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Transfer patterns June 30, 2021

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Interesting to read the comments of the candidates in the Dublin Bay South by-election about where they would ask supporters to transfer after gifting them a Number 1.

The Green Party candidate in the Dublin Bay South by-election has said she would like her supporters to give their second preference vote to Labour’s Ivana Bacik.

Cllr Claire Byrne said she was making the comments in a personal capacity.

The Senator asked her voters to…

…transfer to left and centre-left candidates. When asked which parties she was referring to, she mentioned the Green Party and the Social Democrats.

Meanwhile:

Sinn Féin’s candidate Lynn Boylan said she wanted her supporters to transfer to candidates on the left.

When asked whether she considered the Green Party to be a left-wing party, Ms Boylan said it depended on which member of the Green Party you were talking about.

Fianna Fáil’s Cllr Deirdre Conroy declined to ‘tell her supporters how to vote’ while Fine Gael’s James Geoghegan has asked ‘people to support government candidates’. 

Funny to read that Simon Harris, FG’s Director of Elections proposal of a government parties support and voting pact in the by-election was shot down by the Taoiseach. Difficult to disagree with Harris’s logic in the following:

“I would imagine that the Taoiseach, when he thinks this matter through, would much rather have a TD in Dáil Éireann backing him, rather than a TD opposing everything he’s doing at this very important time.”

Still, do the comments on transfers make the slightest bit of difference?

 

Contradiction piled on contradiction June 30, 2021

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This from Slate about how Florida Governor – Ron DeSantis continues to offer entirely contradictory approaches in the field of academic freedom and freedom of speech.

Last week, DeSantis banned Florida schools from teaching students about racism through critical race theory or “The 1619 Project”—neither of which any Florida school district was actually teaching prior to the ban. And on the same day that DeSantis signed the “intellectual diversity” law, he also signed another law requiring schools teach their students that communism is “evil.”

But now he has… 

…signed a piece of legislation that could wreak havoc on the freedom of speech and academic freedom of Florida’s institutes of higher education. The law would require all public colleges and universities to survey students, professors, and staff on their political beliefs in what DeSantis said is an attempt to promote “intellectual diversity.”

At stake for these schools—which DeSantis insists are fueling “indoctrination”—is a potential loss of funding, which the governor has threatened but is not explicitly outlined in the legislation. Going into effect on July 1, the new law also demands that university students “be shown diverse ideas and opinions, including those that they may disagree with or find uncomfortable,” according to the Florida Department of Education.

Losing its way? June 30, 2021

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Reading this in the Guardian, about social democracy, from earlier in the month I was struck by the following:

Much of the discussion of Labour’s woes concentrates on British particularities, its Brexit strategy and the relative merits of the Blairite and Corbynite reinventions. However, the dilemmas Labour faces are far from particular. The last decade has not been kind to social democratic parties across Europe. The centre-left parties that dominated European politics for the second half of the 20th century have suffered a string of losses.

And;

In France, the Parti Socialiste fell to under 8% of the vote in the last legislative elections, with no signs of recovery. In 2017, the German SPD experienced its worst postwar performance, a showing likely to worsen in September’s election. Even where social democrats are in power, their position is tenuous. The Swedish Social Democrats, the most electorally successful socialist party in Europe, struggled to form a government after the 2018 election.

But I wonder if most of us would tend to the view that social democracy in Europe has been in trouble since the early 1980s. I would point to the Thatcher/Reagan period as the point at which ‘traditional’ social democracy faltered. Indeed one could argue that Thatcher/Reagan was a response to social democracy, even if in retrospect that which symbolised social democracy –  which at the time was considered if not right wing, certainly right wing within the spectrum of social democracy (one thinks of, say, Jim Callaghan’s last Labour government), was by what came later pretty solidly leftish, with a much broader conception of state activity and intervention.

In other words the horizon of social democratic failure in the last ten years is too limited. 

The piece continues:

Too often, the debate about the failures of the left focuses on the past, asking why social democrats have lost traditional working-class voters. This kind of argument claims that social democrats have lost their base because they “lost their way” – moving too far to the left on new “woke” social issues, while at the same time moving too far to the right on economic issues. This perspective is at least incomplete and often misleading.

Deep changes in Europe’s class structure mean that the appeals of the social democratic heyday are increasingly electorally limited.

And it mentions increased numbers with qualifications, the ‘majority of women in paid work’ and changing structures of employment for the working class all of which have led to the creation of ‘new groups of voters with new economic and social concerns’. But it notes that social democratic policies remain popular – welfare states, workers rights and public services. 

It argues that:

Contra to the dominant narrative, this decline is not solely attributable to the loss of working-class voters. In Europe’s proportional electoral systems, highly educated voters are overrepresented among those who turned their backs on social democratic parties. Here, social democrats have often been outcompeted by moderate right and progressive left parties. Importantly, most social democratic parties have only lost a small share of their supporters to the radical right. Instead, social democrats have largely failed to construct an agenda that both communicates a clear vision of economic policy, but is not only focused on economics.

There’s an element of truth in this. The piece references the Blair governments and the German SDP which both improved economic conditions and services. And how despite that “social democrats in the post financial-crash era clearly did offer too little to voters suffering from economic austerity, focusing on economic competence rather than a vision of a fairer future. As European centre-right parties moderated their position on economic and social policies, these parties were able to attract centrist former social democrats.”

Again all this is true to a degree as is the point that… “Voters who support left economic policies also tend to favour more equitable gender relations, racial equity and a greener future. New left and green parties have often picked up voters with these demands, further squeezing social democrats”.

It concludes by suggesting:

Labour’s mobilisation through the 2010s attracted a swath of new voters to the party. In recent elections, the average age of social democrats in France and Germany was 58 and 57, but for Labour it was 45. The challenge is bridging this younger base with a broader appeal. The experience of the Biden administration suggests that articulating a more visible, progressive strategy on macro-economic policy, while supporting both organised labour and community organisations, could be a winning way forward.

Perhaps. But I wonder is this vision they offer precisely the problem. It still remains anchored in the status quo and hardly offers a compelling and attractive way forward. The reference to Biden while not entirely unuseful is indicative. Biden is not a socialist and in many respects hardly even a social democrat. I think it no insult to the man to suggest bar an affinity for aspects of the unions and labor (in the US sense) he would fit comfortably within Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil. In other words he just isn’t a leftist and while the party he represents is more broad based it is clearly not a socialist, and not really a social democratic party as we would understand it. So the lessons to take from the US are more complex and perhaps less mappable onto the polities most of us here live in (though my fear is that as time goes on they may become more like the US in certain respects). 

In any case much of this ignores the reality that the left is in significant areas in retreat from a centre right and right and worse that adopts the elements of left programmes necessary to build their own coalitions but nothing that will endanger their adherence to sustaining the political and social and economic power that they protect. We’ve discussed here before how in so many ways the terrain, even for social democracy, let alone political positions further left, are marginalised by media and other social and economic structures. How this in fact permeates into the very language that is used in order to describe (or rather frame) political discourse. 

Even before leaving social democrat territory what strikes me about the contemporary strand of that particular strand of leftism is how impoverished it is in terms of the future. At one point, even relatively recently, there were those within it and those who supported it who saw it as a staging point to a genuinely egalitarian socio-economic position. But difficult not to think that the accommodations with the right and centre right as well as perhaps simple passing of time rubbed much of that away. And yet, and I’ve argued this before, a social democracy that wasn’t content simply with the status quo ante, or allow itself to start and end with reformism, might indeed be potent. One that drove leftwards in and at every opportunity seeking at all times to increase democratisation across society and in economic activities, that kept building protections and rights for workers, that sought ultimately transformation. That’d be something to see. Wasn’t that what they originally wanted? 

Podcast- Cavan Road Action Group June 30, 2021

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National Action -Episode 57 "The Others" The Alan Kinsella Podcast

National Action were a Far Right 'Movement in existence from 1952 to the early 1960's.  They advocated "A National Non-Party Plan for the establishment of an Original Irish System of government based on Christian Social Teaching and on National Unity". They contested the 1954 General Election.
  1. National Action -Episode 57
  2. The Socialist Labour Party -Episode 56
  3. Archive — TV Candidates from Billy Kirwin in 1977 to Tom Gildea in 1997
  4. Independent (Anti-Coalition) Labour candidates in the 1977 General Election
  5. The Cavan Road Action Group

I re recorded the CRAG part of the first podcast episode where the sound was appalling.

That UK by-election… June 30, 2021

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Thursday shaping up to be quite pivotal for the BLP but meantime in a couple of sentences here’s one aspect of the problem…

Starmer has already shaken up his team since Labour lost last month’s Hartlepool byelection, with key figures including political director Jenny Chapman departing.Lady Chapman is being replaced by Luke Sullivan, a longtime party official who knows Labour MPs well after a long stint at the side of former chief whip Nick Brown. More senior appointments are expected to be announced in the coming days.

Contradictory messages June 30, 2021

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A bit of a mess, this overview on the latest measures being adopted in regard to Covid in the state. It is telling how reopening indoor dining and drinking has become such a totemic signifier of ‘reopening’ more generally – is this where we’re at as a society? And telling too how that has crashed into the reality of the spread of the Delta variant.

The piece notes that the advice that such locations can open but only for those who are vaccinated seems to have enormous potential for harm, though many of those media outlets complaining now have raised this idea themselves in the past months and longer.

But as always the IT seeks to portray this as a tussle between the Government and public health. Whereas, the piece itself admits that:

…the events of the last few days have revealed the inconsistency in messaging from the Government.

Last week, the Taoiseach warned that there was a “sense of inevitability about the progress of the Delta variant” that would have “implications for the type of restrictions that one would impose”. Days later, Mr Varadkar said that a delay to resumption of indoor activities was “not inevitable.” The public has been confused by the conflicting messages, and the industry has been left irate and exasperated.

Perhaps if such divergent messages weren’t emanating from government itself there might be less confusion (and one has to wonder given that there’s already alienation from the government amongst the over-60s due to elongated vaccination times between first and second jabs, how the optics of this play with younger cohorts – and by that I’d include those in their 40s and 30s as well). And the crux of the matter?

The fear in Government is that the alternative to vaccination passes is even more unpalatable: keeping the hospitality sector closed indoors until potentially September.

But if Delta surges on the back of a generalised reopening then what happens? The IT is more than happy to poke at public health ‘ The reality, however, is that the Government is beginning to ask itself whether such monumental decisions can properly be made on the back of predictions that even the Nphet admit are uncertain’. But Delta is real, the numbers vaccinated are not sufficient to provide a hedge for everyone. We’re not quite there yet in regards to being beyond the pandemic.

Frankly a differentiation between younger and older/vaccinated and unvaccinated seems difficult to implement (though oddly while the IT suggests it’s impractical it also has links to articles about how this approach is implemented elsewhere in the EU), let alone enforce. And surely the alternative is to hold off on the latter indoor reopening a while longer. All that said – while there’s a clear workers rights issue here – in terms of exposure to the virus, and people being forced back into workplaces (Andrew Flood has noted that recently certain interests in the ‘hospitality’ sector have been calling for PUP to be cut off – one can guess why), it’s fascinating to compare and contrast the rhetoric with another group of workers whose situation while similar has been not treated with quite such sympathy by the media – that being all those, support staff, teachers, SNAs and so on in schools who have been working on and off, and more on than off now, throughout the pandemic.

But given the manner in which other places are halting their reopenings it seems strange that the IT is quite so implicitly panglossian – given the experience to date.

More broadly what do people think of the latest development?

 

What you want to say – 30th June 2021 June 30, 2021

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

A measured and respectful rhetoric? June 29, 2021

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Was much intrigued by Pat Leahy’s tone in a piece this weekend on the DUP and unionism, given Jeffrey Donaldson has risen to the leadership of the largest formation on that side.

There was poor Sammy Wilson, bleating on Newsnight the other night that the British government “has to recognise the damage it’s done to the union”. It’s pitiful, in a way.

And:

At a time when Sinn Féin, assorted united Irelanders, a goodly chunk of Martin’s own party and Leo Varadkar are beating the green drum, Donaldson would be foolish not to recognise Martin’s measured outreach. If this takes a leap of imagination that unionist leaders have found impossible or at least traumatic, Donaldson should reflect that it was the old ogre himself, Paisley, who managed it best and most profitably.

And:

He might also listen to the voices in the UK that are increasingly directed at Ulster unionism and say: come on, grow up, get on with it. Donaldson will also find in Martin an ally in dealing with Downing Street – where resides a man that both must deal with, but neither trusts.

We often hear calls in the media for those in favour of a United Ireland to be more positive and engaging in their tone. Indeed much of what we hear in that regard argues that those of us in that category should really be quiet in order to placate – or at the least, not inflame – unionist opinion. I don’t believe the simple expression of support for a UI is in and of itself illegitimate or incorrect or should be held back, any more than I expect unionists to do likewise. Respect includes accepting that both expressions of identity are equally valid.

But not sure the above quotes fall into those categories – or to put it another way ‘with friends like these…’.

That said speaking of rhetoric, Donaldson himself didn’t exactly sparkle when he asserted:

“I want to make clear to the Irish Government that their cheerleading for the protocol is simply not acceptable, given the harm that it is doing to Northern Ireland, it is dragging our politics backwards,” he said.

And:

“The Irish Government and the Irish prime minister [Mr Martin] have made clear that they want to protect the peace process, they want to protect political stability in Northern Ireland,” he said. “But the Irish Government has to step away from being a cheerleader for one part of the community. If the Irish Government is genuine about the peace process, is genuine about protecting political stability in Northern Ireland, then they too need to listen to unionist concerns.

And:

“The Belfast agreement is very clear – the three sets of relationships [North-South, east-west and within Stormont] are interlocking and interdependent. If you harm one element, one relationship, you harm all of them. If the Irish Government continues to support the imposition of a protocol that harms our relationship with Great Britain then, by implication, it harms the relationship between Dublin and Belfast.

“Now, I don’t want to be in that position. But I am very clear, and I will be saying this clearly to the Irish Government, it is not acceptable for them to be on one side of this argument. It is not acceptable for them to simply listen to a nationalist perspective and not to listen to the concerns of unionists.”

The problem is that the guarantor of unionism, the British government, co-signed the very protocol that Donaldson is so exercised by. And that guarantor does not appear to be seeking a fundamental reworking of the protocol. Which makes it telling that Donaldson’s first pronouncements on this issue seek to point to Dublin rather than London.

Lofty disdain… June 29, 2021

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Entertaining to see the, not necessarily entirely correct, assertions from the latest book on the events in January in Washington DC. Michael Wolff is back with the third in his series of books on the Trump Presidency. Though he paints a picture of a convincing and telling dislocation between the rhetoric used by the former President and his actual thoughts as to his supporters.

After an hour or so, Wolff writes, Trump “seemed to begin the transition from seeing the mob as people protesting the election – defending him so he would defend them – to seeing them as ‘not our people’”.

In a further exchange, Trump reportedly asked Meadows: “How bad is this? This looks terrible. This is really bad. Who are these people? These aren’t our people, these idiots with these outfits. They look like Democrats.”

Trump reportedly added: “We didn’t tell people to do something like this. We told people to be peaceful. I even said ‘peaceful’ and ‘patriotic’ in my speech!”

 

And:

Trump is also reported to have expressed “puzzlement” about the supporters who broke into the Capitol in a riot which led to five deaths and Trump’s second impeachment, for inciting an insurrection.

Wolff says Trump was confused by “who these people were with their low-rent ‘trailer camp’ bearing and their ‘get-ups’, once joking that he should have invested in a chain of tattoo parlors and shaking his head about ‘the great unwashed’.”

In relation to those supporters I’m always minded of the line – I paraphrase – about when you’re in a poker game and if you don’t know who the sucker is chances are it’s you. And there’s something of that in this. Yet, one has to suspect the former President also protested his ignorance too much. He’d made numerous rhetorical plays to a certain constituency – Proud Boys, etc, across the months and years of his Presidency. Perhaps he did indeed only have a glancing understanding of these forces – one might suspect that in fact the most crucial aspect of them to him was their professed admiration and loyalty to him. But even so. 

Speaking of glancing understandings it’s not a pretty picture he portrays of the events on that day from inside the White House:

Trump aide Jason Miller is portrayed as saying “Oh, shit” and alerting the president’s lawyer and chief cheerleader for his lie about electoral fraud, Rudy Giuliani.

Wolff writes that the former New York mayor was “drinking heavily and in a constant state of excitation, often almost incoherent in his agitation and mania”.

And these are the folks that the Republican Party continue to be wedded to. Remarkable. In many ways.

 

 

 

Five years later June 29, 2021

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So, what does the population of the UK think of Brexit? Some polling data from the last week is instructive.

YouGov notes that 6% think it has gone very well (bless), 23% think it has gone fairly well, 28% think neither well nor badly, 20% fairly badly and 23% very badly. To put that another way, outside of that soggy middle ground 29% believe it has gone fairly to very well and 43% think it has gone fairly to very badly.

Granted this doesn’t say what view people take on Brexit. And that neither well nor badly cohort of 28% is a reasonable amount of ballast for the UK government to have at this point in time. But it doesn’t strike one as being a populace enthused by the wonderful liberation of Brexit, does it?

From the first with the referendum result my view was that Remain was dead in the water for a generation, and indicative vote or not there was a democratic imperative behind that vote that had to be respected and I’ve not changed my mind on that whatsoever in the intervening five years. Simply put there was no political space for Britain to remain within the EU. That the course it took was so problematic would, in any other circumstances, be neither here nor there – my own preference would have been for them to remain within EEA/EFTA but how Brexit panned out was in most respects their own business. But their own business was in one key respect also our business and happened to include the issue of the Border on this island required Brexit (even putting aside the majorities in favour of Remain in Scotland and Northern Ireland) to be amended in the local context in order to safeguard the GFA/BA and the status quo ante here.

So small wonder that the North, or rather political unionism, was thrown under the bus in order to expedite a departure for Britain from the EU. That was the clean way to do it, or perhaps more accurately the cleanest way. But it has been an ugly process too (and one thinks still of the EEA/EFTA option which could have been adopted, would have mitigated the issue of the Border, and would have been entirely within the democratic force of the referendum result).

Even the result above from YouGov suggests that this hasn’t entirely been internalised by those in Britain polled. After all, the outworking of Brexit have left Scotland in the Departure Lounge to all intents and purposes and fundamentally destabilised Northern Ireland. That’s quite some achievement all things considered, albeit not one that the present incumbents in London will trumpet too loudly. And even if, paradoxically, the former outworking cements the Tories in power for another decade potentially, that too works its magic on alienating Scotland yet further. And one last thought. Finally got around to Susan McKay’s book on northern Protestants. It’s a great read, but one point made by one loyalist interviewee is the thought that if Scotland goes then the gig is up for Northern Ireland because really, what does the Union mean in a rEngland context? Of course, it won’t be quite as simple as that, as the interviewee also notes, but…

So 2016 to 2021. Quite something.

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