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Abandon rejoin and don’t imitate the Tories January 29, 2020

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Sound advice one might think:

Labour leadership candidates were presented with a second analysis of the election defeat from Europe for the Many, an organisation that brings together academics and campaigners. They suggest the party will not win the next election without regaining socially conservative voters but warned achieving that presents Labour with a serious challenge.

Their report, The Devastating Defeat, found that in the 2019 election, voters focused on values and identity over economic policies, which advantaged the Tories, particularly in ex-heartland seats. But any rush to recapture socially conservative voters should not lead to Labour imitating Tory policies on immigration and law, they warn.

Indeed that way lies despair. But also:

Abandoning all discussion of rejoining the EU was also essential for the future electoral success of Labour, the report said.

And:

Bridget Phillipson, Labour MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, said: “To win over voters who are less socially liberal than Labour is today, but more economically leftwing than the Tories, we should not impersonate them.”

Luke Cooper, an associate researcher at the LSE, said: “Brexit has created a really tough situation for Labour. By making values and identity the central questions of the day, it has broken the party’s traditional electoral coalition.”

Noted it before. The idea of rejoin at this point would be madness of a different sort. Indeed I’d have thought the BLP’s best approach would be to be explicit it wants a close and developing relationship with the EU but that the idea of rejoin is off the table for a good decade or so until the effects of Brexit have become clear. Realistically the idea of rejoin seems to me to be a non-starter for a generation, perhaps more. As always the question is where does that ‘remain’ energy go now. One would like to think it might be channelled into some mixture of soft Brexit/progressive politics but in fairness that needs a vehicle willing to progress that approach. That has to be the BLP, but it clearly requires compromises in respect of previously arrived at positions.

The silent voting minority? January 29, 2020

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Fiach Kelly of the IT is actually one of their better correspondents, so it’s odd to see him arguing the following:

The swing voters are still silent as week three of the election campaign begins.
This cohort of voters – “the people who are not saying anything”, according a seasoned canvasser with one of the big parties – are keeping candidates guessing, but this coming, crucial week will have a huge bearing on who they will support.

My problem with this is that polling across four years now is fairly clear that there’s no great mystery, no tranche of voters whose intentions are somehow difficult to read. Instead party and other support is – as it has been – locked into fairly clear bands and what movement there is has been not in relation to FG and FF (bar the glorious dawn of the Varadkar age) but rather around the edges – perhaps 5-10% or so who currently have plumped for the GP and SF in the last six months and yes, might be persuaded to go to FF or FG but so far seem fairly immune to those parties charms. Perhaps they will return but that consistent polling data, and the simple fact that both FF and FG remain more or less as they have been across the last two or three years (that is sub-30%) with FF currently a bit ahead and we now well into an election campaign.

I think the following from the same article is key:

Fianna Fáil sources concede they are encountering some doubters, but believe they are still on course to be the largest party in the next Dáil.
They also say Fine Gael’s core vote across the country is holding.
“There is no animosity to us,” said one local Fianna Fáil activist with decades of experience.
There is deep unhappiness with the Government, but when it comes to Fianna Fáil, the activist added: “There is a stop, a comma, if you get my drift.
“People are looking for something different, and can’t articulate what that is.”

FF are indeed on course to be the largest party in the Dáil, but a diminished FF in historical terms. FG is coming to terms with an unpopularity that I think surprises even it. And there’s a sentiment of ‘none of the above’.

Some people are indeed looking for something different, and the heterogenous offerings politically aren’t satisfying them. What would?

All of which suggests that even if the FF vote strengthens it is unlikely to be anything like sufficient to leave us in a political space significantly different to that seen in the last four years.

Democracy? January 29, 2020

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The Fianna Fáil leader has said that the Ard Comhairle does not decide party policy.He was responding to the Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald who said this morning that only 17 of the 70 Ard Comhairle members of Fianna Fáil are elected.He said the Sinn Féin leader was “missing the point completely”. He said in a “functioning parliamentary democracy it is the parliamentarians that decide policy”.

Is that right? No one can claim some moral high ground. Parties in my experience seem to allocate policy and other formation in myriad ways. The British Labour Party has wrestled with this fr decades (and in some way Brexit shows how membership inflection of policy can cause problems). But my understanding has always been that the idea is that at Ard Fheiseanna or Annual Conferences the membership directs policy through motions that are adopted by the party and then acted upon by representatives organs within the party, not that parliamentarians are given the only say in this.

What you want to say – 29 January 2020 January 29, 2020

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

The Impact of the Troubles on the Republic of Ireland EVENT Brian Hanley in conversation with Vincent Browne – Moved to February January 28, 2020

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This Event has moved date because of unforeseen circumstances- we apologise for any inconvenience. It will now be held on the Monday 17th February 2020 at 6pm.

The impact of the Troubles on the Republic of Ireland,
1968–79 By Brian Hanley

(In conversation with Vincent Browne)

Join us for this Event on Wednesday 29th January 2020 at 6pm on our First Floor.

The first book to examine in detail the impact of the Northern Irish Troubles on southern Irish society. This study vividly illustrates how life in the Irish Republic was affected by the conflict north of the border and how people responded to the events there. It documents popular mobilization in support of northern nationalists, the reaction to Bloody Sunday, the experience of refugees and the popular cultural debates the conflict provoked. For the first time the human cost of violence is outlined, as are the battles waged by successive governments against the IRA. Focusing on debates at popular level rather than among elites, the book illustrates how the Troubles divided southern opinion and produced long-lasting fissures.

‘The book is to be credited for looking beyond radicals to consider the experience of what the author terms the “average southerner”. There is a real mastery of the press material in evidence.’
British Association for Irish Studies Book Prize judging panel

Pay transparency… January 28, 2020

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I think this is key, from RTÉ, a piece noting the importance of pay transparency.

Many people benefit from the reluctance to discuss pay. For example, bosses are often flatly tell their employees not to discuss or disclose their salaries, claiming that these discussions will cause conflicts. Even though these “gag rules” are often illegal, they are surprisingly common. Bosses may have legitimate concerns about the way salary discussions can lead to conflict, but they also have a vested interest in keeping pay levels secret. Pay secrecy creates a condition of “information asymmetry” in which employees do not know how much they are paid relative to their peers, but employers know about everyone’s pay. This makes it difficult for employees to bargain effectively for salaries.

And:

Pay secrecy appears to be an important factor in gender discrimination. It is well known that women, on average, receive lower salaries than men. There are many reasons for this gender gap in salaries, ranging from the segregation of men and women into different jobs and careers (for example, most firefighters are men and most secretaries are women), the effects of leaving the job market to have and raise children and sex discrimination.  If women do not know what they are being paid in comparison to men in the same job and in similar jobs, it is very difficult to challenge discriminatory pay.

I, and I’ll bet many of us who have worked in the private sector over the years, have seen at first hand how bosses have used secrecy over pay to play one worker off another.
But this isn’t unuseful, from The Journal, and an outline of average wages. Though median would be more useful again.

That ‘centre-left’… January 28, 2020

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Pat Leahy in the IT at the weekend was making great play of a supposed bloc of political support – that of the ‘centre-left’. So much so that a long-time friend of the CLR sent the following analysis – having noted that Sarah Carey was on the Independent website [arguing]:

…that people have to vote Fine Gael because there is literally no choice and the only problem with the last government was that FG didn’t have enough seats. It’s the old, “That’s not real Fine Gaelism, real Fine Gaelism has never even been tried,” argument. I suspect the electorate may ignore Sarah and make their judgement on Actually Existing Fine Gaelism.

Which is without question the best way to deal with that. But this friend went on to note that

…perhaps even worse a piece in the Times by Pat Leahy arguing that’Labour and the Greens have everything to play for.’ Wherein he argues that the Greens will get ten, and maybe more if there’s a wave and Labour will get seven and maybe even more too so between them they could have a united 25 seat bloc of the ‘Centre-Left’ which could negotiate with FF or FG. Nary a mention of even the SDs let alone the wild eyed bunch of society wrecking zealots beloved by the CLR. Kind of worse than the Carey piece because (A) This is supposed to be analysis rather than an opinion and (B) Unlike Carey who’s a true believer, Leahy must surely know he’s writing nonsense.

Leahy’s piece is remarkable, in many ways.

There are three steps, as I see it. First, maximise the votes for the Green Party, Labour and other centre-left parties and Independent candidates. The Greens are in the hunt for 10 seats or so, and could well do better than that if a wave comes their way (possible but not yet probable). Labour needs to keep its existing seven, and win a few more. Maybe less likely, but hardly impossible. A few more centre-left TDs, of whatever guise, need to be elected. This is more likely.
Do your sums: that’s a block of 20 to 25 (on a very good day for them) red/green TDs.

That’s curious maths given that the LP is static on 4-5% and the GP is at or about 9%. Between them what could one seriously expect them to get – 15 seats. So it’s not ‘a few more centre-left TD’s’ but rather 10 more. Again, the numbers just aren’t there. At best the SDs are going to get 3 (or very very unlikely 4). And the other element in this equation – an FF or FG with less than 60 seats? Well less if polls are to be believed.

But it’s not just the math.

Because we need cast our minds back a mere four years to the last time any of these formations were in government, at that time a vastly larger LP, and we can consider how that fared. The answer, as we all know, is so poorly that the LP had quite literally no separate identity within that government. The record of the FF/GP coalition is hardly more cheering. And who can be surprised given that these parties were adjuncts, making up numbers, however large or small their parliamentary cohorts were.

Which brings one back to the basic lesson that they would be better, for their sakes and for ours, to eschew coalition until they or some combination of forces that we can loosely ascribe the term ‘progressive’ to are in the driving seat. But one has the suspicion that’s not going to happen.

Last night’s debate January 28, 2020

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Anyone watch the slugfest on RTÉ between the 7 party ‘leaders’. That last can’t have been right because the further left was represented by RBB – good as usual, but so many there that even he was finding it difficult to get through. Some fun sniping between Varadkar and Shortall over the not too distant past. M. Martin clearly prepped to use the term ‘Provisionals’ where possible. Ryan oddly detached I thought, but others may differ. MLM did no harm to her cause. Howlin somewhat peripheral?

And what of the questions from the audience?

75 years January 27, 2020

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Today and crucially, still within living memory.

World leaders and Holocaust survivors have gathered at the site of the former Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz to mark the 75th anniversary of the camp’s liberation.

Two hundred survivors of the holocaust were expected to attend, with visitors drawn from Israel, the US, Australia, Peru, Russia, Slovenia and elsewhere. As well as survivors of the camps, many bereaved relatives of those killed during the genocide were also attending.

The camp was liberated by Soviet soldiers on 27 January 1945. They found 7,000 starving prisoners alive at the camp, where the German SS systematically killed at least 960,000 Jews. Other victims included approximately 74,000 Poles, 21,000 Roma, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war and at least 10,000 from other nationalities.

In 2016 it was estimated there were less than 100,000 left of those who lived under Nazi occupation and/or had been in the camps.

Dublin South West January 27, 2020

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A piece on my own constituency Dublin South West

Sitting TD’s – John Lahart (FF), Colm Brophy (FG), Katherine Zappone (Ind), Sean Crowe (SF), Paul Murphy (RISE)

All the TD’s are running again.

As the minute Sean Crowe would be the only outgoing TD that I’d put the house on. I’d expect him to top the poll.

Fianna Fáil are running three candidates here. Sitting TD John Lahart and Charlie O’Connor were initially selected and later Deirdre O’Donovan was added. They are after two seats here. O’Donovan polled exceptionally well in the Local Elections and has been very high profile on various issues around Rathfarnham and Knocklyon. The problem is that she is strong in an area Lahart is also strong in. She is also originally from Tallaght, so will get votes there too. I have a suspicion that if she does take a seat it could be at Laharts expense. Then again they might get the two.

Fine Gael are running Colm Brophy and Ellen O’Malley Dunlop. They were 152 votes away from winning a second seat in 2016. You’d have to think that they will win a seat. Brophy is a nice chap but given the proximity to the Virgin Media TV studios has been a regular on TV and Radio defending the indefensible.  O’Malley Dunlop has been visible enough in the Constituency but whether its enough to win a seat I don’t know.

Paul Murphy is running for RISE, he is still popular but is hampered by a smaller organisation than he had in previous times, Solidarity running Sandra Fay, Sinn Féins vote being on the up and The Greens being on an upward curve. Will be very relieved if he gets elected.

Katherine Zappone (Ind) – Having barely gotten in in 2016, she is vulnerable. She won’t be as transfer friendly this time. She has expanded her base in the last 4 years. I wonder too, as an outgoing Minister, could she be the choice for some previous FG voters who are not that impressed with the FG ticket.

Francis Noel Duffy is running for the Green Party here.  In the Local Elections he topped the poll (Got a far bigger vote in the locals than he did in the 2016 General Election). There were three Green Councillors elected in Dublin South West. Has to be in with a shout.

Ciarán Ahern is the Labour candidate. A first time candidate he will poll well in Rathfarnham, Ballyboden but won’t be in contention.

Carly Bailey is running for the Social Democrats. Won a Council seat last year, if the votes are spread out she will be transfer friendly and may be in with a shout of the final seat

Independent Councillor Mick Duff is running and should get a decent vote. Like Carly Bailey if there are a host of candidates close for the last seat is in with a shout.

Sandra Fay of Solidarity is running, won’t take a seat but will take maybe 1500 votes. Interesting to see if they transfer back to Murphy.

The National Party are running Philip Dwyer, hopefully will poll poorly. Has been fairly active canvassing around the constituency though.

I don’t expect Anne Marie Condren (Renua) or Colm O’Keeffe (Independent) to get too many votes.

So how will it pan out. At the moment I’m thinking ….. 1 FF, 1 FG, 1 GP, 1 SF and Paul Murphy…. However don’t be shocked to see FG or Murphy lose to FF or Zappone.

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