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Where do you start? May 31, 2022

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.

Try, try again? May 31, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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And so it came to pass.

The Northern Ireland Assembly has failed to elect a Speaker, effectively leaving the institutions suspended almost a month after the Stormont election.

The position must be filled on a cross-community basis and the DUP had already indicated it would not support the move as part of its protest over the Northern Ireland protocol.

The DUP said it will not facilitate the return of power-sharing until significant concessions are agreed between the UK and the European Union.

The Assembly was recalled on foot of a Sinn Féin petition backed by the SDLP and the Alliance Party.

Punitive May 31, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Nice of the UK’s Attorney General to wade in in yet another area following her unuseful intervention on the Northern Ireland Protocol. This time it’s trans issues.

In an interview last week, Suella Braverman said schools in England do not have to accommodate pupils who want to change gender, and are under no legal obligation to address them by a new pronoun or let them wear a different uniform…

The attorney general told the Times that under the law, under-18s cannot legally change their gender, so schools are entitled to treat all children by the gender of their birth. She also said some teachers were effectively encouraging gender dysphoria by taking an “unquestioning” attitude.

But those who actually work in schools and with children take a rather different view of matters:

Headteachers, however, who are increasingly having to navigate their way through these issues, fear that not listening to young people “would risk damaging mental health” at a time when pupils have already suffered during the pandemic…

This prompted criticism from Caroline Derbyshire, the executive head at Saffron Walden county high school, leader of the Saffron academy trust and chair of the Headteachers’ Roundtable – a non-party-political headteachers’ group operating as a thinktank.

She said: “No good can come of any young person being forced to adopt a gender they feel miserable with. It certainly won’t improve their learning.

“Schools do all kinds of things to safeguard the welfare of young people that they are not ‘bound’ to do by law,” she went on. “I am a believer in rules and following them, but I think that not listening to young people and their parents on this quite particular and personal matter would risk damaging mental health.”

Interestingly the article notes that Braverman’s thoughts are ‘at odds with the Department of Education’

“Schools should be a safe and welcoming space for all pupils, regardless of how they identify,” a DfE spokesperson said. “We recognise that gender identity can be a complex and sensitive topic for schools to navigate, which is why we will be working with the Equality and Human Rights Commission to make sure we are giving the clearest possible guidance to schools.”

Well there’s a surprise. But this is of a piece with a Tory government that appears dead set on moving rightwards in order to counter the fallout from the Covid-19 restrictions controversy. And a Tory party that itself appears to have realised that Johnson himself is now a liability, though why it took them this long is a bit of a mystery given the poll numbers and that Labour’s figures have ticked upwards again (Labour has been ahead in every poll since December). 

To all of this the counter is:

With Johnson’s future in the balance, No 10 has begun launching a number of rightwing, nationalistic policies in recent weeks. These include the return of imperial measures, plans to override the Northern Ireland protocol, a hint about expanding grammar schools, a review of fracking, and repeated promises to tear up more EU regulation.

That’s an interesting approach given that Labour remains ahead. Is the expectation that this sort of ‘blue meat’ will appeal to former Labour voters or even entice some who have gone back to Labour to come back to the Tories? That seems like the thinking…

A cabinet minister told the Guardian that Johnson appeared to be trying to stop the right of the party turning against him in the event of a leadership challenge, citing policies such as the review of fracking – which is electorally unpopular but appeals to a minority in parliament.

But Tory pollsters and some centrist MPs warned that this “core vote” direction was the wrong route to go down with public trust in Johnson so low among swing voters. Tobias Ellwood, a Tory former minister and chair of the defence committee, warned: “We will lose the next election on the current trajectory as reflected in recent elections.

One would have thought so. And it ignores the core issue which is Johnson and his administration. All the, frankly, risible policies have been chucked around which appeal to small groups of voters can’t really distract attention from Johnson. And there’s a further problem. Even if he goes, which of the current cast of political non-entities will take over? Is this a sort of Thatcher/John Major moment being repeated where a larger political figure (though Johnson is no Thatcher) is replaced by a lesser one again? 

History fan May 31, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Many thanks to NFB and the other person who forwarded images of this to the CLR.

Brutal faux stupidity May 30, 2022

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Hard to believe but in winter 2015 I was out with a friend who lives in New York and they were talking darkly about the dangers of a Ted Cruz Presidency.

This was before a certain other person entered the fray. Did we dodge a bullet?

Well, it’s hard to tell given the tooth-grinding faux-stupidity of the comments emanating from that source in the aftermath of the Ulvade, Texas, school shooting because his brilliant idea for school security is but a single entrance which would be guarded by an armed guard.

As Slate notes, this line of thinking points to his lack of familiarity with schools…

The practical problems that Cruz’s plan would present also suggest that he is not intimately familiar with what actually happens at schools. Students, even young ones who have a single primary teacher, spend the day moving between rooms inside their buildings, going from building to building on larger campuses, and using grounds outside for recess and other activities.

Arranging for students to stay entirely behind a locked door during the school day, and to never use an entrance or exit that isn’t guarded, would require an overhaul of the educational experience, not to mention renovation and construction at, one imagines, almost all of the nation’s 130,000 schools. (For one, you’d have to install air conditioning at the many schools that don’t have it, because having open windows in hot weather would provide an access point.)

But of course the thinking is, almost needless to say, punitive in its proscriptions for schools, students and indeed teachers and other staff. Schools would become effectively fortresses, and to what end? To take but one basic practical question, what about entrance and exit of the student body? How would one see schools with hundreds of students channelled through a single entrance work (in 2021 the average numbers in US public schools was 528 – there are wide variations on that number) in terms of safety? 

The lack of a robust regulatory framework that ensures gun safety and ensures that those who are best trained and best equipped to handle them is ever more evident. And this would appear to be the most basic aspect of the problem – and industry that has gained enormous power and influence in the United States, unlike any other advanced capitalist state, through diluting regulations and constraints time and again, not least through a noxious identification with ‘freedom’ that in any other context would be risible.

And this is upending US society in ways that would have been incomprehensible even a generation ago. To reify unrestricted and poorly regulated gun-ownership over basic societal needs, such as safety in schools and other areas (churches too, anywhere where people gather, shopping malls etc, as well as domestic spaces) is to reshape the society. That this is actually contrary to the general attitude of US citizens recorded across many years is almost beside the point.  One political party made its mission one of standing for ever-weaker controls. 

And where does this lead? Well, the removal of people from the public, shared space, in fact the removal of that public shared space. Mentioned here during the week that some have seen these terrible events as a reason to move to private schooling – to shift away from states having to take up the ‘burden’ of providing education for all through public schools. 

There are others with even more radical proposals. At the Federalist one commentator was opining on the idea of home schooling. One hardly need point out the class implications of this whittling away of public provision and push to reliance on individuals. Those with the greatest resources are best capable of bearing that sort of change. Those without, well where do they go? What happens? 

But then one gets the feeling that that question (as with so many that the US radical right now are faced with) has but one answer: ‘Who cares?’

If at first… May 30, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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So, news that:

The Stormont Assembly is to meet on Monday to try again to elect a Speaker and First and Deputy First Minister.

The Assembly cannot conduct any business until a new Speaker is elected.

That requires the support of a majority of unionists as well as nationalists and the DUP has made it clear it will not endorse it.

The meeting at 12pm on Monday is taking place after a Sinn Féin recall motion gained sufficient support.

The idea that the DUP will be shamed into forming an Executive is implausible. But no harm in keeping the issue in the public eye, both in the North, and more widely. 

Left Archive: ‘But Victory Sooner…’ Communist Party of Ireland, 1943 May 30, 2022

Posted by leftarchivist in Uncategorized.

To download please click here

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

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

This is a fascinating document issued by the Communist Party of Ireland in 1943. A short 16 pages long (please note that the last page in the document is the first page on the scan to the left of the front cover) it argues in the introduction that:

The recent Government crisis in Northern Ireland was one of the most sensational political events in the history of Ireland since the Government of Ireland Act established the Six County Government. It is true that Governmental changes have taken place in the past, but these have not been as the result of crises in the Unionist Party. Generally, for a change to take place
some member of the Cabinet had to die of old age or get so thoroughly disgusted with the policy of the Govern­ment that he could not stick it and resigned from the Front Bench.
It is true to state that it has been many years since the public displayed such a keen interest in the affairs of the Northern Ireland Government. The Prime Minister,
Mr. Andrews, and his closest colleagues were forced to resign their offices-practically a clean sweep of the old Cabinet-and a new Cabinet, with only two members -of the old was formed by Sir Basil Brooke. What was the reason for the change?  Will it be for the better? How should the general public look on the changes and what should be the attitude of the Labour movement to the changes? These are questions that must be answered.

And it continues:

The policy of the Communist Party .in Northern Ireland is to work for the fullest mobilisation of man and woman power and materials for the defeat of fascism,
and to struggle for the greatest possible unity of the people, and in particular the unity of the forces of Labour. Realising that the Unionist Government at Stormont, with its terrible record of misrule, incompetence and narrow-minded sectarianism, could not rally the united efforts of the people, the Communist Party campaigned and struggled to bring about changes in the Government. Laying particular emphasis on· the need for inclusion jn the Cabinet of representatives of the Trade Unions and Labour movement, the Communist Party demanded
a government that would be representative of the decisive sections of the population  – Unionist Nationalist and  Labour. 

It then assesses ‘The “Old Guard”‘, ‘The New Government”, the ‘General Election’, the ‘Importance of Northern Ireland’, ‘Government of Unity’ and ‘Labour’s Responsibility’.

In a section on Communist Aims it argues:

While claiming the right of the people of a country to be the supreme controlling force vie have no narrow nationalist views. -‘We do not hold with views which imply that a country should be-isolated from other countries. Like all progressive Irishmen of the past, we applaud action by people of other countries to bring them nearer to complete emancipation. Action that will cause the subjugation and slavery of the common people of other countries or retard. their progress we condemn and vigorously combat. It is because that we ourselves desire complete emancipation that we are interested in and desire to learn from other countries.

The booklet also notes:

The wonderful role that the Soviet Union has played -and is playing in the struggle against fascism is clear to everyone to-day. It is also clear to everyone to-day that having a STRONG Soviet Union was in the interests not alone of the people of that great country, but in the interests of the people of Britain, of Ireland, and indeed of all countries. Without a strong Soviet Union, Hitler• could not have been halted, and would by now be in­flicting the horrible tortures on the people of these isles that he has inflicted on the peoples of other countries. Had there not been a Stalingrad there would not have been the crushing defeat of the Axis in Africa. That at this moment there is throughout the democracies a feeling that we now have the measure of the Axis Powers, and also the glorious perspective of complete victory.

Note what appears to be the author’s signature and an inscription at the top of the front page.

Doing away with mandatory coalitions… May 29, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Interesting to see the talk about reform of the Executive and in particular the idea of jettisoning mandatory coalitions. I’m of the view that it is far too soon to talk of that. It’s far from unfeasible that at some point the DUP, UUP and TUV might manage to cobble together a majority government that – in the absence of mandatory coalition, would leave Nationalists/Republicans and Others on the outside.

And I’d put it another way, I wouldn’t be entranced by coalition in Northern Ireland that left Unionists out either. That would be potentially very destabilising and cut directly across the concept of consensus and power-sharing.

Indeed there’s a naïveté about some of the commentary that seems to presuppose that jettisoning mandatory coalitions would at a stroke remove the communal identities from the equation.

Actually what it would likely do is to simply bring that contest closer in than a Border Poll directly into the Assembly elections. Even to phrase it that way is to see how nonsensical it is since Assembly elections are in large part precisely about an expression of national identity already, but the fact that the Executive sits slightly to one side of that is no bad thing.

The issue of First or Deputy First Minister has come to prominence precisely because it too has been more inflected by competing national identities given the increased Nationalist/Republican vote. So to pretend that this wouldn’t be a factor in the construction of coalitions at Executive level seems entirely incorrect given every other aspect of the political dispensation has been inflected by that to a greater or lesser degree.

Peelers and Sheep, Season Two May 29, 2022

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.

Good to see that Peelers and Sheep has a second season of podcasts come out this summer.

[with] future episodes on popular struggles as the British state slowly withdraws from much of Ireland and a new Irish Free State is established, a wave of workplace occupations and land conflicts resume in late spring & early summer 1922 – a Third Revolution – a new cycle of revolt pushing back against the limitations of the revolutionary outcomes.

Fortnightly Culture Thread May 29, 2022 May 29, 2022

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.

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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