is the sort of unforced error he makes, it’s quite a one, and when stacked up against other errors he has made in office… well, it adds to a not entirely flattering picture.

One has to suspect if he was up against someone with more heft than Hunt he might be in real trouble. As it is it raises questions he might prefer left unarticulated at this particular point in time. So, I’d still think him likely to be leader but somewhat less likely than on Friday afternoon. UK Polling Report suggests some softening of his popularity, and that’s not nothing.

As to Hunt, what can he do? Andrew Rawnsley draws attention to issues noted by An Sionnach Fionn and others in recent days, not least the following:

Mr Hunt will be wary of getting very personal, but he doesn’t have to get into his rival’s rackety private life to make the case that a Johnson premiership would be a hair-raising gamble with both the future of the Tory party and the future of Britain. Of course, Tory members probably know this already and perhaps they do not care. An eye-popping poll suggests that a majority of them will sacrifice almost anything in order to get Brexit, including the United Kingdom itself. They’d see Scotland and Northern Ireland ripped out of the UK rather than give up on Brexit. A large majority would quit the EU even if it inflicted “significant damage” on the economy and “destroyed” their party. This is the view of people who call themselves members of the Conservative and Unionist party.

This latter is so remarkable that it is perhaps only because we live in times when the remarkable is near enough the everyday that more hasn’t been made of it. It’s not even a case of destroying the village to save the village, more like they only like a couple of houses in the village and stuff the rest of the village.

Indeed if this is the Tories then political and broader unionism might be well-advised to consider their path forward, because it seems unlikely that greater sentiment for them is held by the Liberal Democrats or Labour supporters. And that isn’t to say that if I were a unionist I’d necessarily be paddling the boat towards Dublin, but rather beginning to wonder what sort of dispensation could be carved out with Dublin that would retain links east west and keep the north distinct from the rest of the island.

Of course maybe everything is going to be just fine, perhaps Johnson will surprise us all with his statesmanlike demeanour, perhaps the Tories will manage to fashion a deal that will get them off the hook they are on with regard to Brexit. Perhaps the present pressures on unionism will fade and all will be well for them. Perhaps, perhaps. I wouldn’t bet on it though.

Beyond the backstop: One step forward..one step… June 24, 2019

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News this morning of a report proposing a range of measures that would provide ‘an alternative to the backstop… feasible in three years’.

Reported in the Guardian…

The interim report by a non-government organisation calling itself the Alternative Arrangements Commission will be unveiled at a special conference on the Irish border in London on Monday.

Their conclusions suggest that the UK would only need the Irish border backstop contained in the withdrawal agreement until 2022, if work on such arrangements started today.

Before one mocks there are elements that would provide some mitigation of Brexit. But the problems remain significant. For example:

The report addresses key issues including the vexed question of health checks on any live animals, animal or plant produce crossing the border, including milk, pigs and sheep.

The report says “sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS)” tests could be carried out by mobile units away from the border.

This would require politicians in the Democratic Unionist party (DUP) to accept checks on farms and in food-production plants and related facilities, something they have opposed so far.

Or:

Among the other recommendations are the creation of a multi-tier trusted trader programme for large and small companies, with exemptions for small companies.

This was proposed by the government in August 2017 and dismissed by the EU.

And as per usual in these contributions a lack of acknowledgement that the ROI is not going to open to bilateral arrangements that would cut across its EU membership. Still, at least it represents an effort that goes beyond the usual ‘problem, what problem?’ stuff coming out of the UK. But still limited.

Left Archive: Socialist Labour Party: Trade Union and Unemployed Workers Group, resolutions for Conference, 1978 June 24, 2019

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To download the above please click on the following link. slp-tuuwg-iwg-tend-1978.pdf

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to Jim Monaghan for forwarding this to the Archive

This month we intend to post up documents from the Socialist Labour Party which existed in the late 1970s and was a serious attempt to construct a further left platform party.

This latest addition is a short document from the Socialist Labour Party includes resolutions from the Trade Union and Unemployed Workers Group and a covering letter from the steering committee which includes some names familiar from the Irish left.

The letter notes that ‘two resolutions were deferred to a later date’ and announces a half day conference of the Group on the theme of ‘Trade Union Democracy and the Rank and File’.

It asks that ‘all trade unionists and unemployed members ensure that their names and union-membership are registered with the General-Secretary so that the Group can contact them’ and asks branches to send ‘information about strikes, disputes and issues affecting their unions so that the industrial and unemployed activity of Party members can be coordinated’.

The resolutions cover a wide range of areas – from those calling on the commission of a publication of ‘an easy to read, popular and cheap pamphlet on ‘Fighting for the Right to Work’ to the structure of the TU&UWG itself and calls for a minimum wage and 35 hour week.

Please note: If files have been posted for or to other online archives previously we would appreciate if we could be informed of that. We are eager to credit same where applicable or simply provide links.

“Not particular.” June 23, 2019

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A UFO ‘flap’ in the US, not least ‘orbs’ over Kansas City seems of a piece with quite frequent accounts of US navy pilots who have interacted with unidentified aircraft. Extraterrestrial? I wouldn’t think so. And neither does this individual, one D. Trump, though… difficult to work out exactly what he is saying here…

…when, responding to a question about the rise in reports of unidentified aircraft by US navy pilots, he revealed that he had been briefed on UFO sightings.

“I think it’s probably – I want them to think whatever they think,” the president told ABC News. “They do say, and I’ve seen, and I’ve read, and I’ve heard. And I did have one very brief meeting on it. But people are saying they’re seeing UFOs. Do I believe it? Not particular.”

And:

Asked if he would be told if extraterrestrial life was found, Trump said: “We’re watching, and you’ll be the first to know.”

That KC sighting?

On Thursday, UFO speculation hit Kansas City after several people said two mysterious, white, hazy and elongated “orbs” had appeared above the city’s airport. A local TV station tweeted a series of photographs of the purported mysterious objects.

The National Weather Service declared itself flummoxed.

“We honestly have no explanation for the floating objects over Kansas City,” it wrote.

More robustly, perhaps:

Astronomers have come up empty-handed after scanning the heavens for signs of intelligent life in the most extensive search ever performed.

Researchers used ground-based telescopes to eavesdrop on 1,327 stars within 160 light years of Earth. During three years of observations they found no evidence of signals that could plausibly come from an alien civilisation.

Of course that has limitations aplenty but…

A flawed policy? June 23, 2019

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Here’s Jason O’Toole in the Mirror on Christy Moore’s thoughts on decriminalisation of drugs.

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