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A wreath laying ceremony at Peter Grahams grave by his old comrades. November 30, 2021

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A wreath laying ceremony at Peter Grahams grave by his old comrades.

Remembering Peter Graham 1946-1971.

A wreath was laid at Peter’s grave by his old comrades and friends to mark the fiftieth anniversary of his assassination in 1971. His murder, carried out by rogue criminal elements who were attempting to steal an arms dump, deprived the Irish struggle of one of its most progressive thinkers and activists.

Peter was a great Irishman, an Internationalist and socialist revolutionary, who made an enormous contribution to the struggle for Irish independence and the establishment of an Irish Workers Republic. He was a founding member of the Young Socialists,was involved later with the International Marxist Group of the 4th. International and Saor Éire.

Via TheIrishRepublicanMarxistHistoryProject

After the Tory damage is done: ‘Forgive me, forgive me’… November 30, 2021

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Reading Martin Kettle’s piece here in the Guardian where he dissects the Johnson and his behaviour in recent weeks one has to admit whether one likes Kettle or not, that he has a point. Anyone who saw the footage of Johnson’s speech at the CBI or read the transcript (here) will have seen what was without question one of the strangest performances by a British PM in recent memory. It wasn’t simply the trite neologisms ‘bouncebackability‘, the trite sub-populist tone (“Battersea, of course, is a great funkapolitan hive of cafes and restaurants and hotels and homes, thanks to the vision of the former mayor.“) or even the manner in which he so clearly stated the position of enterprise as against human life:

You all look far too young and thrusting to need a booster but get your booster as soon as you can because it is by vaccinating our country that we have been able to get your staff back to their place of work, to open our theatres, our restaurants and to get back for longer now than any other comparator country to something like normal life; even if we are still bumping elbows and wearing masks.

Nor was it the risible point where he lauded Peppa Pig (“no government in the world – no Whitehall civil servant in the world – could conceivably have come up with Peppa.“)or where he lost his place:

And, with safer streets, with great local schools, with fantastic broadband …

[Lost it]

[Uhhh]

[Forgive me]

[Forgive me]

[Forgive me]

… people will have the confidence to stay nearer the place they grew up to start business and business will have the confidence to invest.

It was the whole self-referential mess that was the problem. The sense of utter self-regard and indifference to the reality beyond himself. The fact that he was unserious, unprofessional (never keen on the p word but here it has a place). The fact it contained nothing of substance, nothing really but empty boosterism.

Phil in comments here on the CLR sums up the problems perfectly:

As well as being a laissez-faire libertarian and a Social Darwinian who believes that certain people “naturally” rise to the top – and, by extension, certain others naturally fall by the wayside – Johnson is a con-artist. His consistent MO, established years before he entered politics, is to court popularity by telling people whatever they want to hear, on the basis that he can always do something different if he has to (and lie about it if he’s caught out). Any of those character traits would be undesirable in a PM, but having all three is disastrous – and I think you could see all three in the announcement of an arbitrary date back in July as “Freedom Day”, and the public commitment never to reimpose the restrictions that had been lifted. It made public health a matter of individual choice, and it was only the weakest who were going to suffer anyway; most importantly, it was what people wanted to hear.

The question is, how badly does this impact the Tories politically? And how does a broader sense of a Tory administration in some degree of crisis over corruption and other issues fare as problems like this mount up?

The only clear(ish) indicator we have to offer even a vague sense of the answer to these questions is polling. And the chart here is most interesting.  Since 8th of November we begin to see Labour ahead in 7 polls, level in 3 polls and behind the Tories in 4 polls. As noted before, it’s not red revolution or anything like it – this is after all Starmer’s Labour, but… it does suggest that the Tory leads have been softer than might be expected. And look at the overall trends since April of this year where Tory support has been sliding. Something is going on, that’s for sure.

Taking the temperature of the Tories: Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election November 30, 2021

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Thanks to JH for the link to this, from the National.

WHAT is the real political mood in the UK? Christmas might prove a welcome diversion but the sudden return of the pandemic in the shape of Omicron suggests otherwise. The economy is stuttering, with skyrocketing energy bills and the return (after a whole generation) of the spectre of inflation eating into living standards. New Year 2022 suddenly looks less inviting even if Russell T Davies is coming back to Doctor Who.

On Thursday, we will get an inkling of the way the political wind is blowing. This comes in the shape of a by-election in the Old Bexley and Sidcup constituency in Kent, which follows the death of sitting Tory MP James Brokenshire.

The details of this are here:

Brokenshire, former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, received 64.5% at the election in 2019. The Labour candidate recieved 23.5%. So presumably this is a Tory hold, but a hold by how much?

Unity: Too great a price? November 30, 2021

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Paul Culloty noted in comments the latest poll in the SBP conducted by RedC. There’s a political polling angle that is worth a post of its own, but perhaps as useful is what polling on attitudes to a United Ireland reveals.

A strong majority of voters are unwilling to pay more taxes, change the Irish flag or accept a new national anthem in order to achieve a united Ireland, according to a special Business Post/Red C poll.

The ten-question poll of voters in the South shows that there is very strong support for a united Ireland in principle, with 60 per cent of people saying they would vote for it if a referendum was held today.

But… there’s significant division on what, if any, compromises might be necessary in a UI.

Just 41 per cent of people would support a united Ireland if it meant paying higher taxes to make up for the loss of the multibillion-euro financial subsidy that the British government gives to the North every year.

There is strong resistance to discarding Amhrán na bhFiann, the national anthem, to achieve a united Ireland, with just 35 per cent willing to do this. And there is even less support for changing the Irish tricolour, with just 27 per cent of people saying they would support changing the Irish flag to achieve a united Ireland.

All that said it is worth keeping in mind that much of this comes in the context of immediate responses to a poll question. As is noted in the following:

Kieran McEvoy, professor of law and transitional justice at Queen’s University in Belfast, suggested the reluctance to change the Irish flag or national anthem was an “immediate emotional response” based on the importance of symbols.

“In 30 years of watching political negotiations in Northern Ireland, what I have found is that, certainly with regard to unionism, symbolism is everything,” he said.

While the potential annual cost of Irish unification has been put as high as €15 billion, McEvoy suggested that this could be lowered with support from the British exchequer or the EU, which had backed German reunification in the past.

“It’s not like the Irish taxpayer alone would pay for all of this, not in the real world,” he said.

Indeed it’s not difficult to see the EU being keen to incorporate the rest of the island into the Republic and also, obviously, the EU itself.

As to compromises:

[polling was taken of] attitudes to rejoining the British Commonwealth, which is largely made up of former British colonies and is valued by unionists as a part of their British identity. But just 23 per cent of people in the South would be willing to rejoin the Commonwealth to help support a united Ireland.

A guarantee of unionist ministers in a future united Ireland government is an issue that would have to be discussed in any reunification talks, but just 39 per cent of people said they would support this.

There was also division on the notion of keeping the Northern Assembly in Belfast alongside the Dáil in Dublin in a united Ireland, with 45 per cent of people in the South willing to support this while 32 per cent were opposed.

That last is interesting because it suggests perhaps the potential for some bespoke elements particular to Northern Ireland. For example, perhaps continuing membership for NI of the Commonwealth might be a lesser challenge to building support around, as with other elements.

Other points? “62 per cent of people believe the government should start planning for a united Ireland now”, which seems sensible; “65 per cent of people believe an island of Ireland citizens’ assembly should be formed to build consensus on the best way to achieve a united Ireland”; “62 per cent of people in the South believe that [a referendum on unity] will happen within ten years. Under the Good Friday Agreement, if such a referendum is defeated, there has to be a seven year waiting period until another can be held”. These are pretty important attitudinal clues. Even where people are conflicted or hostile to the very idea of unity it is clear that there’s a belief that something is changing and therefore the state should be more proactive. As the SBP notes SF has promised a Citizen’s Assembly on unity (Micheál Martin by contrast has dismissed the idea seeing it as needlessly provocative to Unionist opinion).


By the way, another revealing point. Look at party attachment with respect of willingness to pay more taxes for a United Ireland.

A majority of Sinn Féin supporters (54 per cent) and Green Party supporters (52 per cent) are willing to pay higher taxes to obtain a united Ireland, but that drops to 41 per cent among Fianna Fáil supporters, 36 per cent among Fine Gael supporters and 37 per cent of Independent supporters.

How very interesting those FF and Ind/Other figures are. 

As John Coakley UCD/QUB notes, in any serious push towards unity, and particularly in the context of a Border Poll, there would be significant preparation and discussion of these issues. So again, these initial responses may not be representative. Though it’s not impossible to think of some party or another attempting to build counter-narratives to any push for unity, particularly around both economic and clearly at least potentially emotional attachments to the existing Republic of Ireland.

How though, one has to wonder, would all this fare in the context of a political party which had a deep attachment of its own to the idea of unity actually leading a government in this state. Now that would be interesting to see.

“In Support of an Ideal – Jack Nalty: From East Wall to the Ebro” November 29, 2021

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As noted on East Wall History Group:

On the 23rd September 1938 East Wall man John ‘Jack’ Nalty died on the final day of combat for the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War . The 80th anniversary of his death was marked by the unveiling of a plaque near his former family home (East Road) and the publication of a book on his life .

And:

 

This book was published by the East Wall History Group in association with Friends of the International Brigades (Ireland) .

The book is now available in PDF format on the EWHG site at the above link. A fantastic resource and great to see EWHG behind this.

SNP and Welsh BLP call for ‘four-nations’ approach to Omicron November 29, 2021

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From today’s The National. Thanks to JH as always.

NICOLA Sturgeon has asked Scots “to significantly step up” their compliance with Covid rules in an effort to prevent the Omicron variant spreading rapidly.

The First Minister was speaking at an emergency Covid briefing called after the Omicron variant was found in Scotland.

Sturgeon also said she had written to Boris Johnson, in conjunction with Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, to propose a “tougher four-nations approach to travel restrictions”.

Just on Omicron, and doesn’t that have a dystopian resonance, I was way from home at the weekend and following the arrival of the news of the variant from various media and it struck me there’s genuine concern on this. Particularly in the UK. But then the UK, or rather England, seems amazingly ill-prepared for this, having shrugged off so many control measures that are absolutely vital to slowing the spread of this and any other variants. Having bet the house on vaccines suddenly they seem hugely exposed in the absence of information as to how Omicron functions. And also being in the company of people from England it seemed to me that broader narratives about the pandemic had been internalised in ways that  might well prove problematic with regard to what is necessary in order to combat this and any future turns and twists.

It’s not that Ireland, or indeed Scotland, or anywhere else one might think of, aren’t vulnerable, but the sense of this all being over hasn’t taken hold – however, understandably, people are fatigued by the pandemic. But I had the strong impression that many of the people I was talking to – again understandably given those previously mentioned narratives, did think it was functionally in the rear view mirror.

Small wonder this has galvanised the Tories like almost nothing else to impose and reimpose various restrictions.

ILA Podcast #32: Jess Spear: RISE November 29, 2021

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Direct download:
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Our guest in this episode is Jess Spear. Jess is an eco-socialist and socialist feminist activist based in Dublin. She is National Organiser of RISE, a revolutionary Marxist network of People Before Profit (PBP). She is the editor of the eco-socialist quarterly magazine, Rupture, and co-authored the pamphlet What is eco-socialism?. She was a research scientist at the US Geological Survey and Burke Museum of Natural History before moving to Dublin in 2017.

We discuss how Jess came to political activism in the US, and particularly, as a climate scientist, to environmental activism; her experience campaigning with Socialist Alternative (then part of the Committee for a Workers’ International) in Seattle, and as an electoral candidate there in 2014; moving to Ireland, the foundation of RISE, and decision to join PBP; and the development and aims of Rupture as a broad eco-socialist magazine and means to explore contemporary Marxist and socialist ideas and strategies.

Find out more:


If you’re enjoying the podcast, please subscribe. If you use a podcast app, it should come up in most of them if you search for “Irish Left Archive Podcast”, or use one of the links below.

Left Archive: Oil Wars Episode II: Clone of the Attack, Ógra Sinn Féin, 2003 November 29, 2021

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Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to the person who donated this to the Archive.

This document from 2003 was published by Ógra Sinn Féin before the invasion of Iraq by the United States and a small number of other states. The document reprints the United Nations Charter before an Introduction which argues that the invasion of Iraq is ‘control of Iraq’s lucrative oil fields. Nothing more, nothing less’.

And it argues that the invasion is a ‘clone of the first [1991] attack’.

The document goes on to argue that the basis for any invasion lacks any proof ‘that Saddam Hussein has nuclear weapons’. It points to the support provided by the United States in the 1980s for the regime. It also notes:

War on Iraq is imperialist conquest dressed up as a crusade for human rights. It is morally and ethically wrong to support it and it  is a violation of Irish neutrality and simple human decency to assist the American and British governments in murdering hunters of thousands of Iraqi people.

The document also lists ‘humanitarians interventions’ by the UK and US including Panama, Somalia, Sudan, Palestine and Afghanistan. It also examines ‘America’s Weapons of Mass Destruction’. 

Last minute gifts for Leftists (reasonably priced!)? November 28, 2021

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As noted a few years back “all suggestions gratefully accepted, books, items, clothing, ethically sourced items whatever. Anything people like or have seen. And price is in this capitalist world a factor.” Why now? Well, with the pandemic still happening – delayed shipping times and so on, yep, November 28th is late enough.

Fortnightly Culture Thread November 28, 2021

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gregtimo proposed in comments recently the idea of a Culture Thread.

It’s a great idea. Currently culture is a bit strange, but people read, listen to music, watch television and film and so on – spread the net wide, sports, activities, interests, all relevant – and any pointers are always welcome. And it’s not just those areas but many more. Suggestions as to new or old things, events that might have been missed, literally anything.

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