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Signs of Hope – A continuing series October 31, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

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?

Framing Brexit? October 31, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Fantastic piece by Helen Lewis in the Atlantic on the political/media ‘framing’ of Brexit in the UK so that rather than facing up to the reality of Brexit as a process it suggests that:

That approach turns everything into a high-stakes drama, which makes sense on a daily basis for hard-pressed editors—Brexit is undeniably complex, its details can be boring, and journalists are also covering an array of other important stories. But when the volume stays turned up to 11, month after month, most viewers feel the urge to change the channel.

There are also partisan reasons for the persistence of this “crunch vote” framing. The biggest and loudest voices among Britain’s still-powerful printed press supported Brexit. For these newspapers—the Daily Mail, The Sunday Times, and The Daily Telegraph among them—as well as their readers and Brexiteers generally, the intractable nature of the negotiations has increased their fears that Brexit could slip away, that Britain could become stuck in an endless transition, or that a second referendum could overturn the 2016 result. Creating momentum toward the exit is an effective counterpoint to these tendencies.

In a way one doesn’t have to see all this as a conspiracy, although there’s no question that there’s a nexus of political/media thinking in relation to the issue which has spread further. But whether deliberate, or part deliberate it has had an impact. As Lewis notes, everything is political, all decisions are political, there are alternatives and no binding or compelling reasons to be limited by a given date. And she quotes a very interesting point made by Ken Clarke, that like the Iraq War many voters, if Brexit went wrong, would forget they originally supported it. But she makes a further point, that if (and let’s be honest, Brexit is going to impact negatively on Britain to a greater or even greater again extent) and when it goes sour those in the firing line will be politicians and journalists. Never a good situation.

The Westminster election in the North October 31, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Interesting what Newton Emerson was saying on twitter yesterday re Nigel Dodds, who Emerson believes is the arch-Brexiteer in the DUP. He makes a very pertinent point, albeit in facetious terms:

Unionists need to consider if removing the DUP’s chief Brexiteer and lynchpin of its disastrous leadership, finally forcing the party to wise up before it kills the union, is worth the appalling risk of one more Shinner not going to Westminster.

As it happens, as Gerry Moriarty notes in this useful round up of Northern Westminster constituencies in the IT, Dodds is potentially in trouble himself:

In North Belfast, Sinn Féin’s John Finucane, son of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane, is snapping at the heels of DUP veteran Nigel Dodds.

That would be quite some win if Finucane gets the seat.

Indeed the DUP could have some problems. Mind you so could SF in places. Is Moriarty right that SF not being in Westminster may play badly for them? Difficult to tell, certainly the SNP with many more MPs hasn’t exactly found those ranks particularly useful there, though for Scotland the democratic deficit has never been so obvious as it is now. But then again, neither has the NI democratic deficit been so obvious as it is now either, so my own belief is SF is entirely correct to stick to their mandate.

Meanwhile one sane and unashamedly Unionist voice deserves credit.

The DUP has been challenging Hermon in North Down, coming just 1,200 votes behind in 2017. She has resolutely seen off all opposition since 2001.

No election here… October 31, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

And a sigh of relief went up amongst some political circles with the news that the Taoiseach was cancelling Christmas, I mean of course an election before Christmas. For all the bombast from some FG sources this was not a popular proposal.

The latest thinking? March to May. But what year? 😉

A toxic political environment October 30, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

A price worth paying?

A majority of voters in England, Wales and Scotland believe that the possibility of some level of violence against MPs is a “price worth paying” in order to get their way on Brexit, an academic survey has found.


Most leave voters who took part in the Future of England study thought such a possibility was a “price worth paying” for Brexit to be delivered – 71% in England, 60% in Scotland and 70% in Wales.
The majority of remain voters felt that the risk of violence towards MPs was worth it if it meant we would stay in the EU – 58% in England, 53% in Scotland and 56% in Wales.

A truthful debate October 30, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

Not someone I’d usually go to but Mark Durkan did a real service on this twitter thread which outlined how the DUP ‘current lines re Brexit consent, democracy and the GFA need more than a pinch of truthful salt added’.

Here’s the salt:

• DUP opposed GFA (even after referendum consent).
• DUP pushed “Leave” rubbishing all concerns re GFA impacts.
• DUP insist Brexit to be imposed on NI against public choice.
• DUP opposed all calls for parliamentary oversight of Brexit negotiations
• DUP rejected case for devolved consent on Brexit terms even if devolved powers (Scotland/Wales) affected
• DUP blasted Miller decision by SupCourt but cheered rulings on Brexit not engaging consent
• DUP insisted withdrawal terms were for government not parliament or devolved bodies.
• DUP rejected civic dialogue invitation by Irish Government open to all parties & sectors North & South on without prejudice basis
• DUP opposed amendments to Brexit Bills to protect GFA
• DUP rejected any argument that terms in which NI differs from rest of UK via GFA etc should be reflected in Brexit terms
• DUP have backed hard & No Deal Brexit options reckless to consequences & regardless of consent
• DUP backed No Deal Brexit for 31 Oct without consent
• Letwin amendment (rightly passed in Commons) is first time DUP have supported need for due scrutiny re Brexit terms.
• Many deep concerns eg level playing field, trap door to no deal etc & final say referendum to be pressed in Bill amendments. DUP unlikely to back these.
• DUP distortively invoke GFA to push Jeffreymandered terms for consent, ie, veto for themselves!
– DUP who opposed devolved says in Scotland & Wales;
– DUP who oppose a final say for people of UK;
– DUP who wanted Brexit imposed on their terms without anyone else’s consent in NI;
– DUP who opposed final say for people of NI on backstop;
– DUP who oppose final say for people on new terms
• DUP want final say veto for DUP against UK-EU compromise to reflect GFA, sustain NI access to both island market+EU & UK market+free trade deals & reduce Brexit impact
• DUP have been smug authors of problems Brexit has created for GFA & all in NI, foolish agents of predictable ‘let down’ they now feel & disdainful of others’ rights & interests – democratic & economic.
• That is how they used unique power of influence in current Commons
• Giving DUP a veto in NI over UK-EU compromise for island economy won’t redress complaint in name of democratic consent but reward false politics with anti-democratic control.
• GFA was framed to ensure foundational North-South terms could not be foreclosed by pulling consent
• This isn’t a passing distraction re procedural advantage in Assembly.
• If deal’s feared “trap door to No Deal” opens &/or “no level playing field” reigns, DUP will use veto in NI to insist on “same whole of UK” terms & scuttle GFA Strand2/island economy ambit & benefits to all.

The wisdom of this crowd: Election jitters… October 30, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

A lot of nervousness, and anticipation, floating around political and adjacent circles at the moment about the Taoiseach calling an early General Election this week, or perhaps next. As RTÉ notes:

[there’s] speculation that Fine Gael may seek to go to the country now that the Brexit deadline has been extended until 31 January.

But someone’s not happy. At all.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been warned that it would be a “serious and potentially very costly mistake” if his Government tries to ram through Budget legislation in order to hold a November general election.

The warning came this evening from Fianna Fáil’s finance spokesman Michael McGrath.

It’s all very tricky. An election now would be difficult for an FF just barely fighting off the controversy of Dáil voting (it’s not a huge scandal but as IEL noted it does have the effect of reminding voters about aspects of FF they might rather forget). Then again even if FG is riding high as IEL also notes it remains difficult to see where it will pick up seats. And indeed talking to one ex-FG member they noted to me the number of TDs not running again for that party. Moreover Varadkar fairly neatly pinned his colours to a May 2020 election only last month. How to square that circle? Not impossible but electoral opportunism is never a good look. And particularly when it comes complete with aspiring candidates and incumbents knocking on doors in the depths of winter.

In the UK some are very well aware of that aspect of a poll:

Daylight hours are reduced and in Scotland it is dark at 4pm, or earlier on some of the islands. Some MPs say they are reluctant to go out campaigning in the cold and dark.

I’ll bet.

What I won’t bet on is whether an election will be called this week or next. I don’t know. What do people think? Likely or unlikely?

What you want to say – 30 October 2019 October 30, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

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

Reforming Stormont? October 29, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Good post by Newton Emerson on the IT where he makes a crucial distinction between reforming the petition of concern in the Northern Irish Assembly and mandatory power sharing. As he notes:

Ending mandatory powersharing is a different proposition. Where the petition is about unionists and nationalists blocking each other, powersharing is about making them work together. It is not problematic in addressing the rise of “others” – Alliance qualifies to join the executive by size alone.

By the by, this was interesting too, and not much commented on:

Varadkar may have inadvertently hinted at such an idea last week when he said London and Dublin would fund infrastructure in Northern Ireland after a Brexit deal.

And Emerson has an intriguing follow on point:

How much could politics be transformed at Stormont if the Republic was contributing to the budget?

Put them out of our misery… October 29, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.


Following the result [MPs in the House of Commons have voted against British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan for a pre-Christmas general election.], Mr Johnson said he will give notice of a short bill to secure a ballot on 12 December.

Such legislation would only require a simple majority, and set aside the provisions of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act.

However, it is amendable, meaning other parties could seek changes, such as lowering the voting age to 16.

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